Intermittent fasting is all the rage nowadays. From fitness enthusiasts to celebrities to those seeking to lose weight, many vouch for the benefits they reaped from fasting intermittently. As the name loosely suggests, it means you fast for a certain period and eat during the remaining time. Generally, people fast for 12 to 16 hours of the day and consume their meals during the remaining eating window. Although there are several diets that people follow, what distinguishes this from the rest is that it focuses on 'when' you eat rather than 'what', which is generally the case in other diets.
Despite putting themselves through it, many people do not reap the benefits they seek. Some find it difficult to lose weight, while others do not see their health improving, worse, it might even worsen. So, what might be the reasons behind it? Are there any intermittent fasting mistakes one must avoid to get the benefits? In a video on his YouTube channel, Sten Ekberg, who is a chiropractor, a nutritionist, and an Olympic decathlete, shared just that.
Aim Of Intermittent Fasting?
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Before delving into mistakes, let us first go through what you should ensure while doing intermittent fasting:
- Burn Fat: When you are trying to lose weight, your aim should be to lose fat and not muscles. And what’s the way to maintain or grow muscle mass? Have enough protein and exercise well.
- Do Not Let Your Metabolism Dip: You might already know your body burns calories even while at rest. It uses that energy to carry out basic functions, such as breathing, keeping you warm, maintaining blood circulation, etc. The rate at which your body burns calories to carry out these basic (or basal) functions is known as basal metabolic rate. In the case of calorie restriction, which can happen during intermittent fasting, this BMR often dips. As your metabolism drops, you find it difficult to lose weight. Even if you forget weight loss for once, a good and functioning metabolism is crucial for a healthy body.
- Maintaining Muscle Mass: When fasting, there is a high chance that your body starts losing muscle mass. This is a situation you must try to avoid.
- Growth Hormones: Increasing growth hormones, which are muscle sparing and increase metabolism, is another aim you should go for while intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Mistakes
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In a video on YouTube, Sten Ekberg shared a series of intermittent fasting mistakes that one must avoid. Let us look at them one by one:
- Too Many Carbohydrates: When fasting intermittently, if your carbohydrate intake is more than required, you will get results quite opposite to the one you were going for. This means you might gain weight, instead of losing.
- Too Many Calories: Whether intermittent fasting or not, weight loss is ultimately decided by your calorie count, i.e. you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. Hence, even while intermittent fasting, if you consume a lot of calories, you will end up gaining weight.
- Ignoring Your Water Intake: While fasting, do not ignore your water intake. “Many times it happens that you feel hungry when you are just thirsty,” says Ekberg in his video. Hence, drink the recommended seven to eight glasses of water daily.
- Too Hungry: Having not eaten anything for 12 to 16 hours straight is no small feat. But do not get too greedy on this, i.e. do not stretch your fasting window beyond this. It can put your body in shock, making you extremely hungry. The result? You might end up eating too much in a short time. And often when hungry, we tend to go for high-calorie, low-quality food, which severely hampers health.
- No Exercise: Both for weight loss as well as for good health, there is no alternative to exercise. Although you can still lose weight without exercise, it will not be that effective as you will rob yourself of the immense benefits of working out.
- Stress: This isn’t just bad for your mental health, it can severely hamper your weight loss journey. When stressed, your body releases cortisol hormone, which can make you gain weight.
- Sleep: Now who can contest the health benefits of a good night’s sleep? Both the quantity and quality of sleep play a big role in determining the state of your health - both physical and mental. Hence, try to get enough sleep, and also ensure its quality. Following a sleep routine, getting continuous sleep during the dark period of the day, are some of the habits you can follow.
Although the research into the benefits of intermittent fasting has given mixed results, it’s been adopted by many for weight loss and improving one’s health. However, certain mistakes might be hampering your journey. Hence, averting those is something you should focus on, which will push you closer to your fitness goal.
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