5 Things To Look Out For When Intermittent Fasting

Is intermittent fasting the method for you?

Let's try and find out!

Like any protocol when it comes to providing some structure to a diet, there is no absolute guarantee it will work, unfortunately. There are some considerations to take into account when you do take on an approach such as intermittent fasting. 

We'll be taking a look at some of those in this post, but let's take a quick glance at what the protocol actually entails.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting is method designed around placing "a window" of time, during which you are able to eat, with a slightly longer window where you won't eat.

There are countless ways to implement it, but the most popular is probably the 16:8. 

Fast for 16 hours, eat within the following 8 hours. The often go-to with regards to times on this is usually an eating window of 12pm-8pm. This is followed by a restriction on eating between the hours of 8pm and 12pm the following day, where your 8 hour eating window will begin again. 

Whilst there is no real restriction on the types of foods you can consume, the idea is that by reducing the hours in which you can eat, you will in turn, eat less, therefore, have a much higher chance of success when it comes to burning body fat. 

I like to think of it this way; 

Imagine you've been given £5,000 to go and spend at a big shopping centre. It opens at 6am, and closes at 10pm. 

Now, let's say you're given the same amount on a day when it then opens at 12pm, and closes at 8pm. You've just lost 12 hours of shopping time, but it still remains very possible to spend the same amount of money. 

It's similar with calories and intermittent fasting. Just because you have a smaller eating window, doesn't mean you can automatically disregard the types and amounts of the foods you eat. There still needs to be an element of mindfulness around your choices.

Is It For You?

Whilst it can provide some structure to a diet, there is still the possibility, like with any diet, that it may or may not work for you.

Obviously there are things to consider such as how long you plan on doing it, and these things might very well become a little bit less important should your intention be to only apply Intermittent Fasting for a few weeks. 

Still though, I'd highly recommend you read through them anyways, if intermittent fasting is something you have, or currently are considering, as a way of reaching you goals.

1. Practicality 

As mentioned, depending on how long you foresee yourself applying this protocol, this one will have a varying impact. For it to work consistently over a week or two, you really should be looking for it to fit in with other commitments and priorities in your day. 

It's worth noting, the 16/8 method and 12pm-8pm times, are merely examples, and can absolutely be tweaked to fit with your day, as you see fit. 

For example, 12 and 14 hour fasts with larger or smaller eating windows can also work really well.

On the whole, if you're someone who doesn't really care for eating first thing in the morning, or have no time to do so, then it may be worth implementing this method to give it some structure.

Then again, if you're someone who doesn't have all that much control over the times you do eat, it might be better longer term to remain flexible in your timings, and continue to be mindful of other things.

2. Food Portions

Like we spoke about earlier, these still have an impact. Waiting hungrily until 12pm, to then go and over consume in the following 8 hours, is still going to leave it very difficult for you to lose body fat.

Whilst generally you can eat slightly more, it still helps to remain mindful of just how much that is. Keeping the focus on high quality fresh foods with naturally sourced ingredients, should still remain a priority too. 

If you're someone who prefers bigger portions, then this may work for you!

If not however, then you can still obviously apply it, with a "little & often" approach to your meals & snacks. Even then though, it might just be worth sticking to spreading it out more evenly throughout the entire day, rather than placing any time restrictions.

3. Your Exercise 

This isn't so much about training whilst fasted, it's more about your recovery afterwards. 

Training fasted for me, is a personally inclined thing. Some don't mind it, some prefer it, and some (literally) can't stomach it.

There aren't really any benefits big enough either to look beyond your personal preference.  Still worth taking into consideration though.

As for your recovery, if you're training in the morning before work, it's generally suggested that you consume something either before, or more commonly, in the couple of hours afterwards. 

Some can get away with something light like a protein shake, whilst going ahead to wait for the 12pm first main meal. However if it is going to leave you feeling drained, tired and uncontrollably hungry to the point where it affects your performance, then it might be worth weighing up whether it's working for you. 

You could always fast on non-training days while making sure you get something to eat around training in the mornings on the days you do go for that morning jog or hit the gym.

4. Stress Levels

Not that stress is necessarily a bad thing, but it can't be ignored that long periods without foods, can cause slight stress to the body. Not to mention the mental stresses that can come from clock watching if you're particularly hungry one day. 

Keep an eye on other areas of your life. If work or home life is proving to be going through a stressful period, then it might not be the greatest idea to add another one on top of it. 

Maybe, it'd be a lot easier to maintain a flexible approach to the timings that you eat. 

On the other hand, if you've got the energy and ability to manage all those other stressors, then there would be nothing wrong with opting for this approach to add some structure to your diet. 

5. How You Feel

This one is obviously very individual. 

Some of thrive on the inclusion of structure and rules. Some of us perhaps not so much when it comes to eating and meal times. 

Only you can really observe this well enough to determine whether or not this is for you. Of course, like anything new and untried, it can be slightly uncomfortable to begin with.

However if this persists, and begins to affect other areas, such as exercise, work, social & home lives, then perhaps it needs to be reigned in slightly. 

For example, if one day you feel extremely hungry to the point it is affecting your energy and mood, there's nothing wrong with opting to eat breakfast earlier than planned.

I personally prefer to think of Intermittent Fasting as simply delaying breakfast, not skipping it.

I mean, breakfast literally means to break the fast. So it can hardly be "skipped".. 

It's often recommended if unsure about IF, to simply start with 1 or 2 days at a time. Preferably days where you won't be over exerting yourself through exercise and when other commitments of your time and energy are pretty low. 

So, is Intermittent Fasting for you? 

Have you ever tried it? Or is it something you'd wish to try?