This tip is specifically for those who are struggling with intermittent fasting. If you’re hungry or miserable, don’t force it! Shah says that even 12 or 13 hours of fasting can have significant effects on our health—there’s no reason to jump right into a 16- or 18-hour fast from the get-go.
“Research has looked at just 13 hours of fasting in a group of women who had breast cancer history, and they found a 34% reduction in breast cancer recurrence. So you can get profound benefits, even with short fasting windows,” she says.
So, if you’re new to intermittent fasting (or maybe you’re just having a hard time with it), you may want to take this “less is more” approach. As long as there’s some sort of time-restricted eating model, you can reap the many benefits of intermittent fasting, says Shah.
“I think a lot of the lay media really pushes people to do 16, and 18, and plus on a daily basis. But I think that you can start to see benefits even earlier, especially when you’re doing this time-restricted eating model.”
You can even eat a spoonful of nut butter or avocado if you’re feeling especially peckish in the morning—Shah says that you can eat up to 40 non-sugar, non-protein calories if you’re having trouble with your fast, and you won’t steer from your intermittent fasting goal.
Before you embark on your IF journey, it’s important to keep these guidelines in mind. Just the term “intermittent fasting” alone involves tons of different information, definitions, and eating plans, and—as always—it’s best to navigate your way through health trends as educated and informed consumers. Although Shah has many more tips and tricks under her belt, these three pieces of advice will help you get started on a fasting plan that’s safe, effective, and personalized to you.