How To Get Started With Intermittent Fasting
Researchers who study sleep all agrees to get a minimum of 8 hours worth of rest. This automatically will give you an 8- hour fasting window.
It is generally suggested to avoid food for the first hour of waking up. Watch this to understand more.
Thus, beginners can just aim for a 12 hour fasting cycle by finishing the last meal 1-2 hours before going to bed and eating the first meal 1-2 hours after waking up. As you get more comfortable, aim for a 14- 16 hour fasting window and depending on your health goals, replace the dinner with a wholesome one- pot soup meal.
Besides this basic schedule, do not forget to include at least a 30-minute physical activity schedule, preferably during the daytime.
Popular Ways To Do Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has recently become a health trend. Devotees claim it can cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, and maybe even extend life span.
Every method can be effective, but figuring out which one works best depends on the individual.
Several methods of this eating pattern exist. But before embarking on an intermittent fast or deciding how often to fast, you should speak with a healthcare professional.
Here are 6 popular ways to do intermittent fasting.
Struggling To Cook Healthy We’ll Help You Prep
Ive been a dietitian for nearly 15 years, so Ive read my share of research on IF, Ive written about it a handful of times, and Ive even tried intermittent fasting out for myself. Heres my take: it works really well for some people regardless of what type of IF they follow, but one common denominator is that plenty of folks out there are doing it wrong.
There happens to be a lot of misinformation floating around the internet , so I culled a list of some of the top comments and questions on Reddits Intermittent Fasting thread and answered them the best I could. Here are some common questions I found about IF, plus some common mistakes to avoid when trying it.
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Fats To Eat When Intermittent Fasting
Although its unjustly bad image persists, fat is the most critical macronutrient when doing intermittent fasting.
Pure natural fat, such as extra virgin olive oil, causes almost no insulin reaction. For this reason, fat not only supports weight loss but also other health benefits of fasting.
Also, animal and saturated fats reputation is far worse than the scientifically proven reality. According to recent studies, saturated fatty acids protect against heart attacks and strokes .
Due to the overwhelming burden of proof, even the most stubborn health authorities have now had to admit that saturated fatty acids are not causing cardiovascular disease .
Moreover, saturated fatty acids are more heat resistant than unsaturated ones. Therefore, they are best for frying. However, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats belong in any diet as well.
These natural fats supply your body with an ingenious balance of energy during intermittent fasting:
- Saturated fats
Can You Drink Alcohol While Intermittent Fasting
On intermittent fasting days, its best to limit alcohol consumption to your eating windows. Most alcoholic beverages are high in sugar and calories, so drinking alcohol can easily break your fast. Plus, alcohol affects us more on an empty stomach, so even one glass of wine during a fasting window might feel awful the next day!
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When You Choose The Wrong Fasting Plan
Intermittent fasting allows you to eat all of your days nutrients during one set period and refrain from eating for the remainder of the day. This food allocation may feel unusual at first, especially since intermittent fasting might be a departure from your typical eating schedule. When you fast, youll be substituting your regular three meals per day with one of many intermittent fasting protocols.
The intermittent fasting protocol you choose can often lead to the most common IF mistake: choosing a fast thats too demanding or merely the wrong fasting protocol for you. Think of it this way: if your body is adjusted to eating every two hours, an intensive 24-hour fast will likely drain your energy and leave you feeling discouraged. Similarly, if your daily schedule keeps you up late at night, its wise not to begin your fast at 5 p.m. If you start your fast early in the evening, youll run the risk of staying up longer than expected with no food.
Success Tips: Do your research and find an intermittent fasting protocol that works best for your needs. The fasting plan you choose should correlate with your existing schedule and not overextend how comfortable you feel restricting food. For instance, if youre a beginner, 14:10, when you fast for 14 hours and plan all your meals in 10 hours, would likely suit you.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week. There are many different intermittent fasting schedules.
Mattson says that after hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat. He refers to this as metabolic switching.
Intermittent fasting contrasts with the normal eating pattern for most Americans, who eat throughout their waking hours, Mattson says. If someone is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and theyre not exercising, then every time they eat, theyre running on those calories and not burning their fat stores.
Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.
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What Can You Eat Or Drink During Your Fasting Window
Technically, a fast breaks the moment your liver triggers the release of digestive enzymes. Any supplements/ medicines/ coffee etc will break your fast.
But drinking fresh water and some zero calorie drinks like herbal tea’s are allowed during your fasting window. I would avoid coffee, sugar loaded beverages and supplements though.
It is essential that you only eat healthy, unprocessed nutritional food when you are ready to eat. Especially in the beginning, it is easy to give in to junk food after the fast ends, so planning ahead is essential.
Some foods will be more advantageous for you to consume when you are ready to break your fast.
The most vital food products to focus on are real whole food and plant-based products.
- Ideally, go for the best quality, organic proteins like beans, lentils, seeds, tofu.
- Crucial healthy fats for building healthy hormones and satiety like nuts, seeds.
- Unprocessed carbohydrates like rice, wheat, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes.
- Lots of green leafy vegetables.
Mistake #: Youre Not Sure What Counts
So my wife and I are trying to start on the IF journey . Its harder than we thought. How can she do coffee in the mornings without throwing off the benefits of the fast? She doesnt care for black coffee, but the chokehold of caffeine has her in its stimulant grip, and I dont want to die in that ditch today.
I, too, live and die by that a.m. cup of coffee. But this person is overthinking it. The best thing to do is simplify your routine. Have your morning cup of coffee exactly as you like it and break your fast then. For example, if youre doing 16:8 , have your coffee at 8 a.m. and your last meal at 4 p.m.
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Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be
Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, its very reasonable to choose a reduced calorie plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet. But research suggests that not all IF approaches are the same, and some IF diets are indeed effective and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet.
We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as diabetes.
Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day , or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.
Just changing the timing of meals, by eating earlier in the day and extending the overnight fast, significantly benefited metabolism even in people who didnt lose a single pound.
When Can I Eat On The 1: 8 Diet
You can pick an 8 hour window to suit your day. So, for example it could be between 10am 6pm or 11am 8pm and so on. Plus, you can still drink tea and coffee outside of those hours too, although because of the benefits of drinking water you are also encouraged to stay as hydrated as possible.
Most people choose to fast through the night, and opt to eat their first meal at about 11am or in the middle of the day.
Tom says, The most common hours adopted for the eating period is 12 till 8pm. The reason for this is because people arent normally that hungry in the morning, you dont want to be consuming too many calories during the evening and this allows us to eat our lunch and dinner as well as a healthy snack.
But Is Intermittent Fasting Good For You
While some researchhas shown the benefits of IF, such as weight loss, lowerblood pressure and improved metabolic health, more investigation isstill needed, especially regarding long-term outcomes of IF. There is also theaspect of sustainability. Severely restricting calories or not eating for longperiods at a time isnt for everyone. Some researcheven shows that those who do intermittent fasting dont usually stick with itas compared with those trying to lose weight on more traditional diets.
Still, IF has been shown to be an effective form of weight loss but so have other options like eating a well-balanced diet paired withexercise. One studysuggests that IF is not more effective at supporting weight loss or improvingblood sugars than other well-balanced approaches.
Weight loss is never a one-size-fits-all approach, saysTaylor. IF may be sustainable for some people, while others find that this approachjust isnt for them.
If you want to try IF, youll first need to figure out how you are going to incorporate this style of eating into your life, especially when it comes to things like social events and staying active, she advises.
Ready to explore your options? Here Taylor explains some of the most popular IF methods.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Many diets focus on what to eat, but intermittent fasting is all about when you eat.
With intermittent fasting, you only eat during a specific time. Fasting for a certain number of hours each day or eating just one meal a couple days a week, can help your body burn fat. And scientific evidence points to some health benefits, as well.
Johns Hopkins neuroscientist , has studied intermittent fasting for 25 years. He says that our bodies have evolved to be able to go without food for many hours, or even several days or longer. In prehistoric times, before humans learned to farm, they were hunters and gatherers who evolved to survive and thrive for long periods without eating. They had to: It took a lot of time and energy to hunt game and gather nuts and berries.
Even 50 years ago, it was easier to maintain a healthy weight. Johns Hopkins dietitian Christie Williams, M.S., R.D.N., explains: There were no computers, and TV shows turned off at 11 p.m. people stopped eating because they went to bed. Portions were much smaller. More people worked and played outside and, in general, got more exercise.
Nowadays, TV, the internet and other entertainment are available 24/7. We stay awake for longer hours to catch our favorite shows, play games and chat online. Were sitting and snacking all day and most of the night.
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Proteins To Eat When Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to proteins, you need to know your goals:
- Weight loss and anti-aging: Increased fat burning and health benefits of autophagy through restricted protein consumption
- Atheltic performance and muscle gain: Better performance and growth through individual adaptation of protein intake to training intensity
Also, age plays a role in protein intake.
While individuals over 65 years need increased protein intake to maintain muscle mass, restricted protein intake can help younger individuals increase life expectancy .
Nevertheless, protein should never be missing from your diet when doing intermittent fasting. For this reason, here are great natural sources of protein:
- Organic chicken
- Goat cheese
- Sour cream
Although they do not fit into this category due to their predominant carbohydrate content, vegetarians will have to resort to legumes such as lentils and beans.
When eating legumes, ensure to neutralize plant toxins by steaming in a pressure cooker.
What Are The Possible Side Effects
There can be a number of possible side effects of intermittent fasting.40 Heres what to do if you encounter them:
- Hunger is the most common side effect of intermittent fasting. This may be less of an issue if youre already on a keto or low-carb, higher-fat diet.41Learn more
- Constipation is common. Less going in means less going out. However, keep in mind this is a normal response to eating less. It is not a concern and shouldnt require treatment unless you experience significant bloating or abdominal discomfort. Standard laxatives or magnesium supplements can be used, if needed.
- Headaches are common and tend to disappear after the first few times on fasts.42 Taking some extra salt often helps mitigate such headaches.43
- Mineral water may help if your stomach tends to gurgle.
- Other possible side effects include dizziness, heartburn and muscle cramps. Learn more
A more serious side effect is the refeeding syndrome. Fortunately, this is rare and generally only happens with extended fasts when one is undernourished.44
Since most of these side effects are manageable, they do not mean you have to stop your fast. However, if you truly feel unwell, are excessively dizzy, profoundly weak or have other severe symptoms, then you should break your fast.
Just remember to go slowly when you break it and prioritize fluids and salt . And of course, if the symptoms persist, see your doctor immediately.
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Top 6 Questions About Intermittent Fasting
1) Wont I get really hungry if I start skipping meals?
As explained above, this can be a result of the habits you have built for your body. If you are constantly eating or always eat the same time of day, your body can actually learn to prepare itself for food by beginning the process of insulin production and preparation for food.
After a brief adjustment period, your body can adapt to the fact that its only eating a few times a day. The more overweight you are, and the more often you eat, the more of an initial struggle this might be.
Remember, your bodys physical and cognitive abilities most likley wont be diminished as a result of short term fasting.
2) Where will I get my energy for my workouts? Wont I be exhausted and not be able to complete my workouts if fasting?
This was a major concern of mine as well, but the research says otherwise: Training with limited carbohydrate availability can stimulate adaptations in muscle cells to facilitate energy production via fat oxidation.
In other words, when you train in a fasted state, your body can get better at burning fat for energy when there are no carbs to pull from!
Ill share some of my experiences, now doing heavy strength training for 3 years in a fasted state:
Here I am pulling 420 lbs. at 172 BW after a 16 hour fast:
A post shared by Steve Kamb on Nov 21, 2018 at 10:43am PST
LeanGains digs into various options here, but here is really what you need to know:
4) Wont fasting cause muscle loss?
Why Food Matters When Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting activates a process called autophagy where your immune system destroys old, damaged cells, then recycles their individual components into new, healthy cells. Think of it as cellular spring cleaning.
Feeding these new forming cells with optimal energy sources is critical.
Failure to nourish your regenerating cells with whole animal foods can promote metabolic dysfunction and increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer.
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Recommended Foods And Tips
While the 16:8 intermittent fasting plan does not specify which foods to eat and avoid, it is beneficial to focus on healthful eating and to limit or avoid junk foods. The consumption of too much unhealthful food may cause weight gain and contribute to disease.
A balanced diet focuses primarily on:
- fruits and vegetables, which can be fresh, frozen, or canned
- whole grains, including quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley
- lean protein sources, such as poultry, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, low fat cottage cheese, and eggs
- healthful fats from fatty fish, olives, olive oil, coconuts, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are high in fiber, so they can help keep a person feeling full and satisfied. Healthful fats and proteins can also contribute to satiety.
Beverages can play a role in satiety for those following the 16:8 intermittent fasting diet. Drinking water regularly throughout the day can help reduce calorie intake because people often mistake thirst for hunger.
The 16:8 diet plan permits the consumption of calorie-free drinks such as water and unsweetened tea and coffee during the 16-hour fasting window. It is important to consume fluids regularly to avoid dehydration.