So you're interested in starting intermittent fasting or maybe you have a family member or friend that's interested in starting it.
Well, this article is going to be your entire overview. It's gonna give you everything you need to know to get started with intermittent fasting.So the cool thing is IF is were really easy to get started on. Now the caveat is there are some little intricacies that you need to be paying attention to that's exactly why I created this article with some serious details.
We're gonna talk about the basic Intermittent fasting benefits. I'm not gonna spend a whole lot of time on that because if you're reading this article you're probably already interested and your curiosity has been piqued. Because you know someone that has had crazy success with it. But we're gonna talk about the physical benefits of how it affects fat loss and some muscle gain. We're gonna see about the mental and the focus benefits and lots of other things about intermittent fasting.
Let's get down to what intermittent fasting is first and foremost, so simply to put intermittent fasting isn't a diet. Intermittent fasting is a meal timing plan.
So basically what you're doing is you're focusing on a specific period of time in which you are abstaining from food and abstaining from calories and then you have a set period of time in which you consolidate all of your food all of your calories.
You're basically going for an extended period of time and not eating fasting and then you're going into a period of time where you are eating your fed window.
So one of the biggest problems that people make with fasting is they overthink it. They tend to complicate things and it's human nature for us to do that. So you really need to keep it very very simple intermittent fasting is just not eating for a set period of time and then consolidating your calories there's a lot of different intricacies in-between but for all intents and purposes that's the goal.
So let's briefly talk about the benefits
There are huge physical benefits and that's probably the main reason that people are attracted to intermittent fasting and it's a good chance if that's why you're reading this article right now.
Physical benefits include dramatic fat loss all while maintaining muscle also increasing muscle tone, increasing muscle density and there are some other general things like actually improving your vascular function.
As well that can improve your look so in addition to helping out your skin helping out your appearance in that regard there are other benefits too like your nails your hair all kinds of things simply because of the nutrient uptake that occurs
So without going into exquisite detail basically you have these physiological functions that occur mainly because of the release of what is called Catecholamine Adrenaline Norepinephrine. Stuff like that that allows your body to tap into fat stores and preserve muscle. When you go an extended period of time it allows your body to start tapping into its fat reserves plain and simple.
The cool thing is you have a lot of different hormone functions that are preventing you from burning up or losing muscle so you get all the benefits of fat loss without losing your muscle.
Then we have the mental benefits. You see what ends up happening is when you're on any kind of fasting protocol you're going an extended period of time without eating. When you go an extended period of time without eating your brain goes into somewhat of a survival mode.
Now, this sounds bad but it's actually good because what ends up happening is when your brain goes into survival mode it gets hyperfocused very very focused because it preserves the energy into whatever the task is at hand.
So instead of having all these extra thoughts you're able to focus on what you really want to focus on and in today's society, it's very difficult to find true focus.
So fasting is very powerful for that but additionally, it also allows you to produce what are called ketone bodies. You may have heard of ketosis before. But it actually doesn't really necessarily mean the same thing as it does.
With fasting, your body produces ketones which are a tremendous brain fuel.
Then we have the cellular rejuvenation side maybe you're reading this article because you're interested in sort of the cellular benefits the overall health benefits of intermittent fasting you see what happens in your fasting is something that occurs in your body known as autophagy.
Autophagy is the process where old cells get eaten up by newer cells and it consolidates them into stronger more powerful efficient cells. So therefore, making your skin glow better making you live longer and improving all kinds of organ functions.
So you combine these together you can see why your friends and family might be pushing you to try intermittent fasting.
Let's go ahead and let's get the details so you can actually get started on your fasting journey.
All right, how do you start a fast now?
I don't literally mean how do you start fasting. That part is pretty simple you just stop eating and your fast has begun but what you eat leading into a fast can make a big difference.
For example, if you eat something that's higher in fiber it's gonna put you in a situation where you're a little bit more satiated.
So I usually recommend consuming a higher fiber meal prior to starting your fast.
So if you're going to be fasting from let's say 10 p.m. the night before all the way through to maybe 2 p.m. or 4 p.m. the next day at 10 p.m. You may want to have a little bit of fiber maybe some psyllium husk maybe some vegetables that have a little bit more fiber because what it's gonna do is it's going to allow you to stay satiated for a longer period of time.
You're still gonna get all the metabolic benefits but as far as your hunger is concerned you're not gonna get this stomach growls you're not going to get.
I also recommend having a high-fat meal. Fats, of course, you're going to digest a little bit slower but they're also going to leak-free fatty acids into your bloodstream a little bit more. So you're able to produce those ketone bodies.
I talked about so a little bit of fat a little bit of fiber and a little bit of protein really pretty simple you don't have to overthink it. So a little bit of chicken with some coconut oil and spinach might just be the perfect match for you.
The next thing that people like to know is how long should they actually fast.
When you're fasting the benefit that you're trying to achieve is usually dictated by how long your fast is.
So what I mean by that is the shorter the fast you're going to be able to get somebody composition effects but the longer that you fast you tap more into the cellular rejuvenation effects. So what I usually recommend people do is start off with a 16 hour fast this is known as 16-8 fasting.
So basically what it means is you're fasting for 16 hours and then you have an eight-hour eating window. Now most of us aren't awake for 24 hours straight so that 8-hour eating window. This doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to be eating the entire 8 hours.
If you were too fast for 16 hours you might be awake for four or five of the eight-hour eating window which works out perfectly because it allows you to restrict your calories a little bit more and get more of a metabolic effect.
So 16 hours is the bare you see. After 16 hours you start to have an exponential benefit every hour so 16 hours is where the benefits of fasting really start.
So if you're fasting less than 16 hours you're still getting good benefits. But you're not getting the same kind of intermittent fasting benefits that occur in the way of autophagy and really occur in the way of the cellular rejuvenation that start at 16 hours
I recommend starting 16 hours and working your way up to 18 or 20. Personally I'm a fan of 20-hour fast but that's a hard pill to swallow for someone that's just getting started 16 hours is very acceptable pretty easy to do an example of that would be stopping your eating at 10:00 p.m. and then going to bed and then waking up and not eating until 2:00 p.m. that's 16 hours.
That's really not that bad then you go ahead and you just eat whatever you need to between 2 and 10 p.m. again.
So you're really in this perfect situation this perfect setup of fasting and eating windows and you again you don't have to eat throughout the entire eight-hour eating window.
The next thing that you need to know is what you can consume during your fast.
This is very important because of a lot of times once you get started fasting you're gonna want to start exploring a little bit. You're gonna get curious about different things. So I figured I'd give you the breakdown of the things that you truly can consume without any hiccup whatsoever.
Alright, so you can consume black coffee. don't add a sweetener to it and don't add any cream to it.
Black coffee in and of itself is very very powerful and it actually has some effects on autophagy.
This means it actually speeds up the process of your cells recycling each other.
There is actually a study published in the journal of Cell cycle. That found that the polyphenols in coffee whether it was decaffeinated or caffeinated actually encouraged cells to recycle and go through Autophagy much more than those that didn't have coffee
Now additionally coffee has a little bit of caffeine in it and believe it or not caffeine supports your fast. Caffeine not only helps boost fat loss but it also supports autophagy as well. So it helps the cellular rejuvenation effects.
Black coffee is great but the issue is once you add the sweetener to it whether it's an artificial sweetener that doesn't have calories or not it can trigger an insulin response
Another thing that you have is tea. go ahead and have tea you're totally fine.
Okay, you can have black tea you can have green tea just no sweetener and no creamer in it.
A lot of people are probably wondering what about bulletproof coffee or bulletproof tea?
We're adding the butter coconut oil to your coffee. Keep that out of the equation to have a good fast you shouldn't have any calories coming in it.
It should just be basic tea or basic coffee.
Now diet sodas are a little bit in a No zone.
Diet soda is you can have every once in a while. But the thing is the artificial sweeteners can still trigger an insulin spike. That insulin spike can screw up your fast just because it triggers a metabolic response.
So if you're going to have a soda I recommend having something that's sweetened with stevia. So you're at least getting a natural sweetener that is zero calories versus bringing in something that's completely artificial and going to trigger what's called an excitotoxin response within your brain.
Water is obviously okay. You can consume as much water as you want to unless you're specifically doing a dry fasting. Which I will explain about in a moment.
Now additionally I don't think you should be consuming any bone broth or anything like that. Some people think that you should be consuming broth during an intermittent fast but there are specific types of fasting that will allow that.
Then it comes down to like your pre-workouts and your BCAAs and things like that.
I would not recommend consuming pre-workout during a fast. I would recommend leaving on coffee whenever possible and don't consume your branched chain amino acids and here's the big thing the branched chain amino acids can actually break your fast.
Keep them out of the equation because honestly you're going to preserve muscle either way. Because you're in a fasted state where the physiology is working to your advantage.
Now we get into how to break your fast?
This is where there are a lot of different methodologies.
I'm a big fan of taking care of your insides first okay you can't get in good shape you can't look amazing and feel amazing if you're not taking care of your organs so I'm a big fan of breaking a fast with High Protein meal. You don't need much but around 20-30g depending upon your overall diet.
But I highly recommend no matter the length of your fast break your fast with some protein.
Then after that, it's very very important that you're not combining fats with carbs that is rule number one. okay so as long as you're not combining fats with carbs, I'm really okay with whatever you do.
You don't want to mix fats and carbs because what happens is carbs cause an insulin spike (fast and high insulin release). This insulin spike causes the cells to be very receptive to retrieve whatever you just consume so you can kind of do the math if you consume carbs that trigger insulin the cell opens.
Then if you've consumed fat at the same time the carbs go into the cell but so does the fat if.you consume carbs by themselves just the carbs go in. If you consume fat by itself fat doesn't even trigger a high insulin response. so you're not getting the cell to open.
So just don't combine fats with carbs. have fats and protein.
The big one when should you work out?
When it comes down to your fasting period, should you workout when you're fasting or should you work out after you've broken your fast?
Well, I can tell you honestly that you can do either one.
But if you want a little bit more of a physiological and body composition effect then. you're gonna want to train in your fasted state.
Here's how I fast. I go to bed. I wake up and I get my workout in the morning. Then I continue to fast the remainder of the day until it's time to break my fast.
So essentially I'm working out in the middle of my fast. Even though it's the first part of the full day that I'm fasting.
A lot of people do like to work out at the end of their fast and this is very very beneficial but it's hard to do if you work out at the end of your fast like right before you break your fast you are most likely to burn the most amount of fat then.
Simply because you're already at the exhausted portion of your fast. Where your body is already burning fat. The problem is you will see some performance decline at that point in time. If you work out earlier in the day you still have a lot of strength and stamina from the food that you ate the night prior.
You're not gonna be weak from the fast. So you get the benefit of being able to still work out hard without losing the effect of the fast.
Now if you do decide to work out after you've eaten you'll probably find that your strength is quite high but one of the things that you should make sure you're aware of is that you want to digest your food a little bit first.
As soon as you break you fast all the blood is going into your internal organs it's going to your stomach to help you digest this means that if you go work out your detracting from that you're taking away the blood from the vital organs and sending it out to your extremities to work out this means that you're not absorbing the nutrients in the fashion that you could be.
If you worked out a little bit later just remember you're gonna have great strength gains but you're not gonna have as much in the way of fat burning effects.
You see there was actually one study that was published in the journal of physiology that found that when you workout in a fasted state you burn significantly more fat and it's simply because you have little bits of fat that are actually inside your muscle and they are called Intramyocellular lipids.
These Intramyocellular lipids get evacuated out of the muscle when you workout in a fasted state. So they leave the muscle and then go into the bloodstream and the body burns them for fuel.
So the body takes little bit of fat that are in the muscle. Put some into the bloodstream and burns them and then the process repeats.
So fasting and working out is really a powerful way to hack the system a little bit and get a bit more fat burning out of your waist
Let's see the different types of fasting. This is going to help you determine which one is for you.
First one that I mentioned is intermittent fasting. That's the basic 16 hour 8 hour split. Maybe 18/6 or maybe 20/4 depending on what you're comfortable with.
That's basic intermittent fasting.
The second type of fasting is called prolonged fasting and that's any kind of fast that's a little bit longer we're talking like 24 hours fast maybe 24 or 48 hours a little bit less on the
body composition benefits and more on the cellular rejuvenation benefits of course you're also getting an exponential amount of mental benefits when you go on these longer fast - believe it or not the longer that you fast the more that your mental acuity sharpest you actually get sharper as you fast longer but the physiological body composition effects tend to start to diminish after 24 to 48 hours.
So don't push it past 48 hours unless you're doing it for specific reason but prolonged fasting is very good to do like once a month or once every quarter or so just to get yourself a little bit of a change of pace and something a little bit more aggressive.
Now another kind of fast you can do is a liquid fast. This is where you're still consuming coffee you're still consuming bone broth. You're still consuming even bulletproof coffee.
It's all the things that still have calories but are liquid technically I guess you could drink a soda but I wouldn't recommend it.
Okay, so the whole idea of a liquid fast is not about the metabolic benefit. It's about giving your digestive system a break.
The last kind of fasting Is called dry fasting.
Dry fasting is where you don't consume any food or water and this is extreme you should only do dry fasting like once every three to six months honestly what ends up happening when you dry fast, is you end up pulling hydrogen from your fat stores to make what's called molecular water.
I'm over complicating this for the sake of this article but basically what it means is your body burns more fat because it has to take a portion of the fat to make water. yes, literally fat contains hydrogen which means that the hydrogen in the fat can combine with oxygen that you breathe to make what's called molecular water so dry fasting is effective at burning fat but it's not something you want to do more than once every three to six months.
So now let's talk about the difference between fasting for men and fasting for women all in all
I don't want you to pay attention to a lot of the crazy nonsense and bro science that's out there on YouTube
Because the reality is that men and women are very very similar when it comes down to how the metabolisms work with fasting.
Now there are different things and other people will have different arguments on things but when it comes down to women fasting.
The only thing that they need to be a little bit more concerned with is going to be the fact that because of their reproductive system their body is going to send hugger signals a lot more aggressively it's a little bit more dangerous for lack of a better term for a female to be fasting in a survival standpoint.
Because they need to have extra reserves that are there to carry a child so their body might go into a little bit more of a fighting response it might send hunger signals up through the roof and make them really hungry.
So if you're a female that's reading this it's just something to be aware of and even though the benefits of fasting don't start until hour 16 hours. You can still get some effects by fasting for a shorter amount of time so maybe start with 12 maybe start with 14 hours and work your way up to it.
Men, of course, the fasting is pretty straightforward so you don't have nearly as much of the complex reproductive system that women have.
So it's a little bit easier to go ahead and jump into fasting without any concern.
Now let's address the common concerns
okay so now you're just about ready to start fasting you're ready to dive in get the biggest benefits but there are still a couple of questions that are kind of looming here
The first one that I want to address is are you going to lose muscle?
So to make some sense of this you don't just think I'm just some random guy on the internet
I want to show you a study this study that is published in a Journal of Translational Medicine and this study flat-out proved that intermittent fasting versus not intermittent fasting but eating the same amount of calories ended up resulting in subjects not only burning more fat but also building more muscle. Literally eating the same kinds of foods the same calories the same macronutrients proteins fats and carbs. Just one group had them allocated to a specific window and one group ate them throughout the course of the day.
The benefits of intermittent fasting as far as muscle preservation are very very clear in that Journal of translational medicine study.
Therefore don't worry you're not going to lose muscle. You're just gonna burn fat but if you were to go ahead and fast for like three four or five days then you might lose some muscle.
The other concern that comes up is will my metabolism slow down, will it affect my thyroid?
The metabolism is kind of a tricky word.
Metabolism is slowing down it's something that people throw around and it's really kind of a tricky way of explaining it. Your caloric needs are going to decrease. If your calories decrease but your caloric needs aren't gonna necessarily decrease if you go for a period of time fasting.
As long as your calories are where they need to be you're not gonna slow your metabolism down. You're totally fine but the question that comes up a lot is what about my thyroid.
You see the interesting thing is there's a study that was published in the Journal of European endocrinology and this study found that during the fast during the time that you're not eating. Thyroid function would stay the same but thyroid precursors would start to decrease. Meaning that the production of the thyroid hormone would start to slow down but the actual thyroid hormone itself didn't slow down. I'm just sort of the machine that created thyroid would start to slow down but the second the subjects ate, it came right back.
You see what ends up happening is of course when you're not eating your thyroids gonna slow down but once you're eating your metabolisms going up again.
So that's not a fair assessment. It is safe to say that while you're fasting you might see a slowdown in your metabolism by standards of your thyroid but once you're eating it all balances back out.
Plus another thing to note is the thyroid rejuvenates very very quick. Hypothetically even if it did slow down you'd be back up and running again like ten to fourteen days it's all good.
"When to take supplements during fasting?" There is a lot of confusion about this.
Because some supplements break a fast and some don't. So I'll make this very simple if the supplement that you're taking has carbs or has calories it breaks a fast.
If the supplement that you are taking is a soft gel. It's oil as a fish oil pill or coenzyme q-10 that's in an oil anything that's in a soft gel is usually suspended in vitamin E or some kind of oil that will break a fast. That has a caloric effect that's no different than having oil like olive oil or coconut oil. It's just a different kind of oil suspending.
Fat-soluble vitamin consumes those like your vitamin D and your fish oil after you've already eaten that way it won't break your fast.
Water-soluble vitamins like multivitamins like vitamin C things like that are okay to take during your fasting period.
Lastly, I want to end it with alcohol.
Alcohol is a pretty interesting one. We have to look at how the body processes alcohol when you consume a drink. It converts alcohol and what is called acetaldehyde which is a very very toxic thing to your body.
We all know that alcohol can be hard on the body. But what ends up happening is the acetaldehyde is so toxic. It jumps ahead of all the other food inside your body. What that means is your body still has to have a metabolic effect and it's gonna prioritize alcohol over anything else.
But one thing that's very important to know is that fat burning occurs from your liver. If you're not having a functioning liver, if your livers not doing well you're not gonna burn fat very well. So if you're asking a lot of your liver to prioritize acetaldehyde from alcohol and ethanol then you're slowing down the process of burning fat.
Alcohol will definitely break a fast but I highly recommend if you're going to consume alcohol that you do it after you've already absorbed some of your food.
Go ahead and break your fast and then a couple of hours later have a little bit of a drink then that's safer and better.
I hope that this overview has given you a solid perspective on what intermittent fasting is and what intermittent fasting is not.
honestly, it's for everybody you can use intermittent fasting with a Ketogenic diet. You can use intermittent fasting with paleo. Being a vegan or whatever you want the thing is intermittent fasting is the proper protocol in which you are not eating versus when you are eating.