How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting

You’ve been hearing about it and seeing it everywhere you turn and you have finally decided that you want to try intermittent fasting, but how do you get started? SlimFast Plan Consultant and Registered Dietitian, Maryann Walsh shares a few steps to help guide you along as you get started with intermittent fasting!

Have a clear understanding of your purpose or your “reason why” for wanting to try intermittent fasting.
While this may seem like an easy step to skip or disregard, it is an important one for helping you get and stay motivated! Are you wanting to try intermittent fasting because you’d like to lose weight or maintain your weight? Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to feel and look better, or to be a healthier version of yourself for your loved ones? Get clear on your overall purpose so if and when you face any challenges on your journey you can think of your overall purpose which can help keep you motivated.

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Have a plan
As with any lifestyle change, it is extremely important to have a plan in place versus just attempting to “wing it”. Start by deciding which intermittent fasting approach you’d like to try. If following one of the SlimFast Plans you may find that the 16:8 or 12:12 patterns are good options to get started with. The SlimFast Plans (whichever you choose) provide an easy-to-follow framework that integrates seamlessly with intermittent fasting. You can read more about how the plans can all work with intermittent fasting by checking out this blog. Once you have decided the type of intermittent fasting plan you’d like to try, decide when your eating window will begin and end. For example, if you choose to do a 16:8 intermittent fasting plan, then you need to choose your 8-hour eating window. If you tend to go to bed later at night, say 11 pm for example and you wake up at around 7 am each morning, then you may find that an eating window of 12 pm – 8 pm is a good option for you. However, if you tend to feel hungrier in the morning hours but are not much of a nighttime eater, then perhaps an eating window of 9 am- 5 pm makes more sense for you.

Numerous factors come into play when creating your plan for intermittent fasting, overall lifestyle is one of them. Do you work from home where it’s a bit easier to prepare and eat different meals? Or do you work from an office with limited access to a kitchen/refrigerator? This could be a determining factor as to which feeding window you choose. Are you a parent who likes to enjoy an evening meal with your children? If so, you may choose to start your eating window later in the morning or early afternoon so you can enjoy dinner with your family. Make it work for your schedule, your lifestyle, and your preferences and you will be much more likely to be able to stick with it!

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Do some meal prepping!
Meal prepping doesn’t necessarily need to look like perfectly measured meals in portioned to-go containers like you see all over social media, it can consist of whatever makes it easier and convenient for you to stick to your meal plan for the day. With the SlimFast Plan, two meals are already done for you in the form of a ready-to-drink shake or bar, or you can easily mix up a smoothie with one of the SlimFast powder shake mixes. Snacks can be one of the many SlimFast snacks available or you can choose some of your favorite 100-calorie snacks like pre-wrapped cheese sticks, 100-calorie packs of almonds, greek yogurt, whatever you enjoy! You can also utilize a food scale (there are many affordable options online or at your local discount retailer) or measuring cups to pre-portion snacks that you buy in bulk like nuts or pretzels. Being prepared not only can save you time and money but also sets you up for success so your meals and snacks are always readily available during your feeding window, preventing you from having to rely heavily on take-out foods or unplanned indulgences.

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Enlist the help of a support system
Many find that having a support system via an accountability partner or group can be a game-changer when it comes to staying positive and motivated on a weight loss or weight management journey. Friends and family that are often supportive of your other endeavors in life likely are a good option to provide support. However, friends and family may not always understand your journey or your goals. If that’s the case, don’t be discouraged! Thanks to technology and social media, there are more ways than ever to seek support from others with the same goals as you! The SlimFast Together private Facebook groups are a supportive and safe space to interact with others on a weight loss or weight management journey. In these groups, individuals motivate and inspire each other while sharing ideas, tips, and advice! In the groups, you can interact with SlimFast Brand Ambassadors who have achieved success on the SlimFast Plan, as well as myself, a Registered Dietitian and consultant for the SlimFast Plan that has helped thousands of individuals achieve weight loss success over the past 10+ years. You can learn more about the groups here, we look forward to welcoming you as part of our community!

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Adapt your exercise regimen accordingly
While exercise is always encouraged for those seeking weight loss, weight management, or overall health and well-being, those starting an intermittent fasting plan may have to adjust their exercise regimens accordingly. If you have an existing exercise routine, keep in mind that as you get adjusted to your new eating window, you may find you need to change the time of day you exercise or the extent of your exercise, even if this is just at first. For example: if you like to go for a long walk or run a few days each week after work, and if your new eating window has you eating right after work, you may find it uncomfortable to walk or run right after a meal. In that case, it might make sense to push back this part of your routine an hour or so. If you are someone who cannot exercise on an empty stomach, then attempting to do a fitness class at 7 am when you have been fasting for the past 12-13 hours may not be practical for you and you may choose to try a class later in the day after you have eaten. As with other aspects of your health and wellness routine, it’s important to find what works best for you and of course, make sure any exercise you do participate in is safe for your abilities and you have received permission to do so from your healthcare provider.

As we wrap up this discussion on how to get started with intermittent fasting, you may be excited, motivated, and tempted to jump right into this new lifestyle change! However, as discussed, you can set yourself up for success by taking just a little bit of time to put a plan in place! Additionally, it is recommended that you check with your doctor before beginning any new dietary plan, especially if you have any medical conditions or are on any medications. Best wishes for success on your new intermittent fasting journey!