This chapter is designed to give you some of the proven health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Fasting is a natural practice that’s been around for years. Many people love intermittent fasting for its proven health benefits. And some just love the way it makes them feel.
Say you were a caveman living in the paleolithic era. Your body would go through cycles of feast and famine. Out of necessity. You may be surprised to learn that our bodies are designed to live this way. Yet, when you survive in constant ‘feast mode’ your body doesn’t benefit from the natural repair and renewal it’s designed for.
So, let’s take a look at some common myths about metabolism before moving on to the benefits of fasting.
Has anyone ever told you to eat frequent, small meals to keep your metabolism fires burning?
In reality, this advice keeps you in ‘feast mode’ and makes you hungrier (much hungrier) than intermittent fasting (IF).
I lived this way for years….until I learned the truth and experienced it for myself. Sometimes seeing is believing.
Yes, it may sound counterintuitive. I felt the same way at first. It’s one of those things you have to try and experience for yourself. Unless you’re a super trusting person – in which case, go for it!
But for me? I’m from the Show-Me State so I require a little more proof than some.
So for those of us who need a little more convincing, keep reading to find out how intermittent fasting can not only help you feel full longer but also possesses many health benefits, backed by scientific evidence.
Your body is constantly working to cleanse and detox. But when your diet is poor or you’re eating round the clock, it doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. This wears out your cells, especially the mitochondria, which are recycled during a process called autophagy.
Most of all, intermittent fasting gives the body time to focus solely on repairing the cells. Also of note, new research shows the benefits of fasting for Alzheimer’s patients (1).
Next, is a reason so many people turn to fasting…
IF boosts human growth hormone levels (3). This is important because growth hormone promotes fat burning and muscle gains.
IF can lower your blood sugar levels and decreases insulin resistance (4). Over 34 million Americans have diabetes and the vast majority of these cases are Type 2.
IF has been shown to reverse Type 2 diabetes. It completely reversed my severe reactive hypoglycemia, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes.
This next benefit impacts everyone…
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease. Currently, there is no cure.
With this in mind, animal studies show that intermittent fasting may offer protection against neurodegenerative diseases. These include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s (6).
Studies show that intermittent fasting can protect the body against the harmful effects of oxidative stress and inflammation (7). This is truly promising because inflammation is often connected to most chronic diseases.
IF decreases triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (8). This is the bad cholesterol. (Remember the L in LDL stands for low because you want this number to be as low as possible.)
Cancer is a horrible disease defined by the uncontrolled growth of cells.
Several studies have shown that IF may help prevent cancer (9). Evidence also suggests that fasting may cut the side effects of chemotherapy.
To sum up, intermittent fasting is an easy way to gain some amazing health benefits for your body and brain. In addition to weight loss, hormone regulation, and prevention of disease fasting can help simplify your life.
In the next chapter, I'll go into detail about how you can start your intermittent fasting journey and start experiencing these incredible benefits for yourself.
This chapter is designed to give you all the basics you'll need to get started fasting.
This intermittent fasting guide is perfect for anyone who’s new to fasting or simply wants to learn more about it. Plus, more about fasting health benefits, clean versus dirty fasting, reactive hypoglycemia, and fasting schedules.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is now one of the most popular health trends in the world. It’s a great way to burn fat and build muscle! You can lose impressive amounts of weight without feeling hungry. Plus, the health benefits are compelling too. In this ultimate guide to intermittent fasting, you’ll learn all the basics you need to get started with this amazing wellness practice.
So let’s jump right in…
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern – a timing concept. It’s not a diet. It is not about what you choose to eat. But it’s all about when you eat (or don’t eat).
It’s eating, or not eating, in a strategic way.
Though IF has recently gained a huge following it’s been around for ages. People were once hunters and gatherers who would go for days without food…out of necessity.
Our bodies are well-oiled machines, designed to withstand feast or famine.
Modern-day eating habits often center around our fast-paced lives. Eating frequent meals and snacks of highly processed and fast food is the norm for many people. But this doesn’t give your body time to rejuvenate and repair the damage these chemicals can do over time.
IF is a natural approach to clean up your cells by a process called autophagy, which boosts your body’s ability to function more efficiently.
Best of all, almost anyone can do it. It’s especially popular with weightlifters and elite athletes in the fitness industry, most likely because it allows you to maintain, and even gain muscle while losing fat.
So let’s take a look at how to do IF.
There are different IF eating schedules you can follow. Below are some of the most popular methods.
There are various forms of this fasting method. A popular one is known as the Leangains protocol (originally developed for weightlifters), or the 16:8 diet plan because you fast for 16 hours and eat all of your food within an 8-hour time period. Or, any other time period you choose. (I’m just using the 16:8 as an example.)
For example, you could eat from 12 pm until 8 pm daily, and fast from 8 pm until 12 pm the following day.
Here are some examples of how you could transition into the 16:8 fasting plan (as opposed to going cold turkey):
Please note in the below schedule that you can drink black coffee, tea, and water as much as you want. I just left that out for simplicity’s sake.
|Breakfst.||8 am||8:30 am||9 am||9:30 am||10 am||10:30 a||11 am|
|Lunch||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm|
|Dinner||5 pm||5:30 pm||6 pm||6 pm||6 pm||6 pm||6 pm|
(Week 2) Intermittent Fasting Example
|Lunch||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm||12 pm|
|Dinner||6 pm||6 pm||6 pm||6 pm||6 pm||6 pm||6 pm|
Another popular form of this restricted time eating schedule is the circadian rhythm diet or body clock diet. The idea here is to eat within the daylight hours within a 12-hour window.
This is commonly known as the 5:2 Diet and is associated with British journalist, Michael Mosley. Here’s one example: You eat normally on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while restricting your calories to around 500 per day on Monday and Wednesday.
Another variation is doing the restricted calorie days consecutively, such as Monday and Tuesday or Friday and Saturday. In this case, you would eat normally the five other consecutive days.
Or some people like to fast every other day – known as alternate-day fasting. The beauty of fasting is that you can design it to fit your lifestyle and preferences.
3. One Meal A Day (OMAD)
This fasting approach has quickly gained popularity and a following on social media. It’s very effective for weight loss if done correctly but it’s not for beginners. So if you’re new to IF I’d recommend starting with one of the above approaches (like 16:8).
This is a 23:1 fast, so you’re fasting for 23 hours and eating your meal within a 1-hour window. As you might have guessed, if you’re doing OMAD, it’s crucial to have a micronutrient-dense meal because you’re only eating one.
Some people have lost a ton of weight doing OMAD. But, over the long-term, I don’t recommend doing OMAD every day. (And my dietician friend who fasts is adamantly opposed to OMAD.) There are a few reasons for this.
First, restricting your calories every day can eventually lower your resting metabolic rate. (Have you read The Biggest Loser study?) Plus, there are valid concerns about vitamin and mineral deficiencies, people who have to take medication with food, and those who want to work out at a high intensity.
The jury is still out on the long-term impact of OMAD. But from everything I’ve read, if you’re going to try OMAD, I recommend doing it only once or twice a week, but not every day. For more on OMAD you may want to read OMAD Health Benefits And Precautions.
Intermittent Fasting Rules
You may be wondering what you can eat and drink while fasting. I’m going to give it to you straight and keep this short and sweet. To be successful with your fasting it’s important to do what’s referred to as clean fasting.
This means that you can have:
You want to avoid what’s called dirty fasting, which is essentially everything else and includes:
(More on clean fasting in Chapter 4.)
So, here’s a common question…
And here’s the simplified answer…When you eat a meal your body spends several hours processing and digesting the food. During this time, the body takes energy from the food you’ve eaten.
When you’re eating, or in a feeding state, insulin production tends to be high. This prevents your body from burning stored fat. But, when your body is in a fasting state the blood sugar and insulin levels are reduced dramatically. Plus, there’s a sharp increase in human growth hormone.
All of these physiological changes turn the body into a fat-burning machine…a benefit we love!
Another cool thing that happens when you’re fasting is a process called autophagy. It’s the body’s natural system for cleaning out old, damaged cells. In essence, it recycles junk from your cells that are aging your body and renews them, making everything work more efficiently.
It’s a beautiful thing!
Now, on to a popular question…
Yes, it’s common to feel hungry the first few days while you’re adjusting to the new eating pattern.
Like anything else, when your body grows accustomed to doing something for so long, it takes some time to re-calibrate and adjust to the new schedule. Initial hunger may be stronger in some people and not as obvious to others.
If you decide to try IF I urge you to stick with it for at least a month or more before you give up on fasting.
But trying it even longer would be better. It’s one of those things that gets better over time. Once you adjust to the timing schedule, you may find yourself wishing you’d learned about IF sooner. This has been my experience!
I used to get cravings for carbs and sweets several times a day before I started IF, and now I hardly ever feel hungry. And the strong cravings I used to get many times throughout the day? They’re practically gone! It’s an amazing improvement compared to before.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so. I get emails, IM’s and messages from readers all the time who are doing IF and experiencing the same amazing benefits!
But don’t take my word for it. Just in case you'd like a reminder of all the ways fasting can improve your health, here's a quick recap of a few of the benefits.
Here are some of the impressive (and proven) benefits of IF:
not to mention some of the other perks…
As I mentioned earlier, one of the awesome benefits of IF is weight loss. Not only can fasting help you consume fewer calories, but it also optimizes some key weight-loss hormones.
In fact, when you’re fasting, your insulin decreases, which tells your body to burn more fat. Plus, short-term fasts boost your human growth hormone (HGH) which causes you to lose more fat and gain muscle.
Pretty cool, right?
Not only that, but some evidence shows that fasting empowers you to keep your muscle mass when compared to calorie-cutting diets. And, as we know, having more muscle gives your metabolism a good boost.
Which can help you lose weight.
Not to mention the simplicity of fasting…You wake up. Grab your black coffee, tea (or water), and get started with your day.
There’s no wondering what you should prep and eat for breakfast because if you’re fasting, you don’t have to worry about it. Instead of having to make 3 healthy meals and snacks you can focus instead on 1 or 2 healthy meals.
This frees you up to focus on other things. Simplicity is a wonderful way to live. And if you want to live more simply, the fasting lifestyle fits right in!
Although it’s generally safe for most, Dr. Eric Berg recommends the following people avoid IF:
I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia several years ago. I’ve been doing 16:8 regularly for a few years now and have worked up to doing intermittent OMAD fasts and a few 36-hour fasts.
When I first began IF, I started out slowly to give my body time to adjust to the new schedule.
It’s been incredibly beneficial for my blood sugar issues and even healed my hypoglycemia symptoms. During the fasting periods, I’m cognitively sharper, have more energy, and find it easier to focus.
(You can read more about how IF has helped me in How Intermittent Fasting Cured My Hypoglycemia.)
If you’re not sure if IF right for you, talk to your medical professional.
Keep in mind that you may be eating fewer calories overall. Make sure you’re consuming plenty of protein so you don’t run the risk of losing muscle mass.
That said, please note that fasting is not the same as starving yourself and IF has been proven to maintain muscle mass despite the intake of nutrients. This shows how efficiently our bodies are designed to work in tandem with fasting. (I just wanted to mention this in case you’re concerned.)
Supplements such as caffeine (pre-workout), BCAAs, Glutamine, and creatine are good ones to look into taking (if you’re in your eating window).
Keep in mind IF doesn’t take the place of eating a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods, plenty of leafy greens, healthy fats, and high-quality protein to fuel your body.
Chapter 2, Summary – Intermittent Fasting Guide
I hope you’ve found this intermittent fasting ultimate quick guide to be incredibly helpful and refer back to it in the future.
As you know, IF is an eating pattern. It’s not a diet.
Fasting has powerful health benefits including increased longevity, fat loss, and weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and improved brain health. Clean fasting is the best way to get maximum benefits from your efforts.
There are several different fasting schedules you can choose from depending on your goals and lifestyle. Most people are able to doing fasting and enjoy the awesome benefits. But it’s not for everyone so talk to your doctor to make sure it's a good choice for you.
In the next chapter I'll share some insider tips and tricks to help you get the best results from your fasting habit.
This chapter is full of insider secrets and tips that will help you get the most out of your fasting practice.
Here are 12 intermittent fasting tips for beginners to help you learn all the insider secrets and get your fasting journey off to a successful start!
Intermittent fasting has many health benefits and is one of the quickest ways to lose weight with the least amount of effort. These strategies are useful if you’re just getting started with intermittent fasting or simply need to reboot your healthy lifestyle. These tips and tricks aren’t hard and fast rules but more like insider secrets that will power your momentum from the very start.
12 Intermittent Fasting Tips For Beginners
1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Drink 16 ounces of fresh water first thing when you wake up. This is the perfect way to start your day. Then continue drinking water throughout the day. This keeps hunger pangs away and prevents dehydration. Plus, it’s simply healthy.
When you’re fasting you may find it helpful to add a pinch of pure sea salt or, my personal favorite, Himalayan pink salt to your water for the electrolytes.
Black coffee and plain teas, like this green tea, are perfect. If you want to add all-natural Stevia that’s okay too. Just avoid sugar and creamers because of the added calories.
Also, try to avoid fruity teas because they can contain added sugars that could break your fast. (More on this in Chapter 4.) Caffeine naturally suppresses the appetite so that’s an added benefit.
This is the easiest time for most people to start fasting because this means that you’ll be sleeping for the majority of the fast. There’s no reason to make it hard on yourself, right?
So enjoy a delicious, healthy dinner, then start your fast. Going to bed feeling satisfied will help you sleep better and you’ll be fasting while you catch all the zzz’s.
Wondering what to eat when you’re fasting? Make sure you break your fast with plenty of nourishing real food. And stay away from processed junk food and sugar as much as possible.
Focus on eating plenty of:
Chew your food slowly and savor the flavors. When you practice intermittent fasting regularly your body is better able to absorb the nutrients in your food. So don’t worry about trying to eat more to make up for the meals you missed. It’s not necessary. Just make sure that what you eat is nutritious.
This gives your body time to adapt to the new timing schedule. It also gives you a fair amount of time to examine the benefits and decide if you want to continue.
I suggest gradually increasing the amount of time you’re fasting each day until you reach your goal. You may want to follow the sample schedule I shared in Chapter 2 or you may choose to create your own. It's totally up to you!
The beauty of intermittent fasting is that there are a hundred different ways you can do it. So make it fit your schedule and your life.
This is normal, just like the ups and downs in life. So focus on relaxing through these times and remember this too shall pass. Get outside if possible and do something you enjoy to relieve stress.
In the meantime, learn all that you can about IF and focus on all the positive healthy changes you’re making for yourself.
You may find your most productive time is during your fast. This has been my experience. In fact, I’m writing this article while fasting.
In the early days when you’re first starting out you may find yourself a little more distracted while you adjust to this new way of living. If so, consider taking up a new hobby, writing in a gratitude journal, or calling a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
There’s no need to overdo it here, especially if you’re just getting started, but you might lift some light weights, do a kettlebell workout or go for a gentle walk. The important thing is to move your body and do something you enjoy!
Everyone is different but work on making sleep a priority in your life. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep.
If you're having trouble sleeping, here are 12 Quick Tips To Help You Sleep Better Tonight.
Pay attention to your energy levels, moods and emotions, hunger and food cravings, and how you feel overall. Fasting is the perfect time to get in touch with your body’s cues.
With all the distractions in our everyday lives, it’s easy to get out of touch with these signals. But our bodies often show us what they need. You’ll find that over time fasting can help you get back in touch with these cues.
I hope you’ve found these intermittent fasting tips helpful. Different things work for different people, so try some of these strategies to find what works best for you.
In the next chapter I'll explain the difference between clean and dirty fasting and share how it can impact your results.
This chapter is designed to help you understand the difference between clean and dirty fasting.
You’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting. Though it’s been around for ages, fasting has gained popularity recently. From weight lifters to those with chronic illnesses, many have discovered the power of fasting to improve their health, lose weight and reverse and prevent diseases. A common question I hear is, what is clean fasting?
Breaking down the clean fasting rules and comparing clean and dirty fasting is the focus of this chapter.
Over the years I’ve done some experiments on the effects of clean and dirty fasting. Below I’ll share what I’ve learned using myself as a guinea pig. Hopefully, the results of my experiment will help you get the most out of your fasting journey!
When I started fasting years ago I’d never heard of clean or dirty fasting. But to say clean fasting is not important would be an understatement.
Clean fasting creates the ideal fasting environment – one without any insulin spikes.
And one of the biggest benefits of clean fasting is that it makes your body a fat-burning machine. In truth, clean fasting is the way to go if you want to see the most success for your fasting efforts.
It includes only unsweetened, calorie-free beverages. But keep reading for all the details!
Wondering what clean fasting foods are? Well, I’m going to list them for you here. Below are the only foods and/or drinks proven safe to include during your clean fast.
This means that they won’t spike your insulin and they’ll keep your fat-burning in overdrive, which is ultimately what we want.
Dirty fasting is when you consume foods or beverages that break your fast. Many experts will tell you dirty fasting is fine. And to be honest, for years I didn’t know there was a difference because much of what I read said you were still fasting as long as you keep your calories under 100 during your fasting window.
I would have my bulletproof coffee most mornings and still experienced many of the benefits of fasting, including better mental clarity, improved energy, complete elimination of my reactive hypoglycemia, and effortless weight loss of 20+ pounds.
But once I started practicing clean fasting I experienced a noticeable boost in benefits and additional weight loss (bringing my total weight loss to 35+ pounds). So, if you’re fasting for weight loss and haven’t lost anything for a while I’d recommend clean fasting for the best results.
Try it for a couple of weeks and see what you notice.
Technically any food will break your fast, but the ones listed below are commonly referred to as dirty fasting foods.
They’re well-known culprits that people often add to their clean fasting foods that will spike your insulin and stall your weight loss, especially if you consume them every day. Even in small amounts.
Here are the dirty fasting foods and drinks:
Now for an experiment…
First of all, I’ll offer up this disclaimer to anyone who’s interested: I’m not a scientist and I don’t play one on T.V.
I’m just a girl who loves intermittent fasting and occasionally geeks out over research, facts, and figures that might be helpful to others.
Take this information with a grain of salt. The only test subject was me. However, this fact does not make the results any less compelling.
My experiment was simple and conducted over the course of a couple of weeks. When comparing the results of clean and dirty fasting I looked specifically at:
Now that we got that out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiment with clean and dirty fasting. Hopefully, this information will help you on your fasting journey, especially if you’re wanting to lose weight and feel better.
Understanding the difference between clean and dirty fasting foods and drinks is crucial to help you get optimal results from your fasting efforts.
The intermittent fasting lifestyle can give you so much freedom in life. When you're no longer focused on restricting certain foods (or food groups) you can enjoy the flavors of delicious foods like never before.
I used to spend hours a day thinking about food, craving sweets and carbs, and eating to prevent another hypoglycemic episode. It was as though my life revolved around food…out of necessity.
But no more – thanks to fasting!
Thankfully, now that I’ve discovered fasting, I’m not a slave to my next meal (or the scale). My body is healing and healthier and I’m grateful for this natural practice that I plan to continue the rest of my life.
I hope you enjoyed this ebook and found it helpful wherever you are on your fasting journey. I would love for you to experience all of the benefits fasting has to offer as part of your healthy lifestyle.
Thank you so much for reading!
If you'd like to learn more about Intermittent Fasting, I wrote an even more in-depth eBook, complete with BONUS content.