What I Wish I'd Known Before Starting ADF

Day 25, Fast Day #12

This morning I woke up hungry, so I had a feeling it would be a tougher fast day. Since eating a lunch of a reduced fat string cheese (50 calories), my low-calorie tuna salad (72 calories), a can of Progresso Light soup (120 calories), and a whole cucumber (45 calories) and celery stalk (9 calories) with Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette Lite (45 calories), I feel quite full. I also have some calories left for an evening snack. 

Despite almost eating half of a pepperoni pizza for breakfast yesterday (haters gonna hate), I have somehow managed to defy physics and stay at a total of 12 lbs lost.

I am quickly approaching a month into this ADF adventure and we all know hindsight is 20/20. This is why I have some words of advice for my past self who was considering jumping into alternate day fasting, and anyone else thinking about radically changing their eating pattern through intermittent fasting:

1) Make sure fasting is appropriate for you - If you have diabetes, have an eating disorder, are pregnant, are underweight, or are under 21 you should not fast. If you have any other known medical issues or are on medications, you should also be cautious before doing any diet not prescribed by your doctor. If given the option, I probably would have done this first instead of deciding with Zach one day before running errands that today is now a "fast day."

2) Know what and how you are eating normally I was not trying to eat healthy at all prior to starting ADF, so the transition was pretty rough for me. I would recommend prior to fasting to start tracking your caloric and nutrient intakes. Calorie tracking alone has been an eye-opening realization for me as to how I ate and what my diet was missing to begin with.

3) Make a plan - Come up with a plan on how you are going to get in as many nutritional requirements as you can on both fast days and feast days. If you can't reach them just through food alone, figure out supplements that are effective and safe that you can take. For me, the struggle is always calcium since I have issues with dairy. I also usually plan out and prepare (if necessary) my food for fast days in advance. I feel like if I have a plan and the food is ready, I can stick to the 500 calorie limit and avoid temptation and slip-ups easier.

4) Prepare your gut -  I also highly recommend getting your body used to a lot of fiber if you aren't already. You will be eating a lot of veggies alternate day fasting. A lot of people have bowel movement issues (too much or lack thereof) when starting alternate day fasting. I think this is largely due to the change in the amount of fiber, if you didn't eat enough before. I also take probiotics supplements regularly (which I did before ADF) since it helps me with dairy and consequent tummy troubles. Probiotics are awesome.

5) Accept the fact that hunger is uncomfortable and you will be hungry - Since fasting involves not eating for longer periods than a lot of people are used to, or not as much food as people are used to in a day, you will more than likely experience hunger. Hunger is not fun. Your body will become more accustomed to the eating schedule if you stick with it though. Start a hobby (for me, blogging) or catch up on to-dos on fast days. Staying busy keeps your mind off of being hungry. Drink lots of fluids and eat food with lots of fiber to stay fuller, longer. Remind yourself on fast days that in 24 hours you can eat bacon if you want.

6) Be prepared for side effects of hunger - Zach says he never experienced any side effects from ADF. However, I know I did early on. I had a nagging headache on my feast days for the first week. I have read that other people, when starting ADF, also have gotten these headaches on fast days. They are most likely a side effect of hunger. If you get migraines, you should probably have any medication you take for them handy, or maybe start fasting on non-work days so you can lay in the dark for awhile if you need to (or whatever else you need to for migraines). Hunger might also make you light-headed and irritable. I know I can feel "hangry" at times. You also might feel tired or fatigued from fasting. Some people even get nauseous. I felt a little dizzy my late in my first couple of fast days and was tired. But now I am usually more productive and usually at least as energetic on my fast days as my feast days, if not more so.

7) Be okay with a little failure - Failure is human. A lot of us are used to the feeling of failure since "lose weight" is often on the New Year's resolutions list (this has been on my list since college). I have already failed a lot. I have missed fast day and feast day calorie goals (eaten way too much on both). I have also eaten junk food, had to totally guesstimate portions to track calories, and have probably forgotten to include here and there to add to my food diary. This is okay. I have accepted I will fail, do fail, and am not getting disappointed about it. It is important to keep long-term health goals in mind and just keep working on them.

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