Intermittent fasting (“IF” for short) is often lumped in with other trending eating strategies – namely, the Keto Diet – and labeled a “fad diet.” This is a negative connotation, of course, one that implies that IF is a flash in the pan rather than a viable option long-term.

Truth be told, IF is sustainable. It can also be one of the easiest and most effective ways to drop body fat and improve overall health – if you do it correctly. As with any diet, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. If you’re thinking of giving IF a try, avoid the below six mistakes to keep your fat loss on track and your muscle gains up, too.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Before I get into the six mistakes, let’s have a quick refresher on exactly what this style of eating entails.

IF involves periods of fasting alternated with feeding “windows.” One of the most popular and effective IF schemes (and the method I prefer) is a 16/8 plan, where you fast for 16 consecutive hours and then consume all of your calories for the day in the following 8 hours. When you fast is completely up to you – you can fast from 9pm to 1pm the next day, 9pm to 11am, midnight to 4pm, whatever you want. A 16/8 IF plan is intended to be done every day, indefinitely.

A slightly more advanced version of this is an 18/6 scheme. Same concept: You fast for 18 hours every day and consume all of your food in a 6-hour feeding window.

This may seem like an obvious point, but I’ll mention it anyway just to be clear: Fasting means consuming zero calories. No food or calorie-containing beverages. In fact, I generally recommend avoiding zero-calorie drinks with artificial sweeteners during fasting periods, since the sweetness in them could raise blood insulin levels (the science is still inconclusive on this). While fasting, you can drink water, black coffee, and plain green tea. That’s pretty much it.

IF can be effective for fat loss, but it also offers numerous health benefits, including better insulin sensitivity, improved cholesterol levels, and enhanced immune function.

Now that I’ve covered the basics of IF, here are the six mistakes to avoid…

Man intermittent fasting and timing his meals and feeding windows

The Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Everything you need to know about this diet strategy.

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