If you’re looking for an Intermittent Fasting Guide for Beginners, this is the perfect place to get you started with Intermittent Fasting. In this guide, we will cover the basis of Intermittent Fasting, what it is, foods to eat while intermittent fasting, how the intermittent fasting works, the benefits and the rules.
Intermittent Fasting is not a secret anymore: athletes, professionals, normal people, a lot of people have embraced this lifestyle and that’s why today it’s one of the most loved regimes.
It’s not a strict diet, I mean Intermittent Fasting for Losing Weight is a thing but in reality you should start practising it for your health: if you continue to read, you’ll realise how beneficial this regime is, not just for loosing weight but for many many reasons we’ll explain.
In fact, you can actually lose weight and, most of all, feel better by practicing intermittent fasting.
We bet you are shaking your head but trust us: we’ve been doing it for quite a while and, regardless to weight loss, we feel better both physically and mentally.
Before going in depth into the Intermittent Fasting Guide let us remind you something very important:
Intermittent fasting is a strategy, not a magic trick!
This means you need to follow the rules to see actual results and, most of all, have to embrace a change in your life in terms of what you eat and when you eat.
It only works if you commit to it but making sure it becomes part of your routine, not an obsession or a source of stress.
Quick note: the following is advice based on research and personal experience but do not consider this article a medical guide and please consult a doctor if you have a previous medical condition.
This Intermittent Fasting for Beginners guide is divided into small chapters to help you in learning more about the principles of this eating pattern, what to eat when fasting, the benefits of this routine. In the end, a list of all the most important questions with answers.
What is intermittent fasting and how do you do it?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet but rather an eating pattern.
The name clearly explains how it works: you alternate between periods of eating and periods of fasting. The reason being is linked to the possibility for the cells of our body to recharge when we fast, giving them a better and longer life… and consequently giving us a better life.
Let’s be clearer: fasting allows the body to burn off excess body fat. Excess means the fat we don’t use, the one we store for no reasons at all. If you eat constantly, your body will always use the incoming food energy, mostly sugar, and never burn the body fat. The body fat will be stored for when you’ve nothing to eat but you won’t never burn it because you will always eat! Intermittent Fasting helps in burning off excess body fat and, consequently, also the sugar stored in our body and completely helpless to us.
How to do Intermittent Fasting
There are different ways to do intermittent fasting, depending on your needs and also your goals.
16/8 Intermittent Fasting
The most popular is the 16/8 method where you basically have to fast for 16 hours every day and have an eating window of 8 hours; this method prohibits you from eating anything after dinner and from having breakfast, except for a coffee with no milk or cream.
5:2 Intermittent Fasting
A different approach to Intermittent Fasting: you eat normally for 5 days and fast for 2 days. You actually don’t fast completely for 2 days, but only ingest 500-600 calories/day.
Another popular method is the so-called Eat-Stop-Eat which involves a 24-hour fast, once a week. Water, coffee and non-caloric/sugar free beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food.
Alternate-Day fasting is similar to Eat-Stop-Eat but you fast every other day. During your fasting period, you cannot eat anything at all or you can just sneak in a bit of solid food, but nothing really caloric.
Warrior Intermittent Fasting
Last but not least, Warrior Intermittent Fasting involves eating just one meal a day following the pattern of 20/4: 20 hours fasting, 4 hours eating. During your eating window, you have to have a huge meal no matter if you’re hungry or not.
Skipping food if not needed
Another way to do Intermittent Fasting without sticking to any method, is to skip food when you don’t need it. Our body is designed in a way not to starve if left without food for a few days. Very often we eat because we have to do it, but when we’re not hungry we can skip eating and our body won’t suffer at all. Instead, it will suffer if we eat when we don’t feel the need to.
The choice on the type of Intermittent Fasting you wanna follow, it's up to you: most of the people choose the 16/8 and then move to a Warrior Fasting when they're ready.
What are the basic rules for doing Intermittent Fasting?
No matter which method you follow, you must stick to three simple rules:
- Fewer (or zero) sugars;
- More healthy foods
- No snacks in between meals.
I know at this point you’re thinking that Intermittent Fasting works only because you eat fewer calories since you fast and when you don’t fat you eat healthier. In reality, intermittent fasting works on different levels and losing weight is just one of many benefits.
What happens to your body when you fast?
When you fast, various things happen in your body even if at the very beginning, if you’re not used to this method, you will only feel very hungry. In reality, the following are some of the changes brought to your body by fasting:
- A drop in insulin levels: insulin can cause many problems in our bodies. When you fast, the level of insulin in your blood drops dramatically and this means the body accesses stored body fat and uses this to survive;
- Cell repair: fasting allows cells to start their repair processes. One of these processes is autophagy where cells remove bad proteins.
- Human Growth Hormone: when fasting, HGH greatly increases and this means fat loss and muscle gain.
These three changes, in turn, lead to many other changes in our bodies. That’s why many people prefer intermittent fasting to a traditional diet.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Eating less means weight loss, that’s not a secret. But fasting allows you to lose weight in a healthier way: your body is, in fact, forced to use the fat stored as fuel instead of using glucose. Glucose is pretty much everywhere in the things we eat but as soon as you change your eating habits and start depriving your body of sugar, your body will react by using stored fat for energy. This leads to weight loss.
Blood Sugar Improvement
Insulin can be extremely dangerous for our bodies (and not only for people with diabetes) as high levels of insulin also mean high blood sugar levels. When the level of insuline in our body is too high, it can cause fatigue, the need for more and more sugar and, in the long term, cardiovascular diseases. Intermittent fasting lowers blood sugar and prevents spikes and crashes due to hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
Read Also: The Easiest Guide to Insulin
Intermittent fasting helps lowering a lot of heart disease risk factors such as LDL cholesterol and this helps maintain a healthy heart.
Even if at very beginning it can be hard to adapt to the change, over a medium and long-term period intermittent fasting reduces the impact of leptin (the satiety hormone) on the body: when there’s too much leptin circulating in the body, for example when we eat constantly, the body develops a resistance and this means our bodies don’t react to this hormone anymore. That’s why we need more and more food. Fasting lowers levels of leptin.
Intermittent fasting has been proven to increase metabolism by up to 14%. At the same time, it’s a healthy boost that helps promote good weight loss: sometimes losing weight means you also lose muscle, whereas practicing short-term fasting increases the chances of losing weight without losing muscle tissue.
Reduces dependence on sugar
The more you avoid sugar and fast intermittently, the less you’ll need sugar in your diet. Many people drink apple cider during their fasting time to lower the level of insulin even more and to get used to the absence of sugar.
If you’re looking to buying apple cider vinegar with the mother, these are the brands I use and recommend personally:
It’s a routine
On a different, less scientific level, intermittent fasting can be seen as a routine and this allows those who practice it to bring order to their lives and to reduce anxiety and stress. It can certainly be hard to develop the routine at first, especially if you love having breakfast and after dinner snacks but as soon as you start seeing benefits and developing a serious plan, you’ll find this routine beneficial on many levels, for example giving a precise schedule to your days.
Foods to eat while intermittent fasting
During the eating window, you can eat whatever you want.
Although, if you’re following the intermittent fasting pattern you’re probably also into healthy food so it’s advised to eat clean: proteins and vegetables have to be preferred, carbs should be avoided or eaten in moderation and sugar should be completely avoided.
Eat for your goals, this is the only recommendation possible.
You should avoid snacks in between your meals but this is not mandatory and if you feel you need a snack, go for it!
Don’t overthink it – keep things simple and you'll see big changes in your body and in your life!
Intermittent Fasting for Beginners: FAQs
Can everybody practice intermittent fasting?
This depends purely on your body and your eating habits and lifestyle. As a matter of fact, everyone can follow this eating pattern making sure to adjust it according to their body. Intermittent fasting is not miraculous if it’s not supported by exercise and also a change of eating habits. It definitely requires a certain level of commitment, at least at the beginning, to make sure the body reacts correctly to the changes. But as soon as you start feeling better, it will become an enjoyable habit.
What’s the difference in Intermittent Fasting for Men and Intermittent Fasting for Women?
Some recommend women not to fast for a long period of time and to avoid fasting during their period. If this is true for someone, it’s not true for someone else. The only possible thing to do is to listen to your body and choose your pattern: you may discover incredible things about you, your body and your mind by simply fasting!
How do I start counting my fasting period? At the beginning of a meal, or when I’m done?
Your fasting period starts when you stop eating. This means if you start eating at 7 pm and finish at 8 pm, your fasting period will start at 8 pm.
Can I drink coffee in the morning?
Yes, you can. And you can also drink tea. Everything with less than 50 calories will keep your body in the fasting mode. No sugar allowed, tough.
Can I exercise when doing intermittent fasting?
Of course, you can! The more you will be into intermittent fasting, the more your body will feel energized. Make sure you add some form of resistance training to your routine to make sure your muscles won’t disappear.
Can Intermittent Fasting cause muscle loss?
Being an efficient fat loss method, it’s rare to see muscle loss if you practice Intermittent Fasting. For sure since you eat less frequently and you may have trouble getting enough calories and protein to build muscle, this may not be the best diet for muscle gain. But definitely weight training can help prevent muscle loss.
What happens if I’m hungry while fasting?
Usually, the body regulates itself and understands how to behave. You may experience starvation for the first 2-3 days and then everything will be normal. If during the first days you feel super hungry, we suggest you drink water and coffee (no sugar, cream, milk added) and stay focused!
How often should I do intermittent fasting?
There’s no rule when it comes to intermittent fasting. We’ve adopted it as a lifestyle, so it comes with us! You can do intermittent fasting regularly or just now and then; it all depends on you but for sure the more you are into this habit, the less you wanna quit.
These are 4 books I advice you to read if you want to know more about intermittent fasting for beginners:
Intermittent Fasting: The Ultimate Beginners Guide by Kathleen Moore
Delay, Don’t Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle by Gin Stephens
Intermittent Fasting for women by Kathleen Moore
Intermittent Fasting: The Complete Beginner’s Guide by Jason Legg & Mason Fung