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13 DOs and DON’TS of Intermittent Fasting

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13 DOs and DON’TS of Intermittent Fasting
DimaBerkut 

Fasting isn’t a new idea -- many religions have practiced some form for centuries. Recently, fasting has experienced a renaissance among the health conscious who see it as a way to detox, and look and feel better. The latest crop of practitioners favor shorter-term options such as intermittent fasting, which can range from nightly fasts for at least 10 hours at a time to skipping meals 2 days a week, and longer-term fasts that might extend for an entire day. Whatever method you choose, read on for some basic tips to make the process go more smoothly before, during and after your fast. Have you tried intermittent fasting? Leave a comment below and let us know what method worked for you.

1. DO: Make Sure You’re Fit to Fast
gradyreese 

1 DO: MAKE SURE YOU’RE FIT TO FAST

Not everyone should take up fasting. Those who shouldn’t consider fasting include pregnant or lactating women, diabetics, kids under 18 and anyone with underlying medical problems. In addition, anyone taking prescription drugs should avoid fasting to avoid unpredictable reactions. A good option for those who can’t fast is transitioning to cleaner eating, says Christine Palumbo, a registered dietitian in Chicago. She advocates eating whole foods in their most natural state and eliminating rich, sugary, fatty or highly processed foods. “By replacing these with whole fruits and vegetables plus whole grains, your family is better off.”

Related: What It Means to Eat Clean

2. DON’T: Forget to Tell Your Doctor
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2 DON’T: FORGET TO TELL YOUR DOCTOR

If you have any health concerns related to fasting, check with your primary care provider before you begin. Even for those with a clean bill of health, nutritionist and wellness expert and author of "The Fast Metabolism Diet" and "The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook," Haylie Pomroy suggests alerting your primary health physician of your plans.

3. DO: Fit Your Fast into Your Lifestyle
nyul 

3 DO: FIT YOUR FAST INTO YOUR LIFESTYLE

Think before you fast. Avoid fasting during high-stress times or events that cause excess exertion, says Sara Schenker, a registered dietitian in London, who co-authored "The Fast Diet Recipe Book." It offers up healthy meals for the 5:2 style fast, which calls for setting aside two days a week to restrict calories. “It's good to plan which days to make your fast days,” Schenker told The Daily Mail. “Some people do it at the weekend if they don't have much going on. Others prefer Monday as it's the start of the working week and then Thursday so they can look forward to eating what they like at the weekend.”

Related: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Alternate-day Fasting and Chronic Disease Prevention

4. DON’T: Overindulge on a ‘Last Supper’
 kzenon

4 DON’T: OVERINDULGE ON A ‘LAST SUPPER’

Avoid gorging yourself with a final feast before a fast, says nutritionist and wellness expert Haylie Pomroy. The night before, Pomroy suggests eating a meal including a lean protein, healthy fat and lots of vegetables. You could also have a starch like sweet potato or legumes. Adding a fruit to your meal will also provide some natural sugar, which can be calming to your hormones. Try low-glycemic fruits like berries. “This type of complete meal will give your body lots of slow-burning nutrition to carry you as much as possible through your fasting period,” says Pomroy.

Related: Tips for Prepping for a Fast

5. DO: Prepare Your Mind, Body and Home
ViktorCap 

5 DO: PREPARE YOUR MIND, BODY AND HOME

Before fasting, make sure you're well-rested and emotionally prepared. Nutritionist Haylie Pomroy suggests thinking about your intention and how you want to achieve it. “It’s really important to be clear about what you want,” Pomroy says. In addition to clearing your mind, it’s a great time to literally get your house in order. Purge your kitchen of any tempting foods or beverages that aren’t aligned with your fasting goals, says Chicago dietitian Christine Palumbo. “Hopefully the less healthy ones will never be seen again,” says Palumbo.

6. DON’T: Be a Hero
 shironosov

6 DON’T: BE A HERO

Fasting can have side effects, so it’s important to listen to your body and stop if you feel you’re pushing too hard or too far, says nutritionist Haylie Pomroy. Heart palpitations, dizziness and weakness are among the symptoms that can be causes for concern. “If you’re not able to function the way you want to or need to -- stop fasting!” says Chicago registered dietitian Christine Palumbo. “Use common sense.”

7. DON’T: Go for the Burn
Geber86

7 DON’T: GO FOR THE BURN

Thinking about running a marathon or even a 5K? Don’t do it while you’re fasting. “Light exercise is fine, but it’s best to avoid things like high-intensity cardiovascular, especially if you’re not used to it,” says Sarah Schenker, a registered dietitian in the U.K. and co-author of "The Fast Diet Recipe Book." Nutritionist Haylie Pomroy agrees and suggests “passive activities” such as acupuncture or massage. Massage increases blood flow to the fatty areas of the body and may reduce cortisol, which is a hormone that stores fat and can break down muscle. “The goal is not to burn muscle for fuel while fasting,” says Pomroy.

8. DO: Take Your Vitamins
simarik 

8 DO: TAKE YOUR VITAMINS

Depending on the type of fast you’re doing, it may be necessary to get most or all of the vitamins your body needs from supplements. Choose vitamins in liquid form for easier digestion during fasting. Chicago registered dietitian Christine Palumbo suggests taking a multivitamin plus a separate dose of calcium. “Since you'll be missing so many of the vitamins and minerals provided by food when fasting, it's important to replace them. A basic multivitamin that provides 100% of the Daily Values would fit the bill.” Your best bet is to consult with your primary care physician who knows you best and will be able to advise you on the matter.

Related: 43 Supplements Exposed: Which Ones to Consider, Which Ones to Avoid

9. DON’T: Forget to Hydrate
Geber86 

9 DON’T: FORGET TO HYDRATE

It’s crucial to be sure you are really drinking enough water each day while fasting. "We don’t think about the amount of water that is present in the food we eat,” says Chicago registered dietitian Christine Palumbo says. “It’s significant.” So, how can you tell if you’re getting what you need? “Just check your urine. It should be light in color. If it’s the color of straw or lemonade or lighter, then you are probably properly hydrated.” Otherwise, drink up.

Related: Know Thy Enemy: Dehydration

10. DO: Find Fun Distractions
dolgachov

10 DO: FIND FUN DISTRACTIONS

OK, so maybe you can’t eat chocolate or drink wine while you’re fasting. That doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in other things. Why not treat yourself to a massage or mani-pedi or stroll around the mall and do a little window shopping for all the new clothes you’ll be able to wear when you start seeing success with your new healthy weight loss plan? In addition to harmless escapism, it’s also wise to avoid hunger triggers. Don’t plan a trip to the grocery store or go out to dinner with friends and watch them eat. If you’re a Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest fan? Try to steer clear of all the mouth-wateringly tempting food photos.

Related: 18 Habits That Can Make You Fat

11. DON’T: Stress!
imtmphoto

11 DON’T: STRESS!

Chill. Stress can raise your level of cortisol, a hormone that stores fat and breaks down muscle, according to The Journal of Physiology. So if you want to make sure your fast yields the most efficient weight loss, try pairing it with de-stressing techniques such as yoga, deep breathing or meditation. If you decide to keep calm by doing exercise, make sure that it is not too strenuous, after all you are fasting and will need to reserve your energy to be able to comfortably function through the day.

Related: Find out More about the Cortisol Connection

12. DO: Get By with a Little Help from Your Friends
dolgachov

12 DO: GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS

Calling a buddy can help you get through your fast without freaking out. Even better, convince a friend or your partner to do it with you. Nobody’s game? Check out support groups online for other fasters feeling your pain. You can even start your own fasting thread in the Weight Loss Conversations forums on LIVESTRONG. In addition, help yourself through the challenge by keeping a record of your progress. Try recording short videos on your phone or journal your thoughts. “It’s an important time to emotionally purge, to mentally clean out your closet and really reflect on what you’re doing,” says L.A.-based nutritionist and wellness expert Haylie Pomroy.

Related: Start a Weight Loss or Fasting Conversation With LIVESTRONG.COM Members

13. DON’T: Do the Victory Binge
lisegagne 

13 DON’T: DO THE VICTORY BINGE

Resist overindulging after the fast. “What's the point if you put it all back and then some?” says registered dietitian Christine Palumbo of Chicago. Instead, she suggests easing back into a healthy routine. “Eat a light diet with 3 small or 5 to 6 mini meals a day. Avoid hard-to-digest foods like cruciferous vegetables. Gradually add back high fiber foods.” If you normally drink alcohol, use care when resuming. “Continue to hydrate adequately and avoid overindulging with alcohol,” she says. “Limit yourself to a 5-ounce glass of wine, a bottle of beer or a cocktail with 1.5 ounces of liquor.”

What Do YOU Think?
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WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Is fasting for you? Have you already tried a fasting plan? Which one did you do – 5/2 fasting or 16/8 fasting? What worked for you, and what didn’t? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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