Intermittent fasting is the only plan I’ve ever tried that I truly feel like I can incorporate into my lifestyle forever.
But it hasn’t always been easy – I tried intermittent fasting three different times before finally being able to make it stick this time.
I’ve put together a list of my 10 favourite tips and tricks that have made it way easier to make intermittent fasting a permanent part of my lifestyle.
*Please note that I am not a health or medical professional. All of the information contained within this blog are based on my own experience and research, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your own health or medical professional before starting any new weight loss, health or fitness program.
1. Start Slowly
Some people can jump right in and start eating one meal a day or begin fasting every other day.
Personally, I found that if I put too much pressure on myself and I didn’t meet my intermittent fasting goal I would end up just quitting altogether.
This time I decided to start off by just making it a goal to track my fasting hours and aim for at least twelve – for me the easiest time not to eat was from 12am – 12pm.
Once I had met this relatively easy goal, it was motivating for me to keep going. I found that most days I could quite easily keep fasting for 16-20 hours, but even if I didn’t, I considered it to be a successful day as long as I tracked my fast.
2. Use An App
Like I mentioned above, keeping track of my fast was my main goal when I first started.
I could have easily done it in my head or written it down, but I found the main benefit of using an app was being able to physically open and close my eating window.
Let’s say I finish my last meal at 7pm and close my eating window on the app, then at 10pm I feel like I might want a snack.
The act of having to go into the app and reopen my eating window and seeing that I’ve already been fasting for 3 hours, makes me think twice about whether I’m actually hungry.
Sometimes I choose to continue fasting, and sometimes I don’t but that’s ok. At least I’ve taken the time to think about it, instead of just mindlessly eating in front of the TV like I would in the past.
I ask myself, could I keep fasting for a few more hours? Quite often that means just having to go to bed, so the answer is yes!
It’s also really motivating to see the fasts build up over the week. Seeing that I’ve fasted for 16 hours or more 5 days in a row makes me feel like a successful intermittent faster!
3. Fast Clean
Opinions on what you can and can’t have during your intermittent fast will vary widely across the internet.
Of course you can do your own research, reach your own conclusions and make your own decisions.
Personally, I believe in clean fasting … drinking only water, black coffee or black tea during the fasting hours. I actually stick with just water, because that works for me.
The first few times I tried intermittent fasting, I had never heard about clean fasting. I was drinking coffee with cream and chewing sugar free gum during my fast.
I was never able to stick with intermittent fasting for more than a few days. The fasting time was so difficult! I was always starving and struggling just to make it through a sixteen hour fast.
Since I started consuming only water, I find I can now easily make it to the 20- or 22-hour mark.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that I never experience hunger. However it almost always only lasts a few moments, making it so much easier to push through to the end of my fast.
4. Don’t Rely on the Scale
I know it may sound scary, but I strongly recommend taking before pictures and progress pictures as part of your measurement of intermittent fasting success.
Weight fluctuates so much, especially for women, and the scale may not show you a big loss, or even any loss at all until your body has adjusted to an intermittent fasting schedule. But you may just see a difference in those pictures!
It’s also really important to keep track of how you are feeling. I know most of us start intermittent fasting for the weight loss, myself included, but is weight loss worth it if it makes you sick and miserable?
You should also keep track of those other non scale victories like clearer skin, less binging, and mental clarity.
Don’t let a number on a scale that can vary from hour to hour or day to day be the ultimate indication of whether intermittent fasting is working for you. Most importantly don’t let that number ruin your day!
If you find the scale is making you want to quit, put it away and find another way to track your progress.
5. Fit Intermittent Fasting into Your Life
I think one of the biggest mistakes I made when I was starting out the first time was over researching and over analyzing.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with research and analysis, but there’s so much information out there and so many different methods of intermittent fasting that it can be overwhelming.
I recommend picking an intermittent fasting method that seems appealing to you and then making sure that it will fit with your lifestyle.
If you go with OMAD (one meal a day) would it be better for your schedule to have a morning, afternoon or evening meal? Is there anything in your schedule that would make it difficult to fast every other day if you decide to try alternate day fasting?
Once you’ve decided on a method, try it out. You will likely have to make some adjustments, but it shouldn’t feel impossible.
If the first method of intermittent fasting you try doesn’t work, there’s no harm in trying another one until you find one that suits you. You can even mix and match different intermittent fasting methods.
For example, I love the OMAD method of intermittent fasting during the week. It works very well with my work and family schedule.
However, I found that on the weekends it would be almost impossible for me to stick to just eating one meal a day. Days off are fine, but falling off the intermittent fasting wagon every weekend was so discouraging!
I felt like a failure, which would make picking intermittent fasting back up on Monday that much more difficult. So, I decided to make up my own plan … OMAD during the week, and closer to a 16/8 schedule on the weekend.
Would my results be faster if I did OMAD 7 days a week? It’s possible. However, my experience has been that when intermittent fasting didn’t fit into my lifestyle, I ended up quitting altogether. You don’t get results from quitting.
6. It’s OK to be Hungry
When I first started intermittent fasting, I had to learn that being hungry was not the end of the world.
I also had to really practice listening to my body. Was I hungry because I was bored or tired, or did I maybe not eat enough during my last meal? Maybe I was just thirsty?
I would almost always find that the hunger I was experiencing wouldn’t last for very long. If I distracted myself for a few minutes or had a glass of water, the hunger would almost always go away, or at least become a lot more manageable.
I’ve actually learned to embrace the hunger. Some days when I find I’m starving at a time that I wouldn’t normally be hungry, I’ve found that it means a drop in the scale is coming soon!
I’ve also found that the more I practice intermittent fasting, the less often I experience hunger as my body becomes fat adapted and learns to use the calories that I have stored in my body fat.
Of course, there’s a difference between feeling like you want to eat something and feeling physically sick.
One of the great things about intermittent fasting is its flexibility. If you feel truly unwell, you can just eat something and continue with your day.
The next fast is just around the corner.
7. Ditch the Diet
I’m not talking about a specific way of eating when I say “diet”.
The beautiful thing about intermittent fasting is that it can be combined with any style of eating!
If eating low carb/keto, vegan or gluten free makes you feel great, then carry on and incorporate intermittent fasting into whatever way of eating you choose.
When I say ditch the diet, I mean the diet mentality.
I know I’ve been there on past diets … if cutting calories is good, then eating even less is better!
If I make less than ideal food choices, I’ve been “bad”.
If some intermittent fasting is good for you, then even more fasting would be great for you!
This way of thinking is not only potentially unhealthy, it’s going to make intermittent fasting much more difficult.
As I said earlier, the more you practice intermittent fasting, the easier it will get, but you need to make it as easy as possible on yourself, especially in the beginning. Every fast should include a feast!
That doesn’t mean you need to overstuff yourself, although you may find yourself doing that at first.
You need to make sure you’re eating enough.
How much is enough will vary from person to person. You should be satisfied after you’ve eaten. If you consistently find that you’re super hungry a few hours into your fast, you’re probably not eating enough.
You may find yourself eating less on some days, and more than you thought possible on other days. You really have to learn to listen to your body!
I don’t count calories, ever. My body knows how much food it needs to eat.
If I were to try to feed it exactly 1500 calories every day, some days that might be ok. Others it might be way too much or way too little.
It will probably take a while, but the more you practice giving your body what it needs or doesn’t need, the easier it will get.
8. Give Yourself Time to Adjust
I’ve certainly been tempted by those ads that sometimes pop up saying “Lose 10 pounds of belly fat in a week!”
Intermittent fasting is probably not going to do that for you, I’m sorry to say.
I’ve even heard that some people may gain some weight at first, especially if they’ve been on a restrictive diet. That can be scary, but there are so many other benefits of intermittent fasting besides weight loss.
You might find yourself eating more than you need to at first, and that’s ok.
Eventually your appetite will adjust. You’ll be surprised that you no longer need as much food, and you may even start craving healthier food!
I mentioned the importance of finding other ways to measure your success and progress above, and the possibility of initial weight gain makes not relying on the scale even more important.
I gave up restrictive dieting a long time ago, so I was basically just eating anything and everything when I first started intermittent fasting.
Although I didn’t gain weight when I first began my intermittent fasting lifestyle, it certainly didn’t come off as quickly as I had hoped. To be honest I would still love it if the weight would come off a little faster. I’m learning to be patient and I know that this is for a lifetime, not just until I reach some magical number on the scale.
Patience truly is a virtue! However, I wouldn’t have started intermittent fasting if what I was doing before was working; all of the other non scale victories make it so worth it!
9. Skip the Negative Self-Talk
A huge part of why I was never successful with weight loss in the past is because of some of the things I would tell myself.
If I ate off plan or ate too much, I told myself I was a failure and that I would never be able to lose weight!
I decided this time that I was going to be much kinder to myself. I have goals about how much I would ideally like to fast, but if I don’t meet them, I don’t beat myself up.
Instead of telling myself I’ve failed and giving up once again, now I look at the positive things that I have achieved.
I met my fasting goal 5 out of 7 days this week!
I successfully fasted for 12 hours even though it’s the weekend!
I crushed my step goal for the day!
It may sound cliché but looking at the bright side and the things that have gone right instead of wrong has been so helpful to me this time.
10. Find Support
Maybe you have a best friend or a close family member that you can talk to freely about your struggles and successes with intermittent fasting. That’s great!
But if not, (or even if you do) I would highly recommend joining a Facebook group with other people who are either going through or have been through the same experiences as you.
It’s been really helpful for me to see that people are struggling with the same thing I struggle with, and really motivating to see all of the people who have overcome those struggles and found success!
You can search for intermittent fasting groups to find one that’s the right fit for you. I personally love Gin Stephen’s Delay Don’t Deny group.
All of these things have made it possible for me to finally stick with an intermittent fasting lifestyle for good this time. If you’ve been intermittent fasting for a while or are just getting started comment below with any other ideas, tips and tricks that have helped you to stick with it!