Tips For Intermittent Fasting (Beginner's Guide)
By Anelisa Nokoyo
In modern culture, we’ve been socialised to eat 3 meals a day with snacks in-between. But, scientific data now shows us that this isn’t the healthiest way to live, as it elevates glucose and insulin levels when what we really want is for the body to use fat as fuel.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight and fat by encouraging your body to run on fat while activating your body’s innate intelligence.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting refers to a process where you go for long periods of time without any caloric intake. It can be a time-based intermittent fast where you eat in the evening and don’t eat during the day, or alternate day-fasting. There’s a wide range of applications.
The Problem With Overeating
Historically, fasting is something that we do in between dinner and breakfast. In fact, that’s where the word “breakfast” comes from; “to break the fast”. But, thanks to easy access to an overabundance of food, most people in the modern world overeat every day.
It’s to the point where some people eat continuously for up to 15 hours a day. This means that we’re consuming energy, calories and carbs for 15 hours of the day and this is not a sustainable way to achieve longevity or weight balance.
That’s why there’s a lot of obesity in the world, especially in the U.S. where 90% of Americans are overweight.
Intermittent fasting can be a great way to break away from this vicious cycle. It gives your body about 12 to 18 hours of rest so you can experience all the benefits that come from the fasted state.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- It’s flexible:
The great thing about intermittent fasting is that it goes well with any type of diet. Whether you’re vegan, keto, vegetarian or Mediterranean. You can apply intermittent fasting into your life.
If you’re vegan, make sure to give your body the best vegan protein sources available during your eating window so you have the energy to perform while fasting the next day.
- It can help with weight loss:
The world’s largest fasting study was done by the Buchinger Wilhelmi Fasting Clinics recently in Germany and Marbella, Spain. The study, which started in 2016, followed 1422 participants who fasted between 4 and 20 days, using the Buchinger Wilhelmi intermittent fasting method.
The findings from this study show a weight reduction in all participants, especially in the abdominal circumference. Not only did the participants lose weight in the right places, but they managed to normalize blood pressure levels to the point where some of them had to discontinue or reduce their blood pressure medication!
Now most of the available literature on intermittent fasting is done with male rodent models. It shows that incorporating intermittent fasting into their daily routine can reduce body weight and fat, while improving metabolic profile so their insulin and glucose levels go down.
- Promotes HGH Hormone production:
After 12 hours of fasting, something called “growth hormone” kicks in. Growth hormone helps you burn fat, build muscle, and slow down the aging process. As we age, the body produces less and less of this growth hormone and fasting is a great way to boost this process. Research shows that you can get up to a 1300% increase in growth hormone production just from 12 or 13 hours of fasting!
- Improves overall health:
This study also shows that fasting can help to activate stem cells, which in turn rejuvenates cell tissue. This helps to renew tissues, cells, organs and immune cells in the blood. Fasting is also beneficial to brain health as it improves cognitive function.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are different types of intermittent fasting. Time based fasting is the easiest form of intermittent fasting to apply, because most of the fasting happens while you’re asleep.
- The 8/16 Rule:
One way to intermittent fast is to follow the 8/16 rule where you skip breakfast and eat a hearty lunch and dinner. You would eat your lunch at around 1pm as usual and finish all food intake by 9pm. This is an 8-hour eating window. You would then go to sleep, wake up, skip breakfast and eat again at 1pm.
When you wake up in the morning, the body starts to metabolize and burn fat for use as energy. The most important thing is to select 16 hours during the day when you will not be eating. The longer you fast; the more weight you can lose and the more benefits you’ll derive from this lifestyle.
- The 12-hour Fast:
It’s reasonably easy for most people to start with a 12 hour fast. This means you’d finish eating at 7mp and start eating at 7am the next morning, or 8pm to 8am… whatever suits your schedule.
Once your body gets used to the 12-hour fast window and you’re getting beneficial results with no medical contraindications, you can expand the fast to 13 to 14 hours.
Pro Tip! Try and finish eating your last meal of the day at least 3 hours before bed time.
- The OMAD Diet:
Another form of intermittent fasting is known as the OMAD diet, which is short for “one meal a day”. This means you only eat at dinner time, often for a period of 1 to 3 hours. Then, you fast again until dinner the next day.
This can be a sustainable method if you start slowly by incorporating it a couple of days a week, since taking it on as a daily practice can be overwhelming.
What to drink during the water fast?
During the fast, you can still drink water and other healthy liquids like tea and coffee, but without creamers, sugar or additives that could activate the metabolism. Alternatively, you could opt for a dry fast and forgo all liquids and food until “breakfast’ time.
The most important thing is to avoid consuming anything that would introduce calories into your system, so carbonated and sweetened beverages are a no-no.
Can You Exercise While Fasting?
Yes, you can exercise while fasting. In fact, it’s best to exercise before you break your fast and make sure you’re hydrated throughout.
But, it’s recommended to avoid excessive strength training or aggressive cardio during the first few days and/or weeks of your intermittent fasting journey to gauge how your body responds. Any type of exercise that you perform while fasting will speed up fat loss, support weight loss and overall well-being.
Intermittent fasting has been practiced for thousands of years. Even renowned Greek scholars like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato practiced intermittent fasting. But, as with anything, the way you apply it will determine the results.
To get the most out of intermittent fasting, make sure to adopt healthy eating patterns, avoid high sugar and processed foods and get rid of starchy processed carbohydrates and fats. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and manage stress with sufficient sleep, meditation and exercise.
Anelisa Nokoyo is a professional copywriter and digital entrepreneur with an interest in biohacking, nutrition, fitness and alternative lifestyles. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, watching tiny house videos, spending time in nature and trying out workout plans from Myphenomfitness.com.