5 Common Intermittent Fasting Mistakes + How to Avoid Making Them

Heads up — when it comes to IF, there’s no one-size fits all.

By: Rebecca Jacobs

Intermittent fasting has become one of the most buzz-worthy wellness trends, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon. We’re diving deeper into what it is, why it’s so popular, and some of the commonly seen (but easily avoidable) intermittent fasting mistakes.

Interested? Keep scrolling. 

What is Intermittent Fasting & Why is Everyone So Hyped About it? 

Commonly referred to as IF, intermittent fasting isn’t about what you should eat, but when you eat — with intermittent fasting, you cycle between periods of eating and periods of fasting. For most who are just getting started, this simply means extending the nighttime fast by skipping breakfast and making your first meal of the day closer to lunch. 

This is called the 16/8 method, where you have an 8 hour eating period, and 16 hours of fasting. 

Ok, so why are people so excited about it? Here’s what research shows about intermittent fasting. 

  • IF May Support Weight Loss Efforts: Since intermittent fasting is a simple way to reduce how many calories you consume each day, it makes sense that it may help support weight loss efforts. Some research has shown that short-term fasting may also have a positive effect on our metabolism.
  • May Support Digestive Health: Some research has suggested that intermittent fasting may have a positive impact on gut health
  • Inflammation: Inflammation is such a hot topic, and for good reason as too much can have a negative impact on our overall health. And, some research has suggested that fasting may help reduce some markers of inflammation. 

Note: Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. Always speak with your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns you may have about whether or not it’s right for you. 

Are You Making These 5 Intermittent Fasting Mistakes? 

So the research is pretty impressive, but there are some important things to keep in mind when intermittent fasting and some common mistakes that may not make it as beneficial as it potentially could be. 

Here are five common intermittent fasting mistakes, plus how you can avoid them altogether. 

#1 Going Into it Too Soon

While the 16:8 intermittent fasting method may seem fairly simple as you are just extending your natural evening fast, it can be a shock to the system if you jump right into it. If it’s your first time trying intermittent fasting, you may not want to fast for the whole 16 hours. Instead, you may want to start by pushing your breakfast back an hour or two and seeing how your body feels. You can work your way up to what feels best for you.

#2 Not Hydrating Enough 

During your fasting period, you’ll definitely want to stay on top of hydration by drinking plenty of water! It’s easy to forget if you usually drink a lot of your daily water intake during mealtimes, but you don’t want to get dehydrated. So, have a reusable water bottle with you at all times and fill up as needed. 

But Wait… What About Coffee? 

If waking up without that morning cup of joe just isn’t gonna happen, you may be wondering if you can still have your coffee while intermittent fasting. 

While some people just stick to water during their fasting period, others opt to include black coffee (this means no added sugar or milk). Some even find that it helps them get through their fast as some do find that coffee may help reduce feelings of hunger for a short period of time even though there isn’t any solid science to really back this up. 

If that cup of coffee is a part of your morning routine and helps during your fasting period, just be sure to enjoy it in moderation (like one cup), and enjoy it plain with nothing else added. 

#3 Not Eating The Most Nutritious Foods Once Your Fast Ends 

This is a big one because what you eat after your fasting period ends matters (in a big way!) Ideally, we want to focus on wholesome and nutrient-dense foods as often as possible. 

Fuel your body with the foods it craves, starting with your very first post intermittent fasting meal — your body will thank you! 

Here are some yummy meal ideas to break that fast:

  • Scrambled eggs with dark leafy greens, onion, half of an avocado, and a slice of gluten-free toast 
  • Salmon filet with quinoa and asparagus
  • Chicken breast served over quinoa with a side of broccoli and balsamic vinegar 

#4 Or, Eating Too Much 

There’s also the common mistake of just simply eating too much once your fasting period is over. If you find yourself starving after intermittent fasting, it may be helpful to have a nourishing meal already prepped and ready to go, this way you’ll be less likely to reach for something that may not be as healthy. 

#5 Not Mixing it With Healthy Lifestyle Habits 

Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, and it shouldn’t be viewed as one or looked at as something that could replace other healthy lifestyle habits. 

Ideally, we want to be taking care of all aspects of health, which includes a regular self-care routine, exercise, and getting enough sleep. 

Intermittent Fasting & Fitting it Into a Healthy Lifestyle 

If you find that intermittent fasting is something that works for you, it should be something you consider as complementary to a healthy lifestyle, not something that adds restriction. If you don’t feel amazing doing it, then chances are, it’s not for you, and that’s ok! 

Also, don’t forget that while one fasting method may work for one person, it may not work for you. It’s ok to find your own fasting window and what’s sustainable for you. If an eating window of 8 hours isn’t working, try something else — healthy eating and living is about what makes you feel your best, so don’t get hung up on a specific number here. 

And last but not least, it’s ok to be flexible with your intermittent fasting routine. While you may have a certain number of days you want to intermittent fast each week, we all have a life, and sometimes Sunday brunch with friends is more important than intermittent fasting for the day. So, don’t let it dictate your life — it’s ok to be a little flexible here. Life is all about balance.