Benefits of Intermittent Fasting | Reasons to Take Intermittent Fasting break on Weekends | Potential Drawbacks to Taking a Break | What to Eat While on a Break
There is a reason why a lot of people have turned to intermittent fasting as a strategy for weight loss. The flexibility and adaptability to your individual lifestyle, while also seeing results, make it very appealing. Others enjoy the freedom that intermittent fasting brings from “what to eat” and “what not to eat” food lists. Often we get asked the question – Can You Take a Break from Intermittent Fasting On Weekends?
Intermittent fasting can work seamlessly into a variety of work schedules and lifestyles. Because intermittent fasting is a set schedule of when you are eating, most can find the right eating window and fasting window with times that align to their daily or weekly schedule.
For many of us, our weekday schedule may look vastly different than our lives on the weekends. If we have an intermittent fasting plan that fits into our work schedule or lifestyle, it can be easier to fall into a rhythm as we go about our usual working hours, child pick ups or drop offs, and consistent wake or sleep hours. (Side note: Did you know that intermittent fasting can actually help with your sleep?
Read here for Why Intermittent Fasting Can Help with Better Sleep)
But, what about on the weekends?
Sometimes, weekends can look completely different than normal weekday schedules.
Weekends are meant to be a “break” from your normal routine which can mean that you sleep in, have more of a social life, or simply rest and relax. This mindset of a “break” in our normal routine can also lead to a break in our normal eating pattern or intermittent fasting schedule.
So this begs the question, “Can you take a break from intermittent fasting on weekends?” In this article, we will answer this question as well as discuss why it may be a good idea to take a break, potential drawbacks, and what to eat while taking a break.
We’ll jump right in with answering the question of “Can you take a break from intermittent fasting on the weekends?” And, the short answer is yes, you can! With the right plan in place, you can choose to take a break on weekends without sacrificing the results that you see during the week. We will go over all the details of how this can be done successfully below.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Now that we know we can take a break from intermittent fasting on the weekends, let’s discuss some of the reasons why someone may try intermittent fasting in the first place.
For starters, a popular reason people first try intermittent fasting is for weight loss. It’s for good reason too, because many studies have shown that intermittent fasting does provide weight loss and fat loss results. The way that intermittent fasting works in favor of weight loss is through a calorie deficit.
Since following an intermittent fasting schedule reduces the number of hours that you are eating, then you are likely to consume fewer calories than you would normally. For example, if your eating window is from 12pm-8pm, you wouldn’t be reaching for a late night snack around 11pm since that would be in your fasting window.
The benefits of intermittent fasting extend far beyond weight loss alone. It can be a long term health strategy even after weight loss has been achieved.
Consistently following an intermittent fasting eating protocol has been shown to provide other health benefits outside of weight loss.
The following is a brief list of some of the health benefits that intermittent fasting can provide:
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Better blood sugar control
- Lowered risk of heart disease
- Reduced inflammation
There are different ways to practice intermittent fasting, which is why it’s compatible with a variety of lifestyles and schedules. Even though counting calories isn’t a requirement while intermittent fasting, it’s best to be aware of the number of calories you are generally consuming so that you know your energy needs are being met.
What you eat while intermittent fasting can affect things like your energy levels, cravings, and how you feel during your fasted state. If you have done intermittent fasting for a while, then you know that the last meal before your fasting window and the first meal of your eating window are especially important.
Reasons to Take a Break from Intermittent Fasting on Weekends
So, what happens when you follow your intermittent fasting plan during the week, but find it challenging to stick with that same schedule on the weekend? A couple things can happen if you find yourself in this situation.
First, it may be time to reevaluate your intermittent fasting schedule. By slightly adjusting the hours when you are in your fasted state, your periods of eating may better align with your plans for the weekend. That way, dinner out with friends or a spontaneous brunch won’t interfere with your fasting window.
The second option would be to consider taking a break from intermittent fasting on the weekends. We’ve established that you can take a break on the weekend, but you may be thinking, “will this affect my progress?”.
While it may slow down your progress, taking planned breaks on the weekend and returning to your normal intermittent fasting schedule won’t derail your progress completely. Ultimately, you are in control of your intermittent fasting plan and should follow what makes the most sense for your lifestyle and health goals.
Here are some reasons why you may want to take a break from intermittent fasting on weekends.
You have reached a plateau
If you haven’t seen as much weight loss or body fat loss for a few weeks, then you may have reached a plateau.
This can be a signal that it’s time for a weekend break which could be beneficial for progress. A shift in your eating habits can be a good option to get your metabolism out of a rut and start seeing progress again.
You are feeling burned out
Do you find yourself dreading your fasting days and wishing you could eat whatever you want? While a break from intermittent fasting could slow down progress, it may be the best option if it helps you stay consistent with intermittent fasting long term.
If this still doesn’t work, there could be a few reasons why intermittent fasting may not be working for you.
You have special plans or events that interfere with your normal intermittent fasting schedule
We all know there are certain times or seasons where our social calendars seem to fill up more quickly on the weekends.
Whether it’s a wedding, holiday event, or vacation, sometimes you need to take a guilt-free break to enjoy your event. Just make a plan to return to your normal eating pattern after the event is over.
Potential Drawbacks to Taking a Break
Let’s circle back to our mindset during the week vs. on the weekend. A simple example of this shift in mindset, for me, is my coffee.
During the weekdays, it’s easy to stick with my usual black coffee each morning because I’m in my normal work flow which carries over to my meal schedule. But, on the weekends, I sleep in and since I worked hard all week, I “deserve” my venti vanilla iced latte. This is the kind of thinking that becomes a slippery slope when it comes to eating on the weekends.
With this mindset, it can be difficult to stick with any diet, even intermittent fasting. Consistency and flexibility are key to making a weight loss or diet plan work. If you constantly have the mindset of “I deserve to eat junk food because I earned it”, then taking a break on the weekend may not be a good option.
Additionally, if you have a history of an eating disorder, taking a break on the weekend may not be a good idea. This strategy could trigger binge-type eating behavior and it’s best to consult with a medical professional or registered dietitian in this situation.
Even when you take a break from intermittent fasting on weekends, it’s still important to listen to your body. Pay attention to the way certain meals make you feel the next day. If you are feeling fatigued or sluggish after a carb-heavy meal or a full day of highly processed food, then you may need to reevaluate what you are eating while on a break. The side effects of eating “unhealthy” foods may be even worse if you have been consistently eating a whole foods, balanced diet.
What to Eat While on a Break
It may be tempting to indulge in whatever foods you want during your break, but it’s still important to remember the basics of a balanced diet. It matters what you put into your body, even if you aren’t intermittent fasting.
Aim for balanced meals of protein, healthy fat, and quality carbohydrates. Of course, it’s fine to splurge on some of your favorite foods for a meal or a day, but make sure to prioritize protein and fiber first thing at the next meal or the following day.
Here are some balanced(ish) ideas on what to eat while on a break from intermittent fasting:
- Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie (greek yogurt, peanut butter, cocoa powder, banana, and milk of choice)
- Spicy Shrimp Tacos
- Spinach-Mushroom Mac and Cheese
- Healthy Pumpkin Muffins
For more ideas on what to eat, check out these Intermittent Fasting Cheat Day Meal Ideas.
Conclusion – Can You Take a Break from Intermittent Fasting On Weekends?
While thinking about what foods to eat while on your break, it’s a good idea to also include a plan to resume your usual schedule. When you have a plan to return to normal, you can enjoy your break without feeling the need to overcompensate for your time off.
For example, you don’t need to fast for three days straight or severely restrict your calories in order to “make up” for your break. Your body responds best to its normal routine and that is where you will see the most results.
Even though consistency is key when it comes to most diet plans, taking a break from intermittent fasting on weekends can be done. Sometimes, it can even help us stay on track with our normal intermittent fasting plan to schedule in some breaks.
While it’s still important to remember healthy foods on a break, you can still include some of your favorite, more indulgent choices as well!