How To Find The Best Method For Beginners
Although approaches exist that fit most people, its perfectly reasonable to experiment in the beginning.
After all, your body and daily schedule are unique, so its not always the same method that can best fit that routine.
For example, you can start slowly with a 12/12 day plan, as this is an effortless way to get started for most people.
You stop eating a few hours before bedtime and postpone breakfast for a few hours after waking up.
If that works well, extend the fasting window the next day and repeat the process until you arrive at a daily schedule that works for you.
Since you have to subtract 8 hours of sleep, 12 to 16 hours is not long to wait for a meal. Accordingly, its easy to experiment with classic intermittent fasting, where you still eat every day.
But What If I Get Hangry
Hunger is normal during a fast, especially when you first start fasting. However, if you keep a set fasting schedule daily, youll probably find that you begin to not even feel hungry until near the end of your typical fasting window. You might also begin to relate to your hunger differently, recognizing true hunger from cravings.
But dont worry even on fasting days you get to eat some calories! Clinical trials of intermittent fasting typically involve having people eat up to 500 calories on fasting days of 24 hours. There are still scientifically validated benefits of having regular 500-calorie fasting days.
If you ever feel very hungry, hangry, irritable or light-headed during a fast, try the following:
Might Go Against Your Intuition
Intermittent fasting requires discipline, restraint, and planning ahead.
For some people, using those tactics to keep your calorie intake within a designated time frame is no problem, but for others, it might feel unnatural at first. This may be especially true if youre used to relying on your intuition to decide when to eat.
Further, if you prefer not to follow a strict schedule, you might find intermittent fasting frustrating.
Whats more, if your schedule tends to vary from day to day because of work, family, or other obligations, keeping your calorie intake to a designated time frame could be challenging.
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The Extreme Way To Do Intermittent Fasting
Combining a Fat Fast with 16:8 Intermittent Fasting is a useful but more extreme way to do intermittent fasting.
With this type of fasting, you consume all of your calories within an eight-hour eating window, and 95% of those calories must come from fat.
In other words, you need to limit your intake of carbs and protein to just 5% of your total daily calories.
Fat fasts work for weight loss because dietary fat does not raise your blood insulin levels.
This is not the case for carbohydrates, which are the nutrient with the most impact on insulin, or protein, which has a small, but significant impact on insulin.
Because fat does not change your insulin level, consuming fat gives you the same benefits of a complete fast without the extreme loss of energy.
So, lets think about practicality for a moment
What Is Ketosis And How Will I Know That Im There
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body starts to break down and burn fat. Ketosis is characterized by the production of ketone bodies in your liver, which include acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate and the breakdown product of acetoacetate, acetone.
If you have water fasted for over 12 hours, you are likely in at least nutritional or light ketosis! Your liver glycogen has been depleted. Your body is producing ketone bodies as an alternative fuel source for your brain through the breakdown of fat and fatty acids. You can also reach ketosis with an alternate day fasting or 5:2 protocol with up to 500 calories per fasting day, but its best if these calories come from low-carb or keto-friendly foods.
The best way to measure ketosis is through a blood ketone meter or a breath ketone meter. You can measure your ketone levels to see if anything you are drinking during your fast is kicking you out of ketosis. Urine ketone strips are not very accurate. They dont detect all forms of ketone bodies, such as the important beta-hydroxybutyrate or BHB. So the best bet is to grab a blood ketone meter like Keto-Mojo, or a breath ketone meter like BIOSENSE.
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Keeps Cells Healthy And Vibrant
When we fast we give our body time to rest and repair, tending to natural processes put in place to keep our cells healthy. Autophagy is an example of a process our body naturally undergoes to keep our cells healthy and in turn, keep us healthy!
Autophagy is the process our cells go through to remove waste and dysfunctional cells to help our body clean out damaged cells and regenerate new and healthier cells. Evidence suggests when we intermittent fast, we increase the frequency of this process, so our body works harder to remove any unwanted junk and dysfunctioning cells .
Increased autophagy may play a role in protecting us from several diseases including neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, inflammatory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases .
Why Should I Fast
There are many benefits of intermittent fasting. They include weight loss, reduced inflammation, improved lipid levels or biomarkers of heart health, improved blood sugar control, improved insulin sensitivity and increased cellular recycling known scientifically as autophagy. Overnight fasting can also help prevent weight gain and preserve metabolic health and glycemic control. Intermittent fasting may be particularly beneficial for overweight individuals in terms of improving their expected healthspan, or length of healthy life.
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Schedule #: 1: : 4 Omad And Other Types Of Time Restricted Feeding
Popularized and researched by Satchidananda Panda, PhD, time-restricted feeding combines a fasting window with a feeding window. During the fasting window, people either dont eat at all or eat much less than usual. During the feeding window, people may either eat normally or more than normal.
In theory, this protocol takes advantage of our natural circadian rhythm to optimize metabolic health.
What it involves
Three of the more popular types of time-restricted eating include:
- 16:8, which calls for a 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour eating window.
- 20:4, which entails fasting for the first 20 hours of each day, and then eating only during a 4-hour overfeeding window. Generally, most people put their 4-hour overfeeding window at the end of the day, as its more convenient for family dinners and after-work training sessions.
- OMAD, or one meal a day, which involves consuming all of your calories within 1 hour and nothing for the other 23 hours.
In each approach, some people focus on including highly-satiating foods such as colorful veggies and lean protein. These foods can help to dampen hunger during the fasting window.
For someone following 16:8, it might look like this:
Monday, 8pm: Finish your last meal of the day.
Tuesday, 11am: Work out.
Tuesday, 12pm: Eat your first meal, ideally the biggest one of the day.
Tuesday, 12-8pm: Feeding window during which you eat your daily energy intake.
Tuesday, 8pm: Last meal of the day ends, and the fasting period starts.
Could Help Promote Balance In Other Areas Beyond Food
When we think of intermittent fasting we immediately think of food, since that is what we are limiting. But could we benefit from taking a break from other things in our life?
The basic concept of fasting is to abstain from something for a specific period of time, so what other things could we fast besides food?
Television, social media, and video games to name a few may all be things we could use a break from that may positively impact our health and well-being.
At the end of the day, consciously choosing to reduce or shift our habits can help us create health and wellness goals based on our values and beliefs.
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Watch Out For The Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting
Your sex, stress level, and age can increase the chances of IF side effects like insomnia, fatigue, and poor recovery. This is especially true for intense fasting schedules like alternate day fasting.
Side effect #1: Intense fasting can disrupt sex hormones.
If estrogen is your dominant sex hormone , you may be more sensitive to energy intake than someone who has testosterone as their dominant sex hormone . Piling on too many stressorsextreme exercise coupled with extreme dieting, for examplecan lead to a cascade of problems, including:
- mood disorders and mental health problems
- thinking and memory problems
In Dr. Scott-Dixons case, too-frequent fasting combined with too-heavy training as well as general life stress and an anxious temperament resulted in estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, LH, FSH, and cortisol levels that were effectively zero. I was in my mid-30s and menopausal, she says. Ive seen this situation in many of my female clientssome as young as their mid-20s.
As a result, most women will want to gravitate toward the gentler forms of IF and be careful about how they pair those options with a fitness program.
Side effect #2: IF is a stressor, which can make you feel run down.
If someones under a lot of pressure, a gentler form of fasting is probably best. If you attempt an advanced fasting schedule such as ADF, youll want to give your body plenty of TLC on your fasting daysand schedule exercise for your eating days.
Restrictive Eating Can Influence Disordered Eating
Any diet that supports skipping meals or restrictive eating can trigger some not-so-great food relationships. Especially when the positive weight loss effects are directly impacted by not eating, or restricting food intake.
This isn’t a great mindset to go into fasting with and can lead some people to take intermittent fasting too far, developing disordered eating patterns, or getting caught up in a yo-yo dieting cycle.
Not to mention that not eating enough calories each day to meet your basic needs can lead to nutrient deficiencies, decrease your immunity and create havoc in your body.
Whatever your reason for wanting to intermittent fast, remember to incorporate basic nutrition principles including calorie control and a balanced diet to set yourself up for success.
Going rouge during your non-fasting periods can sabotage any hopes you have for reaping the health benefits when intermittent fasting.
Let us help take the guesswork out of your meals and meal prep. Order ready-to-eat macro balanced meals delivered directly to your home. We’ve got the food and tools you need for success in your health and wellness and are rooting you on.
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Heres What Happened When I Tried Time Restricted Feeding
Krista Scott-Dixon, PhD, Precision Nutritions director of curriculum, is a morning person.
I didnt want to give up my big breakfasts, so I chose evening fasting first. she says. I normally trained in the mornings, so this worked for me.
However, she noticed three things about her sleep when fasting in the afternoons and evenings.
First, she was much more tired. Once my battery ran out, I was done. Getting up the stairs to bed was a terrific ordeal, she says.
Second, although shed conk out quickly, she didnt sleep well.
Third, she woke up extremely earlyat a consistent 4am.
Later, she experimented with skipping breakfast and lunch.
At first, that felt like much more of a sacrifice, she says,
Eventually she got to like the efficiency of waking, grabbing a cup of tea, and getting straight to work. And she slept a lot better after a good meal in the evenings.
Bottom line: For any fasting schedule, youll want to experiment, tweak the plan, and do what works for you.
Who Should Not Try Intermittent Fasting
Not everyone should try IF. A few groups who shouldnt: women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant , those taking diabetes medication , or anyone who takes multiple medications , Kumar says. Also, if you have a history of eating disorders, introducing periods where youre not allowed to eat can put you on a dangerous path toward a relapse.
Know that IF has some side effects. You may be cranky hanger is real during fasting periods because low blood sugar can mess with your mood. You also still need to have a healthy diet when you do eat. One thought is that it would be difficult to make up a calorie deficit if you fasted for two days, but in our society with access to calorie-dense items, you could probably do it, Kumar says. Focus on balanced, nutrient-packed choices, like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, legumes, and whole grains . Expect that for the first couple of weeks you may deal with lower energy, bloating, and cravings until your body adjusts, Shemek says.
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Schedule #: Alternate Day Fasting
With alternate day fasting you eat every other day.
What it involves
You eat normally one day. The next day, you dont eat. Repeat.
People who benefit
This is an advanced fasting schedule that works best for people who have already mastered fasting one or two days a week.
As with schedule #6, its ideal for people whose lifestyles reinforce the fasting schedule. Think of hospital medical professionals who work 12-24 hour shifts. For them, it might be easier and even preferable to not eat during their shift.
If you try it:
- Practice fasting for shorter periods, first. Again, this is an advanced practice. Before trying alternate day fasting, experiment with fasting once or twice a week.
- Plan for when you will break your fast. Make sure youve got food at the ready.
- Be flexible. If you break the fast early, you didnt screw up. Try to learn from it and move on. Also, try not to compensate for mistakes by fasting even harder. For example, if you eat dinner on a fasting day, dont skip a meal on your eating day in order to make up for it.
- Take time off from fasting when your life gets busy. ADF doesnt pair well with hard training, excessive life stress, or even someones monthly menstrual cycle.
Best Intermittent Fasting Schedule For Weight Loss
As we know by now, weight loss is a matter of hormone balance. More specifically, the storage hormone insulin is the essential player in this process .
Since fasting is the most effective way to lower insulin levels, many people successfully lose weight.
Once you get used to an intermittent fasting daily schedule, the hunger hormones adjust to the plan, and fasting should become almost effortless.
For example, the essential hunger hormone ghrelin decreases as the duration of fasting increases and only increases in a pulsatile manner when we expect a meal .
Therefore, people with a fixed intermittent fasting schedule tend to succeed more than people with irregular eating patterns.
With this in mind, 16/8 intermittent fasting is the best schedule for most people to lose weight successfully.
The ease of use makes 16/8 a guarantee of success. You only have to cut out one meal and unnecessary snacks. Due to the beneficial hormonal balance in the morning, it is easiest to skip breakfast.
However, people can also achieve success by skipping dinner if it fits better into their daily routine.
16/8 intermittent fasting guarantees a period of low insulin levels every day, while the method does not drastically change the daily routine.
This balance results in most people being able to stick to the daily schedule as well. And finally, continuity is the key to realizing results.
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Is 12 Hours Enough For Intermittent Fasting
12-hour fasting means that you fast for 12 hours every day and eat within a 12-hour window. While the fasting time is set, there are different possibilities for arranging meals in your eating window. Research suggests that the benefits of 12-hour fasting are similar to longer fasting times, as long as you restrict the number of meals in the eating window.
16/8 fasting is considered the beginnerâs version of intermittent fasting. Many people donât consider 12-hour fasting as intermittent fastingâwhether it is or not is debatable.
If you want to learn more about different intermittent fasting methods, we recommend our in-depth article about the 8 different methods of intermittent fasting.
In our opinion, what matters are the health benefits. Donât you agree?
Before answering this question, letâs have a closer look at how 12-hour fasting works.
Muscle Growth And Repair
A study of healthy adults found that 48-hour fasting increased human growth hormone secretion by up to 400%. It also increased the frequency of growth hormone bursts throughout the day.
HGH increases muscle mass and stimulates faster muscle repair. It may also speed up the healing process for wounds and more serious injuries. HGH is so effective that taking it externally is banned in professional sports and is considered doping.
It seems counterintuitive, but occasionally going without food for two days may actually help you build muscle, not lose it.
You Are Eating The Wrong Type Of Food
Many other diets come with a list of foods that you can and cannot eat. However, that is not how intermittent fasting works.
Intermittent fasting lets you eat anything you would like within a specific eating window.
Because intermittent fasting does not restrict your diet, it is easy to slip right into unhealthy feeding habits. Binging on unhealthy processed foods even if it is only in your eating window could be responsible for your slow results.
Stuffing too many calories during your eating periods is also counterproductive.
During your intermittent fast, consider changing your meal plan. Toss out the unhealthy processed food and switch to healthier options. Think of foods like whole grains that are rich in dietary fiber.
Furthermore, sugary foods could send your blood sugar levels through the roof and contribute to reduced insulin sensitivity.
Staying away from sugary foods protects you from sugar highs and the sugar crash that results after. It also helps keep your blood sugar within the normal range.