Scientific Nutrition Update 7: Frequently Asked Questions About Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting Book

Welcome back, today we are discussing frequently asked questions about intermittent fasting.  If I don’t answer your question in this episode, remember you can always call in with the Anchor app and leave me a message with a question and I’ll answer it for you.  Just click here and you’ll be able to leave me a message with your question for me to answer.  The full script and episode for this episode is right below the fold.

For today’s episode we are going directly into my wheelhouse again.  This is part 3 of my three part beginner series on Intermittent fasting.  Two days ago episode was an introduction and yesterday is my guide to getting started and progressing in intermittent fasting, and today we will cover frequently asked questions surrounding intermittent fasting.


Does ___________ break my fast?


Cream in my coffee, chicken stock, something under 50 calories, etc…  It probably does.  If it has calories, it technically breaks your fast.  So, adding cream to your coffee does break your fast.  Having a snack breaks your fasts.  The only things that do not break your fast are zero-calorie drinks like tea and coffee. However, it’s important to remember that the driving factor for weight loss is the calorie deficit, so I always use a rule that I picked up from Brad Pilon the author of Eat, Stop, Eat; which is if you can avoid doing it then don’t, but if you have to, it’s probably better than eating a meal.  


Can I drink coffee?


Yes, and you are probably going to want to.  Coffee suppresses your appetite a little bit, so when you first start, many people find it helpful to get through their fast.  Now, you do not want to become dependent on this.  Using stimulants to suppress your appetite long-term could be a very harmful activity, and can be a sign of disordered eating.  


Can I drink alcohol?


Yes, you can.  If you want to stick rigidly to your fast, then you cannot drink during your fasting window, but one outside of your eating window every once in a while is not going to kill you.  One of the most important things to remember is that flexibility can make or break your diet.  If you do not allow yourself any flexibility, you will not last very long on this diet, and sometimes you need a night with your friends.  


I ate before I was supposed to. What now?


Relax.  Remember, if you are not flexible, this will not work.  Just try to keep your calories reasonable for the rest of that day, and then try again tomorrow.  The calorie deficit is what drives the weight loss.  


I feel tired during my fast. Is there anything I can do?


You’re allowed to drink coffee or tea if that helps you.  Many times, this could be caused by dehydration, so try drinking some water.  If you still are having some of those problems, the trick that has worked for me is salt water.  I’m not sure exactly why—there must be some electrolytic imbalance—but a little bit of salt in my water can help me get over it.  If you don’t want to drink straight salt water, there is another option: you can always buy zero-calorie electrolyte waters at the grocery store.  Those tend to be more palatable.


I want to try a longer fast. Is that okay?


That is a question you should talk to a doctor about, just like you should before you start this diet at all.  Many people have done longer fasts with no ill health effects.  I have gone as long as 40 hours, but remember, you should always consult with a doctor before you try any of these.


Can I take a cheat day?


Yes.  Take as many cheat days as you want—as long you are still reaching your weight goals.  If you do not occasionally take a day off, the diet can be overwhelming.  A day off can be the difference between success and failure.


When should I start?


Whenever you feel ready and have consulted the appropriate professionals.


Will IF cure _________?


Probably not.  People on the internet will push it as a cure for gastric reflux, headaches, fatigue, IBS, and more.  Most of these claims have zero evidence.  Remember, IF is primarily just a tool to make it easier for you to reduce your calories


I’m finding it hard to stick to my fast. What can I do?


Distract yourself.  It’ll be easier to stick to it if you have things occupying your attention.  Do something productive.  If you are still really struggling, you can always break your fast a little early.  Just get back to it the next day.  This diet is a tool to help you manage your calories, it should not run your life.


If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting consider checking out my book The Optimized Guide to Intermittent Fasting and if you enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and leave a review, it helps more than you know.  Thank you for tuning in, and remember live long, live healthy, but most of all live happy


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