Intermittent Fasting 101: A Total Beginner’s Guide on Getting Started
With the new year fast approaching, more people are making resolutions about their health. Have you? Before you start making promises to yourself, you might want to consider this hard truth.
95% of people fail at keeping up with their diets. Instead of trying to get fit and feel fine on some fad diet, more people are making the switch to intermittent fasting.
What exactly is intermittent fasting, and what does it do to our bodies?
Keep reading this intermittent fasting 101 guide to find out! In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to set a healthy resolution and stick to it. Start working toward the body of your dreams with this intermittent fasting guide.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Whether they’re trying to lose weight or tone up, more people are using intermittent fasting for a healthier lifestyle. Intermittent fasting involves setting eating patterns that switch between eating and fasting.
Instead of specifying which foods you can and can’t eat, intermittent fasting specifies when you can eat them. The common fasting method involves 16-hour fasts every day between meals.
There are a few different ways you can fast, depending on your schedule.
Despite different approaches, each form of intermittent fasting requires you to quit snacking.
How to Fast
As part of our intermittent fasting 101 guide, we’ve reviewed a few of the most popular intermittent fasting methods for you.
You’re allowed to eat anything you’d like on any intermittent fasting protocol. However, you likely won’t experience the benefits of intermittent fasting if you’re eating junk food. Instead, consider eating healthy, nutritious food during your eating window.
The 16/8 Method
Also known as the Leangains protocol, the 16/8 method requires you to start your day by skipping breakfast. Then, you’ll need to restrict the window when you’re allowed to eat to eight hours. You’ll fast for 16 hours in between eating windows.
You’ll repeat this cycle every day.
This is one of the most common forms of intermittent fasting. If you have a busy schedule, this method is for you! You can decide when to schedule your eight-hour eating window, so fasting doesn’t disrupt your normal lifestyle.
Unlike the 16/8 method, the eat-stop-eat protocol requires you to fast only once or twice a week. However, you’ll fast for a full 24 hours before eating.
For example, you can skip breakfast one morning, then not eat until breakfast the next morning.
The 5:2 Method
Instead of fasting every day, you’ll use the 5:2 method for two non-consecutive days of the week. Then, you’ll eat normally for the remaining five days of the week.
During these two non-consecutive days, you’ll only consume 500 to 600 calories.
Also known as the Fast Diet, many people find this approach easier since it allows them to eat regularly for most of the week.
What Does It Do?
During your fasting window, your cells will start to repair, changing your body on a cellular level. Here are a few changes you’ll experience with intermittent fasting:
- Your Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels increase, which benefits fat loss and muscle gain
- Cells digest, removing old, no longer working proteins so your cells can repair
- Genes related to longevity change, protecting you from disease
- Your insulin sensitivity improves, and lower insulin levels occur, making stored body fat easier to access
The combination of these effects can help you lose weight, improve body tone, and experience other health benefits. In fact, participants in a study lost an average of 7.7 pounds while fasting for four weeks.
Our intermittent fasting 101 wouldn’t feel complete without reviewing all the mental and physical benefits!
For one, intermittent fasting helps you lose weight and body fat. According to this study, participants who fasted experienced:
- 3-7% weight loss over a period of 3 to 24 weeks
- 4-7% loss of weight circumference
Compared to other forms of continuous calorie restriction, intermittent fasting also causes less muscle loss.
Fasting can also reduce your insulin resistance, lower your blood sugar levels, and protect you from type 2 diabetes.
Other chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, occur when there’s too much inflammation in the body. Intermittent fasting can help reduce inflammation, protecting you from such health conditions.
Intermittent fasting can boost your concentration and energy levels, too.
As you fast, your body releases a natural hormone called norepinephrine. This hormone is similar to adrenaline. As this hormone courses through the brain, it can improve cognition and help you burn fat!
Studies show that intermittent fasting can also:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Prevent cancer
- Protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease
- Extend lifespans
However, research is still underway to study the full extent of these health benefits.
If planning and meal prep eats away at your schedule, intermittent fasting can also simplify your life. Instead of planning three meals a day, you can save time, money, and effort by fasting.
It’s important to note that these health benefits sometimes differ from person to person. Use this intermittent fasting 101 guide, give it a try, and see how you feel!
Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. If you have a medical condition, speak with a doctor before you try intermittent fasting. You should speak to your doctor if you:
- Have low blood pressure
- Take medications
- Have blood sugar regulation issues
- Have diabetes
- Are underweight
- Are trying to conceive
- Have a history of eating disorders
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have a history of amenorrhea
If you’re healthy and well-nourished, the biggest side effect you’ll experience from fasting is hunger. However, take note that some women can experience hormone swings with intermittent fasting. To guard against this, once you start, monitor yourself for any unwanted hormonal changes, and adjust your fasting routine to one that suits you and your body.
Intermittent Fasting 101: A Slim Beginner’s Guide
Ready to slim down and tone up? With this intermittent fasting 101 guide, you can start fasting and stop stressing about food prep. Once you do, your body will start healing cells and burning fat.
Plus, you’ll feel great, too!
Eager to feel happy, nappy, and fit? Check out the Lifestyle section of the blog for more helpful, healthy tips!