How Do I Stop Myself from Overeating when Following Intermittent Fasting?
This is a question that pops up quite frequently, so I thought I would write an article to answer it.
When you embark on any change in lifestyle, there can be short-term side effects that can seem uncomfortable or strange. Specifically, with Intermittent Fasting and The 2 Meal Day there is a transition period where you go from using carbohydrates (from food) to fuel your body, to using stored body fat to fuel your day to day activities.
This transition period can last from anywhere to two to seven days for the average person. During that time, you might feel a little more hungry, tired, lethargic, irritable and sometimes you can get headaches (mainly due to dehydration).
It may also seem like you are overcompensating for missing a meal by overeating when you break your fast. Although this has been the general thought for quite a long time, there are in fact a number of studies that show that overcompensating for skipping a meal is a myth. You will certainly eat more at your two meals when you do break you fast, but it’s not enough to make up an entire missed meal.
Here lies the beauty of IF and The 2 Meal Day. Although it feels like you are overconsuming and eating too much, you are in fact eating less! What a game changer.
This is one of many reasons why IF and The 2 Meal Day becomes a way of life, rather than a short-term crash diet. People are losing weight, boosting their energy levels and transforming their relationship with food, effortlessly.
Why you might be Binging
However, some people do still struggle with overeating after their fasts and there are a number of factors that might contribute to why this is. If you still feel like you are binging at meal times after you feel like you have passed the initial “transition” period, there are some questions you should ask yourself.
Did you eat enough the day before?
The only time I feel exceptionally hungry and break my fast before 12pm is if I haven’t managed to eat enough food the day before. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I may be rushing around and I don’t manage to get enough calories in. If you feel like you are binging and overconsuming sometimes, it might be because you haven’t managed to eat enough on previous days. It might be worth tracking your calories for 14 days or so to see what is going on. I don’t mean counting and restricting, just track to see your levels. This can be an effective way to improve your understanding of the food you are eating and how it’s affecting you. I use my Fitness Pal once every 6 months or so for 14 days.
Are you eating nutrient dense foods?
It’s only when you start cooking from scratch from fresh ingredients do you realise that you don’t need to be eating every hour. This is because you are nourishing your body with proper food. If you have started IF or the 2 Meal Day without taking a proper look at the food you are eating, it could cause problems. IF is not a magic pill for weight loss, you must be eating nutrient-dense foods in order to succeed and learn to listen to your body.
Have you bitten off more than you can chew? (excuse the pun!)
If you are only a few weeks into your IF journey, but you have gone straight into 16 hour fasts, it might be that you have taken on too much too early. Play around with how long you are fasting, don’t force it. Anything above 12 hours is going to have fat loss opportunities and health benefits, but it’s important to ease your body into the process. Following the 2 Meal Day’s example weekly meal planner is a great place to start your IF journey off correctly!
Is eating 2 meals right for everyone?
If you have asked yourself these questions and it sounds like you are doing everything right, but you still feel like you are binging, then it might be that 2 Meals per day might not be for you.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get the fat loss and health benefits from following an intermittent fasting protocol, it just means that maybe you eat three or four smaller meals rather than 2 large meals in your eating window. You are still aiming for a 12-16 hour fast every day, but you will just consume your calories in a different way.
Everyone has a different relationship with food and mealtimes, what works for some people may not work for you. Intermittent Fasting is a very personal journey and although it can only take a few days to become a fat burner, it can take a lot longer to find the most effective method for you. You will need to play around with meal frequency, composition and length of fast.