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How To Start Intermittent Fasting: A Beginner's Guide

Intermittent fasting is a method of eating by following regular short-term fasts. That is, you go between periods of eating and fasting. Intermittent fasting is an order of having food. The process doesn't describe what to eat but tells you when to eat [1].

For example, if you're on a strict diet, you can't have any high-calorie food such as cakes or ice creams. Intermittent fasting says that if you want to have a large piece of chocolate cake at lunch, skip your breakfast.

What are the benefits of following the steps for intermittent fasting? You can lose weight faster, your metabolic rate will improve, diseases can be avoided and you can even have a long life.

There are various methods of intermittent fasting. As a beginner, you can follow these 7 steps for intermittent fasting and see the result within a few weeks.

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1. Decide Your Fasting Protocol

The first and foremost steps are choosing the method of intermittent fasting that is suitable for you. The 16-hour fasting method is very popular nowadays. It means you should fast for 16 hours each day. For example, if you have breakfast, don't eat anything within 16 hours. You can skip breakfast and start at lunch. Decide according to your daily routine [2].

The other popular methods are the 5:2 diet (you fast for 2 days per week), Eat-Stop-Eat (a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week), Alternate-day fasting (you fast every other day), the Warrior Diet (you fast during the day and eat a huge meal at night) and Spontaneous meal skipping (you skip meals when convenient) [3][4].

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2. What to Eat

Through intermittent fasting, you don't deliberately limit the intake of foods. You just keep a fast after eating anything. So, whatever you eat to set the eating window tactfully so that the ill effects of junk foods will not have an extreme impact on your health. However, it is always smart to choose healthy foods that are rich in nutrients and minerals required for your bodily functions [5].

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3. Skip Breakfast

Although doctors and health experts swear on the importance of breakfast, it is very important for intermittent fasting. Surprising, right? By doing this, you can extend your fasting hours for up to 8-12 hours [6]. It is proved that people who have skipped breakfast for these hours have lost weight than those who have not.

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4. Eat Once a Day

Is the eating window system or counting hours making you confused? This is one of the easiest steps for intermittent fasting. Eat a full meal once a day. Experts suggest having a heavy lunch [7]. The benefit of this system is that you can lose weight fast while eating your favourite high-calorie foods.

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5. Go For Whole Foods

You may consider this dieting process interesting, as you can have junk foods. But, regular intake of those processed foods will not help you to lose weight. So, when preparing your protocol of eating, pile up your diet with eggs, meat, chicken, milk, fruits and vegetables. This is the most vital point among the 7 steps for intermittent fasting [8][9].

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6. Weigh Yourself

It is important to check your weight every week as it would help you understand your body and how the fasting is affecting you. If you notice that you're not losing weight any more, you can change your protocol and try a new regime instead.

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7. Be Busy

Keep yourself engaged because doing nothing can increase your hunger levels and make it difficult for you to follow the fast. However, make sure that you do not tire yourself out by engaging in extreme physical activities like exercise [10]. At the initial stage, you'll find it difficult to maintain. Drink lots of water. You can also have coffee or tea in between your fasting hours, but avoid sugary items or milk products, etc.

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On A Final Note…

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. And the results can vary from one person to the other. If you decide to try intermittent fasting, keep in mind that you need to follow a healthy diet as you are depriving your body of nutrients at intervals. Eating junk foods and expecting to lose weight and fat is not how it works - the type of food you choose to eat plays a critical role.

Note: Discuss with your dietician or nutritionist before following the fasting method.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What can you eat or drink while intermittent fasting?

A. Water, coffee, and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid foods. If you are doing this to lose weight, it is very important that you eat normally during the eating periods. That is, follow your usual eating habits.

Q. How much weight can you lose in a month with intermittent fasting?

A. It varies from one person to the other. According to a study, intermittent fasting was found to reduce body weight by 3-8% over a period of 3-24 weeks, that is 0.25 to 0.75 kg in a week.

Q. How can I improve my intermittent fasting?

A. Eat fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Let your body burn fat between meals and avoid snacking. Be active throughout the day.

Q. Does lemon water break intermittent fasting?

A. No.

Q. What not to eat after fasting?

A. After 48 hours you can start introducing complex carbs into your diet. You can now also start adding fish and meat, eggs and dairy. Try to avoid all processed foods and sugar.

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