Forget 15 minutes of fame, intermittent fasting has been in the spotlight for quite a while now, and it doesn't seem like it's going anywhere anytime soon, with more and more research suggesting it really is an effective way to lose weight.
There's numerous ways you can might choose to intermittent fast.
There's the 16:8 rule, where you fast for 16 hours a day and eat within an eight hour window, or there's Dr Michael Mosley's 5:2 diet where for five days of the week you eat normally and two days a week you restrict your calorie intake to 500 to 600 calories.
The research shows fasting can help people who are overweight lose fat and improve their insulin sensitivity, even improving diseases such as type 2 diabetes and improving gut health and sleep – that's an impressive list of benefits!
WATCH: How Dr Michael Mosley reversed his Type 2 diabetes. Story continues below...
There is of course the chance fasting may not work for you, everyone is different after all, but if you're keen to give it a try or have been trying your best but not seeing results, here are five mistakes, according to Dr B.J Hardick, that you may be making that are putting you on the back foot.
1. You don't journal your food
Believe it or not, tracking what you eat and when you eat it can actually make a huge difference, with one study even showing that writing down everything you eat could actually help to double your weight loss.
Tracking your food intake along with exercise, sleep patterns and general mood throughout the day can also help you find out where there might be areas that you can improve on.
2. You're not properly fasting during your fasting hours
During your fasting window you should be consuming zero, or close to zero, calories, but it's easy for them to accidentally slip in, which will end up breaking your fast and consequently putting you on the back foot.
For example, generally speaking a cup of coffee or tea shouldn't break your fast if it's less than 50 calories – so if you're having a black coffee with a dash of milk you'll be fine, however if you're someone who goes for that caramel latte to satisfies your sweet-tooth, unfortunately you're probably breaking your fast.
3. You could be overeating or eating the wrong foods
Fasting usually is a great way to moderate your food intake without having to count calories, however, for some people, breaking a fast can just be an excuse to consume high calorie food, which is probably not doing you any favours.
These kinds of food can send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster as it spikes your insulin levels which can leave you feeling hungry and moody throughout your fasting hours.
Even though you may not have to pay close attention to how many calories you consume, you should still be opting for healthy and nutritious food during your eating hours for optimal results – the Mediterranean diet has been proven to be one of the healthiest ways to eat because it's very balanced and nutrient-rich with a big focus on healthy fats.
4. You're moving a bit too quickly
Heading straight into a 24-hour fast is a big ask for anyone, and could lead to you being put off before you even begin.
Instead, take it slowly by starting with a smaller fasting window and gradually increase it. The 16:8 ratio is one that most people find effective and manageable.
5. You're not looking after yourself in other areas of your lifestyle
While many people tend to focus on diet and exercise to try and stay healthy, other crucial pieces of the puzzle include getting an optimal amount of sleep each night (ideally eight hours), looking after your mental health and stress levels and having a healthy social life.
When all these aspects of your lifestyle are working together, you're more likely to see enhanced results.
Of course, no one diet or eating plan works for everyone, but if you're wanting to give intermittent fasting a try, making sure you're avoiding the aforementioned five common mistakes will help you determine whether intermittent fasting is for you.
The Ministry of Health recommends talking to your GP before undertaking any major changes to your diet.
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