Intermittent fasting is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends.
This article is the ultimate beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting. It will also give you intermittent fasting tips and tricks so that you can take benefit of this fasting method.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting or “IF” is an eating pattern where you entirely or partially abstain yourself from eating for a set amount of time before you eat regularly again. Surprisingly, most of us do it every night. When we go to bed, as long as we are not getting up in the morning and eating, we are in the fasting phase. This is the reason we call the first meal of the day as breakfast because we break your fast.
It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them.
In this respect, it’s not a diet in the conventional sense but more accurately it can be called as an eating pattern.
Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution. Ancient hunter didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators or food available for a whole year. Sometimes they couldn’t find anything to eat.
As a result, humans evolved to be able to function normally without any food for longer periods of time.
Intermittent Fasting has benefits like weight loss, improved metabolic rate, protection against several chronic diseases, etc.
Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.
The Different Methods of Intermittent Fasting:
There are so many different ways to do IF. If this is something you are interested in doing, you can choose amongst the below methods which will work best for your lifestyle and which also increases the chances of success. Here are six:
1. 5:2 Fasting
This is one of the most popular IF methods. The idea is to eat normally for five days (don’t count calories) and then on the other two eat 500 or 600 calories a day. You can choose which 5 days you want to eat and which 2 days to fast .
The idea is that short bouts of fasting keep you compliant; should you be hungry on a fast day, you just have to look forward to tomorrow when you can “feast” again. “ Some people say ‘I can do anything for two days, but it’s too much to cut back on what I eat all seven days’. For these people, a 5:2 approach may work for them over calorie-cutting across the entire week.
2. 16:8 Fasting
This method involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
For this to work, you may set your eating window from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for instance. This can work especially well for someone with a family who eats an early dinner anyway. Then much of the time spent fasting is time spent sleeping anyway. (You also don’t technically have to “miss” any meals, depending on when you set your window.)
3. 12:12 Fasting
This approach is the simplest of all the methods and involves fasting for a 12-hour period every day. For example: Choose to stop eating after dinner by 7 p.m. and resume eating at 7 a.m. with breakfast the next morning. Autophagy does still happen at the 12-hour mark, though you’ll get more mild cellular benefits. This is a minimal fasting window of 12 hours in this method.
An advantage of this method is that it’s easy to implement. Also, you don’t have to skip meals; if anything, all you’re doing is eliminating a bedtime snack (if you ate one to begin with). But this method doesn’t maximize the advantages of fasting. If you’re using fasting for weight loss, a smaller fasting window means more time to eat, and it may not help you decrease the number of calories you consume in that window period.
4. One Meal A Day Fast
Here in this method, you eat once a day. Some people choose to eat dinner and then not eat again until the next day’s dinner. That means your fasting period is 24 hours. This differs from the 5:2 method. Fasting periods are essentially 24 hours (dinner to dinner or lunch to lunch), whereas with 5:2 the fasting is actually 36 hours. (For example, you eat dinner on Sunday, “fast” Monday by eating 500 to 600 calories, and break it with breakfast on Tuesday.)
The advantage is that, if done for weight loss, it’s really tough (though not impossible) to eat an entire day’s worth of calories in one sitting. The disadvantage of this approach is that it’s hard to get all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally with just one meal. Not to mention, this approach is tough to stick to. You might get really hungry by the time of dinner and that can lead you to consume not-so-great, calorie-dense choices. Think about it: When you’re hungry, you’re not exactly craving broccoli. Many people also drink coffee in excess to get through their hunger which can have negative effects on your sleep.
5. 24-Hour Method
This method involves abstaining from food for one entire day a week.
6. Choose-Your-Day Fasting
This is more of a choose-your-own-adventure. In this method, some people try rigorous fast namely 4-day water fast and 7-day water fast
Researchers have been studying intermittent fasting for decades.
The research on intermittent fasting, including 16:8 fasting, indicates that it may provide the following benefits:
Intermittent Fasting tips for weight loss: Eating during a set period can help people reduce the number of calories that they consume. It may also help boost metabolism.
A several studies in this direction show that intermittent fasting leads to greater weight loss and fat loss in men and women with obesity than regular calorie restriction.
According to several research reports, men who followed a 16:8 approach for 8 weeks while resistance training showed a decrease in fat mass. The participants maintained their muscle mass throughout.
Supporters of intermittent fasting suggest that it can prevent several conditions and diseases, including:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart conditions
- some cancers
- neurodegenerative diseases
Extended Life Span
Several animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help animals live longer. One study in this direction found that short-term repeated fasting increased the life span of female mice.
Intermittent fasting helps in losing your weight, but it can also drastically affect your hormones.
That’s because body fat is the body’s way of storing energy.
When you don’t eat anything, your body tries to make its stored energy more accessible.
Examples include changes in nervous system activity, as well as major changes in the levels of several crucial hormones.
Below are two metabolic changes that occur when you fast
- Insulin. Insulin levels increase when you eat, and when you fast, they decrease dramatically. Lower levels of insulin facilitate fat burning.
- Norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Your nervous system sends norepinephrine to your fat cells, making them break down body fat into free fatty acids that can be burned for energy.
Daily Intermittent Fasting Tips & Tricks
16:8 or Daily Intermittent Fasting Tips & Tricks are mentioned below.
1. Start Your Fast After Dinner
Where you’re doing daily or weekly fasts, one of the best tips I can give you is to start your fast after dinner. Doing this means you’ll spend a big chunk of your fasting period asleep. Particularly when using a daily fasting setup like 16:8 if you start fasting after dinner and then;
- Spend 1 – 3 hours watching tv or other evening activities
- Spend 6 – 7 hours asleep
You’ve already fasted for anywhere from 7 to 10 hours, making a 16 hour much more manageable. This means;
- Increased dietary adherence
- Easier lifestyle
- More manageable hunger
2. Eat More Satiating Meals
The food you eat can influence your ability to both, first: stick to your diet and second: stick to your fast and this is where IF can help you out big time.
This is the difference between IF and other dietary protocols, the freedom to include the foods you like and generally eat a more satisfying and therefore satiating diet. Good satiating foods include;
Or other foods that you can eat a lot of without consuming a ton of calories;
This isn’t an excuse to go crazy but instead, it’s an opportunity to create a fat loss diet you enjoy and can stick to over the long-term.
3. Stay Busy
Boredom is the enemy. It’s the silent killer that creeps in to destroy your progress little by little, slowly wearing you down and pulling you backwards. Think about it for a moment…
How many times has boredom led you to eat more than you should do.
It’s really not surprising that you eat more when bored, you’re practically hardwired to chase that dopamine high.
4. Blunt Your Appetite
This is the most essential tip when you are hungry. Without a doubt, hunger pangs will set-in from time to time when fasting. When this happens, the trick is to blunt your appetite and the best way to do this is with 0 calorie drinks that help provide satiety and keep hunger at bay until it’s time to break your fast. You should also avoid zero calories stimulants also.
As long as the drink is 0 calories you’re good to go, examples include;
- Black tea
- Green tea
5. Give Yourself Time To Adjust
It’s only normal to want results straight away…
To skip the awkward beginner phase and go straight to seasoned pro. However, to skip this initial learning stage is to set yourself up to fail. You need to give your body time to adjust to fasting, particularly if this is your first time.
It’s only normal to get hunger pangs when your first start and chances are you’ll slip up a handful of times too, this is also OK and normal. It doesn’t mean you need to give up or that it won’t work for you. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn, to question why or how you slipped up and take steps to stop it from happening again.
By going through this process you’ll be better prepared for future difficulties that may arise in the future. Trust the process and follow through even when it gets tough.
6. Use The Right Mindset
I might sound like a broken record sometimes, but often the most important points need to read multiple times before they really sink in. This is one of those points… intermittent fasting is not a quick fix or shortcut to reach your goals if nothing else is working for you.
It’s purely another dietary setup than can work very well for some people if it’s used properly and fits in with their lifestyle.
Fasting is a natural part of the human life cycle. Most people have fasted unknowingly throughout their lifetimes by eating an early dinner and skipping breakfast the next day.
However, it is important to keep in mind that although a person does not need to exclude certain foods from their diet, they should still aim to eat a balanced diet rich in protein, fibre, and vegetables. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, too.
Here’s to your successful fast 🙂