Intermittent fasting, as you probably know, is a type of eating pattern where you go through phases of eating and not eating. Not only do you need to know what you can have during the fasted state, but also how and when to eat when the eating period begins. This blog post is going to provide you with info for eating both while fasting and not fasting.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when following intermittent fasting is that they are counting the hours until they can eat, then they will overeat. The point is not to starve yourself for 20 hours just so you can binge eat for 4 hours. You want to stick to your normal diet, but eat in 2-3 larger meals, instead of constantly eating throughout the day. If you are restricting calories, continue to do so, but still stick to nutrient-dense meals. You want that food to fuel your body and sustain you for the next fasting phase.
Try No-Calorie Beverages
If you are just starting out with intermittent fasting, you might not know exactly what “fasting” entails. This does not mean you have absolutely nothing during the fasting window. Instead, you want to stay hydrated, so make sure you have plenty of water. You can also have no-calorie beverages like tea and coffee. Just be careful about what you add to your coffee. Some people allow themselves a splash of creamer in their coffee, since the calories is still extremely low, but try not to depend on that. If you really just want something else to drink like soda, stick to diet soda, but do not make this a habit either.
Stick to a Healthy Diet
Many people make the mistake of using intermittent fasting as an excuse to eat what they want, then fast, assuming it will balance out and they won’t gain weight. This is the absolute wrong mindset to have, plus, you aren’t going to gain all the wonderful benefits of intermittent fasting if you choose this method. When you are eating after fasting, ease into it slowly, starting with a normal-sized, healthy meal. Your meals during a shorter eating window should be as nutritious as possible, with lots of vitamins and minerals. Think lean protein, fruits and veggies, grains, nuts, and seeds. Yu may have one or two larger meals, but if you have gone 16-24 hours without a meal, you don’t want that first meal to be riddled with preservatives, sugar, and processed ingredients.
Can You Drink Coffee While Fasting?
One of the most common questions people ask when they start intermittent fasting, is whether or not they can drink coffee (or other drinks) during a fasted state. The short answer is yes, but it is a little more complex than that.
What You Can Drink While Fasting
First, let’s talk about what you can drink and/or eat during a fasted state. The simple answer is that you can have anything with zero calories or extremely low calories. While fasting, you really should not have any calories, so the basics are drinking water, tea, and coffee black. Of course, there are some different variations on this depending on your preferences and comfort levels, which you will learn about in later sections.
Drinking Coffee During Your Fast
Many people will rely on drinking coffee during their fast for several reasons. For one thing, if you are fasting for several hours in the morning, not having food or drinks can be hard on your body. It is difficult to get enough energy for work or exercising in the morning without that caffeine in your body. So, you can definitely have coffee while fasting, but drinking it black is preferred. You can also drink tea if you want something flavored, but without caffeine, or very low amounts of caffeine.
Adding Cream or Sugar to Your Coffee or Tea
This is often where people make some common mistakes with intermittent fasting and drinking coffee. Coffee itself has nothing in it but coffee beans and water, so naturally this is fine during a fast. The point is to be at zero calories or as low as you can be during the fasted state. Therefore, you are advised not to have sugar, creamer, or even natural additions like honey to your coffee. However, some people believe it doesn’t make much of a difference with just a splash of creamer in their coffee. If you think you can stick to intermittent fasting by just having a tablespoon or so of creamer, by all means add it. This is much different than eating a full meal for breakfast and breaking the fast that way.
Bulletproof Coffee and Intermittent Fasting
This is when things change a little bit. If you decide to have Bulletproof or keto coffee during your fast, then you are not actually doing intermittent fasting. What you are doing is often referred to as Bulletproof Fasting. This is when you go a prolonged period with no food, but you still have the fat and calories from your Bulletproof coffee. Generally, you won’t still be fasting if you are adding butter and coconut oil to your coffee.
Dealing with Your Fasted Hours
During intermittent fasting, you have two phases, including the fasted state and the feeding state, or fed state. When you are fasting, this is the period of time where you don’t have anything to eat or anything with calories, including beverages with calories. This is often the challenge for people, especially those fasting for 16-24 hours or longer. Here are some tips for dealing with the fasted hours.
Have Water, Coffee, and Tea
It is really important that you stay hydrated during your fasted period, which does seem to be an issuer with people starting this. Continue drinking plenty of water while you are fasting, as this keeps you hydrated and can help keep you full. You can also have coffee or tea, just don’t put anything in it with calories. Some people will have diet soda or add a sugar substitute with no calories to their coffee, but if you notice intermittent fasting isn’t working for you, this might be where you are going wrong.
Fasting Hours Should Be While You Are Sleeping
Naturally, a good amount of your fasting hours should exist while you are sleeping. You are already going to be in a fasted state during this time, so the rest of your fasted hours are before and after your bedtime hours. This is a good way to schedule it as well. You want to consider if you are hungrier in the morning or evening when deciding when the eating hours should be. Someone who is starving when waking has a harder time fasting in the morning. So, you can adjust your schedule to where your fast actually starts late in the afternoon, instead in the evening.
Stay Busy During Fasting Hours
While you will likely get used to fasting over time, it can be hard in the beginning. When you have some of your fasting hours before or after bedtime, this makes it a little more difficult not to want to snack. However, keep in mind it won’t last forever, and soon you will be able to enjoy the foods you love. A good way to distract yourself from thinking about foods and counting down the hours is to simply stay busy. Find hobbies, focus on work, or go for a walk. This can really help to keep your mind off the food or lack thereof.
Exercise While Fasting
This is going to vary based on the person, but there are a lot of benefits to working out in your fasted state. First of all, you are already burning more fat, so adding in a fasted workout just helps you to burn even more. You can also avoid the hunger pangs by working out, and distract yourself with your fitness routine.
Do’s and Don’ts for Intermittent Fasting
Before you get started with intermittent fasting, it helps to have a better understanding of how it works, and what you should or should not to. The following list includes some common do’s and don’ts that are bound to come up, allowing you to avoid some of the more common mistakes people make.
Do: Transition Slowly
Make sure you are not going into intermittent fasting without planning ahead of time, and without really researching different protocols. You might want to transition into it slowly, such as doing the 16/8 protocol a couple days a week instead of every day, or trying to fast just 12 hours at first, then gradually working your way up to 16 hours.
Don’t: Make Yourself Uncomfortable
Intermittent fasting can be hard on your body at first, especially if you are used to eating 6-8 small meals throughout the day. This is another reason why you might do better transitioning to eating less meals during the day, then switching up the hours so you are following an intermittent fasting regimen. If you feel like you are faint from going too long without eating, then it is time to re-think the protocol you are following for IF.
Do: Listen to Your Body
You also want to listen to your body when you start intermittent fasting. You may try a protocol that simply isn’t working for you, so it shouldn’t be forced. While you do want to give each protocol a good amount of time to find out if it is a good fit, don’t go months being uncomfortable and miserable on a particular IF protocol. You may just need to accept the fact that it isn’t a good one for you.
Don’t: Start Binge Eating
This is one of the bigger mistakes people make when they first start intermittent fasting. You might find that during the short window when you can eat, all you want to do is binge eat and go for anything you can get your hands on. This is the absolute wrong way to fast. Intermittent fasting is not meant to encourage unhealthy eating habits. You should eat the same healthy foods you normally would, just during a shorter window.
Do: Stay Hydrated While Fasting
Make sure you are staying hydrated while you are fasting. People often forget to drink water just because they are fasting and can’t consume food or drinks with calories in them. You should also avoid any drinks that might cause you to become dehydrated, like diet sodas. While technically they are allowed, they are not recommended.
Don’t: Watch the Clock
While you do want to be sure you are waiting the appropriate amount of time while fasting, don’t let it take over your life. You want to develop a different mindset with food and how often you should eat, so try to just set a timer on your phone when it’s time to eat again.