Intermittent Fasting ⟶ The Definitive Guide For Beginners

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting
The Almost Magical Weight Loss Secret

​Part 1- Fasting and Starvation

If you have been looking for a way to "jump start" your metabolism, lose some weight, and boost your health without the hassle of counting calories or following rigidly structured meal plans...

... intermittent fasting might just be the solution you’re looking for.        

Fasting is the act of consciously abstaining from any food or drinks for a specific amount of time.

It is typically done for medical, spiritual, cleansing, or weight loss purposes. On the other hand, some people may also fast as a means to protest and to call attention to their causes.

Fasting can be done in a variety of ways. Some types of fasting allow the consumption of water, coffee, tea, juice, or other liquids, while dry fasts prohibit food and drinks altogether.

It may last for several hours a day (intermittent fasting) or for a number of days (prolonged fasting or long-term fasting).

No thanks, I am fasting

No matter which type of fasting you end up choosing, it is important to choose the method that is appropriate for your goals, needs, and body chemistry.

It is highly recommended to consult with a doctor or a health professional to ensure that you end up with a method that is in your best interests.      

It is ​essential to check and assess your diet first before you attempt fasting at all. You will not be able to maximize the benefits of fasting if you keep on eating in the same unhealthy manner as before.

Once you decide to pursue fasting and stick to a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy fats, you will notice a significant change not only in the way you look, but also in the way you feel over time.

Even if you decide to splurge on rare occasions, it will not affect your system as badly compared to when you are on a very strict diet.

Various Types of Fasting

​Although this guide will primarily discuss intermittent fasting, we will also briefly discuss other methods to give you an idea how fasting can be done differently.

Water fast or liquid fast

Water fasting or liquid fasting involves drinking only water or your choice of allowable liquid, completely refraining from solid foods. Liquids may be water concoctions or broth.

​At least 2 liters of water per day must be consumed during water fasts. Depending on your goals, water or liquid fasts may last from 1 day up to several days.

Partial fast

Partial fasting is exactly what it sounds like. There are two ways to do it. The first way is almost the same as a liquid fasting but it allows consumption of small amounts of solid foods during the fast. The second way is by eliminating certain types of food for a period of time.

​For example, you may choose to abstain from eating carbohydrates, red meat, or alcohol when you’re doing this type of partial fast.

Juice fast

A glass of fresh juice

Juice fasting is a variation of liquid fasting that lasts anywhere from 1 day up to 2 weeks. In this kind of fast, you are only allowed to consume fruit or vegetable juices. People usually do juice fasts for weight loss and detoxification purposes.

It is relatively simple but it involves careful preparation to guarantee that you won’t have any vitamin or mineral deficiency during the fast.

​Fruits and vegetables are pulped using a blender, juicer, or food processor and then mixed with water afterwards. These juices are typically consumed 3 to 6 times a day.

Alternate-day fast

​Alternate-day fasting involves regularly fasting for at least 24 hours. Depending on the goals, this may also last up to 36 hours. This could be a good option if your goal is to lose weight and maintain your progress.

Extended fast

Extended fasting (or long-term fasting) is usually done once a month or a few times a year for health reset purposes. These fasts usually last for 2 to 7 days or longer.

​Supplements may be needed during these types of fasts to ensure that your body doesn’t get too depleted of its needed nutrients.

Intermittent fast

Intermittent fasting will be the focus of this guide. It consists of alternating periods of eating (or feasting) and fasting within the day. Depending on your goals, you may choose to do this a few days a week or daily for a period of time.

Your diet does not have to change drastically when doing intermittent fasting, as long as you eat all your required calories within your feasting time window.

​When doing intermittent fasting, you usually customize the fasting and feasting time windows according to your daily schedule. Some studies show that fasting for longer periods of time can greatly help in weight loss and help your body deal with insulin balance much better.

Fasting vs. Starvation Mode

Fasting and starvation - these two terms are often thought as being the same thing. As mentioned above, fasting is simply abstaining from food and beverages for a fixed period of time.

This means that you only get a specific time window for consuming your meals. Depending on your goals, you may eat whatever you wish within that window or consume only healthy foods, provided that your calorie intake is within reasonable amounts.        

And starvation mode ​typically happens as a result of over-exercising and chronic dieting. Our bodies have a complex biological system that sends us signals when we are running low on food stores or energy.

This also lets us know when we need to rest and recover from our strenuous physical activities. Unfortunately, many people choose to ignore the warning signs because they believe that pressing on in this condition can help them achieve results at a much faster rate.         

True enough, it usually leads to recognizable weight loss in a short amount of time. However, employing strict diets can badly mess with your metabolism in the long run.

While minimizing your calorie intake to the extremes can make you lose weight significantly and drastically, your metabolic functions may end up being impaired. This is because the absence of food makes the body try to compensate by holding on to your energy stores.          

Starvation mode cannot happen when you minimize calorie intake for only a short time, such as when you’re doing a long-term fast or when you’re sick. It usually occurs when you’ve been eating a lot less than usual for several weeks or even months.          

Normal metabolism can only take place when you consume enough calories and get the appropriate amount of recovery time relative to your physical activities. It makes you able to burn nutrients from the food you eat in addition to fatty acids from stored fat.

Usually, your body’s first choice for energy source will be the calories you have just taken in or those that have recently become part of your glycogen stores. This is what is referred to as the “fed state”. When that has been used up, it will then tap into your fat stores as an alternative. 

Consuming low amounts of calories on a regular basis will make the body go into starvation mode. What is dangerous about this is that your muscle fibers and lean tissue may be used up for energy instead of glycogen or stored fat.

If you’ve been working out at the gym for muscle gains, this is bad news. This will slow down your metabolism as your systems attempt to ensure that you survive by breaking down proteins from your muscles.         

Strong, irresistible cravings also become common when you go into starvation mode. For instance, under-eating causes the hormone neuropeptide Y (NPY) to become more active.

This makes you crave for foods rich in carbohydrates. The levels of NPY hormone are generally high when you wake up in the morning because you’ve reached a fasted state while asleep.

Reducing your calorie intake way below your nutritional requirements can alter the way NPY operates. This can make you binge on carbs badly because of your body’s nagging needs to have glucose in its system.    

In addition to the negative physiological effects of starvation, it also has adverse effects on one’s mental health. Your moods may suffer because of decreased food intake as it triggers feelings of anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

​If we go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it says that our basic physical needs (e.g. food) must be fulfilled first in order for us to have the capacity to work on grander goals such as having meaningful social connections and rewarding careers.

Avoiding Starvation Mode

Avoid starvation mode

Starvation mode messes up your metabolism and prompts your body to significantly increase your food intake.

This is a primal mechanism for survival, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that should not be happening if you are hoping to lose weight or improve your health. If you are to attempt any kind of fasting, make sure that you know what differentiates it from starvation.

Here are some of the things that you can do to prevent your body from going into starvation mode:

Eat the appropriate amount of calories for your nutritional needs

If you think that you’ve been a chronic dieter based on what was described above, it’s time to shift to a healthier way of losing weight. To break out of starvation mode, you will need to put your body in the fed state to convince your systems that you are not in danger.

Your body is sensitive to the environment and your hunger drive will be triggered if it isn’t getting the fuel that it needs to operate. Starvation mode puts the body in a life-threatening situation so it will react strongly to signify that something isn’t right.        

In order to prevent this, aim to meet your daily calorie needs by knowing your required numbers based on your gender, current weight, age, and activity level. If weight loss is among your goals, a health professional can help you plan the process and progress in a steady manner.        

​The short-term gains of losing weight rapidly will not mean anything in the long run if it ends up messing with your metabolism. This will not help you keep the weight off permanently and will most likely make you gain all the weight back after some time.

Weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is regarded as healthy by experts, and this can be achieved through moderate calorie reduction and regular exercise.

Eat regularly to prevent overeating and bingeing

The human body needs energy to properly maintain basic bodily functions (e.g. breathing, heart rate, temperature regulation, etc.).

Although we can still pretty much survive even after being fasted for a few hours or even days, constant calorie depletion can activate biological processes that will drive us to binge and overeat, causing us to feel miserable not just physically but also psychologically.        

People usually blame the lack of willpower for overeating and bingeing, but it is actually just a biological reaction driven by the drastic restriction of calories.

This can alter a person’s brain chemistry and activate neurochemicals that only intensify feelings of hunger. Ignoring fatigue and hunger signals may be possible for a while, but when people eventually give in they almost always wind up eating more than they should.

As a result, feelings of guilt and shame rise, making the weight loss process more frustrating and difficult than it has to be.         

​The key is to eat regularly instead of ignoring your body’s hunger signals and restricting your food intake to the extremes. Intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating can give you more structure and make food restriction a lot more tolerable.

Avoid over-training and ​make sure you allot enough recovery time after workouts

The hormones that control your appetite are affected by your activity level. The more active you are, the bigger your body’s demand for fuel will be.

If you fail to give your body the needed calories in proportion to your activities, you will most likely experience a decline in your energy levels, motivation, moods, and even sleep quality.         

Make sure that you are well-fueled for your workouts by consuming the recommended amount of calories during the day. It may also do you good to have pre-workout and post-workout snacks to have better energy balance.

​Schedule rest days throughout the week to ensure that your active lifestyle doesn’t beat you up. Workouts may be good, but overdoing it can drain not only your physical strength but your moods and mental state as well.

Take things slowly and enjoy the process

The first three steps may be able to help you get your metabolism running normally again after some time, but you have to take into account that periods of starvation can take a toll psychologically as well.

​Research shows that cutting down calories and prohibiting certain food items in such an extreme manner not only increases cravings but also makes people more tempted to go after the restricted foods.  

​Accepting this imperfection will help you build a much better relationship with food by eliminating episodes of bingeing, overeating, and food phobia.

If you are going to do a health overhaul, naturally it would be essential to shift to whole foods because they are more nutritionally dense as opposed to processed and junk foods.

However, trying to maintain a “perfect diet” all the time can also make you feel guilty and stressed which will only bring frustrations in the long run. You have to avoid being hard on yourself if you want the weight loss process to be fun and sustainable – like it should be.        

It would be very helpful not to view food items in black and white –– or “good” and “bad”. The best way to go about this is to aim for whole, natural foods most days, while making your diet more adjustable by having “cheat days” from time to time.

This will make you feel less guilty and will make you feel more satisfied.          

Eating healthily and mindfully may help you avoid starvation mode, but the key here is to accept that things (e.g. diet, available food choices, workout schedules, etc.) are not going to be perfect every single time.

There will be moments when you need to have fun and eat for mental and social reasons, like giving yourself rewards for a job well done or a special event with your loved ones.


​Part 2 - Intermittent Fasting and its Benefits

Intermittent fasting is a dieting pattern, not a type of diet. It involves eating meals at a fixed schedule, thereby purposely skipping certain meals during the day.

While you don’t ​have to change what you’re eating, you have to be mindful of when you’re eating. The schedules make you eat less often but not necessarily less in terms of calorie content.        

When you fast intermittently, your calorie intake usually stays the same; the only difference is that you consume more food within a shorter time period.

It is a sustainable way to keep yourself lean and build more muscle mass without having to drastically reduce your calories. Eating less often also makes food preparation and clean-up more convenient.           

Intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways to lose fat and keep them off for good. Other weight loss methods usually end up being discouraging in the long run because of the demanding nature of their restrictions.

Or, they can force you to purchase scammy products without any proven benefits (check out out our Zantrex-3, Isagenix review or the It Works Review to fully know what's a scam product!).

​Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, doesn’t require any significant behavioral changes on your part. It isn’t difficult to maintain because the mechanics are very simple yet the long-term effects are profound.

How Intermittent Fasting Works

In Part 1, the “fasted state” and the “fed state” were briefly mentioned. To get a good grasp of how intermittent fasting works, we have to learn and understand what happens to our bodies during these two states.         

The body enters the fed state every time you consume food. It generally begins the moment you eat and it will last for approximately 3 to 5 hours, during which the food you ate will be digested and absorbed by your body.

You will have a hard time burning fat during the fed state because of spiked insulin levels. The body reacts to food consumption by producing insulin. When your body becomes more sensitive to insulin, it will be able to use food as an energy source more efficiently.        

It takes a few hours for your body to process the food that you have just taken in. These “fresh” calories provide a readily-available energy source that your body will prefer to use over your stored fats.

If you have just consumed a considerable amount of sugar or carbohydrates, these will be burned as energy first before any other fuel source. These will also be likely to be stored away as fat if your calorie intake exceeds the demands of your daily activities.          

After your body is done processing the food, it will then go into the post-absorptive state, or the state in which your body has no meal to process. It lasts anywhere from 8 to 12 hours after you ate, and then it will enter the fasted state.

During this state, your body will have an easier time burning fat because your insulin levels have dropped. The fasted state allows your body to burn the fat that it couldn’t access when you were in the fed state.       

Intermittent fasting can help your body get better at processing food as the body’s sensitivity to insulin increases after fasting. If you stick with it long enough, improved insulin sensitivity and production will inevitably lead to weight loss and enhanced muscle building.         

Of course, you will progress more quickly if you pair intermittent fasting with a good diet, like a raw vegan diet and with some decent exercise.
Intermittent fasting

Working out while fasted will also help you burn more fat. After your glucose and glycogen stores have been depleted by fasting, your body will be forced to use fat as its energy source, especially in the absence of a pre-workout meal.

This is another chance for your body to increase its insulin sensitivity.        

As a result, any food that you eat after your workout will be efficiently stored. The meal will be converted into glycogen and help in muscle building or it can be immediately used up as energy to aid recovery. Either way, it means that little will be left for fat storage.        

The body’s production of growth hormone also increases when you are in a fasted state. This holds true during sleep and after fasting for a period of time.

The combination of higher growth hormone levels and lower insulin production primes your body for improved fat loss and muscle growth during intermittent fasting.        

Our normal eating routines rarely put us in the fasted state because it doesn’t happen until at least 12 hours after our last meal. Intermittent fasting can help your body change the way it uses its fuel sources and therefore shed off those unwanted fats.

Even without changing your current diet or your activity levels, you will surely notice positive improvements in your weight and body fat percentage once you employ intermittent fasting.

Why Should You Give Intermittent Fasting a Chance?

Fat loss, weight loss, and building lean muscle mass are all valid reasons to try out intermittent fasting. However, it has more to offer than just that. Here are some of the other things that intermittent fasting can do for you:

Your daily life becomes simpler

Depending on the time windows that you eventually choose, intermittent fasting makes you think of one less meal each day.

Whether you decide to skip breakfast or dinner, the endgame is the same: you will have one less meal to think of, one less meal to prepare, one less decision to bother about.

Not only will you feel less guilty about eating bigger meals, but it will also make you feel fuller for the rest of your day. You will worry much less about meals and their schedules and you get to eat fewer calories too as a result.

You have more time for other things

We never realize how much time we spend eating until we try some sort of fasting at one point. Intermittent fasting can help us see that we could be doing something else –– something much more important instead of eating mindlessly.

​Having to prepare or think of only 2 big meals per day doesn’t only give you more time for your other priorities, it can also potentially help you save more money.

It promotes longevity

Research has shown that controlled calorie restriction can promote longevity. When starvation occurs, your body will go on survival mode and keep you alive, thereby prolonging your life in some way.

However, as was discussed in Chapter 1, starvation mode is not something you want your body to get into if you wish to improve your health for good.         

Fortunately, there is no need for you suffer the ill effects of starvation just to have a longer life. Intermittent fasting is enough to trigger the same processes that are activated when you restrict calories.

​You can basically get the same lifespan boosting elements without having to almost die for it.

It stimulates human growth hormone (HGH) secretion

Bringing your body into the fasted state more often increases your insulin sensitivity as well as the levels of HGH in the bloodstream. These two factors are the keys to recognizable muscle gains and fat loss.        

HGH also plays a role in improving muscle strength, thereby allowing you to have better quality workouts. In time, this will help you become a fat-burning machine with a rock solid physique.

It normalizes insulin sensitivity

We have already discussed beforehand why making your body more insulin sensitive can do great wonders for your weight loss goals. However, it also helps decrease your risk for certain chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes.

​This usually happens when your body consumes too much sugars and carbohydrates, making your body insulin resistant. To avoid such risks, it is essential to maintain insulin sensitivity, which you can achieve with not much hassle through intermittent fasting.

It can also normalize ghrelin levels

Ghrelin is the hormone that triggers hunger, which is why it is referred to as the hunger hormone. Restricting calories and dieting may seem like sensible options when you’re trying to lose weight because you’re not putting any food into your system.

However, this actually makes your body produce more ghrelin, making you feel hungrier than you normally would. The first few days of intermittent fasting may feel like such a struggle but it can help you normalize your body’s ghrelin production.         

Once you get used to your new eating schedules, you’ll stop feeling hungry during the times when you used to eat a meal. You will give your body a renewed awareness of when it really needs food or when it just wants to eat.

It decreases triglyceride levels

Triglyceride levels may skyrocket when your systems have too much bad cholesterol to deal with, and this can make you prone to heart disease.

Intermittent fasting can decrease the levels of bad cholesterol and decrease triglycerides along with it. The levels of good cholesterol, on the other hand, will not take a dip with intermittent fasting.

It is more convenient than dieting

Most diets eventually fail not because the food shifts are inconvenient or illogical, but because people fail to adhere to it long-term. Even though the new food choices can technically be great for you, many have trouble maintaining it because life can get in the way of its restrictiveness.  

​​The advantage of intermittent fasting over dieting is that it takes a lot of guesswork out of your day when it comes to eating.

​Eating schedules will be the only things that you really have to be aware of because you don’t have to think of food all the time.

You don’t have to think what you have to eat during this time or that time, you don’t have to worry about buying all the “right” ingredients, and you also don’t have to bother about eating “clean” all the time. Intermittent fasting gives you more leeway and flexibility when it comes to your food choices.

Consulting Your Doctor

Although doing your research and homework is a good stepping stone for getting started with intermittent fasting, consulting with your doctor is still crucial and highly recommended to ensure that no stone is left unturned.

Getting into it by yourself may be possible, but the opinion of an expert can greatly minimize risks and blunders.

​It may all be a matter of experimentation to see what works best for you, but the key is to keep the errors to a minimum so goals can be within reach. Here are some of the things that your doctor can do to help you stay on track:

Health assessment

Many people should be able to do intermittent fasting without any problems, but consulting your doctor can help you determine if there are any health issues that you must address before proceeding.

This will guarantee that fasting will not be aggravating any problems that you may already have. Going to the doctor can also help pinpoint any issue that can be improved through fasting.

​For instance, people who discover that they have pre-diabetes symptoms can use intermittent fasting to balance out their body’s insulin levels and avoid having to eventually deal with diabetes by incorporating their doctor’s suggested diet plans.

Diet suggestion

After having assessed your health, your doctor will also be able to figure out which kind of diet will work best for you upon studying your past eating patterns and food choices.

People will adjust to changes in diet and dieting schedules differently so an expert’s opinion can help you learn which method will get you to your goals faster in a safe way.         

​Your doctor will also be able to help build a schedule that will work great around your daily life, helping you avoid facing too much trials and errors.

Diet adjustment

Visiting your doctor regularly can help you track progress and make the necessary adjustments in order to advance in the right direction.

You may both learn that some factors affect your ability to progress in good and/or bad ways. This can help you get over health and performance plateaus and continue seeing improvements.          

Although researching on your own may give you ideas on how you can do get the best of fasting, your doctor can help ensure how you can avoid dealing with nutrient depletion as you continue your fasts.

Developing eating disorders can also be greatly minimized. If the doctor sees that you have been restricting yourself severely, he or she can call you out on it and think of ways in which you can avoid the problem.         

​Of all the weight loss and health-boosting methods available out there, intermittent fasting may be one of the simplest methods you’ll ever come across. If you are ready to experience a long-lasting positive change in your life, now would be the best time to try it out.

​In the next chapter, we will discuss the different ways in which you can implement intermittent fasting and provide you with options on how you can have the schedules adjusted for your needs.


Part 3 - Intermittent Fasting Methods

​Intermittent fasting can be done in a number of ways. This chapter will walk you through the basic schedules and tell you the pros and cons of each.

To get the most out of intermittent fasting, it is essential to pick the method that best matches both your current and long term goals.

Daily Intermittent Fasting

For daily intermittent fasting, the most common schedule would be the 16/8 method, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat only for the next 8 hours after that.

For example, your first meal of the day would be at 12:00 PM, and then your last meal would be consumed before 8:00 PM. The 16-hour fast then starts at 8:00 PM.          

Some others may go for shorter eating windows, such as 6 hours or just 4 hours. In any case, it’s completely up to you what time you start your feasting period. You may decide to skip breakfast or you may realize that skipping dinner is the better option.

​What is important is to do what works for your schedule and lifestyle and you still consume the recommended amount of calories for your daily needs.

​To illustrate, a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule can look something like this:

​Sun

​Mon

​Tue​

​Wed​

​Thu​

​Fri​

​Sat

​12MN

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​4 AM

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​8 AM

​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​12 NN

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​4 PM

​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​8 PM

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​12 MN

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

In this schedule, your 8-hour eating or feasting window will be from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. You will stop eating after 4:00 PM and will not touch any food until 8:00 AM the next day.           

Pros: The 16/8 method (or variations thereof) is relatively convenient, making it easier to turn it into a habit. It won’t be long until it becomes natural to you.

Before you considered intermittent fasting, you’ve probably been eating your major meals at the same time daily without really giving it much thought. Intermittent fasting allows you to go about your day in the same natural way; you just have to remember when to start and stop eating.          

Cons: It may be a bit more difficult to reach your calorie goals for the day because you’re skipping a meal or two. It may take some time before you can teach your body to consume bigger-portioned meals consistently.

Daily intermittent fasting will indeed help anyone lose weight in the long run, but if your goal is to bulk up, another method may be better suited for you.

24-Hour Fasting

24-hour intermittent fasts involve skipping two meals for the day, and then waiting another 24 hours before you eat again. For example, if you decide to eat your last meal at 6:00 PM today, you won’t be eating anything until 6:00 PM the next day.

When you try this type of intermittent fast, it is recommended to do it 1 to 2 days a week and eat normally (3 full meals) during the other days.

​Here’s how the 2 variations of 24-hour fasting would look like:

​Once a week, last and first meal in the morning (in this example: Monday)

​Sun

​Mon

​Tue​

​Wed​

​Thu​

​Fri​

​Sat

​12MN

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​4 AM

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​8 AM

​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​12 NN

​​Feasting

​​​Fast

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​4 PM

​Feasting

​​​Fast

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​8 PM

​​​Feasting

​Fasting

​​​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​12 MN

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​Twice a week, last and first meal in the afternoon or late evening (in this example: 24-hour fast starts Monday and Thursday)

​Sun

​Mon

​Tue​

​Wed​

​Thu​

​Fri​

​Sat

​12MN

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​4 AM

​Fast

​Fast

​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​8 AM

​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​​Fast

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​​Fast

​​Feasting

​12 NN

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​​Fast

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​​Fast

​​Feasting

​4 PM

​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​​Fast

​​Feasting

​​Feasting

​​​Fast

​​Feasting

​8 PM

​​​Feasting

​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​​​Feasting

​12 MN

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

​​Fast

Pros: If your goal is to build muscle and bulk up, this method of intermittent fasting might be a good option for you. This would entail skipping only two meals per week, making it easier to hit daily calorie goals.

Trying out a 24-hour fast can also help you get past the mental hurdle of going without food. If you have never tried fasting before, getting over your first 24-hour fast successfully will make you realize that not having food for a day cannot kill you.      

Cons: The 24-hour fast may be a physical hurdle for some people. If you’re not used to skipping meals, it might be a good idea to try a 16-hour fast first to make the idea of fasting for a day less intimidating.

Skipping Meals

This one is exactly what it sounds like and is more unstructured compared to the first two. You just have to skip one of the standard daily meals; it doesn’t matter whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

This can be a good way to get into the 16/8 schedule if you want to be comfortable with the idea of skipping meals or eating for shorter periods of time.         

A variation of this would be eating only when you feel hungry. If the calls of hunger aren’t there even though it is technically time to feast, you just skip the meal altogether.          

Pros: This is a good introduction to intermittent fasting if you wish to keep things simple. It can also be a convenient way to save money and be more productive with other things. You also gain more self-awareness because it helps you learn how to listen to your body and its hunger cues.        

Cons: The types of food that you must eat must still be considered. The lack of proper planning may drive you to overeat or binge on other meals so make sure you consume foods that make you feel full for longer.

Intermittent fasting still has a few other variations but the three aforementioned methods are the most common. No matter which method you choose among these three, the main principles are pretty much the same.

When you are in the fasting window, zero calories must be consumed. That means you can only go for water or zero-calorie beverages such as teas or black coffee during fasting time.    

Although there aren’t that many restrictions when it comes to the types of food that you can eat, the effects of intermittent fasting can be multiplied two-fold when you go for high-quality calories during your feasting window.

​This is an important consideration especially if your long-term goals include weight loss and ketosis. You need to give your body calories from the right types of food if you wish to get better results and improve performance in your chosen physical activity, if you have any.

How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting

Now that you’ve done your research, you’ve most likely come to the point where you feel ready and pumped to give your all into something simple yet life-changing as intermittent fasting.

​A little effort is all it takes to see the kinds of results that you’ve always been wishing for. Here are some steps that can help ensure that you do things right the first time:

​Choose the method that you can realistically adhere to

It is practically pointless to start something if you can’t maintain it in the long run. Start with something that you can realistically accomplish for a day and work from there.

If the idea of a 16-hour fast daunts you, you can start with a 12-hour fast, increasing the duration until you’re comfortable with 16 hours.         

​For example, for the first few days, you can try having your last meal before 8:00 PM and then eat again at 8:00 AM the next day. When you’ve become at ease with that, you can then reschedule the start of the feasting time to 10:00 AM, and then finally to 12:00 PM.

​Once the 16/8 schedule becomes a walk in the park for you, you can then think of trying out 24-hour fasts, especially if your goals match that method.

Set your goals

One of the best ways to ensure that you stick to a new habit is to know your goals by heart. Why are you doing this? What do you ultimately expect to get?

​Write down your goals and make sure you stick it where it’s always visible. It is also a good idea to update your goals regularly especially if you’ve already achieved the things that you wrote down initially.

Prepare your meals mindfully

Fasting can be made a whole lot easier when you plan your meals in advance. If you already know what you’re eating and when you will be eating, it is much more convenient to just follow through as scheduled.

There’s no need to think of cooking meals every now and then. It will also keep you from just munching uncontrollably at any food you come across.

​When fasting becomes fully integrated into your daily life, planning meals ahead of time may soon become unnecessary. However, knowing that you have a stock of healthy food in your refrigerator can easily take the guesswork out of your day’s meals.

Don’t ignore your body’s signals

Because you’re introducing new habits into your system, it may take some time before you fully get accustomed to doing intermittent fasting. If you’re just starting out, you may find it a bit difficult to get to the end of the fast without having to deal with nagging hunger.

Don’t be afraid to take a snack if you feel like you really need one. Conversely, if the fasting window is over and you’re still not feeling hungry, it’s okay to wait until you feel like eating.         

​The beauty of intermittent fasting is that the rules are not set in stone; you may adjust and set them up as you go depending on which things seem to work better for you. It can also be helpful to have a health journal so you can record how each day went.

​The entries don’t have to be long, but it should at least help you review from a big picture perspective which months (and the fasting methods you did that time) made you feel the best.

Some Questions About Getting Started

What is the right intermittent fasting method for me?

There is no easy way to answer this because it will mostly depend on what you want to get out of fasting. Instead of trying to figure out what type and how long you are supposed to fast, here are a few considerations that are worth looking into:          

As mentioned above, don’t ignore your body if the hunger pains are becoming real. If you try harder to brush it off, the feelings of hunger will just 1) continue to nag you; and 2) stress you out. Don’t push your body to this point – stress and hunger at the same time are not worth enduring.          

If you have decided to do a shift of diet from unhealthy foods to whole foods, it is recommended to get used to this new change first before going into intermittent fasting. Introducing multiple new habits at once may overwhelm your body so it is recommended to focus on one change at a time.        

​If you are an endurance athlete who is training for an upcoming event, you probably shouldn’t do any type of fasting during your training cycle. Consult your coach and your doctor so they can tell you what kind of nutrition plan is best for you.

What beverages can I consume during fasting?

If you’re in your fasting window, water or zero-calorie beverages are your best options. If you’re on your feasting window or even on low-calorie days, you can drink most things you want, but you have to take into account that this will still stack against your daily calorie count.

​For example, if you plan to consume about 100 calories, would you go for Greek yogurt or for a glass of juice? The choice is completely up to you.

Should I exercise while I’m on the fasted state?

It is technically still possible for you to do your workouts while you are on your fast. On low-calorie days, however, you may feel a lot more sluggish than usual.

For those days, it might be a better idea to go easy, such as scheduling walks or yoga sessions (check out the Yoga Burn program for that) instead of aerobically demanding activities. The key here is to always listen to your body and adjust according to how you feel for the day.

Different Effects on Men and Women

The short answer to this question would be yes, intermittent fasting isn’t the same for men and women. So far, there aren’t enough long-term studies with significant samples that suggest that women should veer away from intermittent fasting altogether.

​If you’re female, this may not necessarily mean that you shouldn’t consider it, but you are probably better off looking for other solutions if any of the following is applicable to you:
  • ​You are pregnant
  • ​You have trouble sleeping well
  • ​You have just started to shift into a healthier lifestyle
  • ​You have been undergoing chronic stress
  • ​You have a history of eating disorders
  • You have recently undergone bariatric surgery

Intermittent fasting may cause issues for women, such as anxiety, hormonal imbalance, irregular periods, and sleeplessness. Females have evolved to stay fertile for reproduction that is why their bodies get stressed differently to men when their calorie intake significantly drops.

It is totally your choice if you want to give intermittent fasting a shot. Once you have decided to do so, a doctor’s appointment can help you determine if it is the best path to take for your goals. At the end of the day, you still are the one who knows your body best and it will give you warning signs if something is going wrong internally.
A woman having a sleepless night

Fertility generally resumes to normal mode once her food consumption goes back to a level that can support reproductive functions.

If you’ve tried intermittent fasting and you find yourself waking up too early without being able to go back to sleep, it might be a sign that you are doing too much of it.       

Women have had their fair share of success with intermittent fasting, though it seems to work better with men.

Extensive research and a doctor’s opinion can help anyone gauge if intermittent fasting is something worth considering. This can give a clearer picture of you are getting yourself into, as a woman.           


​Chapter 4 - Some Precautions & Drawbacks of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting may indeed have a lot of benefits, but like any other weight loss method it also has its drawbacks. Such drawbacks are likely to be experienced when you are doing too much and ignoring your body’s warning signs in an attempt to take shortcuts to your goals.         

Perhaps the biggest hurdle that people have when it comes to intermittent fasting is the thought of having lower energy and focus because of nagging hunger.

They are so wrapped up in the idea that they will feel miserable during the day and will be unproductive because they haven’t eaten anything yet.

However, it is just our deeply ingrained eating habits fooling us into thinking that the absence of food equates to misery. We can always train our bodies to be better than that.

Getting Used to Intermittent Fasting

When you are so used to eating during the majority of your day, intermittent fasting will naturally shock your systems at first.

It may take a while before your body becomes fully comfortable with the transition, but once you get over that initial speed bump, you will inevitably learn how to be fully functional even with one less meal a day.     

​Food has become a staple part of the day that just thinking of omitting it at certain times can feel like torture. It is not, and it shouldn’t be. Intermittent fasting can shift those thoughts and help us become more mindful eaters.

Grumpiness in the Absence of Breakfast

People generally attribute grumpiness in the morning to not having breakfast. Although the lack of food can be a logical reason why you feel grumpy, it might also be because you still haven’t broken free from your previous eating habits.

​If you’re used to eating at a particular time of the day, your body will prompt itself to get hungry and expect you to give it food during that time. For example, if you’re used to eating breakfast every day, your body will expect you to eat shortly after you wake up.

It may not be easy getting there, but you will eventually get there if you remain patient and believe in the results of intermittent fasting.

Fortunately, you can retrain your body into not expecting food all the time. The grumpiness will eventually subside when you get used to your new feasting schedules.

Potential Drawbacks

While intermittent fasting can do great wonders for your health goals, the journey may not always be smooth sailing. Depending on how your body reacts, you may find it tolerable right off the bat or have a hard time adjusting at first.        

​Not everyone who does intermittent fasting will deal with any of the following side effects, but these are the usual ones that people experience when they initially get into it:

Headaches

The first few days of trying out fasting will most likely give you headaches. These headaches could be mild or it could be something more nagging. Proper hydration will usually make you feel better. It could also trick your body into feeling like it has consumed something which might help relieve the pain.

Lethargy and overeating

A man feeling lethargic

Depending on how you eat and the quality of your calories, the meals you take may end up not being satisfying enough. This can cause you to overeat and binge on the other meals of the day.

If you are trying to lose weight, this will totally defeat the purpose of intermittent fasting in the first place. This might be less of a problem if you choose nutrient-dense foods instead.         

Intermittent fasting may also cause lethargy throughout the day, affecting energy and concentration levels. It could be tough to focus on work and other important activities because of the brain fog.

​The good thing is, the brain fog usually doesn’t last. Research shows that fasting can help enhance brain function in the long run.

Increased hunger

The body’s hunger hormones may be affected by intermittent fasting before they start to stabilize. Leptin, the hormone that signals your body that it is full, decreases while the stress hormone cortisol increases. Again, this will lead you to eat more which will defeat the purpose of fasting.         

Additionally, because we are so used to feasting multiple times a day, we don’t ever feel overly full when we eat. Intermittent fasting forces us to eat one to two big meals within a small feasting window.

This could make you feel constipated, bloated, and uncomfortable. If you also have big meals scheduled at night, it might mess up your sleep.         

​Intermittent fasting will get you used to having your stomach stretched out longer than usual. Though it can take a while before it becomes tolerable, at least you are aware that your body might go through such stress.

Food and fasting obsession

Some people become so caught up with the details of their intermittent fasting schedule that they become obsessed about their food and feasting times.

Taken to the extremes, this obsession can cause practitioners to stop following intermittent fasting altogether by extending their fasting windows, thinking that this will make them lose weight at a faster rate.        

Unfortunately, this could easily go down the path of starvation mode which we already know isn’t a sustainable way of losing weight. This could also be the cause of eating disorders.

​Eventually the temptation to go back to unhealthy eating habits becomes strong during this time. The key to avoid this is to embrace the simplicity of intermittent fasting. Let go of the obsession and take the process one meal at a time.

Over-reliance on coffee

Man drinking coffee

Intermittent fasting usually allows coffee consumption especially if it’s zero calories. This allows people to drink coffee even during their fasting windows in an attempt to stay alert and control their hunger. Over time, coffee becomes something that they can’t do without.         

​Drinking coffee frequently can eventually lead to caffeine addiction. Too much caffeine in our systems generally leads to stress, anxiety, and poor sleep – all of which can cause unwanted weight gain.

Compromised athletic performance

While it is typically fine to perform your workouts while fasted, you should veer away from doing intense activities like HIIT (high intensity interval training), cross-fit, or power lifting.

​Studies have found that athletic performance is usually compromised and fatigue comes more easily when you are in a fasted state. If you have intense workouts in your training regimen, it is better to save those activities for your high-calorie days.

Diarrhea

​Many people who have just started intermittent fasting suffer diarrhea after fasting. The severity of the diarrhea usually depends on the length of the fast, where long fasts usually lead to explosive diarrhea. High fluid intake is usually the cause of this.

Hormonal imbalances

Leaner people (or those who don’t have much weight to lose) and active people are the ones that will most likely suffer from hormonal imbalances.

This generally leads to irregular menstrual cycles for females and decreased testosterone levels for males. Both genders also become more prone to insomnia and increased stress levels.         

​Obese people are the ones most likely to benefit from intermittent fasting and will have more success with fat loss. In summary, intermittent fasting can throw off your hormone levels and affect your quality of life if you are not very careful with how you do it.

​Good health requires a delicate balance of a multitude of factors so we have to be careful how we tailor such factors to our own needs.          

The adjustment period of intermittent fasting can indeed have you running into a few issues. The hunger pangs may be nagging, it may cause headaches, it may make you lose focus at work, and it may make you feel sluggish, among other things.

This is completely normal as you are employing some changes that your system isn’t used to. However, once your body starts to adjust to these changes, the aforementioned symptoms should disappear after some time. Never underestimate the power of the human body to adapt. 

Intermittent fasting can serve you right if you are prepared how to do it well. It will be of great help if you also prepare yourself for the possible drawbacks.

Knowing the side effects that you might face will not only get you ready for intermittent fasting mentally, but it will also make you more committed to what you’re getting yourself into. If you are prepared to take on such challenges, nothing can stop you on the way to your goals.

​All of your sacrifices will eventually pay off if you truly believe that you are mentally and physically strong enough for this.


​​Part 5 - FAQs and Other Concerns

Intermittent fasting is not overly complicated, but naturally, new practitioners will have questions that seem to stem from whatever information they have previously known.

​This chapter aims to clarify some of the things that people are usually concerned about when they decide to get into intermittent fasting.

Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?

The meal you eat when you wake up isn’t necessarily the most important meal of the day, but the meal you eat after a fast. After all, breakfast is called as such because we usually “break a fast” after a good night’s sleep.

That being said, your “breakfast” doesn’t necessarily have to be taken when you wake up, but when your fasting window ends. Does this make more sense now?         

If you schedule a humongous meal before you sleep, just before your fasting window starts, it might take you by surprise that you still feel full and energized by morning. Thus, getting through the remaining fasting hours isn’t going to be that hard anymore.

​You don’t need to eat the conventional breakfast that we know, but perhaps you can think of any meal that you’ll eat at the start of your feasting window as that.

But I’ve heard that it is recommended to eat every 3 hours?

This idea is probably as common as “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Now, this became popular for a time because the body is known to burn calories when it is in the food processing state.

It gave the notion that eating more frequently will also make you burn more calories, thus eating more (in smaller portions) will aid in weight loss.           

​However, the problem with this is that your body burns calories in proportion to meal size. Basically, the numbers will end up the same whether you divide your daily calories into 6 small portions or 2 big portions.

Won’t I get cravings during a fast?

A woman craving to eat junk food

Yes, you will probably have issues with cravings during the first few days of intermittent fasting because of your past eating habits. When you are so used to eating whenever and however you want, your body might rebel a bit because you’ve suddenly taken away its accessibility to food.

You just have to press on when this happens. Once you are able to weather this out, you will notice that you’ll experience fewer cravings. If you run into cravings while fasting, you can avoid them by distracting yourself.

Go for a walk, read a guide, work on a personal project, or meditate –– anything to put your mind’s focus on something else. Drinking a glass of water can also help keep the cravings at bay.

Won’t hunger be an issue?

Yes, just like cravings, hunger will be an issue when you first start intermittent fasting. Because you are so used to eating mindlessly, your body is inclined to rebel when you’re not giving it food like you used to. Fortunately, this isn’t something that is going to last.         

Once you retrain your body not to expect food at certain times, it will learn to not expect anything during those times.

​Your body will quickly learn that it’s not quite time to eat yet. It is worth noting that this can initially be more difficult for overweight people and for those who eat often during the day.

Isn’t 24 hours too much to go without food?

Going a day without food can be daunting if you’ve been eating for most part of your day. Sometimes, the thought of it can be harder to get over with than the actual act. It is not uncommon to see people being held back by such mental barriers.

​Truth is, once you try doing it, it may not seem as crazy an idea as you first thought. Best of all, you are not going to die if you didn’t eat for one day!

What if I eat during my fasting window?

As we have discussed in Chapter 5, we should avoid overthinking. These slips and mistakes are just minor setbacks. If you give in once, just continue where you left off.

Don’t feel discouraged if you find yourself falling into temptation as it can really be hard to feel functional without food at first.         

Getting used to intermittent fasting is a process. Some people may find it easier to get through it the first time while others may find themselves struggling a lot during the first few days.

​The important thing is you’ve made the commitment and you are willing to stick to it for the long haul. Small mistakes like these aren’t going to affect your long-term progress as long as you don’t find yourself making these mistakes frequently.

How will I be able work out when fasting?

Woman doing yoga

It can feel weird to train without eating your favorite pre-workout snack, but you’d be surprised how capable you still can be even without eating.

Of course, if you’re new to intermittent fasting, it is recommended to do light workouts first before attempting more intense ones while in the fasted state.          

​Working out while fasted can also teach your body to tap into your fat stores for energy. If your goal is decrease your body fat percentage and build muscle mass, this is one of the best ways to go about it.

Will intermittent fasting make me lose muscle?

Intermittent fasting can make you lose weight and possibly some muscle mass along the way. This usually happens when you’re on a calorie deficit (eating less calories than you burn, which is advisable for weight loss).

Fortunately, this issue can be solved by eating more protein and bigger portions during your feasting window.         

Depending on your muscle building goals, you can go for a break even in your calorie intake or a calorie surplus. You definitely have to eat more if you are going after bigger gains.

Will my body not go into starvation mode?

Starvation mode may be a real problem, but it is not something that you should be concerned about during intermittent fasting.

As we have discussed in Chapter 1, it takes a long time for the body to go into starvation mode and recognize that the prolonged lack of calories has become a serious threat.

​A few hours of fasting a day, a few days of fasting a week, or even unplanned fasting in the form of illness will not put your body into the dreaded starvation mode.

What is the best schedule for intermittent fasting?

The best schedule for intermittent fasting will depend on your personal schedule. The schedules presented in Chapter 3 are just examples that you can draw inspiration from.

It is just there to give you an idea on how you can adjust it according to how it fits into your life. Generally, the bulk of your fasting hours should be done while you’re asleep, making it easier to keep the hunger at bay.

As for the portions, it is also entirely up to you. What you must take note of are your feasting windows and your daily calorie needs. It doesn’t matter whether you eat a few big portions or many small portions.

The important thing is that they are high-quality calories that will help you achieve your fitness goals. As long as you are able to eat your caloric requirements within your feasting window, you should be fine.

​Ultimately, you are the one who will set your own realistic restrictions when it comes to your fasting schedules.

How much should I eat?

This will depend on your goals.

Why are you trying out intermittent fasting?

Is it for weight loss? Is it for fat loss? Then you should go for a calorie deficit.

Is it to build more muscle? Then you should go for a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn).

A calorie counter app can help you determine the recommended approximate calorie numbers for you.        

​You can begin intermittent fasting by eating as you normally would, but this time record your weight and workout performance on your fitness journal. If your weight is going down and you’re becoming stronger, maintain what you have been doing.

​If your weight stays the same or is going up, this could mean that you have been on a calorie surplus. Keep a close eye on your numbers for at least a week and if you like how you’re progressing, keep up the good work. It means you’re doing something right!

What about cheat days?

Because eating can mostly be a social thing for humans, you will probably run into cheat days more often than you would like. While you can choose to stay strong and avoid temptations, there are times when you will just have to give in for social reasons.

If you know in yourself that you are not going to fall into such traps often, it is okay to cut yourself some slack. A cheat day or two within a week isn’t going to throw off all your progress overnight. Just remember what your goals are and you will have no problems with cheat days.    

The holiday season may be a tougher problem because it is practically a sin buffet. Of course, it will only be a sin buffet if you let yourself become an all-out sinner. The key here is to remember your goals and what they are for.

​It is okay to let yourself go for one day, but doing it every day during holiday season may be a stretch. You definitely have to start closer to square one if you decide to have too much fun with food during the holidays.

As intermittent fasting can be done in a variety of ways, the best method for you will mostly depend on your physical activities, lifestyle, and environment.

The pros and cons of the three most common variations have been briefly discussed in Chapter 3. The key to figuring out which one will work best is to learn what your intermittent fasting goals are.          

It’s really still a trial-and-error process even though you are aware of your goals and purpose, though. You can progress by skipping meals randomly at first first, and then move on to the 16/8 schedule before trying out a 24-hour fast.

You don’t necessarily have to try them all, but having experience with all of them (and logging how you feel on your fitness journal) will give you a much better idea of the method that seems to be helping you more.  

Although doing your homework and research can help you determine whether intermittent fasting can be good for you, a doctor’s opinion is still highly recommended.

He or she can provide the guidance that you’ll need in order to get this started the right way – from your fasting schedules, to your workout routines, and even your diet plans.

While intermittent fasting is not the magic pill or cure-all for weight loss, it can be something that will work for you given the chance.

​Conclusion

A fit man

Thank you again for reading this detailed guide!         

Shifting to a healthier lifestyle for weight loss and overall health improvement may not be easy, but intermittent fasting offers a viable solution if you are looking for a method that is doable and sustainable.

Although diets can help you achieve rapid weight loss at first, restricting calories by a lot will surely mess up your internal systems in the long run. Any progress you think you’ve made will be all for naught.

On the other hand, intermittent fasting may prove to be difficult during its first few days, but the human body is good at adapting. It won’t be long until you get used to your new eating times.

​There is no one way to do intermittent fasting. Two people may respond to the changes differently even if they try the same exact methods.

The key here is to always listen to your body and be in tune with how intermittent fasting affects you. Consulting with an expert regularly will also ensure that you are on the right track with your goals.         

Intermittent fasting may not be for everyone, but it is definitely worth trying out if you have been cleared by your doctor to do so. Not only will you be able to lose a lot of weight, but it can also change the way you experience hunger and eat food.

​Such change in perception is what will make intermittent fasting stick with you for the long haul. After all, who wouldn’t want to keep something that makes them feel great inside and out?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *