Lately, most of us in the world have experienced some type of restriction on our activities.
If you’re new to fasting or are having a difficult time adjusting to all the changes that have taken place, fasting may not be working as well for you.
In times of stress, your natural response is to eat heavy carb-laden food for comfort. This will derail your fasting and weight loss efforts.
You have the power to make fasting work even if your mind is telling you to eat all the cookies in the cupboard.
Make sure you’re in some kind of caloric deficit
The first thing you can do to make fasting work is to track your eating patterns for a week.
Long-term calorie counting isn't necessary but it’s good to know roughly how many calories you're consuming per day.
A good way to do this is to use a tracker like MyFitnessPal.
I remember doing this a while back. I was stunned at the number of calories some of the food I was eating had. Even though it was mostly healthy food.
All calories are not created equal.
Focus on eating quality food which usually has fewer calories. You can also play around with your carb intake.
Eat more carbs when you're doing weightlifting or other forms of strenuous exercise. This can help with overall muscle development as well.
Eat fewer carbs and calories on rest days.
Keep in mind that fasting allows you to go into an automatic caloric deficit. It's also possible to not be eating enough and over time that will slow down fat loss and muscle-building efforts.
Diet plays a crucial role
Fasting only works if you're eating a diet filled with whole minimally processed foods.
Focus on eating food like:
- Grass-fed meats-Bison and lamb are popular alternatives to beef.
- Root vegetables- Sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and rutabaga are filled with necessary vitamins and minerals. Fall and winter are best for eating them.
- Leafy greens- Greens like arugula and dandelion have phytonutrients that you won't find in other foods. Arugula is high in magnesium which can help with anxiety.
- Legumes- Red beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, and beyond. There are so many options. Beans fill you up fast and give you long-lasting energy. Plus they are usually inexpensive.
- Fruit- Eating fruit can be a great alternative for a sweet tooth. Plus if you aren't worried about carbs they’re a great gluten-free option.
- Nuts and seeds- can help get rid of the urge to munch on chips and other junk foods.
Create a diet that works for you. Use popular diets like Vegan, Keto, and Noom for inspiration. But the truth is there’s no set diet that works for everyone.
The longer you practice fasting the better you’ll get knowing what your body needs to thrive.
Movement is key
Many of our lives in the East and West are becoming increasingly sedentary.
If you cannot move as much as you want to consider alternating between sitting, squatting, and standing.
This will help keep your blood flowing and your mind off hunger. You can also incorporate short walks in your day even if you practice social distancing.
Play is also good for incorporating movement without the need for a gym. If you have children take the time to be active with them.
You’ll be able to develop a deeper bond while making your fasting efforts successful.
Elevated levels of stress make fasting harder
Now more than ever before it’s important that you monitor your stress levels.
While some stressors are good like mental challenges and vigorous exercise, many of us experience toxic stress.
Fasting can help reduce stress but it's up to you to form stress-reducing habits.
Consider building habits like:
- A morning meditation before you look at your phone (this one I’m still working at).
- A morning walk
- Taking a few moments each day to daydream and decompress
- Limiting caffeine consumption
- A consistent sleep schedule and waking up without alarms
You have the opportunity now to create a life that works for you. Use fasting as a tool to help make that happen.
Eat well, move more, and reduce toxic stress. You’ll find that fasting will start to work for you…always.