Fasting Do’s and Don’ts!

Whether you’re doing it for religious reasons, weight loss, or simply to improve your health, intermittent fasting has proven to be extremely effective. And thanks to fitness enthusiasts, the practice has recently received a lot of attention and gained momentum. There is convincing scientific evidence that intermittent fasting can help people drop those kilos quickly and safely. The fast can also yield some significant anti-ageing benefits, due to increased insulin sensitivity, while calorie intake is reduced thanks to a much shorter feeding window. There are many other positive impacts this diet can have – including on cognition and blood sugar levels – which explains why everyone you know seems to be giving it a try. Essentially, intermittent fasting follows the basic idea that the less time you have during the day to eat, the fewer calories you actually consume.

Although there are many variations of intermittent fasting that can be followed, research suggests that time-restricted feeding (TRF) is the best approach for working adults. But bear in mind that it isn’t just the restricted food intake that is going to help; what you put into your body while on an intermittent fast mattersquite a lot. You’re not likely to achieve the results you want if you eat fries and burgers. In fact, having junk food while you’re on a fasting programme puts you at risk of reducing your iron, protein, fibre, and calcium levels –all of which are essential for the body.

When we eat, our body instantly starts working on the items consumed. It starts with our blood sugar going up, which is a signal for our body to release insulin into the bloodstream and turn all that sugar into energy, or else store it in your body as fat or muscle. There’s plenty of information out there about what to eat during intermittent fasting; here what to avoid for a healthier experience.

Shun the Sugar

Eliminating extra sugar from your food intake during the intermittent fast will help you heaps. Even having normal tea with honey in it isn’t the same as having a clear herbal tea; honey-sweetened tea is still pure simple sugar, and it might even be slightly worse as it has no fat to participate in slowing down the absorption process. Honey might be helpful otherwise, but it’s a big no-no when it comes to the fasting department. Recent studies have shown that even sweeteners sold as ‘zero calorie’ might trigger an insulin release and should be avoided as well. Although sweetened drinks are to be avoided during as well as breaking of the fast, if you really want that drink you’ve been craving, have it only during the breaking of the fast in controlled portions. And in general, stay away from sweets and other products that contain excess sugars.

Cut the Caffeine

Everyone has a love-hate relationship with caffeine. While excess consumption of caffeine can have some ill effects, caffeine also comes with some benefits and we just can’t seem to get enough of it! It can be found in coffee, black tea, and green tea, which makes it an issue when you’re fasting. Avoiding sugar to begin with can sap your energy levels, which makes the idea of a steaming hot cuppa sound amazing. However, although you will get your desired boost of energy, it won’t last. The crash is likely to make you lethargic, as caffeine blocks the receptors for adenosine, a chemical in our body that makes us feel sleepy. Seasoned caffeine-addicts are aware of the crash that comes after the effect has worn off, and we promise you: combined with the fast, the resulting crash can leave you unable to function.

Also, having caffeine on an empty stomach is generally advised against, as it can cause indigestion, heartburn, mood swings, and physical jitters. Sorry guys, but there’s just no way you can squeeze in a cold coffee between your intermittent fasting!

Careful With Those Calories!

Though this might seem like an obvious one, calories are sneaky and you might be surprised with the amount of calories present in everyday snacks. Bottled water that is marketed towards athletes often contains calories (because of certain additives), as does chewing gum! Although you don’t swallow the gum, the juices consumed also contain calories! Packaged tea, vitamins, cough drops – all of these contain calories. If you’re fasting then these should be avoided, as should fast foods and other products that deliver a major calorie doe without providing any nutritional benefits.

Also avoid taking medicines during an intermittent fasting programme. While some medicines come with calories, what’ more important is that if you are sick enough to need medicine, you shouldn’t be fasting anyway. It’s best to postpone the fast till after you feel better.

- Rubaina