Would it be silly to ask if you were interested in increasing your lifespan? How about turning up the dial on your focus and energy levels? If I told you this was all possible while trimming down your waist line you might wonder what I was selling. Though a large chunk of you reading this are well of some of the benefits when it comes to intermittent fasting.
My History with Intermittent Fasting
Its been just over 4 years now since I adopted intermittent fasting into my life. I began with exploring the 16/8 method for a while before transitioning into the warrior diet (20/4). Though, I’ve also ventured into 22/2 and more 36 hour fasts than I can count.
Intermittent Fasting was the major tool that I used in the final phases of my weight loss transformation. A habit that provided me with an understanding of what was possible with change. A change that resulted in going far beyond that of altering my physical body.
One that helped me completely re-shape my self-image.
This is something that I hope for many of you to realize, because a transformation to any extent, starts with one step towards change.
I’ve crafted the following tips from my own challenges and success with intermittent fasting along with those that I’ve coached.
1. Choose Your Fasting & Feeding Window
Some people don’t realize that you can actually choose your eating window to fit within your schedule and needs. You don’t have to stick with the standard 12 to 8pm window that most people follow.
The best 8-hour eating window is the one that works for you. The one that will increase your chances of succeeding in adapting to your new fasting schedule.
To do this, ask yourself if you prefer to have your last meal earlier in the day or later in the evening.
Deciding on what you feel you can stick to for the first month will help you with adapting quicker.
Some options are:
- 8am – 4pm
- 12pm – 8pm
- 2pm – 10pm
And anything in between.
The Numbers 16/8, 20/4 or any other method, represent fasting and feeding windows. Unless we’re speaking about other styles of intermittent fasting, they always add up to a 24 hour cycle.
When starting this eating plan I always suggest the 16/8 method for two reasons;
Simplicity & Benefits
Simplicity because its easier to fast for 16 hours then it is to dive right into 18 or 20 hours daily. Though if this is difficult for you, then start with a 14/10 protocol.
In order to really experience a wider array of fasting benefits you need to hit the 16 hour mark. If you want to take advantage of cell autophogy and longevity the 16 hour target is where it’s at. The results actually start to exponentiate when exceeding the 16 hour fasting point.
2. Drink Lots Water During Your Fasting Window
This was likely obvious, but im still astonished as to how many people injest coffee in the morning before hydrating.
We easily lose a solid pound of water weight over night simply from the moisture we exhale.
Take advantage of your fasting time to hydrate. This can help to fill you up, somewhat aiding in supressing your appetite. Though more importantly, we can sometimes misinterpret dehydration signals as hunger.
Adding in a half lemon and quality salt will make a world of difference when it comes to hydrating.
3. Make sure you Are Eating Enough
In the first few weeks, do your best to eat a similar number of calories to what you were consuming before you started fasting. This will make it much easier and quicker to adapt to your new 16/8 schedule.
The sooner your body realizes that you are still eating a similar amount of calories, the quicker you’ll adapt.
Hunger hormones such as ghrelin, drop during the time you used to eat, triggering hunger during your new eating window. This is why once you’ve adapted, you’ll seldom, if ever experience hunger during your fasting window.
If you’re having a hard time with eating that much within your 8 hour window, do your best to not go lower than a 25% calorie deficit.
Keeping your calories as close as possible to what they were before will make the adaptation easier for you. And this will further help with sustainable long-term fat loss by delaying plateaus.
4. Break Your Fast With Whole foods
When you’re breaking your fast, it can be tempting to just stuff yourself with whatever food is accessable.
This is not a good idea.
Empty calories from junk food will not provide your body with the micro-nutrients it needs. This can result in a longer more difficult adaptation period.
Break your fast with lots of high fiber veggies and quality protein. This will provide you with adequate micronutrients making the following days fasting period much easier.
Now, I’m not saying you cant have any processed food. In fact, I believe its great to be flexible. Just make sure that a solid 80% of your calories are coming from whole-foods.
5. Avoid Telling People You’re Fasting
This tip may not have been so obvious. And while you may want to yell it out to the world, you could be met with a major lack of support.
You’re bound to come across friends or collegues that know about I-F and some that are even practicing it. However, you’re more likely to come across people that don’t understand it.
By telling people about it you increase the chances of not being supported, hearing their uninformed assumptions and naysaying.
This will not help.
During the first few weeks you’ll be changing more than just your eating schedule. You’re shifting your understanding and belief systems surrounding food that you grew up with all your life.
Simply put, until you see and experience the benefits of intermittent fasting, you’ll be in a vulnerable place that’s more susceptible to people’s ignorance.
So do yourself the favour of keeping it to yourself until you adapt and start experiencing the benefits. Then go right ahead blast it all over social media. You’ll be less vulnerable once you’ve shifted and built up your confidence with fasting.
6. Make the Committment to be Consistent
The more on point and consistent you are with your new fasting schedule, the sooner you will adapt.
Your brain will realize that you’re still giving it enough food, just at a different time of the day.
Once your body becomes familiar with this schedule, then instead of producing hunger signals it opens the gateway to burning fat as your fuel. This is when it becomes super easy. Your energy levels increase and hunger stays away.
If you don’t commit and move off track while you’re adapting, you’ll confuse your body. Resulting in a longer adaptation period, increasing your chances of giving up.
Let’s not ad to the number of people who “tried” it and concluded it wasnt for them.
Our bodies are adaptation machines designed to fast and feast for survival throughout our evolution. Yet, we’re only now becoming more aware of the benefits to fasting and calorie restriction.
Staying consistent with this for a minimum of 3 weeks will be a solid amount of time to transition and develop the habit.
7. Avoid ALL Calories When Fasting
It doesn’t take many calories to trigger an insulin response which will completely halt the fasting process.
In many instances, having less than 30 calories such as a splash of milk in your coffee won’t flip on your insulin switch. But for the sake of adapting to intermittent fasting quickly, make sure to avoid ALL calories during your fasting window.
If you do switch into a fed state (insulin on) then once your insulin drops, which will be quick; hunger signals will likely come roaring through.
This is another reason why you might hear “I tried that and it wasn’t for me.” People think they can eat an apple or load sugar and cream into their coffee while maintaining a fast.
Sorry, but it doesn’t work like that.
And for all you bullet proof heads, this means NO butter or MCT oil in your coffee 🙂
If this is something you cant go without then ensure its a very small amount. The average cup of bullet proof butter loaded coffee can exceed 400 calories!
You can drink plenty black coffee, tea, water and carbonated water.
Though you’ll want be extra cautious with 0 calorie drinks and chewing gum containing artificial sweeteners.
No I’m not going to dive into any conspiracies here… The trouble is that when your tongue signals something sweet to your brain but theres no glucose present this can bring about hunger. And possibly trigger an insulogenic response that would halt your fast.
When it comes to morning coffee, if you have a hard time with it on an empty stomach; L Theanine may work wonders for you as it did for me.
When are you Starting?
Whether youre interested in loosing a few inches off your waist, increasing your productivity and focus or living a longer healthier life; intermittent fasting is a great way to help you accomplish a variety of goals to level up your health.
Im my personal and coaching experience, these guildelines will provide you with a clear path to starting IF.
From there, experiment further to better harmonize with your schedule and maximise what you are looking to get out of it.
If you prefer to go over these tips visually, my YouTube video will help you out with that.
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