Is intermittent fasting a fad or a life-changing solution to lose weight and improve your health? We found the answers for you.
(This is a chapter of a bigger guide on intermittent fasting guide.)
Out here in the inter-webs, there is plenty of click-baits guaranteeing weight loss with easy-to-follow diets or even no diets at all. In this sea of (mis)information, we don’t know what to believe. Intermittent Fasting is one such term that’s generating plenty of buzz lately and if youve been wondering what the deal is…
… here is our complete intermittent fasting guide for beginners.
So, what is intermittent fasting?
Simply put, it is giving your body a break from eating and allowing it to use stored fat for energy by introducing an eating and fasting window in the 24 hours of a day.
When we eat, our body converts the food into energy and stores the excess as fat for future energy needs. Our not-so-active lifestyles require far less energy than we consume and when we eat throughout the day, we are converting more food as fat than burning it.
By following an intermittent ‘diet’ or fasting schedule, you allow your body to optimally process the food you eat everyday and avoid the risk of being overweight.
As the name ‘intermittent’ suggests, it is about breaking your day in two halves:
- Eating window: For example, eating all your meals between 9 am – 5 pm* (total of 8 hours per day),
- Fasting window: Avoiding food from 5 pm until 9 am next morning (16 hours, including your sleeping hours)
*Note: The exact timing can vary.
With our Intermittent Fasting 101, you can find out why and how you should go about it.
Some of you must be wondering, “Intermittent fasting meaning starvation, right?”
Not at all. In an IF diet, you are eating enough for the day (eating window) and fueling through the rest of the day (fasting) with the reserved energy that is stored in your body.
Alright, what are the benefits of intermittent fasting plan?
Primarily, people go on intermittent fasting for weight loss.
It is an inexpensive way to manage weight and body fat composition without making big changes to your diet or buying pricey supplements and detox drinks.
However, we don’t need to limit intermittent fasting for fat loss alone.
You can choose Intermittent fasting plan to:
- Maintain healthy insulin and blood sugar levels
- Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
- Improve energy and stamina levels
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve cholesterol levels
- Boost immunity
- Enhance mental clarity
- Improve skin conditions
Who should go on an intermittent fasting schedule?
IF is followed by people looking to lose weight, reverse diabetes or dealing with chronic
Plenty of intermittent fasting before and after stories online point out the drastic improvements people have witnessed by adopting this simple measure.
However, anyone looking to get healthy and improve their life can follow IF.
To be safe and if you have a specific health condition, consult your physician before going on an IF schedule.
Who should avoid IF?
Most doctors wouldn’t recommend intermittent fasting for young children as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women as a precautionary measure.
Are there different types of intermittent fasting?
People follow varied forms of intermittent fasting plans depending on their schedule, objective and health concern.
The most common intermittent fasting schedule is the standard 16:8 fast (16 hour fasting, 8 hours eating).
Other options in intermittent fasting times include:
- Warrior style (20 hours fasting, 4 hours eating)
- 12-hour intermittent fasting (12 hours fasting, 12 hours eating, comes highly recommended for beginners)
- OMAD (One Meal A Day) (eating only one big meal a day and fasting for nearly 23-24 hours)
- Alternate day fasting (Avoiding solid foods or limiting it to 500 calories on Day 1 and eating regular meals the next day. It’s an extreme form and may not be suitable for beginners.)
Are there fixed timings to follow?
You can customise the timing of your intermittent diet plan based on your schedule. Some people choose the 11 am – 7 pm eating window, while some go for 9 am – 5 pm. Pick a timing that best meets your routine and access to food.
Two things are crucial:
- That you maintain the 16-8 hour schedule (or the fasting window of your chosen type of IF)
- That you avoid eating any meals a couple of hours before bedtime
Can I drink liquids during the fasting window?
- To enjoy the benefits derived from fasting, it is recommended to drink only water during the fasting window.
- You can add pink salt or few drops of lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar to the water to maintain your electrolyte levels.
- Additionally, you can drink black tea or coffee, without sweeteners or milk/cream. You can add salt, a tbsp of butter or MCT oil to them.
Wondering what to eat during intermittent fasting?
There is no fixed intermittent diet plan as such when it comes to what foods to avoid or eat. Intermittent fasting doesn’t encourage any form of calorie restriction either.
Most people choose to eat any food of their choice and focus more on following the fasting window efficiently.
However, to make the most of the health benefits associated with IF, it is recommended to eat a diet rich in whole foods.
It wouldn’t be right to load up on junk food every eight hours and expect to see perfect results from your fasting.
Create your own intermittent fasting weight loss plan that works best for you based on your health.
The most common diets done in tangent with IF – especially to resolve health issues – are Keto, Paleo, Auto-Immune Protocol, Elimination Diet, etc.
Common complaints with IF and how to resolve them:
a) Fasting gives me a headache. Help!
It could be a sign that you are low on electrolytes. Just add pink or regular salt to your drinking water. If the headache persists, there could be an underlying cause not related to fasting and will need to be checked by a doctor.
b) I am struggling with the 16-hour fasting window?
It helps to start small for some people. Start with 10 hours fasting window, gradually move up to 12-hour fast and then the 16:8 diet.
c) I am constantly hungry…
Most people are unaware of their sugar and carb addiction. In an IF diet schedule you might experience sugar/carb withdrawal in the start. Do not confuse the withdrawal with hunger if you’ve eaten well during the eating window. As you body adapts to fasting, the addiction and withdrawal symptoms should stabilize.