If you’re someone looking to lose some weight, you may have heard of intermittent fasting, one of the latest trends in health and fitness. Done correctly, intermittent fasting can help with weight loss, reduce inflammation, reduce insulin, and more.
But, intermittent fasting involves more than just skipping a meal or two. If you want positive results, you have to do it the correct way.
“If you’re only eating for certain hours of the day, you want to make sure [that] you get nutritious foods during those hours to give you plenty of energy and vital nutrients,” says Registered Dietitian Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. By not eating a proper diet, you could end up feeling weak, fatigued, and even hungrier than when you started.
It’s also important to note that intermittent fasting isn’t always for everyone. “Specifically, I wouldn’t recommend it for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those who have a history of an eating disorder, or athletes,” says Rizzo. “These populations need to eat frequently and shouldn’t limit their intake to certain hours of the day.”
If you do decide to participate in intermittent fasting, you’ll want to pay attention to your habits to ensure that you stay as healthy as possible while still reaping its benefits. Here are six mistakes to avoid when trying intermittent fasting.
Doing an Intense Workout During Your Fast
Some people find working out on an empty stomach to be no problem, but avoid anything too taxing, like a high-intensity workout. “It can be dangerous to work out without having any fuel in your system,” says Registered Dietitian Nicole Hinckley, RD, LD. “Make sure to eat a bite before you work out, or pack a bar in your bag in case you feel hungry.”
If you want to find a lower-impact workout to do when you’re fasting, you can opt for something like yoga in the Aaptiv app.
Eating Whatever You Want During Your Window
Restricting when you eat doesn’t give you free reign to indulge in whatever you want during your eating window. The effect of intermittent fasting can be quickly undone if you choose the wrong kinds of foods.
“If your eating hours consist of fried foods and sweets, you will miss out on important nutrients and feel crappy overall,” says Rizzo. “You still need to get your fair share of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean proteins [when intermittent fasting].”
Not Eating Enough Food
If you’re doing intermittent fasting to lose weight, you may feel inclined to cut calories. “But, that’s not the point,” says Rizzo. “Instead, focusing on eating and fasting windows should help you lose weight. So, there’s no need to starve yourself.”
Rather than cutting calories, concentrate on consuming nutritious foods during your eating window. “Even if you’re restricting when you eat your food, your body still needs a sufficient amount of food so [that] your organs can function and you can think straight,” says Registered Dietitian Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN.
Not Drinking Enough Water
Although parts of the intermittent fasting regimen might have you refraining from food, water should always be on the top list. “Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, headaches, and exacerbate hunger pangs, so always make sure [that] you are sipping water between and during the fasts,” says Aguirre. You can also stay hydrated by drinking tea, sparkling water, or even bone broth during your fasting window.
Feeling Guilty If You Eat Outside Your Window
If you’re hungry and feel like you need food, listen to your body. “It is okay to address your hunger,” says Rizzo. “Denying your hunger cues may lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.” Give yourself permission to break your fast if you are feeling hungry outside of your eating window. Again, starvation isn’t the point of intermittent fasting. So, if you’re experiencing any negative symptoms, be sure to nourish yourself.
Choosing the Wrong Plan for Your Needs
There are a few variations of intermittent fasting, and it’s important to pick the one that works with your schedule. Some involve fasting everyday for a specific number of hours. Meanwhile, others involve restricting calories on certain days of the week. “If you have a high-pressure job that has a lot of morning meetings, but you’re not eating until 12 p.m., that might really mess with your career,” says Rizzo. “Make sure [that] the intermittent fasting plan you choose works for your lifestyle.”
Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose fat and improve your metabolic health. Using the Aaptiv app to get in a good workout, along with following your chosen intermittent fasting plan can help you get fit and boost your overall health.