Intermittent fasting has been used by people since before history, really. They just didn't call it that. The theory behind intermittent fasting is to eat between certain times of the day, stopping after a specific time and not eating until the next day at a specific time. But between those times you're welcome to eat what you normally eat. However, adopting a healthier approach will allow you to reap the benefits of this diet.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Some people simply refer to Intermittent Fasting as "IF". IF is simply a timed form of fasting, where you can benefit from fasting on a smaller scale. For example, some of the benefits of IF are:
- Less time spent eating, and even cooking and preparing meals in some cases
- Body fat reduction
- Life extension is a possibility for some
- More cognitive alertness based on the ability to increase norepinephrine
- Increased autophagy, meaning you get healthier cells!
Why Try Intermittent Fasting
Most people, such as myself, give IF a try to help them lose weight/fat quicker. For me I wanted to see if it would help my indigestion issues that I was suffering from. While they did not disappear after IF (one month so far), they have gone down a bit. I believe that normal fasting would be much more beneficial to me for this issue as fasting allows the digestive system (smooth muscle) to slow down and actually rest itself.
IF allows people to lose fat fairly quickly due to the fact that you are not always thinking about food, and you're cognitive alertness is much higher, which keeps you from 'thinking' that you need food.
How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
The first thing you need to do before getting started with intermittent fasting is to decide on timing of your meals. You will have a 'window' of eating that you will be able to eat your meals. For instance, for me I would allow myself to eat between 11am and 6pm at night, giving me a 7 hour period to eat.
In this case I am working on a 17 hour fast from food, which helps my body take a break and digest food. It also allows me to stick to a better schedule to get things done throughout the day.
So go ahead, create a time frame that you will allow yourself to eat. Some people will give themselves an 8 hour window, some people will be less lenient and give themselves a 4 hour window for eating their meals.
One tip: adjust your eating schedule as you go along with it. You might find that you feel better when you have a larger period of time to eat vs a smaller time, or vice versa. Do what makes you feel best!
What I would encourage you to do is to first eat a good, last meal before getting started the next day.
On the first day I would encourage you to simply drink water for a day. This is a great way to get your body ready for a new lifestyle. It helps your body detoxify itself and prepare for the 'starvation' feeling that people think they have. It's not starvation. You are not starving. Most people have too much fat, which means they couldn't possibly starve to death in a day.
However, please consult your doctor before trying any of this, obviously!
What Can I Eat?
This is where some people will say "EAT WHAT YOU WANT! OMG! DO IT!". I will not. I'm going to tell you to cut down on high carb foods and drinks and stick with lean proteins, more water (no soda, milk or any other sugary drinks) and plenty of greens.
That's not to say that you can't have a cheat meal here and there, just be careful with those cheat meals. I will sometimes have a larger meal and that's all I'll eat for that day. However, that's not a good habit to make. Do yourself a favor and become more strict and eat smaller, healthier meals every hour, two or three, depending on the window of time you have.
On day 2 you will start eating again, but healthier, smaller meals. Right? Of course.
Water. Lots of Water.
Water is the source of life. We thrive off water and it keeps us living. I want you to start drinking water when you feel any hunger pangs. Again, this does not mean you are starving, it simply means you are hungry at that time. Your body is used to eating at that time, but you are trying something new for a reason. Stick to it.
By drinking water you are putting something into your stomach and it makes you feel less hungry. But it also keeps you hydrated.
Working out While Fasting
Yes, workout each day. It doesn't matter if it's a small, brisk walk down the street. Keep your body moving. You aren't starving your body of nutrients, so don't use that as an excuse. You're not 'tired', you are just less alert due to the changes you're making. This will stop affecting you after a few days, trust me. For now you need to keep pushing on.
If you're eating healthier you will not suffer at all. You will be thriving off of this new change in your diet. Your body will make great progress within a short period of time, but so will your overall health.
More Hardcore Diet
Some people will want to try a more hardcore version of this diet, such as a 23/1, which means 23 hours fasting and 1 hour a day for eating, meaning one meal. This is actually what I do every other day.
In fact, there's other versions such as "eat-stop-eat" which I've tried, or even "every other day" which I have not.
Eat-stop-eat means to go one whole day (24 hours) without eating, then go back to IF for your 4-8 hour fasting period, then a few days later you're back at no eating again, then a few more days of normal IF, then back to a 24 hour fast. This is very beneficial to many people who need to lose fat quicker. You basically go a few days a week without eating.
Every other day means to do the same as above, but this time you eat one day, don't eat the next, then the next day you eat again. This is something I'm considering for health reasons, but it can be difficult for some people. I think it's great for breaking bad habits.