Table Of Contents
The Complete Guide to Effective Fasting
The concept of intermittent fasting is simple. You eat within a certain time frame and fast the rest of the day. This, combined with its effectiveness, has made intermittent fasting one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends.
Fasting can help you lose weight safely, increase your immunity, enhance your health, and simplify your life. If you are new to fasting and want to add it to your lifestyle, this extensive intermittent fasting guide is for you.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about intermittent fasting and how to implement it successfully.
Complete beginners guide to intermittent fasting
If you want to incorporate fasting into your lifestyle, you must first understand what fasting is, the science behind it, the benefits and drawbacks, the ideal approach to fasting, and so on.
This guide has been simplified to make it easy to understand by anyone. This guide is also known as “Intermittent fasting for dummies.” So, let’s get started.
Also, read – Does Intermittent Fasting Slow Metabolism
What is fasting?
Intermittent fasting, as previously said, is an eating pattern in which you eat only during specific hours and fast the rest of the time. Fasting concentrates on when you should eat rather than what you should consume. To get the most out of your fasting schedule, you should also evaluate what you consume.
There are other varieties of intermittent fasting, some of which will be explained further below, and you can pick the one that works best for you.
The science of fasting
This easy guide would not be complete without discussing the science of fasting. When you fast, it’s critical to understand what’s going on in your body, since these activities can help you reach your wellness goals.
The body does not have access to the regular quantity of glucose, which is the body’s major source of energy, during fasting. The body then seeks out alternative sources of energy, breaking down glycogen (a glucose-like substance stored in the body) for fuel. Glycogen levels drop after a period of fasting, and your body begins to break down fat to make ketones. After that, the ketone bodies are used as a source of energy.
The benefits of fasting come from the switch from burning glucose to burning fat. Ketones created during fat breakdown has several advantages, including the prevention of vascular aging. In the long run, fat breakdown also leads to weight loss.
It’s hard for your body to enter the fat-burning state without fasting. Your body will not enter the fat-burning state unless you make a conscious effort to limit when you eat and fast the rest of the time. So, in a nutshell, fasting will get your body into a fat-burning state that’s difficult to achieve with a normal eating schedule.
People that are fasting can lose weight without changing how and what they eat. They also get other benefits of intermittent fasting.
Pros and cons of intermittent fasting
This beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting continues with the pros and cons of fasting. Here they are.
• Simple to follow: Intermittent fasting is simpler to follow than most other diets. You’re still eating the same foods you’ve always eaten. The only difference is in the time you eat.
• Assist with weight loss and enhance metabolic health: Intermittent fasting is well-known for its ability to help individuals lose weight, which is one of the main reasons why people try it. Losing weight isn’t easy but fasting can help you achieve the calorie deficit you need to lose weight or maintain your current weight. Fasting can also improve your metabolic health and offer health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, improving blood sugar, and repairing damaged cells.
• Potential money savings: Intermittent fasting can help you cut down expenses by eating out less and buying fewer groceries.
• Long-term compliance: Some people may find it difficult to stick to their fasting plan for the long term. Generally, long-term compliance is an issue when it comes to any wellness or health trend. You’ll be hungry at first because you’re not used to going without food for long periods of time. However, if you stick to it, you’ll adjust and become less hungry over time.
• Some side effects: Fasting may have some side effects such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, constipation, headaches, and more. These side effects are temporary but are unpleasant.
How to get started with intermittent fasting
With all the advantages that fasting has to offer, most people are eager to give it a try. However, before you fast, consult your doctor to see if intermittent fasting is right for you. This is especially critical for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, have low blood pressure, have eating disorders, or are taking certain drugs; you should only fast if your doctor has given you permission.
The next stage is to determine why you want to fast, i.e., your health/wellness goals, which may include weight loss, improved blood sugar levels, insulin resistance management, slowing or preventing aging, and so on. Then you choose the form of fasting that is most convenient for you and keep an eye out for any potential adverse effects. The symptoms should be temporary (only for a week or two). Should they persist longer than that, stop fasting for a while and see if symptoms improve.
Examine your fasting plan on a regular basis to see how effective it is. To evaluate the effectiveness of your fasting, you can use waist measurements, body weight, energy level, mood, and blood sugar levels as metrics.
Take this quiz when you are ready to start your fasting journey. It’ll help you get started and plan your fast.
Types of fasting
Fasting can take many forms, all of which have been proven to be successful. Look through the options below to choose one that matches your lifestyle:
Time-restricted fasting: This style of fasting entails eating only during particular hours of the day and fasting for the rest of the day. The 16/8 method, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window, is a common type of time-restricted fasting. The 8-hour eating window can accommodate up to three meals or more. During the fasting hours, you are allowed to drink water and other non-caloric liquids.
The main popularity behind the 16/8 method is the flexibility to choose your 8-hour eating period. Most people choose their eating period based on their schedule. You can decide to eat between 9 am and 5 pm, 7 am to 3 pm, 2 pm to 10 pm, 12 pm to 8 pm, and fast for the rest of the day.
Fasting for 16 hours means you get to achieve the fat-burning state, which is important for weight loss and other health benefits.
Also, read – The Essential Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan
The 5:2 method: This is the most common type of intermittent fasting. The 5:2 method, often known as The Fast Diet, includes eating normally for five days and then eating a fourth of your daily calorie intake for two days. For most people, a quarter of the necessary calorie intake will be between 500 and 600 calories.
You are free to choose any two days as long as there is at least one non-fasting day in between. Because you’ll be eating normally for five days out of seven in a week, many people find the 5:2 plan simple to follow; eating normally means eating healthy foods. If you eat junk food and other unhealthy meals, you will not be able to achieve your fasting goals.
Eat Stop Eat: Fasting for 24 hours on two non-consecutive days in a week is part of the Eat Stop Eat diet. If it’s more convenient for you, you can fast for just 24 hours (a day) once a week. You eat regularly for the remaining 5-6 days of the week. In essence, you’ll be eating on each of the seven days of the week. If you were to begin fasting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, you would have eaten something before doing so. Then, on Thursday, at 9 p.m., you break your fast.
Care must be taken to make sensible food choices and avoid overeating. Remember to stay well hydrated, especially on fasting days. Of course, water is the best, but you can always take calorie-free beverages like tea or unsweetened/artificially sweetened coffee.
Alternate Day Fasting Method: As the name implies, the Alternate Day Fasting Method involves fasting every other day. You eat normally on non-fasting days. There is a modified version of the alternate-day fasting method where you eat about 500 calories on fasting days. This fasting method may be easier for some people.
The Warrior Diet: Considered extreme and unnecessary by some health experts, the Warrior Diet is based on the eating patterns of…ancient warriors. This method involves restricting food intake for about 20 hours in a day and then overeating from dinnertime. The aim is to let people eat most of their calorie intake within a short timeframe, say 4 hours.
This method may not be suitable for many people, but it still offers the benefits of intermittent fasting if done right.
Which intermittent fasting method is the best?
The best type of intermittent fasting is the one that’s most convenient for you. One type of intermittent fasting isn’t necessarily better than the other. It’s all about deciding on one that works for you and sticking to it. That way, you’ll be able to maintain your new eating habits, increasing your chances of success dramatically.
It’s worth mentioning that the 16:8 fasting method and the 5:2 method, especially the modified version, seem to be the most convenient for people taking up intermittent fasting. For the 16:8 method, the 8-hour daylight eating window means you get enough energy to keep you going throughout the day, and your metabolism rubs as it’s supposed to. When you stop eating at night, you overcome one of the biggest obstacles to successful weight loss, overeating at night.
Beginner meal plan for intermittent fasting
Even though intermittent fasting is about when you eat, you should try to eat healthy and nutritious meals during your eating intervals. This will ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs as you set out to achieve your wellness goals. Incorporate a diverse range of foods into your diet. Such foods include:
Fruits: Tomatoes, oranges, avocados, berries, oranges, peaches, apples, etc.
Veggies: Leafy greens, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, etc.
Whole grains: Oats, barley, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, etc.
Protein sources: Fish, meat, nuts, seeds, legumes, poultry, etc.
What to drink: Water, tea, unsweetened coffee.
What to avoid: Deep fried foods, most frozen meals, sugary drinks, packaged snacks, and other unhealthy foods.
Meal plan for different types of fasting
Below are sample meal plans for the different types of intermittent fasting:
Time-Restricted Fasting: As someone new to intermittent fasting, you may test the waters with the 16:8 time-restricted fasting method. The 16:8 method allows you to eat three meals (and snacks) while getting in the 14-hour fasting period you need to achieve the fat-burning state.
Breakfast: Green smoothie; your breakfast can be at 7 am, 8 am, or 9 am, depending on your schedule. If you aren’t a breakfast person, your eating period can start at 12 pm or 2 pm.
Consuming a green smoothie for breakfast means you avoid starting your day on a blood sugar roller coaster which would be the case if you go for a high-sugar fruit smoothie. Avocado, spinach, chia seeds, blueberries, and coconut milk make a great green smoothie. Enjoy!
Lunch: This meal could include a taco salad or grass-fed burgers. Your snack can be any fruit of your choice or boiled eggs.
Dinner: Salmon and vegetables are your new best friend. Salmon has a rich taste while also being high in nutrients. Serve it alongside any roasted vegetables of your choice, and begin your fast. When your fast starts, only consume water and other non-calorie beverages till it is time to break.
You eat other nutritious food the next day and so on. The idea is to eat a wide variety of healthy and nutritious food, so your body gets all the nutrients you need to achieve your wellness goals safely.
Intermediate time-restricted fasting: If your eating period starts from 2 pm or 12 pm, your meal plan will be different from the one above. Eating your first meal later in the day may work for people that don’t fancy breakfast. Even though you are skipping breakfast, it’s important to stay hydrated so take enough fluids (you know what fluids to take by now) until it’s time to break your fast. Your meal plan can be like this:
First meal: Grass-fed burger with avocado
Snacks: Any fruit of your choice.
Second meal: Salmon and vegetables
The 5:2 fasting method: You already know this method involves eating normally for five days a week and then fasting for one or two non-consecutive days of the week. This method is for more advanced people and not beginners. It’s common to see people choosing Mondays and Thursdays as fasting days. However, you can choose other days that are more convenient for you. Your fasting plan could look like this:
Tuesday: Eat normally. Your food should include fruits, vegetables, clean meat sources, and healthy fats.
Wednesday: Eat normally. Your food should include fruits, vegetables, clean meat sources, and healthy fats.
Friday: Eat normally. Your food should include fruits, vegetables, clean meat sources, and healthy fats.
Saturday: Eat normally. Your food should include fruits, vegetables, clean meat sources, and healthy fats.
Sunday: Eat normally. Your food should include fruits, vegetables, clean meat sources, and healthy fats.
It is important to stay hydrated on fasting days.
How to break a fast
The right way to break a fast is “gently, very gently.” The longer the fast, the gentler you’ll have to break it. You should avoid eating large meals after a fast, a mistake common among beginners. You should also avoid foods that are hard on the digestive system.
It’s easier to break a fast if you stay hydrated during the fasting hours. Start with a cucumber salad and chopped parsley when you’re ready to break your fast, or you can choose to eat a cup of tomatoes; I t all depends on your personal tastes and preferences.
Fish or poultry should be your primary protein sources, and you should limit your protein intake. The rest of your meal should be non-starchy veggies that come in natural fats like coconut oil. Avocado oil, ghee, or butter can also be used. During your eating period, avoid sugary or highly processed foods and drinks since they will negate all the benefits of your fast.
Tips for maintaining intermittent fasting
The last section of the complete guide to fasting is about how to stick to your fasting plan. Fasting can be difficult for some people to adopt. After all, staying away from food requires some determination.
The Lasta app can assist you in getting started with intermittent fasting. Make sure to have a look at it. That said, below are tips that can help you ace your fasting plan to ultimately achieve your health goals:
Ease into your fasting plan: If you ease into your fasting plan, you’ll have a better chance of adhering to it. Don’t just jump right into a fasting plan, as doing so may make you hungrier and more uncomfortable.
Fast for two or three days throughout the first week to ease into it. Depending on your fasting plan, you can gradually add a day per week until you are able to fast for a full week.
Eat only when necessary: While fasting may make you hungry and weak, you should be able to handle it just fine. However, if you start to feel extremely lightheaded, you should try to eat something as your blood sugar may be too low. Yes, you should not eat when fasting, but if the ill effects are too much for you to bear, eat something.
Of course, if you want to eat during your fasting hours, don’t just eat anything. Consume protein-rich snacks such as cooked eggs (one or two will enough) or turkey breast slices. These foods will keep your body in a fat-burning state, allowing you to continue fasting if you still want to.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water and calorie-free beverages throughout the day to stay hydrated. Set reminders to drink water throughout the day and aim for 2 to 3 liters of water or other fluids each day.
Break your fast properly and avoid overeating: It’s normal to feel like devouring anything and everything after hours of fasting. However, you shouldn’t go down that path. Make sure to eat slowly and chew well to help your system fully process the food. This will also help you avoid overeating as you’ll know when you are full.
Adapt your workout routine: Yes, you may exercise while fasting. Exercise and a fasting diet, in fact, can help you reach your health goals faster. When you’re practicing intermittent fasting, the greatest time to exercise is right after you wake up because that’s when you’ll be the most energetic. In addition, you should only engage in low-impact exercises such as yoga or steady-state cardio. After you’ve broken your fast, you can undertake more rigorous workouts.
Include high-volume, low-calorie meals in your diet: These foods will satisfy your hunger faster, reducing your calorie consumption while preventing overeating. Boiled potatoes, oatmeal, vegetables, legumes, fruits, and so on are examples of such foods.
When it comes to intermittent fasting, there is no one-size-fits-all approach because there are numerous successful methods. The greatest fasting method is one that is sustainable and fits your preferences and lifestyle.
You’re setting yourself up for long-term success if you follow the basic rules of intermittent fasting. Before fasting, see your doctor, as indicated earlier. Intermittent fasting may not be appropriate for people with certain health issues or eating disorders.
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Kimberly Tytyk is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (INHC) and a Certified International Health Coach (CIHC). Following decades of personal experience transforming her personal health and achieving remission of autoimmune thyroiditis and PCOS, Kimberly completed her formal coaching training in 2021 at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Her passions include deep nutrition, holistic and balanced living practices, regeneration, community-building, and finding bliss — usually in a cuddle with her husband and dog.