Intermittent fasting doesn't have to be complicated! If you're curious about this growing trend and what it takes for a beginner to get started, you're in the right place.
Below is my beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting to help you get started on the right foot:
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting means that you regularly fast for short periods.
This may mean a short fast every day or fasting for 24 hours twice per week (or any variation in between!). I'll be the first to tell you I haven't tried 24 hours. #ilovefood
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Many report they simply feel better and more energetic when they practice intermittent fasting. Many people start fasting to lose weight, but research shows the benefits of intermittent fasting go even deeper:
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Healthier blood sugar regulation
- Increased fat burning
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased appetite
- Improved metabolic function
The Easiest Way to Start Intermittent Fasting
The easiest way for the beginner to start intermittent fasting is to pick an “eating window” that works for you. This is a set period of time each day for eating, usually a window of 6 - 10 hours. The rest of the time is spent fasting.
Find Your Perfect “Eating Window”
The most popular type of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 fast. This means you fast for 16 hours per day and eat all your meals in one 8-hour window each day.
There is no right or wrong time to pick for eating and fasting.
Remember that the best way to do intermittent fasting is the way that works for you.
For some, that means having an early eating window (like 8am – 4pm). But others might find it easier to skip eating earlier in the day and instead eat from 3pm to 11pm.
Find what works for you and it will be much easier to stick to your plan!
What You Can Drink During Intermittent Fasting
It’s so important to stay hydrated while you fast! Dehydration can cause headaches, lightheadedness, and poor concentration – all of which makes it unpleasant and difficult to stick with your fast.
Here are a few things you can drink during intermittent fasting:
- Plain filtered water (a splash of lemon essential oil can make it tastier)
- Organic black coffee (a very small amount of full-fat cream is okay)
- Unsweetened tea (herbal, black, or green tea works)
- Mineral water (or unsweetened carbonated water)
- Bone broth (the salt can help you feel better during your fast)
Note: Avoid artificial sweeteners while you fast (even natural no-calorie ones). Some studies suggest these may slightly raise your insulin levels, which is the opposite of what we want during fasting.
What You Can Eat While Fasting
Eating should be kept at pretty much zero during your fasting time. However, some people find it’s easier to stick to their fast if they have a little full-fat cream in their coffee or have a handful of walnuts before bed.
If you choose to eat during the fasting window, keep it very small and stick with high-fat/healthy-fat foods. (This prevents your insulin and blood sugar from rising during your fast)
Fasting Tip: If you’re tempted to eat during your fast, a cup of warm broth will usually keep you going another couple of hours.
What to Eat After Intermittent Fasting
If you’re fasting for 14 - 18 hours per day, just eat normally during your eating window. Of course, “normal” eating should mostly include:
- Fresh, seasonal foods
- Nutrient-dense foods
- A little indulgence (but don’t go too crazy)
At first, you might feel like eating everything in sight after a fast. This is normal and will subside after a few days.
Note: if you’re fasting for 24 hours or more at a time, keep your first meal on the small side to be easy on your digestion.
What do you think?
Have you tried intermittent fasting? After reading this beginner’s guide, do you think you might be willing to try it now? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
graph text here.