Starting something new can be challenging, especially if you need to make significant changes to your lifestyle. Implementing new habits around diet and breaking some of the old ones that are holding you back takes consistency and focus.

If you’re familiar with dieting but new to intermittent fasting, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at how easy fasting can fit in with your lifestyle. Once your body adjusts to the feeling of fasting, it can become a way of life.

For intermittent fasting sustainability and success, check out these tips:

Set Your Goals

Most people turn to intermittent fasting with a health goal in mind. This may be to lose weight, improve your blood sugar sensitivity, or enhance your physical performance.

Setting goals before you dive in will help you determine which fasting method is right for you and what to track. It will also influence the timing of your fasts and the nutrients you need to focus on.

Choose the Right Fast for You

There are several intermittent fasting methods for you to try. Some will be easier to adapt to than others. Choose a plan that suits your lifestyle preferences and one that you think you can stick with long term.

Some of your options include:

  • 16:8
  • 20:4
  • 5:2
  • Alternate-day fasts
  • Extended fasts

If you’ve never fasted before, it is recommended you start slowly. This may even be just skipping one meal in the day, to begin with. The 16:8 and the 5:2 methods are considered the easiest to begin with.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is recommended you consult your healthcare practitioner before beginning any fast.

Create a Plan

When starting any new regime, the number 1 reason it doesn’t become a solid habit is a failure to plan. Organisation is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

Take a look at your calendar and set the times for your fast. If you’re not fasting daily, identify which days you’ll be fasting and create a plan that you can commit to regardless of what pops up in the week.

Make a plan around the meals that you’ll be eating. If you’re restricting your calorie intake, plan out the meals that fit your requirements. This is especially important if you’re starting the 5:2 or 20:4 Warrior Diet.

Have a Daily Routine

Establishing a daily routine can help you make a habit of fasting at certain times in the day or week. It also allows you to integrate your fasting with your exercise.

When you begin intermittent fasting, you may find you have some extra free time that you would have otherwise spent shopping, preparing and consuming meals. Set a daily routine that helps keep you busy so you’re not spending that time thinking about food.

Focus on Quality and Nutrient Density

Whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply improve your overall health, to get the most out of intermittent fasting, you need to consider the quality of the food you are consuming in the feeding windows.

Firstly, you’ll be eating less often so it’s worth investing in quality, organic produce where possible. Focus on nutrient-dense foods that will nourish and support your goals rather than nutrient-poor foods, high in calories. You want to select foods that nourish and keep you fuller for longer, than foods that are going to give you a quick boost of energy.

Remember, not all calories are the same and although you may not be calorie counting, to enjoy the benefits of intermittent fasting, it’s vital you consider the nutrient value of the food you are eating.

Keep Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water during your fasting days is important to not only ward off hunger but to also enhance the benefits of intermittent fasting. During your fast, your body will be detoxifying and regenerating. It will be adapting from a carbohydrate burner to a fat-burning machine.

You also won’t be consuming as much water as you normally would through food, so you need to ensure you are staying hydrated throughout the day by regularly drinking water and herbal tea.

Track Progress

If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing. How you choose to track your progress will depend on your overall goal for intermittent fasting. If you’re looking to lose weight, you may want to get on the scales, measure yourself and take photos.

If you’re hoping for improved insulin sensitivity and metabolic health, you may want to take your blood sugar levels and blood pressure in addition to your weight.

For those with a goal of general wellbeing or improved mental health, journalling is a great way to keep track of any changes or challenges you’re experiencing. The simple act of writing thoughts down is actually associated with strengthened immune cells and a reduction in depression and anxiety.

Go Easy on Yourself

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, more of a lifestyle modification. When you begin, there are going to be times you fail. You may not last the entire 16 hours fasting or you may blow out your 500 calorie limit.

When making new habits failure is inevitable. Just learn from it, accept it and get back on track towards your goals.

Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. When things don’t go to plan, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, figure out why, make any necessary adjustments and move on. Remember, intermittent fasting is not a 6 week challenger, it’s a lifestyle that helping to promote lasting change.

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