THE COMPLETE BEGINNERS GUIDE TO INTERMITTENT
FASTING FOR WEIGHT LOSS
SCHEDULED DIETS FOR HEALTHY AND SUSTAINABLE WEIGHT LOSS BY
JASON B. TILLER
Intermittent fasting refers merely to fasting or abstaining from food or specific materials or substances at predetermined intervals. It is composed of two integral parts which are the period of fasting and the opportunity to eat. During the period in which you fast, you entirely shun all forms of food that may or may not contain calories; however, there are some forms of fasting in which the individual takes water and tea. The period in which you eat or the opportunity period is one which follows the fast, and you are permitted to eat, sensibly and healthily.
You should have it at the back of your mind that intermittent fasting is not the silver bullet to magically take care of your excess weight. Don’t expect to shed 20 pounds in a week. The fact here is that a dedicated approach to the dietary lifestyle may see you lose a regular amount of weight over a period.
There are a whole lot of dietary practices out there so you should pick one that works best for you after due consultations with your medical practitioner. If you are always on the go with little time to have something healthy to eat at any given period, then intermittent fasting may work just fine for you. However, if you are a foodie and always conscious about food around your environment, then it will do you a whole lot of good if you embrace other healthy eating habits that are more focused on the type of nutrients that you consume.
Intermittent fasting should be another part of the whole program you have decided to use in your quest for better health.
Considering the discomfort that you have to endure when fasting especially if you are a beginner, it must have crossed your mind why do you even need to fast. The benefits are just too numerous to list out, but I will give you a few.
– Your metabolism is increased during the process.
– The fat deposits around your body are used up quite fast. – You can control your urge to eat.
– Your blood pressure is reduced to normal healthy levels. – The levels of your blood sugar are maintained at optimal levels. – Your heart functions just as it should.
So before you embark on this program, you should be quite aware of the foundations on which it was built. You should have a dedicated mindset, have an unshifting view of attaining your goal no matter how tough it may be, focus on giving your body the very best and also have it at the forefront of all your actions that you have to incorporate regular exercise into the program.
Intermittent fasting does not require you stocking up on a particular group of food. Instead, you should eat mindfully having it in mind that what you eat will eventually have an impact on your health either negative or positive. So if you decide to be holistic about your eating habits, it will be easier for your fasting program to yield and maintain the results you seek. Ready for your first steps towards fasting? Flip to the next page.
Fasting has been around for ages and has been used for religious purposes, improving health, extending longevity and so much more. So fasting is not just a new fad as it has been talked about in the holy books of some of the world’s most famous religions and renowned philosophers and great thinkers who all pointer to the effectiveness of intermittent fasting.
Anyone who has tried getting rid of that excess few pounds is always challenged with the question of when to eat. Fasting provides answers to this question and much more. You don’t have to bug your mind over how to lose some weight when the answer lies right in front of you. A lot of folks have tried outrageous dietary practices all in desperation to be healthy once more but to no avail. So why not step into the world of intermittent fasting with its great healing processes? Fasting has been used for thousands of years by almost every race, culture or set of believers in a particular cause to achieve a set goal. When the word fasting comes up in conversations nowadays, this is always this slight disdain by individuals who have no idea about what it entails. There is this notion that it is about depriving and starving on oneself. But that is an entirely wrong way to look at it. When you talk about starving, it refers to a situation in which one does not have a choice or access to food, and
it is beyond your power to eat them. You just cannot control the situation, and you have no idea when or where you will eat next. A perfect example is in worn torn regions of the world or countries experiencing extreme drought and famine. People caught up in these situations are entirely cut off from food through no choice of theirs, and this deprivation of food serves no health benefits. However, when you look critically at fasting, it is an act that you willfully embrace for health, religious or a whole lot of other reasons.
The duration of fasting varies according to individuals and the purpose for which it is to be carried out. Have you ever considered fasting to be part of your daily routine? Take, for example, you have dinner late at night on one day, go to bed and sleep for a few hours without waking up to eat anything throughout the night. You then wake up to have your first meal of the new day called a “breakfast.” In actual sense, you just broke a fast you started the previous night, and it is an occurrence that happens almost every day.
Taking a journey back in time, great thinkers and philosophers were quite aware of the great powers fasting had over the health and spiritual well-being of people. Hippocrates, Aristotle, Plato all preached about the advantages that fasting had. They advocated for the use of fasting as a method of healing the sick rather than the application of medications. Have you ever noticed that whenever you are sick, food is always the farthest thing from your mind? This is nature acting as a physician to encourage the healing process. Just like Hippocrates rightly said, “When you are sick and eat, you are giving fuel to the raging sickness within you.” This is an act of survival that is mapped into our genome and goes back to the time of creation.
Fasting also enhances how we react, think and carry out tasks. After eating a rather heavy meal, how do you feel? Almost undoubtedly tired, lethargic and slow to respond without thinking distinctly about anything and you will want to lie down and sleep. This is as a result of more blood being removed from circulation and moved to your gastrointestinal system leaving your brain deprived. Your body goes into a state akin to shock and coma for the period of the digestion which may take a few hours. A few hours which can be quite harmful to your health when it occurs rather frequently. Fasting cuts out this dangerous phenomenon as it always leaves you with a lot of energy and your cognitive faculties intact.
When you fast for purely spiritual or religious purposes, it detoxifies or cleanses your body. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and other religions have great faith in fasting. It is seen as a practice that is inherently useful to the human body to remove toxins and improve alertness and in mind to bring about mindfulness and strengthen the bond between mind and body. During the month of Ramadan, the Muslims engage in fasting from sunrise to sunset and the prophet Mohammad also admonished his followers to fast at
least twice a week. The Buddhist only eat once a day in the morning and go on a fast till the next morning. This “normal” eating practice may also involve actual fasting periods in which the Buddhist may subsist on only fluids for a somewhat extended period. The period of Lent is a fasting period practised by Christians for 40 days to mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. During this period, the individual eats only once a day at sunset and does not take any form of food or fluid until the next evening. Orthodox Christians have however taken it a step further by fasting for almost half of the calendar year. In addition to the significant religious bodies that practice fasting, a lot of cultures around the world also see this as a part of their identity.
Intermittent fasting as a tool to reset your body system and get rid of unwanted weight and toxins, however, may not be for everyone. For those having severe health challenges and who are not strong enough, it is best to seek medical advice from your medical practitioner before contemplating to embark on a fasting program. This restructured eating habit should not be confused with the diet fads that pop up from time to time. Instead, it should be noted that is a way of planning your meal times way ahead of time.
When you diet, you invest so much time and mental energy always fighting the urge to eat and not to eat. It drains you of your life force as you struggle to put away the thought of foods. Dieting can be one hell of a way to get in shape. Fasting, however, is so easy once you get the hang of it. For a weight loss program, it is an excellent method to get rid of excess body weight. It helps you attain a mindset that your body does not need to be continuously fed all the time. It enables your body take a break from the constant stress of digesting food. Your gastrointestinal system rests for a while, while the gut cleans itself, the blood is purified, and your mind can focus on other essential things life has to offer other than food. When you fast, the energy that your system uses in breaking down the food is put to better uses like fixing your gut wall, cutting down on the number of antigens your immune system has to fight and increase the productivity of the digestive glands exponentially by not putting them regularly to work all the time. For effective fasting, consumption of fluids goes a long way in the cleansing process.
So you want to begin a fast on a Monday with a heavy workload and crazy schedule? That won’t be too advisable as it will be counterproductive and the whole essence of the program will be defeated. Fasting needs you to reduce your activity for that period drastically. You need to be contemplative and reflect on things that matter most to you in life. The point here is that when you plan to fast, put your foot on the brake pedal and put a halt to your regular daily activities to enable you to get in touch with your spirit man. If you are not the praying type, then take the time to meditate, rest do something meaningful that won’t stress you. It should be a time of sombre reflection and make it a practice of cutting out distractions that may defeat your goals. Energy conservation and serenity should be put at the forefront of your plans for that day.
Getting onto the horse of fasting can be quite easy once your mind comes to accept the fact that eating is not necessary all the time. Impossible you say? Not at all. All you need to do is understand and practice regularly, and you will develop your strengths and avoid the weaknesses that may drag you down. It is all about your mind and how determined you are to make it work out.
RULES OF YOUR DIET
The timing of your eating and what you consume is dependent on your activity levels. On days in which you go to work or have strenuous activities, the intake of carbohydrates should be relatively higher compared to other nutrients. On a day in which you may decide to be a little relaxed, foods high in good fats should top your list and protein is a nutrient that you should have every day regardless of your activity levels. Notwithstanding your aims, the intake of whole foods cannot be over-emphasised.
What is weight loss? This is a situation that results when your daily intake of calories is below your optimal consumption. For weight loss to occur, there will be a deficit in your calorific intake. When folks want to lose some body weight, they are not specific or have an idea of the type of load they want to get rid of. However, what most people have in mind is fat. During the process of losing this fat, there is always the loss of muscle mass too which most of us don’t want to happen. So how do you prevent this from occurring? Your fat reserves act as the shield here. Our bodies are designed to break down our muscle mass which makes use of a lot of the calories we consume daily. This begins to occur once there is a calorie deficit in your daily intake of calories. To regulate the number of calories you consume, the “energy consumer” which in this case is the muscle needs to go.
This was not the situation aeons ago when man had to hunt and continuously move around sourcing for food and shelter. The muscle was always put to work as it determined their fate. Because a lot of us now are couch potatoes and won’t even move a foot to save your life, our muscle mass is far lesser compared to ancient men. With this in mind, it is vital to engage in physical activities every day providing an incentive to our bodies to maintain our muscle mass while we aim to cut down the adipose tissue. Muscle loss can also be negated by gradually cutting down on your calorie needs to prevent your fat deposits form been wiped out and your energy needs then turning to your muscle. Going about it this way gives your body time to adjust to the new calorie limit without a sudden shock to the system. Getting your body into a caloric equilibrium is an individual task as we all have different calorie needs. The calories are obtained from a well-balanced combination of food nutrients mainly carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Getting an accurate idea of your daily calorie needs are determined by your sex, age, health status and the type of activities you engage in daily. You can also calculate your calorific maintenance by noting the number of calories you consume daily for a few weeks and checking your weight too. If you were adding or reducing body weight, slight adjustments to your diets would bring about equilibrium in your caloric maintenance and optimum body weight.
CALORIE AND FOOD TYPES
Calories are calories. It doesn’t matter where it comes from since it is all energy you need for your daily activities. In this context, you need to understand that there is no right or wrong food, just that the calorie content of some foods is far higher than average while some others are calorie deficient. You can consume 1 pound of food A for daily four weeks and gain 10 pounds in body mass or consume 1 pound a day of a food B for four weeks and lose 20 pounds of your body weight. The difference in the types of food is just the calorie contents.
Now let’s look at foods from another angle. I lied. There are nasty foods that gradually kill you and some down to earth wholesome foods that your body will love. The so-called bad foods are processed foods that have been stuffed with so many preservatives, additives, and colouring agents that eating it causes massive damages to your system. In as much as the food shelves in the shopping malls are stacked with such foods, you can consume them minimally and entirely avoid it if you can. Going natural by eating organic food which has undergone little or no processing is the way to pamper and protect your health. It can be a daunting task in this age and time trying to stay away from processed foods, but you can. Start out by gradually cutting out processed foods and introducing whole organic foods into your daily meals and snacks. It may take a while for you to become fully adjusted to the new diet type but your health will reap the tremendous advantages.
HUNGER IS NOT STARVATION
There is a massive difference between hunger and starvation which needs to be clarified. Have you ever had that massive urge to just gobble anything in sight just because of some slight rumblings in your stomach? You do not have to end your fast because of that. They are merely hunger pangs. So how do you handle that? Get your mind off it and focus on other pressing matters. I am very sure you won’t fall six feet under just for missing a few meals. Your body has been designed to go for longer periods without having any nutrition. You are not starving. When fasting, your metabolic rate does not slow down as you might have been led to believe. The metabolic process in a human body begins to slow down about 72 hours into the program, and there is no intermittent fasting program that will have you go for a straight three days fast. The maximum time limit for a fast in usually just a day.
Pains in your abdominal regions that may result from your fasting is an indication that something may be wrong. That is not hunger, and you should get in touch with your medical practitioner immediately. Hunger is a response your body gives because it is used to getting fed at certain times of the day. For example, if you eat three square meals a day at 8 am, 2 pm and 7 pm, if due to your heavy work schedule you miss breakfast, it is almost certain you will get
massive hunger pangs at about 8.30 am to 9 am. It happens like clockwork all the time. On your intermittent fasting schedule, however, you will feel the hunger pangs once you start off, but gradually it will be a signal you will be able to ignore. It is all about resetting your feeding mechanism and allowing your body to adapt to the new practice. Once you get the hang of it, you will now feel the urge to eat only during the opportunity periods allowed for eating during your fast. It is all about the power of your mind and determination to stick with the program. Mind over matter.
TYPES OF FASTING
I will be discussing a few beneficial forms of fasting, and the type you decide to work with is entirely up to you. They are all based on the premise of restricting calorie intake during the early part of the day and allowing calorie consumption in the latter part of a day. It is somewhat unfortunate that our eating habits have become so warped involving eating from the time we wake up till going to bed with no clear-cut time for allowing our gastrointestinal system to rest. The acceptable practice is a period of eating from 6 am to 6 pm and a period of fast from 6 pm to 6 am. That’s almost impossible to practice I hear you say, with all the late dinners and midnight snacking. The eating window has been grossly expanded giving room for a lot of harm to be done to your body.
THE WARRIOR DIET
This fasting type involves you fasting all day and consuming a lot of calories later in the evening. The aim here is to avoid eating breakfast, lunch, and snacks for majority of the day. All your nutritional requirements are then met during your dinner. This method is also called the 20:4 type fasting with the 4 hour been the period of eating and the 20 hours’ time for fasting. Fasting with this method on an average of about three times a week will result in approximately twenty-four hours of total fast time for the week.
If you are looking for how to start out with intermittent fasting, this method is probably the easiest to embrace. For those who love large meals with massive calorific values, then this is a perfect choice for you. Moving from your regular eating pattern to the warrior diet is easy as you can start off by eating a minimal amount of calories during the day before the king-sized meal during the night. As you go on with the program, your calorific intake during the day will gradually taper off to nothing leaving the consumption for dinner. Your snacks when starting should be healthy fruits, vegetables, and water. Your dinner should have a lot of protein and healthy fats and make sure your calorific maintenance levels are met during the window. Most importantly, make sure your fast last for at least 18 hours.
In as much, it can be a daunting task starting out with this fasting type, always ensure that you try as much as possible not to eat any important meal outside the feeding window. Consistency is also critical. Do not go on a fast one day and go back to eating breakfast and lunch the next day.
Also, note that your feeding window which is about 4 hours is not necessarily during dinner time. You can decide to have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For example, if your feeding window is for breakfast, after the feeding window for eating in the morning is over, you eat nothing else for the rest of the day till the next morn. The same applies if you decide to pick a lunch feeding type.
This fasting method is a favourite of a lot of health-conscious individuals. Here you move your first meal of the day to your lunchtime and have your second meal of the day during dinner time. The feeding window here is for 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours. If you have lunch at 12 pm, then your dinner will be at 8 pm. You will eat nothing before your first meal of the day and if you must, keep it very light and should be based on fruits, vegetables, and smoothies. Going through with this fasting method for seven days in a week will amount to 112 hours of fasting which surpasses the regular 12 hours fast. This approach was designed for bodybuilders and weightlifters but why not give it a shot? A little muscle mass won’t do you any harm, and a ripped body sure does look good.
The diet should have a lot of protein as this is necessary for the building of the body tissues. On days you intend working out, the number of carbs in your meals should be relatively higher compared to days when you are off training. After exercising, your calorie intake should be quite high while on days you don’t intend hitting the gym, your first meal should contain a more significant percentage of your calories for that day. As an athlete, you want to arrange your fasting periods such that it falls in periods when you are sleeping.
ALTERNATE DAY FAST
With this method, your feeding window is limited to twelve hours within a forty-eight hours’ time frame. Let’s say you have your breakfast at 8 am on a Tuesday, the feeding window will last until 8 pm of that Tuesday. The fasting period will then begin and come to an end at 8 am on Thursday. That only implies that you fast all through Wednesday and you start the cycle all over again. You may be tempted to eat whatever you lay your hands on during this period to prepare yourself for the fats ahead; I will, however, advise you to keep it healthy.
A lot of people easily practices this technique. You do not have to be an athlete with a strict training program to practice this is quite easy because you have a 12-hour feeding window to eat almost anything you want. It is pertinent that you consume calorie-rich meals with caution.
ONE DAY FAST
Using this fast method, the duration of your fast is for 24 hours. Out of the seven days in a week, you pick the most comfortable day for you to fast and you can then carry on with your everyday eating routine to for other six days. This method helps in reducing the total number of calories you consume
weekly. If your total calorie intake before the fast was 10,500 calories and then you undergo one day of full fast, the result will be 9000 calories per week. There is a tendency that you may want to gorge yourself with meals you missed the day of your fast or overeating in anticipation of your coming fast. There’s a way around this. Just know that your calorie intake will still be lesser than what you will typically consume due to the calories you will be losing the fast. As with any fasting method, practice mindfulness, engage yourself fully in your daily routines.
With any fasting method, you decide to use; the aim is to cut down excess body weight and to achieve an optimum body weight devoid. You may choose to have a blend of any of the methods and some others not mentioned in this book as long as it does not in any way cause you any discomfort that you cannot handle. Starting with a fasting program can be tough, so it is advisable you start gradually and increase your fasting period as your endurance increases. Fix a fast to suit your daily schedule and make sure it doesn’t come into conflict with significant events in your life for you to achieve the desired results. Increasing your fasting period beyond the baseline of 12 hours is always going to be beneficial to you one way or another. If your goal is 18
hours of fast a week, if you hit the 16-hour mark, then you are good to go. The point made here is that you have forgone some calories you would have consumed in that extra 4 hours. Every single hour you fast make a positive impact on your health.
PROS AND CONS
This excellent method of losing body weight has a lot of additional benefits. Some of these include; control of your body hormones, mental and physiological processes in your body and metabolic flexibility. Also, the way you decide to practice fasting can bring about negative impacts on your body since it has a lot of advantages. So the keyword here is practice fasting with all due diligence. Make sure you have no pre-existing medical conditions and consult your doctor before starting out with the program.
Intermittent fasting opens up a whole new vista free from the chokehold food has you in. Your body is used to being fed on a regular basis at least thrice a day. Your answer to every whim and desire your body asks you. Going on an intermittent diet, however, sets you to lose. You assumed you wouldn’t be able to go through with it? After the initial rebelling and infighting, surprisingly you will because your body will adapt to the new change. There’s no bickering to be had here because your health comes first. Your mind is now free to focus on other important things life has to offer while reaping the benefits of a healthy body.
Intermittent fasting, however, has a downside for persons who have had or
struggling with regular eating patterns. It can encourage an increase in calorie restriction and create an environment which leads to negative attention about the dos and don ts of fasting. If you are battling with an eating disorder, then the intermittent fasting is a no-no for you.
Intermittent fasting reduces the number of calories you take in on any given day. It is almost impossible for you to consume your recommended daily calorie allowance within the feeding window of an intermittent fasting program. This invariably results in weight loss and a general change in your body composition.
This program is also a great way to get rid of body fat even when you consume a regular amount of calorie. Your body becomes adapted to making use of fat deposits instead of carbohydrates as a source of energy.
If you are starving yourself instead of fasting, you will tend to lose muscle mass instead of fat. Starving stresses your body by bringing about release of cortisol which brings about an increase in your blood sugar levels and a concurrent increase in insulin production leading to a change of energy source from fat to glucose.
Intermittent fasting allows for an exceptional level of sensitivity and control of
hormones. Fasting brings about low levels of insulin thus allowing the body to be sensitive to minimal incremental increases. Let us take a scenario in which you take 6 to 8 cans of regular coke every day. After the second can, you will most likely not feel the effects of the caffeine. Switching to a caffeine free coke will make your body to be quite sensitive to tiny amounts of caffeine. This is important due to the relationship between insulin levels and some very debilitating diseases like diabetes. Becoming resistance to the effects of insulin blocks the body’s access to fat deposits and also the inability to use glucose.
If you are a highly stressed person, your cortisol levels will be through the roof and go on a fast will be counterproductive. Ladies are very susceptible to monthly hormonal changes, so take time out to study cycle and know when you are less stressed and fix your fast appropriately.
INTERMITTENT FASTING AND YOU
Before you start with any intermittent fasting program, you should fully understand your system and know if it will go down well with your body type or not. Adjusting your meal portions or how often you eat may work better for you than intermittent fasting. No two persons will respond to a set of stimulus the same way. So you choose what works best for you.
Do you want to give fasting a shot? Then dip your toe in the water to have a feel. Go for a whole day fasting without eating a bite. Not even one nibble. You will feel massive discomfort, and you will be highly sensitive. At this point, you will want to throw in the towel and walk away. Your productivity may wane, headaches and other symptoms may set in a few hours after you miss a meal. If you are strong enough to get through this and decide to go on with the program, where do you pitch your tent? Just go through the listed fasting types and see which one goes best with you. You should also be aware that fasting can be carried out indefinitely or stopped when the desired body weight is attained. To keep in touch with how much weight you are losing, keep a record of your calorie intake, fasting periods and your weight over a period.
YOUR INTERMITTENT FASTING PROGRAM
You can always come up with your fasting program with ay incorporate features from other fasting programs. To go about this, however, make sure you are not a newbie to the whole process. To build your program, here are a few tips for you should have at the back of your mind.
All programs have features called a period of eating and a period of fasting.
The period in which you eat is relatively shorter than the period in which you fast.
Make sure you do not go into starvation mode which starts at about 38 hours of no food intake. The maximum permissible healthy duration of fasting at a go is 24 hours. Anything after that is counterproductive.
PATH TO SUCCESS
The journey towards having a successful fasting program can be quite tough. Here are some guidelines to help you navigate the field.
Take it one step at a time getting to understand what the program entails. Try out the fasting program gradually. You don’t just want to jump head first into something that may not be designed for you. You can start out fasting once every three weeks before gradually reducing the time frame as you so desire.
No one program works same way for everybody. So pick a plan and tweak it to your taste.
You will need to be acutely aware of how your body responds to an intermittent fasting program. Your body system will determine what you eat, what time you eat, time to exercise, how much calories you take in, etc. Putting all these factors into consideration will ensure you being in control of the fasting program and ultimately your weight.
You don’t want to be in a hurry seeing the fat fly off your bones. A lot of us are quite impatient and dump one diet after the other because it is not working fast enough. You need to understand that for health purposes, losing weight should be a slow and gradual process. Losing at most 2 pounds a week is just fine.
Engage in your daily activities while you fast as this is an avenue for time to fly by. Been idle will surely keep your mind focused on food and you can only guess the outcome here.
The most important advice is that you don’t have to eat all the time. Just like in life, there is time for everything that we have put up a schedule for. So the same applies to your eating pattern. Fasting is not ironclad, work around it and set up a program that works for you.