The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

All You Need To Know To Get Started With Intermittent Fasting

Beginner's Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular health and fitness trends in the world right now. When you go without food for a period of time, this is known as intermittent fasting. Many people find this intimidating, but intermittent fasting is actually much easier than many other meal plans or diets.

You’ll eat less, which relieves a lot of the stress associated with meal preparation. After all, life is all about finding the right balance!

Intermittent fasting is more accurately described as an eating pattern than a diet, and there is a substantial body of scientific evidence to back up its benefits, which include weight loss, mental clarity, and improved metabolism.

 If done correctly, intermittent fasting has a lot of advantages.

This beginner’s guide’s goal is to teach you everything there is to know about intermittent fasting.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a type of eating that alternates between fasting and eating periods, or an eating window and a fasting window.

To grasp the concept of intermittent fasting, keep in mind that it is not a diet. It’s a specific eating pattern that will transform your body for the better.

It doesn’t tell you which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.
It’s more accurately described as an eating pattern or a way of timing your meals in this case, rather than a diet in the traditional sense.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern rather than a diet.

Intermittent fasting entails consuming your calories during a specific window of the day and choosing not to eat for a longer period of time.

Intermittent Fasting Methods

You eat very little or nothing at all during the fasting periods.

The majority of people (including myself) start their day with nothing but water and black coffee.

Around noon, I eat eggs with lots of veggies, and my last meal is around 7:30 or 8 p.m.

Most Popular Methods

The 16/8 Method (or Leangains)

Many people find the 16/8 method to be the most straightforward, long-term, and simple to follow. It’s also the most well-known. It entails skipping breakfast and limiting your daily eating time to eight hours, such as 12-8, as I do. After that, you fast for 16 hours. It’s essentially just skipping one meal!

Some people only eat within a 6-hour or even 4-hour time frame. This is the most common form of intermittent fasting, and it involves “feasting” and “fasting” portions of your days.

It fits into most people’s schedules because you can skip either breakfast or dinner, depending on your preferences. You’re also sleeping for a large portion of the fasting window, which makes it easier.

24 Hour Fasting

This schedule is suitable for almost anyone, but if you’ve already tried shorter fasting windows, you might want to give this one a try. It hits the sweet spot for most people in terms of being manageable while still delivering noticeable results.

You can customize this window to meet your needs.

Intermittent fasting is defined as going without food from dinner to dinner (or lunch to lunch). If you eat dinner on the first day, you will skip breakfast and lunch the next day and eat dinner again on the second day. This means that you will eat every day, but only once. On average, this would be done two to three times per week. You can do it once a week if you’re just getting started.

For one or two days a week, the Eat-Stop-Eat diet entails going without food for 24 hours at a time.

Taking a 24-hour fast from eating by skipping two meals on one day. For instance, eating normally (finishing dinner at 8 p.m.) and then not eating again until 8 p.m. the next day.

During the fasting period, people on this diet plan can drink water, tea, and other calorie-free drinks.

Fasting for 24 hours can be difficult, and it can lead to irritability, fatigue, and/or headaches. Many people find that as time passes, these effects become less pronounced. Your body simply requires some time to adjust to this new eating pattern.

Before attempting the 24-hour fast, some people may benefit from attempting a 12-hour or 16-hour fast.

You’d eat your regular three meals a day and then skip breakfast and lunch the next day on occasion.

It’s fine if you can only do an 18-hour fast, a 20-hour fast, or a 22-hour fast. Experiment with various time frames to see how your body reacts.

The 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet is a type of fasting in which followers eat about 25% of their recommended calorie needs (about 500-600 calories) on two fasting days per week and then eat normally for the remaining five days of the week. Fasting days are usually not consecutive in most people’s schedules. Try Tuesday and Friday!

Some devotees take the 5:2 diet to its logical conclusion and consume no calories on their fasting days. Others follow a high-fat, ketogenic diet on their non-fasting days to impose restrictions. You may have heard of the 4:3 diet, which is similar to the 2:2 diet but requires you to fast for three days rather than two.

This plan is not for beginners, and you should always consult your doctor before beginning any fasting regimen, especially if you are taking medication or have a medical condition.

All of these methods should help you lose weight by lowering your calorie intake, as long as you don’t compensate by eating a lot more during the eating periods.

Health Benefits

Intermittent fasting is a powerful weight-loss strategy that also lowers your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Intermittent fasting is supported by a large and growing body of medical research, which shows it has a wide range of health benefits.

Weight Loss

People try intermittent fasting for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is to lose weight.

Without having to consciously restrict calories, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat.

Intermittent fasting can automatically reduce calorie intake by forcing you to eat fewer meals.

By busting stubborn fat, reducing calories, and rewiring your metabolism for better performance, intermittent fasting can help you achieve your weight loss goals faster.

This eating pattern can result in 3–8% weight loss over 3–24 weeks, according to a 2014 review study, which is a significant amount when compared to most weight loss studies. (6)

People also lost 4–7% of their waist circumference, indicating a significant loss of harmful, stubborn belly fat or visceral fat that is packed deep around your abdominal organs, according to the same study. (4,5)

People on an intermittent fasting diet were able to lose four to seven percent of their visceral fat over the course of six months.

In another study, intermittent fasting was found to cause less muscle loss than the more common method of continuous calorie restriction.

Keep in mind, however, that the primary reason for its success with intermittent fasting is that it allows you to consume fewer calories overall. You may not lose any weight if you binge during your eating periods.

Intermittent fasting has been shown in studies to help people lose weight faster. Participants in a 2015 review of 40 studies lost an average of 10 pounds over a 10-week period. [1] Obese adults who followed a “alternate day” intermittent fasting schedule (eating 25% of their daily calories on one day and eating normally the next) lost up to 13 pounds in 8 weeks, according to another study.

Fasting allows your body to burn fat that was previously inaccessible during the fed state.

Our bodies are rarely in this fat-burning state because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal. This is one of the reasons why many people who begin intermittent fasting lose weight without changing their diet, amount of food consumed, or frequency of exercise. Fasting induces a fat-burning state in your body that you rarely achieve on a regular eating schedule.

How It Affects Your Cells and Hormones

Several things happen in your body on a cellular and molecular level when you fast.

To make stored body fat more accessible, your body adjusts hormone levels, for example. Important repair processes and gene expression changes are also initiated by your cells.

When you fast, your body undergoes the following changes:

Cellular repair: When you fast, your cells begin to repair themselves. Autophagy is a process in which cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that have accumulated inside them. The list could go on forever. But how is it possible for one simple practice to accomplish all of this? When cells in the body clean house, the weak ones die off, this is known as autophagy. This allows for the regeneration of new, healthier cells and tissues, which improves longevity and aids in the treatment of various diseases. It’s even been shown to aid in the reduction of inflammation and the enhancement of immunity. Fasting, in other words, allows your body to take a break from digesting and focus on other things.

• Human Growth Hormone (HGH): Growth hormone levels skyrocket, sometimes by as much as 5-fold. This has a number of advantages, including fat loss and muscle gain.

• Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves, and insulin levels fall significantly. Insulin levels that are lower make stored body fat more accessible.

• Gene expression: Changes in the function of genes linked to longevity and disease resistance have been discovered.

Intermittent fasting’s health benefits are due to changes in hormone levels, cell function, and gene expression.

Human growth hormone levels rise while insulin levels fall when you fast. Cells in your body also alter gene expression and initiate critical cellular repair processes. It increases the release of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine in addition to lowering insulin and increasing growth hormone levels (noradrenaline). Short-term fasting may increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14 percent as a result of these hormonal changes.

It Simplifies Your Life

Keep it Simple

It simply makes your life easier when you adopt an intermittent fasting lifestyle!

The majority of diets fail not because we switch to the wrong foods, but because we don’t stick to the diet long enough. It’s not a problem with nutrition; it’s a problem with changing one’s habits.

Prior to intermittent fasting, I was obsessed with getting up early to cook breakfast, prepare six meals a day, and so on. My life has become a lot easier since I started intermittent fasting. I eat one or two major meals per day, don’t obsess over what I eat, and continue to make daily progress toward bettering my health.

By simplifying my life in this way, I’ve gained more time and energy to devote to the things that matter most to me.

Healthy eating is simple, but it can be difficult to maintain. One of the most significant barriers is the amount of time and effort required to plan and prepare healthy meals. Intermittent fasting can make life easier because you don’t have to plan, cook, or clean up as many meals as you would otherwise.

Health and simplicity are inextricably linked. Simple foods, such as a banana or a piece of lean chicken breast, are often the healthiest. These are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, and staying healthy should be easy. It’s much easier to manage 2-3 large healthy meals per day than it is to manage 6 normal-sized meals.

Fasting on a regular basis improves your health while also simplifying your life.

Other Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  • Reduces inflammation: Losing weight, increasing longevity, and lowering your risk of major illnesses like Alzheimer’s and cancer all require lowering inflammation. Across the board, intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. Inflammation markers like adiponectin, leptin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor have been shown to decrease in some studies.[5]
  • Lowers insulin levels: Insulin is affected in two ways by intermittent fasting. To begin with, it raises your adiponectin levels, which aids in the restoration of insulin sensitivity, preventing weight gain and diabetes. Fasting, on the other hand, lowers your fasting insulin levels. Reduced insulin is the signal your body needs to switch from burning glucose to burning stored fat. Intermittent fasting can lower blood sugar levels by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, reducing insulin resistance and potentially protecting against type 2 diabetes.[2]
  • Heart health: Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, and insulin resistance, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Intermittent fasting has been shown in studies to improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and inflammatory markers, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Brain health: Intermittent fasting boosts the brain hormone BDNF, which may help new nerve cells grow. It could also help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. (7)

Side Effects and Safety

The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger.

You may also feel tired and your brain may not function as well as it once did. This may only be temporary, as your body will need time to adjust to the new meal schedule.

Before attempting intermittent fasting, consult your doctor if you have a medical condition.

This is especially crucial if you:

• You’re diabetic.
• You’re having trouble controlling your blood sugar.
• You have a low blood pressure level.
• Take your medications as prescribed.
• You’re overweight.
• Have had an eating disorder in the past.
• You’re a woman who’s trying to get pregnant.
• Do you have a history of amenorrhea?
• Are pregnant or nursing a child.

All things considered, intermittent fasting has an excellent safety record. If you’re healthy and well-nourished overall, going without food for a while isn’t dangerous.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I Allowed to Drink Liquids During My Fast?

Yes. Non-caloric beverages such as water, coffee, and tea are acceptable. Coffee should not be sweetened. It’s possible that small amounts of milk or cream are acceptable. Coffee is especially beneficial during a fast because it suppresses hunger.

Isn’t Skipping Breakfast Unhealthy?

No. There is no scientific evidence that eating a meal first thing in the morning helps to speed up your metabolism. It’s simply extra calories that your body may not require. Don’t eat unless you’re hungry. Wait until lunchtime and eat a substantial meal.

Is it possible to take supplements while fasting?

Yes. Keep in mind, however, that some supplements, such as fat-soluble vitamins, may work better if taken with food.

Can I Workout While I’m Sleeping?

Fasted workouts are perfectly acceptable. Before a fasted workout, some people recommend taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Is it True That Fasting Causes Muscle Loss?

All weight loss methods can result in muscle loss, which is why it’s critical to lift weights and consume plenty of protein. Intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than regular calorie restriction, according to one study. [7]

Will Fasting Make My Metabolism Slow Down?

No. Short-term fasts have been shown in studies to boost metabolism. Fasting for three or more days, on the other hand, can slow down metabolism. (9)

Getting Started

Many people consider the 16/8 method to be the most straightforward and long-term method of intermittent fasting, and it’s a good place to start.

If you enjoy fasting and feel good while doing so, you could progress to more advanced fasts such as 24-hour fasts 1–2 times per week (Eat-Stop-Eat) or only eating 500–600 calories 1–2 days per week (5:2 diet).

Another option is to simply fast whenever you feel like it. When you’re not hungry or don’t have time to cook, skip meals occasionally.

To reap at least some of the benefits, you don’t need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan.

Experiment with different methods until you find one that you enjoy and fits into your schedule. Remember, the goal is to make your life easier!

In Conclusion

Fasting can be a very powerful tool for losing weight and improving your health if you enjoy it and find it to be a sustainable way of eating.

Fasting and a change in your diet will only improve your health further, but starting with intermittent fasting is a good place to start.

Your body will thank you if you can stick to the 8-hour window where you eat and give it the other 16 hours of the day to focus on other processes that need to happen.

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