You Need To Avoid These 5 Mistakes When You Fast

thought catalog 711979 unsplash

Intermittent fasting is a great way to avoid failure that strict diets perpetuate. Fasting is a tool to use so that you allow your body to operate more efficiently than ever before.

Many people pair fasting with a diet like Keto or Vegan but this is not necessary. If you eat a diet of whole minimally processed foods you will see instant results when you start fasting.

Before I started fasting, I worked on eating a whole foods diet for years. Once I started to fast, I saw instant weight and body fat loss without much effort.

Let’s talk about some of the benefits of intermittent fasting before we get into the mistakes.

The benefits of fasting include:

  • You have lower weight and body fat. You have an easier time maintaining your desired weight and body fat percentage.
  • Having more energy. When you fast your body resorts to burning its fat stores which in turn leaves you feeling more energized overall.
  • You have the ability to build muscle and have a leaner body. The human growth hormone is able to be utilized because you are not constantly flooding your body with glucose.

There are so many other benefits to fasting which you can find in The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting.

1. Make sure you have a whole foods diet in place before you start fasting.

One of the most common mistakes that people make is that they don’t have a good diet in place when they start fasting.

Eat a whole foods diet of minimally processed food. This key to getting the results you want from fasting.

Like I mentioned, it does not matter if you are Keto or Vegan, a good diet is mandatory.

If you are struggling with eating good food work on that first before you start fasting.

This way you will experience fewer cravings and urges to binge. When you eat highly processed food and then fast, you will feel it.

You will feel:

  • Bloated
  • Lethargic
  • Moody
  • Have more cravings

The better you eat the better your fasting experience will be. Over time you will learn what works and what doesn’t. I learned the hard way so you don’t have to.

2. Avoid calorie-free drinks like diet soda. Embrace water.

Another big mistake that you can make is having the wrong beverages during their fasting period.

Many experts in the fasting community advocate the consumption of diet soda while fasting.

Drinking calorie-free drinks like diet soda and sports drinks will do you harm.

In Western society, diet drinks are looked at as healthy. This only benefits the big food companies.

In his article,This is what happens to your lungs, brain, kidneys, teeth and mood when you drink diet soda Dr. Axe highlights the dangers of consuming diet drinks.

Axe states that diet drinks:

  • Confuse your body’s natural ability to manage hunger due to artificial sweeteners. This leads to more weight gain in the long run.
  • People who drink diet soda are twice as likely to develop metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome includes a combination of abdominal obesity, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and low good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Diet drinks (artificial sweetener) trigger an insulin response. This sends your body into fat storage mode. This defeats the purpose of fasting.
  • Four cans of diet soda increase the chance of depression by 30%. Conversely, four cups of coffee lower depression risk by 10%. (I would limit coffee to one or two cups per day to avoid dependency).

Focus on having drinks like:

  • Coffee and tea without any cream or sweeter. Some hardcore fasters discourage coffee and tea. I tend to go a few hours without it after waking (pure fast), then I’ll have one cup.
  • Water with or without lemon. Here is a calculator to gauge your intake… How Much Water Should I Drink?

Water should be the only beverage you drink during your fast with perhaps a cup of coffee or tea to enhance focus and discourage hunger.

3. It’s OK to exercise in a fasted state.

You should have a good exercise routine in place when you start fasting.

If you practice intermittent fasting daily, working out fasted will increase your sensitivity to insulin.

Your insulin is at baseline while fasting and eating before working out causes your insulin levels to rise. The goal for you should be to restrict the spike of insulin as much as possible(eating one to two times a day).

In his article, Fasted Training For Superior Insulin Sensitivity And Nutrient Partitioning Martin Berkhan who popularized the Leangains method of fasting cites a study done on males that were lean and healthy.

In the study there were 3 groups:

  • The C Group-practiced fed training with a carb-rich pre-workout meal with a maltodextrin enriched breakfast.
  • The F Group-practiced fasted training. They received the same meal as the C group but later on in the day.
  • The Control Group- They received the same meal as the C and F group but did not work out.

After the study, the results concluded that the F group had better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity (which goes hand in hand) than the C group.

However, the C group did see some improvements in insulin sensitivity but not as much as the F group did.

You improve your overall workout performance.

Working out in a fasted state also allows the human growth hormone to work in your favor.

When you eat the release of the human growth hormone is restricted by the rise of glucose in your system.

Even if you don’t workout in a fasted state, delaying your first meal by a few hours allows you to have better physical function and longevity.

When I first started fasting I never worked out in a fasted state. Over time I began to test it and saw positive result. In the beginning, it was weird but I quickly got used to it.

Now I hate working out in a fed state.

At the start, it is best that you workout when you have some sort of food in your system. This way you won’t fear being hungry and fatigued during your workout.

Make sure that you are meeting your required caloric needs.

If you are fasting and working out a lot, it’s easy to go in a severe caloric deficit. You might end up binge eating for a few days.

Keep up with your activity level and you will find balance. It might be a good idea to decrease your activity level for a few weeks when you first start fasting.

4. Don’t go overboard with fasting.

After six months to a year, you will get used to fasting and find that you require much less food than you used to.

This is great but you can go overboard. When I first started fasting I found eating one meal a day (OMAD) was unapproachable.

Over time it became easier for me to fast and I began to love OMAD. Then I found myself being cold and having low energy all the time.

It’s important that you find what works for you. Consider having a few days of refueling if your fasts become unbearable.

What I mean by refuel is to increase your calories (with whole foods) for a few days.

Cheat days should not be part of your protocol. Occasional indulges is a better way to look at things.

You won’t want to give up completely if you have some wiggle room. Fasting is a marathon.

You want to be able to fast for the rest of your life.

5. Fasting is not a cure-all.

Fasting is one of the best decisions you will ever make in your life. Keep in mind that it won’t solve all your problems. It is a tool to help you reach your goals.

Personally, I have to actively remind myself this at times especially when I am feeling unmotivated with my workout routine.

Think of fasting as your secret weapon. When you tell people why you look so good they will be amazed.

Fasting also allows you to:

  • Remain calm in stressful situations.
  • Allows you to be more present in life (a meditation practice also helps).
  • Solve problems more effectively.
  • Improve the relationship with yourself and others.

Think of fasting as your secret weapon. When you tell people why you look so good they will be amazed.

If you approach fasting from a holistic perspective, you avoid making so many mistakes. You have the chance to build an amazing life, inspiring others to do the same.

Take The Next Step

Discover whole foods to eat when you break your fast in the BreakFast Food Guide. Learn why these foods will help you get the body you want.