Intermittent Fasting A Quick Start Guide For Beginners
Our Educational Content is Not Meant or Intended for Medical Advice or Treatment
“Intermittent fasting is one of the most important factors in weight loss”
- Dr. Berg
You can’t believe it.
Your friend posted a picture of you. But…that can’t be you!
Because you’re certain you don’t look like that.
“I’m not that fat,” you mutter as you quickly skip past the unflattering photo.
Besides, you know the camera adds ten pounds. Everybody says so. “At LEAST ten pounds,” you think.
But your doctor’s words from your last checkup ring in your ears. “You’ve got metabolic syndrome, and you’ll be a full blown diabetic if you don’t lose weight.”
Icy fear sweeps through you as you imagine your future with type 2 diabetes.
Your gut knots.
You vow to lose weight, but how? You’ve tried everything you’ve ever heard recommended for weight loss: skip meals, low calorie, alternate day eating, even those crazy short-term fads like nothing but grapefruit.
Yet nothing’s worked.
Then you remember what your doctor suggested: intermittent fasting. But you pretty much blew it off at the time. Fasting? Isn’t that like deliberately starving yourself?
You even joked about it. Yeah, that intermittent part of intermittent fasting? How about once every, oh, NEVER.
But that knot in your gut isn’t a joke and neither is that shocking photo of you.
There’s just one problem - you have no idea how to get started with intermittent fasting (IF). In fact, you’re not even really sure what fasting on purpose is.
Let’s take the mystery out of fasting; here’s your guide to intermittent fasting for beginners.
Intermittent Fasting Meaning What, Exactly?
Intermittent fasting isn’t the latest diet craze. It’s not a diet at all. Instead, at its core, IF is a pattern of alternating periods of eating with fasting periods during which you don’t eat.
Sounds simple enough.
And you already know how to fast. You do it every night between the time you go to bed and when you have breakfast the next day. We’re simply building on what you already know you can do, even if you consider yourself one of the total fasting beginners.
So, rest assured that fasting doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself for hours on end.
You don’t have to count points or calories, or try to figure out the right food for your blood type, or moon phase, or whatever the latest gimmickry is.
But you will lose weight by eating healthy food that will keep you from getting hungry in between meals.
In fact, if you follow these intermittent fasting guidelines, over time you’ll naturally eat less often because your hunger will ease off all on its own.
If the thought of not being hungry all the time sounds good, you ain’t heard nuthin yet.
The first rule of your intermittent fasting plan is to not skip a meal but instead eat three meals a day.
Boom! You weren’t expecting that advice for fasting and weight loss, were you!
But…you’ve got to stop snacking. Snacking between meals is the biggest reason you can’t lose weight.
Every time you eat, you spike your insulin levels, especially when you eat processed snacks laden with sugar and refined carbohydrates. And let’s face it, even so-called healthy snacks aren’t really so healthy.
Here’s what happens when you graze all through your waking hours: you constantly flood your body with insulin which then drives excess sugar into storage as fat. And there the fat stays, locked onto your body until you lower your insulin.
Insulin is the fat storage hormone. It’s the messenger that tells your body to store fat. But before you decide insulin is evil - it’s not, really, it’s just that conventional dietary wisdom has gone haywire and turned this essential hormone into Frankenstein’s monster.
You might be panicking at the thought of going several hours in between meals because you know you’ll get hungry. Maybe you even have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and need to eat often or you get dizzy, confused, and shake uncontrollably.
But you can still avoid the need to snack, even with hypoglycemia, if you follow these steps.
We are wired for feast and famine, not feast, feast, feast.
Dr. Jason Fung
Your Basic Intermittent Fasting Plan
For your three healthy meals a day, here’s what to eat:
The first component of your meal is healthy fat. Fat is a satisfying food that keeps you feeling full longer than carbohydrates or protein. It’s very calorie dense, but remember, you’re not worried for now about calorie restriction. And fat triggers your insulin the least, allowing your body to burn fat.
In other words, you lose body fat by eating fat.
Yes, even though fat has high-calorie content.
Examples of healthy fats are avocados, cheese, eggs, and olive oil. Make guacamole, whip up a cheese omelette, or drizzle olive oil on your salad. Heck, even dollop the guacamole on your omelette for a satisfying meal that will keep you full for hours and start your weight loss.
The key, though, is adjusting your fat to the Goldilocks amount: not too much, not too little, but just right.
Too much fat can congest your gallbladder and cause discomfort like bloating, burping, and right shoulder pain. As well, eating too much fat will cause you to turn dietary fat instead of body fat.
Too little fat, and you’ll quickly feel hungry after your meal, leaving you wide open to temptation by the snacking gremlin.
Your body is unique, so play with the types and amounts of fat and tweak them as you go. You’ll learn what keeps you feeling satiated and comfortable from one meal to the next.
Next, add lots of greens to your meals. The potassium in them will help stabilize your blood sugar, which also helps to keep you from feeling hungry.
In addition to popular greens like spinach, kale, and romaine, try arugula, cabbage, or green lettuce. Toss on other low carb vegetables like bell peppers and tomatoes, or grill asparagus then toss it with olive oil.
Big salads are the obvious choice to get lots of good vegetables, but if you gag at the thought of mounds of greens then check out this alternative smoothie.
Greens, fat, what else?
Low carbohydrate and moderate protein
If this combination of high fat, moderate protein, and low carb looks familiar, there’s a good reason. This is the ketogenic diet plan, popularly known as keto.
(Fat, protein, and carbohydrates are called macronutrients; they’re the three basic components of every diet. You’ll hear them called macros.)
You might have heard that people on keto go crazy eating as much meat and cheese as they want, and you’re dreaming of chowing down on hordes of cheeseburgers (without the bun, of course!).
Well...not quite! Healthy keto means moderate protein, not high amounts because high protein will also spike your insulin and keep the fat locked onto your body. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not eating enough vegetables, so make sure you chow down on them in order to boost your weight loss and keep a healthy pH level in your body.
It’s especially important that you lower your carbohydrate intake. You never want to intermittent fast while eating a high carbohydrate diet because you’ll be keeping your body dependent on sugar (carbohydrates) for fuel instead of adapting to burning fat for fuel. Then, when you fast and your body runs out of the glucose it depends on you’ll suffer low blood sugar and cognitive impairment, because your brain still demands its sugar.
Nearly everyone asks what he or she can drink while intermittent fasting. If you’ve heard that coffee isn’t allowed, and you’re panicking at the thought of giving up your morning fix, don’t worry! Coffee is totally acceptable although you’ll want to limit the amount because too much caffeine can spike your insulin and kick you out of fat burning mode.
As well, to boost your healthy fat intake you can add full-fat coconut milk, MCT oil, or butter to your coffee. But, you guessed it, ya gotta ditch the sugar.
Tea is good, as is - of course - water.
Together, keto and fasting are powerful tools for weight loss, improved metabolic health, and reversal of Type 2 diabetes.
Become A Fat Burner
Three low carbohydrates, moderate protein meals a day with enough fat, without snacking, will start getting your body used to burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. You’ll start delaying your breakfast until closer to lunchtime because it takes longer before you get hungry in the morning.
This is good news! It means you’re naturally moving into a longer period of fasting because your body is starting to get its energy from fat instead of glucose.
In fact, you’re probably in what’s called ketosis. Ketosis is a state in which the body is using ketones as its primary fuel. Ketones are the byproduct of burning fats. They’re an alternative fuel source that your body produces when you’re eating a low carbohydrate diet.
Our entire lives we’ve been told that the primary source of energy in the body is carbohydrates or glucose. But this simply isn’t true!
Your body’s original fuel source was ketones. As a baby, you ran on ketones if you were breastfed. Only recently have we been told to use glucose as our primary energy source. And look at the result: an epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
But don’t get mad at the lousy advice you’ve been given. Take charge of your health, because living well is the best revenge, as the poet George Herbert said.
Do you see how healthy keto combined with fasting can be a total game changer for you?
When you lose body fat, you’ll improve your body composition, which at its most basic is a measurement of the amount of both fat and muscle in your body, expressed as a percentage.
Body composition is a more accurate indication of your health than simply the number on the scale. Ideally, you want to get your percentage of body fat to less than 24% for men and 31% for women. Above those levels, you’re considered obese.
Tweak Your Meals Frequency
Keep working toward eliminating breakfast so you need only two meals a day. Yes, despite the conventional wisdom which tells us breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you can safely skip it once you start becoming fat adapted.
When you reach this point, give yourself a big high five! Instead of flooding your body with insulin all day, you’ve drastically lowered your insulin levels to unlock fat burning.
Many people eat their two meals around noon and six pm, giving them a six-hour eating window and an 18-hour fasting window. Others eat at two pm and eight pm. Play around and find the times that are best for you to maintain a fast for 18 hours, then eat within that six-hour window, known as 18:6 fasting.
You can stick with 18:6 if you’re cruising along and happy with the results, but if you want to lose more weight, then try different meal frequencies during your intermittent fasting.
For example, try 20 hours of fasting with a four-hour eating window, otherwise known as 20:4 fasting. And you may have heard of something called OMAD, which is one meal a day, which will further speed your weight loss.
You’ll be able to figure out the right intermittent fasting ratio for you. But you don’t need to decide this now. Just start with three meals a day, no snacks, and see how you do. Let your body dictate when you eat and when you fast. Eat only when you’re hungry.
Beware Intermittent Fasting Information Overload!
If you’re a research geek and you dive into Google to find out more about intermittent fasting, you’ll likely run across a lot of different kinds: Leangains, by Martin Berkhan, time-restricted, alternate day, fast diet, and the like.
Your head will swim: when should my fast days be? Should I fast only on non-consecutive days? What is refeeding? Is it really safe to have zero-calorie or non-caloric periods? What the heck is a fed state? Isn’t a calorie just a calorie?
The list is endless!
It’s enough to make you run away screaming.
For now, stick with the basics of the intermittent fasting mentioned in this guide so that it doesn’t get overcomplicated. Keeping it simple makes it easier for you to stick to this plan. Well, that, and the fat loss you’ll experience!
If Intermittent Fasting Is So Good, Why Do I Feel So Bad?
You’ve put your intermittent fasting plan in place and you’re thrilled to discover you really can go a little longer between meals than before. Your fat loss has started. You know you’re taking control of your health. You’re stoked!
And suddenly, you’re so cranky you want to whack someone upside the head with a two by four.
Welcome to the transition to becoming fat adapted, otherwise known as the low carb flu. What’s happening is your body hasn’t quite given up its sugar dependency. Then, in your fasted state, you end up with low blood sugar in all its crankypants glory.
While this is something nearly everyone experiences, don’t worry! It will pass in a couple of days. In the meantime, you can increase your water intake and add electrolytes like salt or potassium.
Just please don’t eat carbohydrates to try to make yourself feel better...it will only prolong your discomfort.
The Incredible Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Besides weight loss, there are other health benefits from intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting for women can help correct the problematic estrogen dominance that occurs after menopause.
Other powerful health benefits include a decrease of inflammation from arthritis or autoimmune conditions, repair of damaged cells, and reversal of cognitive problems like dementia.
In fact, fasting initiates what’s called autophagy. This is a process in which your cells recycle toxins and damaged parts of themselves. Think of it this way: you drop rotted vegetables or spoiled bits of meat into your disposal, turn it on, and outcome brand new vegetables and fresh meat.
That’s autophagy! It’s incredible for anti-aging, and to protect and re-grow new brain and heart cells.
But if that blows your mind, now consider that another life-changing effect of fasting is increasing your ability to substantially increase human growth hormone (HGH).
Here’s why this is so exciting:
When you were young, your body made plenty of HGH. That’s why you had smooth skin, shiny hair, and a sharp memory. But growth hormone naturally decreases as you age, leaving you with wrinkled skin, grey hair, and a memory that’s no longer as sharp as a steel trap.
Now imagine giving yourself a good dose of this substance, simply by regular fasting.
HGH is the ultimate anti-aging hormone. It supports cell growth, regeneration, and improves cognitive function. As if that’s not enough, it’s the main hormone that supports fat burning.
There is a multitude of reasons why intermittent fasting is great,
but secreting human growth hormone may be the best one.
- Thomas DeLauer
Take Charge Of Your Health With Intermittent Fasting
Being overweight and staring at a future of diabetes - or worse - robs you of your joy in life.
When you’re faced with the imperative to lose weight, or else…it seems like your condition has control over you instead of the other way around.
But that isn’t fair.
You deserve to be in control.
You deserve a healthy future; free from worry that you might not be around as long as you want for the people you love.
It’s time to take charge of your health. You’ve learned the basics of intermittent fasting. So what’s next?
Make a promise to yourself: better health starts now.
Choose a start date.
Plan your intermittent fasting journey.
Set your goal.
But you don’t have to do this all on your own. Instead, recruit a friend to IF with you, join a support group, or sign up for this free intermittent fasting mini-course.
Ready…set…blast off to better health!
*Any comments on our blog or websites relating to weight loss results may or may not be typical and your results will vary depending on your diet and exercise habits.
***Always consult a professional before making any significant changes to your health.