A Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Intermittent fasting, or IF is something that our ancestors relied on between their hunting periods throughout human history. Long before the industrial revolution where society started to produce things in factories, we were roaming around the land in search of food as hunting and gathering. This beginners guide to intermittent fasting will help you learn how to incorporate this practice into your every day activities.
The paleo diet is based around this way of eating. Food is sourced for our every day needs from real food, rather than processed foods.
As humans, we did intermittent fasting out of need and it’s how we survived. It has powerful benefits which over time we had forgotten as a technique for our health, but it has been rediscovered more recently.
It is a controlled way of managing our food intake in a mindful conscientious manner.
Think about the word breakfast, break – fast – where we break our fast from the night before. We are usually in the state of ketosis following several hours of not eating while we sleep. This is common for many of us. Intermittent fasting simply extends this fast duration depending on how long you choose to fast for.
Essentially, we are either eating or fasting throughout each and every day. How we do it mindfully and consciously is how we help our bodies to have a break from eating.
This beginners guide to intermittent fasting will show you how simple it really is.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting allows our bodies to have a break from processing the food we put in it. It gives our body a chance to detoxify, cleanse and restore itself in addition to losing excess body fat.
- It gives one increased energy
- Contributes to weight loss
- Helps reverse Type 2 diabetes
- Lowers blood cholesterol
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves mental clarity and concentration
- Free and it can be taken anywhere compared with dieting that costs more.
- Is simple, compared to following a diet – more complicated.
- The most effective way of lowering insulin levels.
How it works
We are either in a fed state where our bodies store fuel from the release of insulin, or when we are fasting where insulin is low and we burn the stored fuel. Fasting allows our body to burn the stored fuel, which is how we lose weight.
When we eat continuously throughout the day, we aren’t giving our body time to burn the stored fat, instead it burns the constant supply of food instead. If it’s not used, it will be stored as fat. Therefore there is no reason for the body to burn the fat stores already available in the body.
When intermittent fasting is used in combination with the ketogenic diet, it has an even stronger effect on weight loss and fat burning. Weight loss is actually made possible when insulin levels are lowered, which is enhanced by fasting and lowering carbohydrates.
The only thing that you consume during the fasting period is:
Water, Tea, Coffee, and Bone Broth
No sweeteners, no sugar, and nothing else until you break your fast.
Timeframes for Fasting
It is totally your choice about how often to fast. As long as you consume some liquids, then one is able to fast for as long as they wish, or as often as they wish.
To get started, choose a shorter time frame to fast with to get used to it. You’ll get a feel for how you respond to it, and get an idea of what to do when you notice a hunger pang. A shorter fast will also help you gain a sense of achievement.
If you don’t know if you can do it or not, why not give it a try and see what happens and how you manage it. We can all fast until breakfast, how long can you stretch it out for? Lunch time? Dinner time? 24 hours? The choice is yours.
For further information on the various fasting options with scientific backup of how it works go here.
Lets look at the various types of fasts.
This is where one fasts for 16 hours and eats during an 8 hour period. So for example you have your meals between 11am to 7 pm, then you fast for 16 hours through until 11 am. This can be done on a daily basis.
Fasting over a period of 20 hours and eating during a 4 hour period. For instance have a lunch meal at 2 pm and a dinner meal at 6 pm then not eat anything until the following day at 2 pm. You can still have tea, coffee, water or bone broth during the fasting period of either fast. This can also be done on a daily or every few days if one chooses.
24 hour Fast
This involves eating one meal per day with no snacks in between. Say go from dinner through to dinner the next day. Or lunch through to lunch the next day. This is generally done up to 3 times a week.
36 hour Fast
This is where one doesn’t consume foods for 36 hour duration. This might look like, a meal eaten at dinner time, say 7pm, followed by the whole of the next day with no food consumption, then resume eating the next morning at 7am. It’s important during a fast such as this, to not over eat or it can make you get an upset stomach.
The 5:2 fast was founded by Michael Mosley. This is described as eating the usual meals during 5 days then on the other 2 days calories are limited to 500 calories at whatever intervals you wish. For a guide to this type of fast check this book on Amazon.
Intermittent Fasting and the Ketogenic Diet
Studies have shown the enhanced benefits of combining intermittent fasting with the ketogenic diet as being more effective than the ketogenic diet alone. There’s some really helpful guides such as this one that can provide you with meal plans for keto and how to incorporate intermittent fasting.
Tips for Fasting
1. Drink lots of water. An alternative to water is black tea, oolong tea and herbal tea. Another tea that can be helpful is green tea due to its catechins that help suppress the appetite. Small amounts of milk can be added even though this is technically cheating.
2. Coffee is good, both caffeinated and decaffeinated. Coffee has also been shown to be an appetitie suppressant, as well as being high in antioxidants which is also helpful during a fast, while your body detoxifies and eliminates toxins.
3 .No sweeteners of any kind, real or artifical are allowed during a fast.
4. Both Broth is a nutrient dense drink made from the bones of an animal. Cooked over a long period, 12 – 24 hours plus allows gelatin to be released along with minerals that are hugely beneficial. Gelatin also helps with arthritis and joint pain, as well as reducing inflammation in the body and gut health. So while you do a fast, by incorporating this nutrient dense drink, you are also boosting valuable nutrients to benefit your health.
5. Keep yourself busy during a fast. This can help with managing any hunger. Hunger comes in waves, so it will pass. It is also a good time to have something to drink.
6. Add cinnamon to your tea as it is an appetite suppressant.
7. Have some chia seeds, either plain, or with water added. These have been shown to suppress the appetite. They absorb water within 30 minutes and form a gel which can also help when hunger pangs occur.
Once you complete your fast, be gentle with the food you eat next, and keep it moderate, otherwise this will likely lead to a stomach ache.
Through practice and managing with the above tips, it’s possible and even beneficial to incorporate intermittent fasting on a regular basis to your lifestyle. Helping support your body’s natural ability to manage weight while healing and becoming healthy.
For more information check this book out, it explains intermittent fasting and incorporating the ketogenic diet to help develop low carb options to keep insulin levels low.
Do you fast? What have you found helpful to get through a fast? Leave your comments below.
NB. Who it’s not recommended for
People under 18 years of age.
Pregnant and breast feeding mothers.
If one is underweight.
Fasting is not to be done if there is presence of disordered eating patterns and mental health and body image. Please consult your doctor, health practitioner or psychologist if you are struggling with eating habits and mental health issues. If you need any help with disordered eating patterns in Australia go here. Or in the US go here.