Ultimate Beginners Guide To Start Intermittent Fasting

Do you often miss the alarm in the morning and have no time for breakfast? Or do you’ve got children who need all your time in the mornings? Intermittent fasting might be a solution for you! Let’s take a look at why you should consider intermittent fasting.

Before trying intermittent fasting be sure to see your doctor. Intermittent fasting is beneficial in most cases but may be dangerous for others.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting isn’t another diet. Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that uses a different pattern of eating. This pattern consists of an eating window and a fasting window.

Intermittent is a period of eating followed by a period of fasting. During the fast, you’re allowed to drink or eat anything that doesn’t trigger your body to produce insulin. For this reason, it’s safest not to eat anything and only drink water and black coffee (without sugar) during the fast.

Methods Of Intermittent Fasting

Many people use intermittent fasting for its huge number of benefits. The methods are similar to each other, although one may suit you better than the other. Let’s take a closer look at the different styles of intermittent fasting that are popular today.

1.    16/8 Window – Eat For 8 Hours Followed By 16 Hours Of Fasting

This works quite well when you don’t have time in the mornings. It’s perfect to use fasting from 9 pm to 1 pm or from 8 pm to 1 pm. The reason is that you don’t eat 2 hours before you sleep which is helping you to get a deeper sleep. Also, you can enjoy your lunch at lunchtime, when the hunger naturally kicks in.

2.    Full Day Of Fasting – Once or twice per week for 24 hours straight

This type of fasting is very practical to use if some days are busier than the others. There are extra benefits of fasting for longer than 16 hours. You still eat every day because you fast from breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch, or dinner to dinner.

3.    The 5:2 way – Fast For 2 Days Per Week + Restrict Calories To 500

The 5:2 way focuses on 2 days per week where you allow yourself 1 meal of around 500 calories. This approach can be very beneficial if your day to day schedule is irregular. Another benefit is that most scientific research is based on this method.

4.    The Warrior Fast – 20 Hour Fast Followed By 4 Hours Of Eating

This type of fasting is great, as a longer fast gives you more of the benefits of fasting. Yet, for most people 20 hours of fasting might be a little extreme. It’s great to experiment with it to feel the real benefits of fasting for yourself.

5.     OMAD – One Meal Per Day

One meal per day is an approach that has gained more popularity, even under athletes such as Ronda Rousey and Kohei Uchimuras. With one meal per day, often consumed with a 1-hour time frame,  you get the most benefits from your fast. This style of eating deserves an article by itself because it’s by most people considered as bizarre or unhealthy.

6.     Prolonged Fasting – 24 Hours And Beyond

This type of fasting can be very beneficial to reset your body. This is not the type of fast you want to do on a regular basis. You can do this fast once or twice per year. Click here for a more in-depth article about prolonged fasting.

Which Intermittent Fasting Method Is Most Effective?

This depends mostly on your personal preferences and schedule. If you’ve days that are busier than others, the 5:2 approach or the regular full day fast can work for you.

If you like more consistency and would love to do it every day, the 16:8 approach can work for you.

If you want to get more out of your fast, you can fast more than 16 hours. If you enjoy it and have no troubles eating the right amounts of food (you don’t want to eat too little!), you can always see if you can take it a bit further.

Most important is that you can do it consistently. If it’s a struggle for you to do the fasting protocol you’re following, mix it up. It’s not only the scientific benefits that matter, it’s also the practical benefits that make intermittent fasting amazing. Read more about this below.

Which Celebrities Do Intermittent Fasting?

There are many celebrities that follow an intermittent fasting protocol. And it’s not only men that follow this protocol. Even some of the Kardashians use intermittent fasting as a lifestyle.

In the world of celebrities, intermittent fasting is mostly popular with actors to get rid of the last layers of body fat. Hugh Jackman uses the 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol as he explains in this video.

Another actor that does intermittent fasting is Terry Crews. Now Terry is a big guy, yet he only eats for 8 hours a day. Don’t confuse intermittent fasting for starving because Terry does still eat twice as much as us in a normal day.

Our Natural Way Of Eating?

Let’s go back in time. People still had to hunt for their food. Men would wake up with the only purpose in life to find food and survive. Survival was the ultimate goal.

Some men equipped with a bow and arrows, others with spears. Together they hunted for their dinners. Back at the camp, women were praying for their husbands to return with a big win. Sometimes the catch was great, but other times the catch wasn’t great.

Whatever the men caught on their hunt was being brought back to camp. There it was being prepared for dinner. Finally, they could enjoy what they had worked for the whole day.

What happened over the years? Today, you don’t have to wait for your food. In fact, you don’t even have to get out of your house anymore, to get your favorite food.

Was fasting our daily routine and are we now disconnected from our natural roots?

The Scientific Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has become more popular over the last few years. This has brought many scientists to research intermittent fasting. Today, there is plenty of evidence for the health benefits of intermittent fasting. Let’s take a look at a few.

Insulin Levels

Insulin is the hormone that’s responsible for using glucose as energy. When you have more energy than you need, insulin helps you to store glucose as fat.

Insulin levels drop significantly when you stop eating for a while. This allows your glucose levels to drop. From here another hormone, glucagon, gets to work.

High insulin levels suppress glucagon. Glucagon does the opposite of what glucose does. Glucagon uses your glycogen storage. After that has been used completely, it switches over to your fat reserves.

This state of your body is called ketosis. While your body in this state it produces ketones that your brain uses as fuel. This explains why you gain more clarity in the mornings while intermittent fasting.

Higher Level Of Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

HGH correlates with an increased fat loss, muscle gain, and anti-aging. As kids and young adults we naturally have high amounts of HGH. The older you become, the lower your HGH levels are.

Many bodybuilders and athletes use HGH supplements for its benefits. However, I want to stay within the natural ways of increasing your HGH levels.

HGH is for most people at its peak after waking up. You reach this peak state because you fast during the night. When you start eating again your insulin levels go up, which reduces the amount of HGH in your body.

It’s needless to say that it’s super beneficial to extend your fasting period, purely for the benefits of higher HGH levels alone.

Healthy Brain

The ketones that are being produced while being in the state of ketosis, are a great food source for your brain. Also, research shows that there are many other health benefits for the brain. This article shows that intermittent fasting allows faster growth of new brain cells.

Lose Body Fat

Intermittent fasting is great for losing fat. Modern science proves this to be true (mainly for obese people), but it also makes sense from a logical point of view. If you allow yourself to eat for only 8 hours, it becomes harder to overeat right?

Give Your Organs A Break

If you’re eating every 2 to 3 hours, your digestive system never gets a break. This means that it never gets a chance to fully recover. Just like how it’s important for your muscles to recover after a workout, so it’s important to give your organs a break.

Intermittent fasting has been proven to reduce inflammation. It allows your body to repair the cells of your body. This is a massive benefit for our health in general.

Practical Benefits For Intermittent Fasting

Jumping from happiness

The practical benefits convinced me to try intermittent fasting. It’s great today, as we’re often rushing from one place to another. Some of its benefits are:

Elevated Energy Levels

When you start out, you might want to schedule some time to adjust. Once you’ve adapted to this new style of eating, you start to notice that you gain more clarity in the mornings.

The mornings are most productive for me. My mind feels clear during this time of the day and I’m most productive. For these benefits alone I would recommend you to try out intermittent fasting.

Save Time In The Morning

No longer do you’ve to prepare you breakfast in the morning. Many people already skip their breakfast on a regular basis. Not eating breakfast also allows you more time for your morning routine.

Reduced appetite

Many people believe that skipping meals in the morning increases your appetite. You’ve probably experienced this for yourself. Do you feel hungry around 10 am after you forgot to eat your breakfast?

You feel hungry because your body is used to taking in food around these times. It’s a habit. Your body is telling you that you forgot to eat your food on your normal schedule.  

Glucagon is actually responsible for a lower response to hunger. Yes, you may be hungry at the beginning of your journey on intermittent fasting but this is only for short term. Once you’ve adjusted to this new pattern, you’ll feel that your appetite reduces tremendously.

Lose Body Fat

Intermittent fasting is great for losing fat. Modern science proves this to be true (mainly for obese people), but it also makes sense from a logical point of view. If you allow yourself to eat for only 8 hours, it becomes harder to overeat right?

Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting

Of course, there are some side effects as well. I’ve to say that most side effects are only when you’re starting out, but disappear if you stick with it. Some of the documented side effects are the following:

Headaches

Some people gain some serious headaches while starting out with intermittent fasting. This happens especially when people dive straight into intermittent fasting and don’t give their body times to adjust.

If this happens, take a step back. Give your body time to adjust to this new routine. When I first started out, headaches happened as well. For me the reason was that I didn’t drink enough water, so be sure to do that.

Heartburn

Heartburn is the burning sensation in your chest. Your stomach is still producing stomach acid at the beginning of your intermittent fasting journey. The reason it does this is that it expects food. Normally, that stomach acid would be used to make that food usable for your body. Since you’re fasting you don’t consume any more foods, while your body does expect it.

If you’ve heartburn this means that your body’s pH level is too high. You can balance this with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Drink 2 teaspoons of vinegar with ¼ cup of water every 5 minutes until the heartburn disappears. Alternatively, you can squeeze 1 lemon and drink the juice.

Binge Eating

If you start binge eating after you break the fast, you’re likely to gain more weight than not fasting at all.

If you feel prone to binge eating, take a step back. Have a closer look at what might cause this. Maybe you should decrease your eating period. Another reason can be that, again, you dove head-first into this new eating schedule.

Wrong Reasons

Intermittent fasting can be very beneficial for you with the right strategy. But if you skip breakfast and then break your fast with a happy meal, followed up by some orange juice and ice cream, it’s not going to benefit you.

If you stop eating altogether, intermittent fasting isn’t going to help you either. Be sure to eat the right amount of calories and make sure the majority of your food is clean. This includes eating your greens and getting enough fiber.

Also be careful not to go overboard with coffee in the mornings. Intermittent fasting gives you energy by itself. The best way to integrate coffee is by pushing your first coffee to the latest time possible, around 10 or 11 am.

Myths Around Intermittent Fasting

There are many myths around intermittent fasting. These myths are based on “old” scientific research. Not to mention that many myths are created from a marketing perspective, not so much science.

You Need Breakfast

Eggs

It’s called breakfast because it breaks the fast. Is it the most important meal of the day? It might be in some specific cases. However, there is newer research that shows that breakfast isn’t a requirement for a healthy lifestyle.

Some experts say that people who eat breakfast, are less likely to overeat the rest of the day. However, studies now have proven that this statement isn’t correct.

Breakfast can reduce the chance of overeating if your breakfast is the biggest meal of the day. On the contrary, make lunch the biggest meal of the day (after skipping breakfast of course) and get the same effect.

It seems that breakfast is important for the benefits of marketers, rather than your own health. I’m not telling you to believe anything that anyone says. Do your own research and judge for yourself.

Intermittent Fasting Slows My Metabolism

Metabolism plays a significant role in burning fat. And how do you keep your metabolism high? Eating every 3 hours, right?

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Researchers found that there is no correlation between metabolism and meal frequency.

New research has shown that high metabolism isn’t correlated with the times you take your food. Rather it’s correlated with the number of calories that you take in and the spikes in insulin levels.

If you’re bodybuilding and you’ve to eat massive amounts of food to bulk up, then yes, every 2 to 3 hours is most beneficial. Otherwise, how are you going to eat all your calories every day?

Intermittent Fasting Causes Muscle Loss

Your muscles won’t be touched while you’re doing intermittent fasting. Research has shown that muscle breakdown starts to take place after 48 to 72 hours after eating.

Your muscles break down when you eat fewer calories than you consume. When you eat fewer calories your body switches over to its fat storage and at the same time muscles.

As long as you’re eating your daily amount of calories, you’re good to go. You can use this calculator to calculate your daily need for calories to stay at the same weight.

If you’re looking to gain weight and increase muscle, you must be in a caloric surplus. This is where intermittent fasting can hinder because you’re restricted by time.

The last couple of months I’ve been eating 3000 calories on a 16/8 window. My main priority for my food is that 80% of it must be clean. This was quite difficult to do, but it’s possible.

I’m A Woman, This Doesn’t Work For Me

Women should approach intermittent fasting slightly different than men. The reason is that a woman’s hormones are different from the hormones of a man. Also, women are more responsive to starvation.

Intermittent fasting can still be beneficial for women. If you’re a woman you should listen more to your body. If you get really hungry, break the fast. Better to be safe than sorry. But keep in mind that in the beginning, you’ll naturally be hungry as it’s a habit for you to eat in these days.

Please keep in mind to see your doctor before doing intermittent fasting.

How To Start With Intermittent Fasting

The simplicity of intermittent fasting makes it so popular today. Although intermittent fasting is easy to do, there are a few things you need to take in consideration.

It might not be the best idea to jump straight into it. It may shock the body and result in difficulty to adapt to this eating pattern. The body prefers to take changes slow and steady.

Choose Your Method

The most important thing is that you pick a method that you can stick with. If you find it difficult to stay with the chosen method, try something else.

Intermittent fasting works because it’s simple and fits easily into any lifestyle. If this is no longer the case, you’re less likely to succeed. If you don’t know yet what suits you, try a few different things for a couple of weeks.

Ease Into It

Start slowly by pushing your breakfast to a later time. Start by pushing your breakfast one hour later for the first week. The following week you push it another hour. Keep doing this until you’ve reached the desired goal.

If you jump straight into your method, you’re more likely to fail. Your body doesn’t like instant change and will give you some real hardships to deal with. You might find yourself starving around 10 am. If this is the case, take a step back and go slow.

It’s super important to listen to your body. Be aware of your previous habits of eating. If you feel hungry and you can’t explain why to listen to your intuition and eat something.

Foods Apples and Orange

Don’t Do This

Intermittent fasting is a great way of eating due to its health benefits and simplicity. But it’s not the end-all approach. Be sure to have your diet in check. Watch out for the following:

Free Card For Junk Food

If you look at intermittent fasting as another way to cheat your way to a healthier life, you’re in the wrong place. Many fitness channels on YouTube use intermittent fasting as a way to cheat the system. This means eating a bunch of junk food while staying lean at the same time.

If you’re choosing intermittent fasting for the health benefits, make sure it counts. This means that your diet itself is on point. Of course, I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy a chocolate bar or pizza every once in awhile. What I’m saying is that when this becomes the majority of your nutrition, then you’ve got a problem.

Obsession

Yes, intermittent fasting is great. One of the reasons for it to be great is its simplicity. Don’t become too obsessed with the fasting approach. If you take the fun out it, there’s a bigger chance that intermittent fasting isn’t going to be successful for you.

If you go out for dinner with friends, feel free to eat 1 hour early than you would otherwise. Don’t stress! It’s still going to be beneficial for the rest of the week, even if you cheated that single day.

Simplicity is key. You fail because things are either too difficult or not enjoyable. Don’t let intermittent fasting bring you discomfort.

My Experience

I’ve done intermittent fasting twice. My first time was before I started traveling. It started because I had the bad habit of snoozing my alarm for as long as possible. I often skipped breakfast but always considered it to be a bad thing.

When I discovered intermittent fasting, it changed my mindset about breakfast. That day I implemented the method that worked with my schedule.

I felt much more energetic and productive in the morning. I would drink a black coffee around 11 am and break the fast at around 1 pm. Perfect time for lunch.

The second time I started using intermittent fasting was about a year ago. I’m still doing intermittent fasting as of today. I’ve become more energetic in the mornings. It also allows me to spend more time in the morning on doing the most important things of the day.

My mind feels sharp and clear until I start eating. I’ve also been able to reduce the amount of fat to a lower percentage than ever.

There is a downside. I’ve been trying to gain muscle while being on an intermittent fasting schedule. I found this very difficult to do, especially on a clean diet. It’s tempting to give in to chocolate and other foods that contain high amounts of calories. I felt that it’s almost impossible to eat 3000 calories within 8 hours on a clean diet.

In short, I started intermittent fasting for the benefits of weight loss. The reason I’m still doing this approach is that I’ve seen an increase in my energy levels in the morning. Also, I seem to have gained more clarity while intermittent fasting.

Experiment With Intermittent Fasting

I don’t believe that you should commit to intermittent fasting before you’ve tested it yourself. Try the different methods to see if it suits your lifestyle.

Do you feel more energetic or do you feel like you want to binge eat more? Does your body feel different, and is this positive or negative? Not everyone is the same, so nothing works for everyone.

I’m a huge believer in experimenting with different things. Intermittent fasting could be a great tool for you. Maybe you want to use it for busy weeks. Or it can be used to lose some extra weight.

Key Points

Intermittent fasting is a great way of eating that you can use with any diet. It consists out of a period of eating followed by a period of fasting. The most popular is the 16:8 approach. This is an everyday fast for 16 hours followed by an eating period of 8 hours.

Intermittent fasting successful because it’s very simple. It works great for people who have a very busy schedule. Also, research shows that intermittent fasting has many benefits. Benefits include higher levels of HGH, increased fat loss, and benefits of anti-aging.

There are some side effects of intermittent fasting but these are often only short term. Side effects that could come up are headaches, heartburn, or binge eating. Fortunately, there are solutions.

Don’t become obsessed with intermittent fasting. The reason this works is that its fun and flexible. Take 1 of the 2 away and it becomes more difficult to stick with intermittent fasting.

Don’t forget that intermittent fasting can be very practical for you. It can also free up time for your morning routine!

The last thing I want to say is to try this for yourself. Only you can decide whether intermittent fasting works for you or not. Be sure to share this post if you think that other people should give it a try as well. After all, intermittent fasting could benefit many of your friends and family!