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Ever since BBC Journalist Michael Mosley released his TV documentary “Eat, Fast, Live Longer,” Intermittent fasting (IF) has been all the rage. Celebrities like Gary Vee, Hugh Jackman, Joe Rogan, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, and countless others swear by it. And not without good reason.
Not only can Intermittent Fasting help you lose weight while holding onto as much muscle as possible. It has many other potential health benefits. It’s dead-easy for someone who has never fasted before. And unlike many diets, you’re still free to eat whatever you want.
So— if you’re new to IF— and want to learn how you can make it a part of your daily life, then keep reading.
I’ll explain WHY Intermittent Fasting is so effective for weight loss. What possible health benefits you can expect from fasting. What the different types of IF are.
Which of these types is the best option if you’re a beginner. And I’ve made a great 7-day meal plan for beginners with 7 different recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
A common misconception about Intermittent Fasting is that it’s a diet. It’s not a diet, but a dieting pattern. Because Intermittent fasting doesn’t restrict you from eating certain foods or food groups. Instead, it’s the WHEN that’s important.
See, the main goal of Intermittent Fasting is not to consume anything that contains calories for long periods of time. Basically, you alternate cycles of eating with cycles of fasting. Depending on the type IF, this could mean two things:
1) Eating all your meals in a specific window of time during the day.
2) Or eating nothing to very little on certain days of the week.
This does— by the way— not mean you can eat as much as you want during your eating cycles. You still need to pay close attention to how much calories you consume.
In most types of IF, you’re still allowed to drink during your fasting cycles. But ONLY drinks that contain 0 calories (and don’t raise your insulin levels.
What you can drink includes.
- Tea without sugar or milk
- Black coffee
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Stevia (Limit the intake)
What you can’t drink includes:
- Almond milk (or any nut milk, even unsweeten)
- Bone broth
- Bulletproof coffee (Unless black coffee)
- Fruit juice
- Lemon water
Why does Intermittent Fasting help you lose weight?
Let me explain this process:
The food you eat gets broken down by enzymes in your gut. Sugar is one of the nutrients it gets broken down to. This sugar plays a crucial role in your body: It’s used to supply you with energy.
But here’s the thing: Most of the time, you make more sugar than the amount of energy you need. What happens to the sugar that’s not needed?
Your body stores it as fat, so you have energy at your disposal at a later time. Insulin plays a vital role in this process. It’s needed to bring the sugar into your fat cells and keep it there.
Because you’re not eating anything on a fast, your insulin level goes down. As a result, fat cells will release stored sugar to be used as energy. And, voila, you lose weight.
But Intermittent fasting has also shown to affect other hormones:
- Human growth hormone (HGH): Levels of growth hormone can increase as much as 5x during a fast. HGH is a hormone that aids fat loss and muscle gain, among other things .
- Norepinephrine (noradrenaline): The nervous system sends norepinephrine to the fat cells. This makes them break down body fat into free fatty acids. And these free fatty acids are burned for energy,
- Ghrelin: Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone” because it tells you when you’re hungry. Some research has shown IF can decrease Ghrelin.
- Leptin: Leptin is known as the “satiety hormone” because it lets you know when you’re full. Some research has shown IF can increase Leptin.
What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Because of all these different effects, Intermittent Fasting has been a popular research topic for years.
Researches on both animals and humans have highlighted many potential health benefits:
- It could help you lose weight: Intermittent fasting can help you burn more fat. It can lower your appetite. It can boost your metabolism. And all WITHOUT negatively affecting your energy level.
- It could increase your lifespan: A study with mice has shown that those who ate one meal per day had a longer lifespan. But also, a better outlook on common age-related liver disease and metabolic disorders.
- It could lower your risk of type 2 diabetes: Being overweight/obese is one of the main reasons why people develop type 2 diabetes. Research has shown Intermittent fasting decreases blood glucose and insulin levels in those at risk.
- It improves your cardiovascular health: Intermittent Fasting could lead to a reduction in blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood that’s linked to heart disease.)
- It could improve your brain health: IF also has promising effects on brain health. Mice that were chronically fasting have been shown to have a better learning memory. And it could also reduce the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and strokes.
What are the different types of Intermittent fasting
Now that you know all the health benefits, you’re probably starting to wonder what ways you can do Intermittent Fasting. There are many ways to do IF.
But here are some of the most common ones:
1. The 12-hour fast: The 12-hour fast is one of the easiest types of IF. All you have to do is eat ALL of your meals within a 12-hour timeframe. So, if you eat breakfast at 8:00AM? You would have your last meal at 8:00 PM.
2.The 16/8 Method: The 16/8 method is similar to a 12-hour fast. But, instead, you take all your meals within an 8-hour timeframe. This can easily be achieved by skipping breakfast. So, for example, if you eat your first meal at 12, you would eat your last meal at 8:00 PM.
3. Eat-Stop-Eat: Do one or two 24-hour fasts each week. For example, not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
4. Alternate-day fasting: Alternate-day fasting (ADF) is where you have a fast day where you consume only 25 % of your normal caloric intake. On this day, you avoid sugars or starches and eat only protein, vegetables and healthy foods. You then have a “feed day” in which you can eat whatever you want.
5.The 5:2 Diet: On 5:2 diet you eat how you would normally do, but only consume around 500 – 600 calories on two days of the week.
Which type of Intermittent fasting is best for a beginner?
Choosing one of these methods can be a hard decision if you’re a beginner.
Here’s the main thing you have to take into consideration: If you’re not already used to depriving yourself of food? Doing one of the harder forms of IF—like the 5:2 diet—is probably a bad idea.
The last thing you want to happen is this:
- You can’t stop yourself from binge-eating after your fast.
- You end up eating way more calories than you actually need. And—as a result—your attempt to fast has the opposite effect: You gain weight.
Instead, consider doing one of the easier ways of IF.
Specifically, the 12-hour fast is a great option. Usually, this would mean you only have to stop yourself from eating late in the evening. And taking late-night snacks.
7-day Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan For Beginners
Now that you know which type of IF is the best for a beginner. Maybe you’re still having a hard time deciding what to eat.
Here are 7 meals you can eat after your fast.
These delicious, healthy meals are sure to keep you full and energized after your fast. So, losing weight will become a piece of cake.
Intermittent Fasting Breakfast Recipes
Day 1: Basic Oatmeal Recipe
Day 2: Basic French Omelet Recipe
Day 3: Porridge with blueberry compote
Day 4: Veggie breakfast bakes
Day 5: Avacado toast with sunny side egg
Day 6: Simple breakfast quesadillas
Day 7: Hummus toast with scrambled eggs
Intermittent Fasting Lunch Recipes
Day 1: Spinach and cheddar microwave quiche
Day 2: Kiwi parfait with Greek yogurt
Day 3: Cheesy Spinach Baked Eggs
Day 4: Blueberry Almond overnight oats
Day 5: Marta Rose Schulmans scrambled eggs with mushrooms
Day 6: Sunbutter toast
Day 7: Quinoa fruit salad
Intermittent Fasting Dinner Recipes
Day 1: One Pot Chicken Rice and Vegetables
Day 2: One Pot Ground Beef And Potatoes
Day 3: Penne Rosa
Day 4: Mexican bean soup with guacamole
Day 5: Chicken Corma
Day 6: Poached salmon with tarragon
Day 7: Spicy meatballs with chilli black beans
Well, there you have it.
Everything you need to know to start fasting today, rather than tomorrow. And easily shed the pounds. I’m sure you will enjoy Intermittent Fasting as much as I do.
But if— in any case—you’re having a hard time during a fast.
Always remember this: Fasting of the body is food for the soul. Happy fasting!
Founder of EWS. Research writer and test performance hacker, avid intermittent faster, and weight loss specialist. Improve your health and torch fat by downloading the 31 Day Fasting Method.