I am asked about intermittent fasting often. How do you do it? When do you do it? Can you take a break? I think intermittent fasting is very important and can change your life. If you choose to start intermittent fasting, you will find that you are less hungry, more focused, and able to easily lose or maintain weight. It is also a simple concept that is customized to fit into your life. Here are the basics of intermittent fasting and how to get started.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between a period of eating and a period of fasting. For example, you may choose to eat for only 8 hours a day and then fast for the other sixteen. This means you get all of your calories for the day within that 8-hour window.

It is not a diet. Think of it as your new lifestyle. This is not something you will abandon after you reach your weight or fitness goals.

How to get started

If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of fasting for 16 hours a day, do not worry! Start slowly and be flexible. Do not stress about it because that will only make you want to quit. If you feel like you have to eat as soon as you wake up, then eat. Try eating dinner earlier and not eating before bed. Remember, you are fasting when you sleep. Those hours count toward your fasting time.

If you want to start eating later in the day, begin with a 2 hour fast in the morning. If you wake up at 7 and usually eat breakfast at 7:30, push it back until 9:30. If you cannot do this at first, just try making it as long as you can until you get comfortable with the 2-hour window.

Do not be rigid about your window, especially in the beginning. If you are legitimately hungry, then eat. You will get used to this lifestyle. And life will not end if you eat outside of your eating window.

Common Mistakes

Consuming zero-calorie beverages, like sugar-free energy drinks, teas, and BCAAs does not count as a true fast. If you find yourself needing these in the morning but are able to not eat, then that is a great way to start this lifestyle. You get partial benefits from fasting and it will help train your body to not expect food immediately upon waking. Keep in mind you can work up to true fasting.

I did not start off truly fasting and drank sugar-free energy drinks in the morning. That mistake was actually helpful because it helped train my body for full intermittent fasting. Now I do a true fast, which means I only drink black coffee, green tea, and water until I am ready to eat around 1 or 2 pm. I then eat two to three times – 2 big meals and 1 snack.

Advantages

There are many advantages of intermittent fasting. It is a simple way of eating. You do not have to plan ahead for multiple snacks during the day. You are also forced to plan large, healthy meals in order to get all of your nutrients for the day. This will leave you feeling full and happy. You can also tailor this plan to your needs. If you cannot delay breakfast, that is okay. Just stop eating earlier and you will still get the benefits of a fast.

Intermittent fasting is also a simple way to stay in a caloric deficit, which is the best way to lose weight. It is much easier to hit a caloric deficit if you are only eating for 8 hours out of the day.

Many people find that they are more focused and productive when fasting. You can streamline your mornings because there is no worry about breakfast preparation. You can just wake up and get to work. You will feel more clear headed and have more energy. Science backs up these claims too! Intermittent fasting makes you healthier and feel younger.

Intermittent fasting can change your life. By controlling the times when you eat, you are no longer a slave to food. You can plan your days more easily and not worry constantly about getting hungry, finding food, and then making unhealthy choices because you waited too long and ate anything you could find. Remember to start slowly and build your way up to a 16 hour fast. Be consistent and you will find your body adapted and ready to go in a few weeks.