You want to start intermittent fasting to lose weight but you don’t know where to begin or what to do. You know that it can work, but you’re not sure how to do intermittent fasting. You also don’t want to mess up since it feels like you’ve tried every other diet in the world. You want to find something that works.
What is intermittent fasting exactly? What are the popular styles of intermittent fasting?
We’re going to look at intermittent fasting for beginners so that you know where to start and how you can ease into it…
“What exactly is intermittent fasting?”
I get asked this all of the time and I want to break it down for you.
I’ve read the writings of the best minds on this topic. I didn’t discover anything. I’ve just researched everything. I’ve looked up every style of fasting. I’ve essentially mastered the art of doing nothing.
I’ll give my understanding intermittent fasting for beginners first:
You go a period without food. You then keep a tight eating window when you do eat. You use your non-eating window to get shit done instead of being idle. You don’t demonize food anymore. You get your time back. You eat properly but you indulge when the occasion calls for it. You don’t do the unrealistic 4-6 meals a day that we were told to do.
Fasting is about waiting to eat. You fast and then you feast (or eat a few meals within a certain time period). That’s all. You get stuff done during the day. Then you feast in the evenings guilt-free. You don’t have to count calories or feel deprived. You get to enjoy your meals. That’s at least how I see it. Let’s look at what the experts had to say.
Intermittent fasting for beginners: Everything you need to know.
Chances are that you’ve seen many intermittent fasting before and after shots. You’re just not sure which fasting method would work best for you. Let’s look at the different types of intermittent fasting out there to see what style of fasting is best for you…
16/8 Intermittent Fasting.
Martin Berkhan founded the 16/8 Lean Gains approach to intermittent fasting:
“The Leangains protocol consists of two phases; 16 hours of fasting, followed by 8 hours of feeding. During this period, three meals are usually eaten. Depending on the day, the composition of those meals varies; on workout days, carbs are prioritized before fat, while on rest days fat intake is higher. Protein remains fairly high on all days.”
Berkhan is the founding father of this stuff. I found his work in 2012. He was talking about this before anyone else. I was pretty surprised when I found his work. The idea of skipping breakfast challenged everything that I had learned before. I always forced myself to eat first thing in the morning.
This method of intermittent fasting is the easiest to apply. You delay breakfast and don’t snack before. You don’t change much about your routine.
24-hour fasts/Eat Stop Eat.
Brad Pilon wrote Eat Stop Eat and it’s one of the best books out there on intermittent fasting.
Don’t think that you can skip breakfast every single day? Brad Pilon proposed the idea of 24-hour fasts one a week.
“This is why Eat Stop Eat is not a diet; it is a lifestyle based on the nutritional custom of including the combination of short-term flexible intermittent fasting and resistance training into your life.”
Pilon also states:
“It’s a way of life where you accept the idea of taking small 24-hour breaks from eating, and taking part in resistance exercises (working out with weights) at least two to three times a week. That’s it. A 24-hour ‘break from eating’ once or twice a week, and a commitment to a workout routine.”
Is it really safe to fast for 24 hours?
“All my research has led me to the conclusion that this is the single best and most uncomplicated way to lose weight, to maintain muscle, and to reap all the amazing health benefits associated with fasting. Keep in mind, brief breaks from eating are nothing new – almost all of us fast for 8 to 10 hours almost every night, so I’m simply asking you to expand this fast. It is also the easiest way to rid yourself of obsessive compulsive eating and the need to constantly scour magazines and the Internet for the latest and greatest diet strategy.”
At first, I was skeptical about the idea of not eating for 24 hours. It made no sense to me after being trained to eat every 2 hours and that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Once I got the hang of fasting, I’ve come to realize that 24-hour fasts aren’t all that challenging. You have dinner one day and then the next day you have coffee and water for breakfast/lunch.
I have many friends who will do this before or after a fun weekend. You can pull one of these off without even thinking about it. You can have a big dinner one day. The next day you keep busy. Black coffee for breakfast. Stay busy for lunch. Then have dinner. You won’t even notice some of the times that you pull off a 24 hour fast.
I just wouldn’t recommend jumping into 24-hour fasts or doing too many of these in a week.
Warrior Diet/One Meal a Day Intermittent Fasting.
Ori Hofmekler wrote the Warrior Diet where he outlined how you should only eat in the evenings for four hours.
This has become my go-to style of intermittent fasting. I like this style because you get your days back to do whatever you want. You can feast in the evenings.
What’s the Warrior Diet style of intermittent fasting?
“The Warrior Diet is built on the principle of cycling between periods of undereating and overeating, based on instinct deep within us to undereat and overeat. The combination of undereating and overeating is not endorsed by mainstream diets; they are against the principle.”
Hofmekler goes on to explain:
“On the Warrior Diet, the principle of fasting is based on not eating a full meal during the day. Since the Undereating Phase lasts for most of the day, you can consume certain ‘live’ foods and should drink a lot of water.”
You technically snack with this during the day just to get by so it’s not fasting in its truest sense. I do a modified version of this where I have a tight eating window in the evenings.
What about alternate day fasting?
According to Healthline:
“The basic idea is that you fast on one day and then eat what you want the next day. This way you only need to restrict what you eat half of the time. On fasting days, you’re allowed to drink as many calorie-free beverages as you like.”
So you pretty much do a 36 hour fast and then eat. There are many modifications to alternate-day fasting that you can look up. There are mixed reviews on this type of fasting (check out this Harvard Health article) and some people who swear by this stuff (check out this piece on Today).
If you want to try alternate-day fasting, the aforementioned piece on Today shares the following helpful tip:
“Keep busy, focus on tasks at hand and do things that keep you away from the kitchen and snacks.”
“On non-fasting days, focus on eating a healthy diet with lean protein and lots of plant-based foods and whole grains.”
Long story short: you fast for 36 hours and then eat for 12 hours. You have to find ways to stay busy when fasting. You also have to eat decent food so that you don’t overeat and gain sabotage your progress.
Those are the different types of fasting for those who are looking to start intermittent fasting.
How do you start with intermittent fasting?
Now that we looked at the different styles of intermittent fasting we can move on and apply the suggestions.
How do you start intermittent fasting now?
- Focus on getting quality sleep.
- Try not to snack before bed.
- Delay your first meal of the day a few hours.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. This will keep you feel.
- Drink black coffee for fuel and to suppress your appetite.
- Have a solid lunch and dinner so that you don’t feel deprived. For fasting to work, you have to eat well so that you don’t feel deprived.
- Eat lots of protein so that you’re full and your muscles can recover.
- Use your fasting time to get stuff done and to prepare some decent meals.
- Extend your fasts as you get more comfortable.
- Don’t tell your family and friends about fasting.
- Eat food that you enjoy in moderation.
- Train fasted.
That’s how you start intermittent fasting with some of my most practical tips. I wanted to put together this helpful intermittent fasting for beginners’ guide so that you can ease into this way of eating.
What style of intermittent fasting will you try?