New to the topic? Let’s get right into intermittent fasting 101!
Losing weight can be a very challenging physical experience that’s healthy but, unfortunately, hard to do. Luckily, intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight without having to buy those expensive fat burner pills that simply don’t work.
With that in mind, how do you do intermittent fasting and does it really work? Today, we’ll guide you through all the things you need to know about the famous diet. Here’s intermittent fasting 101.
Foreword From Energetic Lifestyle
There’s a lot of pressure that society—and even we personally—put on ourselves to lose weight. Always remember that living healthier and losing weight is a lifestyle. You have the rest of your life to cut down and look amazing.
There’s no need to rush this process. The faster you realize that this is something you can sustain for a long period of time, the higher the chance that will begin to feel normal. Intermittent fasting, just like all the other diets out there, can be dangerous to the inexperienced.
There are a lot of psychological illnesses around food that aren’t talked about or well-known. With that in mind, please remember that we would like you to be healthy, feel healthy, and look healthy. All of this comes with time, so don’t rush it. Never starve yourself just so you can lose a couple of pounds faster.
Thank you for taking the time to read this important message. Without further ado, let’s go over the basics of intermittent fasting and how you can use this diet to lose weight.
Intermittent Fasting 101
Just from the word “fasting” you can already get a good grasp of what this diet is all about. Intermittent fasting is a form of dieting that requires you to stay away from food for a certain amount of time.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Religious groups do the most common way of fasting, which is when making a sacrifice or offering. These types of fasts can last days or even weeks, but we won’t let you go through all of that just to lose weight.
The primary purpose of intermittent fasting is to reduce the window of time you eat, so you’ll ideally consume less food throughout the day. Instead of fasting for days, this lasts for 16 hours, 20 hours, and so on depending on the method you choose.
By lowering the window of time wherein you can eat, you’ll avoid munching on food throughout the day. This is a great way to cut off habitual eating, where snacks and small meals dominate your entire day without making you full.
Lastly, there are a lot of ways that you can incorporate intermittent fasting into your life. You don’t have to be extremely strict about how you schedule your routine around this, as long as you can fulfill the aim of fasting.
Intermittent Fasting: Why Should You Do It?
We can enumerate a lot of reasons why you should try out IF. For one, intermittent fasting is a great way to discipline yourself and realize that most of what you eat is actually unnecessary.
Depending on your environment, chances are you may be a part of the demographic who munches on snacks and chips at least once throughout the day. Chips, junk food, or even finger food like pizza, are not filling yet extremely calorie-dense.
This means that foods like this contain a lot of calories despite not making you feel satiated or full from eating them. By doing an intermittent fast, you’ll avoid eating chips throughout the day since your window for eating will revolve around bigger meals—like dinner.
Additionally, a lot of people find themselves much more alert and focused after hours of fasting. It’s also good to take note that hormonal hunger differs greatly from actual hunger. We’ll go over these topics in a later method.
Is This For You?
To be honest, the best way to answer that is by trying it out. Just like every diet out there, it’s always going to be different for everyone. Waking up and skipping breakfast or going to sleep without dinner is probably a big hurdle for most people.
And, even if you can do either of these, you might still crave that afternoon snack that you’re so used to eating for the past couple of months. Regardless, we cannot recommend enough that you try intermittent fasting.
Our bodies are a very complex structure of nerves, hormones, and so on. We can guarantee that you may even surprise yourself with the results. For example, are you a person who gets hungry every four hours?
Chances are, you’re experiencing what’s called “hormonal hunger”, which is when you feel hungry because your body is used to you eating every four hours. While you might feel like you need a bite, this feeling can actually pass by after a couple of minutes.
This is because your body isn’t actually hungry, it’s just making itself ready to eat food since you normally eat every four hours.
How You Can Do Intermittent Fasting
It goes without saying that—just like working out—there are a lot of ways that you can optimize your intermittent fasting schedule to fit your needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all, and with our help, we’ll guide you through the numerous ways you can start intermittent fasting.
The 16/8 Diet
Arguably the most famous form of IF, the 16/8 diet finds itself used by a lot of beginners who aren’t familiar with fasting yet. By scheduling a 16-hour fast and 8-hour window for meals, you’ll still be able to enjoy at least two meals a day.
The 16 hours of fasting here also include sleeping. Limiting your calorie-intake to 8 hours means you can choose between breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner. If you’re a night-owl, you can also opt for a dinner and midnight dinner schedule.
We recommend this way of dieting for beginners since 8 hours to eat is still a pretty good time. This means that if you choose to eat your first meal at 12 pm, then your last meal must be before 8 pm—perfect for dinner!
The 5:2 Method
Going up a bit higher on the difficulty scale, the 5:2 diet revolves around whole day fasts. In this case, you’ll be eating normally for five days but then fast completely for two entire days.
Don’t keep the fasting days next to each other. You don’t have to starve yourself for a consecutive number of days to get this to work. Best distribute the fasting days evenly throughout the week so you won’t feel famished for two days straight.
Furthermore, you can ease yourself into this process by starting out with only 1 fasting day a week. You don’t have to start with 2 whole-day fasts. Remember, the important thing when losing weight is to keep your effort consistent.
Just like the title suggests, the ‘Everyday Alternate’ method means you’ll be fasting every other day. If today you fast for 24 hours, then you can eat normally tomorrow. But, you’ll be fasting again the day after that.
This is a bit extreme and we wouldn’t recommend this method unless you’ve tried the ones before this. With that being said, everyday alternate fasts are a great way to lose weight while still eating your regular amounts of food.
We suggest trying this out by first skipping through a couple of meals every other day. Do this for a week and see if you’re losing weight while remaining healthy. In a lot of cases, individuals can feel very obsessed about losing weight in the quickest way possible without looking after their health.
Always remember that fitness and being healthy is a lifestyle. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Starving yourself until you’re barely eating is not something you can sustain. Keep reading so you can find out about the dangers of intermittent fasting.
Late For Work
While this might sound like a funny technique, it’s actually a clever way of fasting without having to be all technical. Not everyone is gifted with the ability to do math, even if it comes to figuring out how much eight hours is on a clock.
With that in mind, the ‘Late For Work’ method is a very simple method that you can do to fast and lose weight. Simply put, just skip every breakfast of the day as if you were late for work.
Of course, humor aside, this can still work if you’d prefer to skip dinner instead. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In whichever case, simply skipping out on a meal for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner can make an enormous difference in the calories you digest throughout the week.
Do’s And Don’ts Intermittent Fasting
Now that you’ve gone over the general methods and ways that you can set up an intermittent fasting diet, here’s what you should look out for.
Do: Make A Schedule
We recommend that you start by figuring out your schedule for the week. You don’t have to pressure yourself into trying out any of the methods above right away. The best way to approach this would be to try fasting tomorrow.
Experiment so you can see how long you can last without eating a bite throughout the entire day. Remember, hormonal hunger differs from actual hunger. Once you feel that initial spike of hunger, grab a glass of water and try to ignore it. Or try some of these tips to curb hunger.
Do: Weigh Yourself Every Week
You should also weigh yourself at the start of every week, or from today onwards and mark today as your first day. Make sure that you weigh yourself wearing the same clothes, ideally buck naked, and that you weigh yourself at a consistent time.
The best time to do this would be when you wake up. By weighing yourself every week, you’ll be able to see if there’s a difference from your fast. Make sure you weigh yourself on an empty stomach since a stomach full of food will give different results.
Don’t: Drink Calories
Like the devil, calories come in many shapes and forms. Anything other than water pretty much has calories. This includes coffee, orange juice, protein shakes, and so on. Even if you just drink calories, your body will still process this, which will end your fast.
The whole idea of fasting is that your body gets used to having zero calories and to control the hormonal hunger that usually starts the craving. While there are exceptions to this list, like pure black coffee which has zero calories, you’ll have to read up about this on your own.
Don’t: Expect An Overnight Change
Your first few days of fasting, especially if you opt to not eat anything for dinner, will usually wake you up with a much flatter stomach than usual. This is not a permanent change, your stomach is simply empty and you’re most likely dehydrated from the evening sleep.
Fasting will still take time, which is why it’s much better to look at your progress through a weighing scale.
What To Expect From Intermittent Fasting
It’s not a common experience for someone to try fasting. With that in mind, you’ll have to understand what to expect as you fast. This is very important to keep in mind, so you can realize that what you’re experiencing is normal and all part of the plan.
During the first few hours, depending on whether you’ll start the morning with a meal or not, you will feel hungry. If you’re not used to skipping breakfast, this can feel especially bothersome as the day goes on.
Minutes will continue to tick and you’ll feel starving at first. Try your best to not think about food and distract yourself with something else. I personally prefer listening to some upbeat music and filling out some paperwork.
After 1-2 hours from your initial hunger spike, you should no longer feel the urge in your stomach to eat. This is usually when people feel much better and are more alert throughout the day.
Remember To Eat
While it might be tempting to see how long you can go on your fast, if this is your first time doing IF then it’s a good idea to grab yourself a meal for dinner. Regardless if you don’t feel that hunger spike in your stomach or not, grab yourself a bite to eat.
There’s nothing wrong with a 24-hour fast, but newbies should take it slow. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the diet and just stop eating altogether. Especially since the human body can function on minimal amounts of calories, you can easily fool yourself into thinking you’re fine when you’re not.
Take this entire process as slow as you can and feel free to try out a 24-hour fast in one to two weeks.
Other Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Besides losing weight, there are a lot of other benefits to intermittent fasting that’s very underrated. For this article, we’ll only list two simple but highly beneficial perks of IF down below.
Resisting the urge to eat, even if you only lasted an hour before giving in to your cravings, is still a win. Knowing that you can say no to food when it’s there is an empowering feeling that makes you feel much more committed and disciplined to losing weight.
Furthermore, this also translates positively into other aspects of your life where you may have thought your level of control was nonexistent. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll be going to the gym next.
There are multiple theories behind this, but the general belief is that your body turns on an alert switch when it realizes that you aren’t eating. You can think of this as a caveman reflex, back when food was not readily available three times a day.
Having this alert feeling is definitely a plus that makes you feel much more attentive and prone to details. If you’re one for comic books, you can humor yourself and think that your Spidey Senses are tingling.
Intermittent Fasting vs Other Diets
Knowing about the benefits of intermittent fasting, how does this fair with other popular diet trends? To be honest, IF—intermittent fasting—is just a means to an end. Your main goal, just like all the other diets out there, is to consume a lesser amount of calories than you use.
The Carnivore Diet
Quite the nightmare for a vegan, the carnivore diet is exactly what it sounds like. A diet that consists of eating only meat. Animals like fish, pork, beef, eggs, milk, and so on are the main victims of this diet.
However, vegetables, fruits, grains, bread, pizza, and other foods that are generally carbs are excluded. While the carnivore diet has the benefit of having a lot of protein, the general experience varies per person.
This is because you need a high intake of fiber to poop out an equally high amount of protein. Without vegetables, the latrine or restroom might not be as comfortable as you remember.
Moving on, the ketogenic diet focuses on lots of fat with adequate amounts of protein, all while minimizing the amount of carbs eaten. Keto is heavily debated by many people with varying opinions on its benefits.
If you’re looking for other health benefits besides losing weight, then Keto is arguably one of the healthiest diets possible. Acne improvements, overall betterment in health, improves mental health, alleviates joint pain, among others.
Diets To Lose Weight
Without listing any more examples, other diets also have a ton of pros and cons that are aimed to eventually help you lose weight. However, which one works the best? Regardless of the different processes, these diets primarily focus on having you eat fewer calories than you use.
At the end of the day, weight gain and loss are just a matter of calories in and out. Keto, carnivore, intermittent fasting, and all the other diets will not work if you simply eat more calories than you can expend.
A Misconception About Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting will not help you lose weight if you still eat more calories than you use. The entire purpose of IF is to limit the number of hours you can eat, so you’ll eat much fewer calories overall.
If you end up eating more food in your 8-hour period than if you were to eat on a normal day, then you will end up gaining weight despite intermittent fasting. You can’t rely on IF for everything.
Intermittent fasting is meant to be a lifestyle where you can feel comfortable about skipping the next meal. A lifestyle where you no longer have a bag of chips on your hand at 3 pm. These simple habits will eventually accumulate to you losing weight, as long as you don’t binge or splurge more than you usually eat in a day.
Dangers of Intermittent Fasting
For the average joe, intermittent fasting is completely fine and safe. However, we’d like to dedicate this quick method to the individuals, especially the younger men, who obsess over losing weight fast.
We cannot recommend enough that you familiarize yourself with the different mental illnesses that relate to losing weight by fasting. IF can be a very effective tool, but your health and mental stability is always the number one priority.
Don’t go too overboard with IF or you’ll feel desensitized to food in extreme situations. Personally, I’ve tried fasting so aggressively that my body was no longer used to eating more than several spoonfuls of food.
Whenever I’d eat any more, I’d have this urge to vomit or discontinue my meal. Losing weight takes time. Don’t rush it and discipline yourself to understand that this is a long-term solution, especially if you want to lose a lot of weight.
The Ultimate Objective
At the end of the day, the ultimate objective here is to lose weight. Nothing, not even IF, is going to let you lose 10 kilograms or 22 pounds in a week. Understand that losing weight is a long-term goal.
You’ll want the entire process to be pleasant, so you won’t hate and feel like losing weight is torture. If the 24-hour fast is too extreme for you, don’t be afraid to squeeze in one meal for dinner just so you can feel comfortable.
It’s important to consider that once you’ve lost all the weight you wanted to lose, you don’t revert to your normal eating habits. Otherwise, you will gain weight again right after you finish months of dieting and hard work.
Calories In And Out
Calories are king. Gaining weight is a simple mathematical equation. If you eat more calories than your body uses, then these calories are carried over to the next day as fat.
Intermittent fasting will help you eat less by shortening the window of time that you can eat. Besides that, there’s pretty much nothing else that IF can do to help you track your calories.
The Better Investment
With that being said, always remember that weight loss is a long-term goal that doesn’t show its effectiveness until much later. Additionally, try to take pictures each week, topless, so you can always have a visual and numerical difference (weighing yourself).
While you can lose a fair amount of weight quickly with IF, these kinds of fasts are not sustainable long term, especially if you don’t enjoy it.
Pro Tip: Get A Digital Scale
Finally, as a pro tip, get yourself a digital scale. It might be a few bucks more than the usual weighing scale, but it’s worth all the difference. Seeing your progress in 0.3 pounds or 0.2 kilograms every two days is a reassuring sign that what you’re doing is working.
Frequently Asked Questions About Intermittent Fasting 101
How long should you do intermittent fasting?
The commonly used method is the 16-hour fast and the 8-hour eating window. However, this can be different for everybody and there are many ways that you can go about intermittent fasting. For others, they fast for 24 hours straight before consuming their next meal.
What is the easiest intermittent fasting?
Most people find the 16/8 method the easiest to do since you’ll still be able to eat at least one meal a day. This way, you won’t have to skimp or decline any sudden invitations to eat out with your friends.
Why am I gaining weight on intermittent fasting?
You’re eating more calories than you can expend. Weight loss is all about eating fewer calories than you can use so that your body will use your fat as a source of energy. Eat a little less and record your results for a week or two.
A Final Word on Intermittent Fasting 101
Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight, but don’t overdo it. Individuals who are obsessed with losing weight need to understand the psychological repercussions and dangers of fasting and weight loss.
If you can maintain control and lose weight steadily without fasting for more than 24 hours just because you want the process to be faster, you should definitely give IF a try.