How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
You’ve probably heard by now that intermittent fasting can help in weight loss. Here’s how to get started with intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting may be the missing link in your weight management. It’s not a diet; it simply integrates a period of not eating into your day in a way that can help you lose weight.
Because of the studies I was reading, I was really curious. I already knew that not eating at night was helpful but I wondered if going for a longer period of time would help.
New research seems to be coming out daily on how good regular fasting can be for our body! However, not eating for 24 hours or longer is daunting and not always necessary.
You can get good results with intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating too. It provides many of the benefits without the feeling of deprivation.
December 2020 Update: I still use intermittent fasting daily. Once a week or so, I will eat breakfast but on most days, I just have coffee and bone broth in the mornings.
I really like how I feel when I don’t eat all day long! I concentrate on eating real food and in quantities where I don’t get uncomfortable hungry. I talk more about hunger in this post. But in general, hunger is NOT a problem with this type of fasting.
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The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
First I want you to know why it’s good for you.
- It automatically lowers your calorie intake
- Decreases appetite
- Improves concentration (this was HUGE for me)
- It allows your body to digest your food and burn fat more efficiently
- Allows better blood sugar control
- Can reduce inflammation
- Helps with weight loss
My Early Experience with Intermittent Fasting
Four years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight without really trying. I was on my own, newly divorced, and not cooking a lot.
About a year after I lost the weight, I wrote about the experience here and I thought I had figured out the reason why I lost the pounds effortlessly. I knew it had something to do with not eating at night until late the next morning.
At that time, I didn’t have a name for it, but I’ve referred to it in every post I’ve written since about losing weight. Now I know it’s called intermittent fasting or time restricted eating.
If you are like me, anything with the word fasting in it sounds scary. But I started doing it without knowing what it was, much less that it was healthy too. As it turns out, fasting is actually great for your health.
While, I didn’t know it this at first, fasting is good for you. Most people eat way too often, all day long.
However, I really didn’t understand how healthy, not eating for longer periods daily was. At first, I was just happy that it helped me manage my weight because I also knew that diets simply did not work.
Will I get hungry with Intermittent Fasting?
Not really. If you eat the right kinds of food you don’t feel that awful kind of hunger that comes from eating low calorie food. My body actually prefers to eat this way now!
I think it’s also been really good for my skin too. People keep asking what I’m doing. Fasting, bone broth, and plenty of healthy fats!
The secret is that you have to eat enough at meals to not get hungry. That is not as much as you probably think it is either.
I advise my clients to add extra vegetables and healthy fat and oils to their lunch and dinner. Once your body starts using its own fat for energy, you really will not get hungry.
In fact, a little hunger will actually begin to feel GREAT. You’ll learn that hunger isn’t an unpleasant feeling. It truly feels good when it comes on naturally.
Why Diets Don’t Work
Diets really don’t work in the long-term, though most can facilitate short-term weight loss. Most people I know attempt to eat healthy. But most are still eating with bad information.
Low-fat, high carb eating is really bad. Eating, processed and fast food is bad for you. Sugar and foods that act like sugar are bad for you. Artificial sweeteners are bad for you. Oils like canola or corn oil are bad for you.
These types of food are not good in any quantity. Yet, these are still recommended for weight loss and health.
I feel confident that you will never ever suffer any type of health problem by giving up any of those foods.
Why? Because they are horrible foods that cause horrible consequences.
Yet, eating the right kinds of foods isn’t always enough to reverse our weight gain and fat storage.
It is a step in the right direction and eating good food that nourishes the body is necessary. However, there is a piece to the puzzle that is overlooked.
It’s not a diet; it is a way of timing the eating of your meals and it is about as easy a way to manage your eating as anything I’ve ever tried. It’s called intermittent fasting or time restricted eating.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Don’t let the name scare you. All intermittent fasting means is that you are going for a period of time without eating.
In simple terms, think of it this way. You finish dinner at 7PM. If you don’t eat until 7 AM, you’ve fasted for 12 hours.
That is why breakfast is BREAK-FAST. You have fasted, and you are breaking it in the morning. Going 12 hours is pretty simple and easy. Most of us do that without even trying.
What research and real-life anecdotal stories are telling us, is that fasting used consistently and on a regular basis works.
Not only that, but it appears that the weight lost with intermittent fasting is fat and not muscle. Instead of making us weaker, intermittent fasting makes us stronger and leaner.
Why I Love Intermittent Fasting
- It’s EASY
- You feel better
- It works!
How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
First of all, we fast all the time when we sleep. Sleeping seems to be the only thing that keeps us from eating these days! If you don’t eat in the evening, then your fast is even longer and that’s a good thing.
To get started, don’t eat for 12 hours. Don’t eat after dinner! If you finish eating at 6PM, then don’t eat until 6AM. If you are used to snacking at night, that’s the first thing to work on. Quit snacking!!!
If you find yourself getting hungry in the evening, you probably are not eating enough of the right kinds of food. Good quality proteins, vegetables, and plenty of healthy fats will get you through the evening and night.
If you eat a lot of processed carbs you may find yourself craving more in the evening. Learn to eat real food that keeps you full and satisfied.
I’ve found it’s very easy to do a basic 12-hour fast. Even if I finish eating at eight PM, it’s easy to make it to eight AM.
However, most recommendations are for 14 to 18-hour fasts. So, I work at eating earlier and pushing my first meal of the day back.
If I finish eating at 7PM, then I don’t eat until 10 AM. I do have coffee, tea, or bone broth.
If you drink black coffee or tea—then that’s perfect. You can have those in the morning.
For me, a 12-hour fast works fine for maintenance. After a weekend with too much eating out, I will do longer fasts for a few days.
Why is Intermittent Fasting Good for You?
Your body needs this break in eating. It allows so many healthy things to take place. Fasting during the night and morning actually allows your body to heal much more effectively than by medication or even diet.
It helps heal insulin resistance. When you fast on a regular basis, you lower your insulin levels, and this improves your insulin sensitivity.
Insulin is THE hormone that regulates our weight and fat storage. It is critical that it be able to work well in your body.
What kills your insulin sensitivity? Eating the wrong kinds of food, all day long, day after day.
If you eat every few hours, your insulin is always up. Eventually, it is unable to do its job correctly and you get fat and even worse, you may get diabetes.
Unexpected Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are several things that I like about fasting. I feel more alert in the morning and I have more time since I’m not worried about trying to fix and eat a meal first thing.
I often get up, have coffee, do a little reading or working on the computer before I go to work.
If I’m doing a longer fast, then I don’t have to worry about lunch either. I’ve found that I am more energetic and alert when I’m not eating. Even healthy foods can cause that energetic slump we often feel in the afternoon.
Is it Hard to do Intermittent Fasting?
Not at all, especially if you are doing 12 or 14-hour fasts. These are easy because a very natural schedule for our bodies. Finish eating by 6PM and you can eat breakfast at 8AM.
You might feel a little hunger, but it shouldn’t be out-of-control, and it will come and go. In fact, feeling a little hunger feels good. It helps you appreciate your first meal of the day.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?
From everything I have read, it seems very safe. Like I said before, we naturally fast at night.
All you are doing to improve your fat-burning and body healing functions is extending the fast to give your body more time to get into the fat-burning and healing modes. This usually takes 10-12 hours to get started.
Ideally, you are still eating plenty of healthy nourishing foods during the period of day when you are eating.
While I discovered intermittent fasting by accident, I have stuck to it by intention.
Now mainstream doctors and health studies are praising its benefits. It might seem to be the newest diet fad of the day, but I believe that it is more than just a fad. In fact just this past week, the Wall Street Journal had a big article claiming that it was REAL not a fad.
I just finished a book called the Obesity Code and this book claims that intermittent fasting might be the only way to reverse obesity too.
How I do My Intermittent Fasting
On days I go into work, I pack my first meal, so I have something ready to eat when I plan to eat. As are most of my meals, I like to have some kind of protein, some vegetables, and plenty of health fat.
An example of this would be a generous serving of homemade chicken salad with a side of sliced red peppers, half an avocado, and a few nuts.
After work, I come home and have a nice dinner with my fiancée. I usually don’t cook in the evenings, so we often assemble our food.
We are huge fans of meal salads. We start with greens and add on everything we can find in the kitchen. He likes lots of crunch and adds broccoli and cauliflower.
We both love olives and toasted nuts. We usually add boiled eggs, three for him, two for me. If we have a roasted chicken, we add that.
Other goodies included peppers, fresh herbs, cheese, artichoke hearts, carrots, and cooked beets.
I also like vegetables in mine, but I will roast or steam mine, so they are softer.
When I cook, I make some kind of protein: shrimp, salmon, chicken, or beef. On the side, I’ll make some sautéed brussels sprouts or another hearty vegetable. I also like to have a little sweet potato or winter squash.
Meat, vegetables, and salad probably don’t sound very filling. But add the right kind of fat and they have some serious filling factor. I bump up the nutrition by adding butter, olive oil, olives, nuts, avocado, or coconut oil.
How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
For me the easiest way to start was to start with 12-hour fasts. This is almost effortless when you go from your last meal of the day to your first of the next. My best results come from having a 15 to 18 hour fast.
In the morning, plain water, coffee, tea, or even a broth can help you extend your fast and keep you comfortable until your first meal.
The best way to know if this works is to give it a try for a few weeks. If you have a special night out, don’t sweat it too much. I found if I stick to this way of eating most days, then I can enjoy a late dinner now and then.
It might sound a little daunting at first, but since you are already fasting each night, it’s just a matter of getting more deliberate and intentional about the length of your fast. Good luck and let me know how it goes.
Hi, I'm Sara and I'm so happy you're here! My Think Big Life began shortly after I turned 50. Big changes can happen with a small start, an adjustment of thought, or a simple process. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 30-minute coaching session.