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How often should you give yourself a break from intermittent fasting?
How often should you give yourself a break from intermittent fasting? avatar

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From 16:8 to 5:2, intermittent fasting is the most popular diet of the moment boasting a plethora of science-backed health benefits. But fitness expert Sam Wood says it's easy to do incorrectly.

Fasting is a popular practice that I don’t see going anywhere, anytime soon.

One type of fasting is extreme calorie restriction (usually on particular days), or better known as the 5:2 diet. The concern I have with this is sustainability, but also the tendency for people to overeat considerably on the days that aren’t calorie restricted. Our body responds well to structure, routine and sustainability and this particular type of fasting does not achieve that. The focus instead should be on the timing of your meals (making the window smaller). This can help curb the late night snacking and help you get in tune with your bodies hunger signals.

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Most people can benefit from a 16:8 fasting/eating window. This means you eat all three of your quality meals within an eight hour window and then wait 16 hours to eat again. It helps us with discipline, it helps us with structure and we still consume enough quality food while also tending to eat less. The reality is, most of us eat too much. So let’s look at my top three tips when it comes to fasting:

Sam Wood's top 3 tips to maximise fasting benefits

1. Don’t skip meals

Don’t think about fasting as a way to skip meals. A great approach to it is to still eat three, healthy, wholefood meals into your day. A balance of protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. Switch your mindset from fasting as a calorie restriction tool to one that simply gives you a bit more structure and pushes your meals into a smaller eating window. I find this very helpful for cutting out unnecessary snacking and ensuring I’m eating when I’m genuinely hungry.

2. Don’t treat your eating window as a free for all

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when fasting is focusing all their attention on when they’re eating while paying little attention to what they’re eating. No matter what your eating schedule is, you should always be aiming to eat real food and avoiding the processed.

3. Don’t worry if it’s not for you

Fasting shouldn’t cause you to tip your world on its head and you don’t need to do it every day to still experience benefits. Do it as often or as infrequently as you like!

Fasting is certainly a vogue word for 2020 but there is definitely some merit from a practical perspective if done sensibly and done right.

For more diet and fitness tips from Sam, head to 28 by Sam Wood. You can also follow Sam on Instagram @samjameswood.

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