How to get started with Intermittent Fasting

How to get started with Intermittent Fasting

How to get started with Intermittent Fasting

A lot of us have heard about intermittent fasting, and some even considered it to lose a couple of pounds. However, it’s not just about weight loss. Intermittent fasting is so popular for many reasons, and losing extra weight is just one of them.

 

In this beginner’s guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about this popular eating pattern, what type of fasting there are, how to begin, and whether it’s at all worth it. Let’s dive right into it!

 

How does intermittent fasting work?

First of all, it’s important to mention that intermittent fasting (IF) isn’t really a diet, but rather an eating pattern. The main point about IF is when you have your meals, and not what you actually eat. Of course, fasting won’t work if you eat lots of processed foods or stuff yourself with too many calories.

 

Throughout human history and evolution, people were able to go without food for extended periods of time. All the major religions practice fasting, from Christianity and Islam to Judaism and Buddhism.

 

So, if you are fasting, you only eat during a specific time, according to the type and IF schedule you choose. It can be anything from fasting for a certain number of hours to going without food for several days. You can stick to just one meal a day two days a week or eat during an eight-hour period.

 

IF helps you burn fat through metabolic switching. Without food, your body uses all the sugar and has to switch to burning its fat stores. Of course, depending on the type of IF, you might still be able to eat very little food. More on this in the next section.

 

Intermittent Fasting Methods

As we mentioned earlier, there are currently several methods of intermittent fasting, all of which consist of splitting your time between fasting and eating. Each method has its own benefits – you’ll have to figure out which one suits you best. However, it’s important to speak with your doctor before you begin your first fast.

 

Fasting for 16 hours

The 16/8 method – also known as the Leangains protocol – is the most popular one. It consists of fasting for 16 hours every day with an 8-hour eating window. How many meals you fit within the window depends on your personal preferences.

 

While 16 hours without food might sound like a lot, it’s actually not that scary. You just simply have to skip breakfast and not eat anything after dinner. If you are a breakfast lover (and also an early bird), this method can be hard to get used to.

 

Your schedule could look like this:

 

12 pm – first meal

4 pm – second meal/snack

7 pm – last meal

8-12 pm – no food

 

Of course, you can drink water, green tea, and black coffee during your fasting period. In fact, it’s a proven way to not feel too hungry!

 

Fasting for 12 hours

This method is similar to the 16/8 IF but is more suitable for beginners. The fasting window is smaller and mostly happens during the sleep hours. Yet, your body will still be able to release ketones into your bloodstream, which, in turn, triggers the fat to burn.

 

This is how your schedule might look:

7 am – first meal

2 pm – second meal

6 pm – last meal

7 pm – 7 am – no food

The same rule applies to the 12-hour fast – you can still drink water, tea, and coffee.

 

The 5:2 fast

The 5:2 fast is often called the Fast Diet. It looks like this: you eat regularly for 5 days and limit your calorie intake for 2 days – the rest of the week. So, on the “fasting” days, you could only eat somewhere between 500-600 calories a day. This could help you improve insulin levels and lose a couple of extra pounds.

 

This is an example of your 5:2 schedule:

Monday – regular

Tuesday – 2 small meals, 500-600 calories in total

Wednesday – regular

Thursday – regular

Friday – 2 small meals, 500-600 calories in total

Saturday – regular

Sunday – regular

 

As you can see, you won’t be “fasting” for two days in a row, since there should be at least one regular day in between the fasting days.

 

Eat Stop Eat

This approach was popularized by Brad Pilon, a fitness expert and the author of a book of the same name. It’s similar to the 5:2 method, but with one main difference: instead of limiting your calorie intake on your fasting days, you don’t eat anything for 24 hours once or twice a week.

 

This is essentially fasting from dinner to dinner, breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch.

 

Here’s an example of Eat Stop Eat:

 

Monday – regular

Tuesday – no food

Wednesday – regular

Thursday – regular

Friday – regular

Saturday – regular

Sunday – regular

 

When you’re done with the fasting on Wednesday, you go back to eating the same amount of food as you did on Monday. Water, coffee, and tea are allowed.

 

Alternate-day fasting

If the 5:2 and Eat Stop Eat don’t seem enough, you could try this approach. In alternate-day fasting, you fast or limit your calorie intake to 500-600 every other day. This isn’t the most sustainable IF in the long term and is considered rather extreme.

 

Here’s a quick example of what your Alternate-day schedule could look like:

 

Monday – regular

Tuesday – no food/no solid food/calorie restriction

Wednesday – regular

Thursday – no food/no solid food/calorie restriction

Friday – regular

Saturday – no food/no solid food/calorie restriction

Sunday – regular

 

Spontaneous meal skipping

While the spontaneous meal skipping method is not your classic intermittent fasting, it’s still an effective way to lose weight. That is if you make sure to eat healthy, balanced meals when you’re not fasting and don’t overeat.

 

So, all you have to do is skip meals from time to time, one or two at a time. Like this, you reduce your calorie intake and can lose extra pounds. You can skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner – whatever you’re more inclined to.

 

Here’s how your spontaneous meal skipping may look like:

 

Monday – breakfast, lunch

Tuesday – breakfast, lunch, dinner

Wednesday – lunch, dinner

Thursday – breakfast, lunch, dinner

Friday – breakfast, dinner

Saturday – breakfast, lunch, dinner

Sunday – lunch, dinner

 

The Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet, popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler, is pretty similar to the paleo diet. You eat whole, unprocessed foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables during the day. At night, you have a 4-hour window to eat one large meal.

 

This method of fasting isn’t the most beginner-friendly and is certainly not sustainable long-term.

 

Intermittent fasting benefits

As you might have already realized, intermittent fasting is great for those who want to lose some weight. In fact, weight loss is the most popular reason for people to even consider IF. You eat fewer meals and control your calories. It’s important to mention that the quality of the food you eat while you’re not fasting is crucial.

 

However, as we mentioned earlier, it’s not just about losing weight. Fasting changes hormone levels, lowers insulin, and boosts your metabolic rate, affecting both your body and brain. It can protect your organs against various chronic diseases. Of course, you can end up losing your muscle mass as well.

 

Here are some of the benefits of IF:

Better memory

Better physical performance

Lower risk of diabetes

Lower risk of obesity

Better heart health

Better tissue health

 

Sticking to an intermittent fasting diet can be tricky, especially if you’re a complete novice. Here are some tips that might help you stay on track:

– Drink lots of water. Herbal tea should work as well.

– Get a lot of rest. Light exercise is ideal for your fasting days. Don’t run to the gym for a hardcore workout while you fast!

– Don’t think about food. If possible, distract yourself with movies, books, or chores and errands on your fasting days/hours.

– Eat high-volume food. Some raw vegetables and fruit can easily make you feel full. Popcorn works, too!

– Eat nutritious food. If your fasting plan, such as 5:2, allows you to eat some food, go for fiber and protein, as well as healthy fats.

– Season your food. There are a lot of options that aren’t high on calories, such as garlic, vinegar, herbs, and spices.

 

Try Herbalife

Adding supplements to your diet is another great option for you whilst fasting. Herbalife meals are great for those who don’t have time to cook or for 5:2 types of fasting.

 

All Herbalife products and nutritionally complete, which makes your eating window much more pleasant. A Herbalife meal replacement shake has only 90 calories but leaves you feel full. They are suitable for vegans, gluten-free, and some of them are even suitable for those who want to cut out dairy. Plus, they are affordable – for example, a Herbalife shake is just under £2 per meal.

 

F.A.Q.

What can I eat while I fast?

The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t go crazy on your eating window. Stick to healthy foods and avoid junk food and unhealthy snacks. While you should mainly drink water (plenty of water) while you’re fasting, coffee and herbal tea are also fine.

 

If you choose the 5:2, Eat Stop Eat, and Alternate-day fasting, go for complex carbohydrates, such as healthy fats, lean protein, leafy greens, and so on.

 

Is intermittent fasting safe?

Intermittent fasting is a great tool to control your weight and improve overall health. Although, while it can help you address high cholesterol or arthritis, IF is definitely not for everyone.

If you’ve suffered from an eating disorder, intermittent fasting might not be the best idea. Young people under the age of 18, as well as pregnant/breastfeeding women and people with blood sugar problems, are not the ideal candidates for such an eating schedule.

 

Can I work out while I fast?

In general, it’s ok to exercise during your fasting window, especially if your goal is to lose weight. Fasting and training raise growth hormone and helps you avoid muscle loss. Working out on an empty stomach is actually beneficial for your body.

 

Will I be hungry on fasting days/hours?

The actual fasting period can be pretty challenging, and sometimes, even calorie-free beverages don’t offset hunger. However, there are a few tricks you can try to feel less hungry, such as chewing on gum, staying busy, and getting enough sleep.