Intermittent fasting can be a real struggle for so many people. I get asked more often than not how to practice this eating protocol. Today, I am giving you some tips on how to survive your first and subsequent days of intermittent fasting.
I know that feeling when you have decided to fast and you are revving to go. The day starts off well until about 7 AM ( or maybe your usual morning coffee or breakfast time). It seems like you are about to faint. Not to worry dear Mama, you got this.
It is quite easier than you think. All you really need to do is PREPARE for it mentally. Get the drinks you’ll need ready and then replace your food with calorie-free drinks each time you are hungry or weak. But before we go into details let me tell you a bit about my fasting history.
My History with Fasting
My first encounter with Intermittent fasting was from childhood as a Christian. Growing up then, I recall the first Friday of every month being declared a prayer and fasting day. We would then be in church as early as 6 a.m. without breakfast until 12:00 noon after which we would rush home to eat the first meal of the day.
Over the years, I joined a different Christian denomination and got more involved with fasting. My denomination is quite known for prolonged fasting periods. We have even been known to take on 100 days of fasting. Of course, we fast from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. All these while, I had been practicing intermittent fasting unknowingly.
Introduction to the Intermittent Fasting Protocol
A few years ago, I was in India for a couple of months and met with some friends who are Hindus or practice the Hindu religion. This was my official introduction to the intermittent fasting. I was told that they had a weekly eating protocol where a 36-hour window of not eating is set aside weekly which is called puja or special prayers, they would have to undergo a 36-hour fasting.
I was also told the tremendous health benefit of such an eating protocol. That quickly made me understand why there were so many strong and healthy grand-parents in that culture as opposed to ours.
We are also familiar with the Moslem Ramadan fast which is also a kind of Intermittent Fasting.
I’m basically saying that fasting a not a new concept, most of us have had to practice this for religious reasons. So what really then is Intermittent fasting?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern/protocol that has to do with when (the time) you eat. In this pattern/protocol of eating, there is an eating window and a fasting window.
The Eating window
The eating window refers to the hours in a day when you are permitted to have food. It’s a window (an opening) to eat. Depending on the type of intermittent fasting you are practicing, it could be 8 hours, 6 hours or even 2 hours within the 24 hours of the day.
To achieve weight loss, you’ll need to achieve a caloric deficit
The Fasting window.
The fasting window, on the other hand, is the period when you should FAST or NOT have food. It could also be as long as 24 hours, 20 hours and even 16 hours. Also depends on the type of intermittent fasting you are practicing.
A quick note here
There are certain drinks that are allowed during the fasting window. Any drink that has ZERO calories are allowed during the fasting window. You can have
NO SUGAR ALLOWED
Types of intermittent fasting
According to healthline.com, there are about 6 types of Intermittent Fasting:-
1. The Leangains Protocol – 16 hour / 8 hour Method
This is one of the most popular methods and especially recommended for women. In this method, you fast for 16 hours and then have all your meals for the day within 8 hours.
You basically have an eating window of 8 hours where you can have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner within those 8 hours.
The easiest way to handle it is to have your last meal at about 8 pm and go to bed. By 8 am the following morning, you are actually 12 hours into your fast. Skip breakfast and take your first meal by 12 noon. So you have fasted for 16 hours from 8 pm the previous day till 12 noon. Now you can have your meals from 12 noon till 8 pm (8 hours eating window).
You just have to figure out the 16-hour fasting window and the 8-hour eating window that is best for you.
Remember, to maintain a healthy diet during your eating window.
2. The 5:2 Diet – Fast for 2 days per week
This type of Intermittent fasting just as the name implies requires you to fast for two days of the week while eating as you normally would for the rest of the five days of the week.
On the fasting day, you would reduce your calorie intake to about 500.
So, you just pick on any two days of the week, not necessarily two consecutive days let’s say a Tuesday and Saturday to take one meal of about 500 calories.
3. Eat-Stop-Eat – Do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week.
This type of fasting involves staying off food for 24 hours once or twice a week. A 24-hour Fasting window done once or twice a week.
All you need do is choose when your fast take off time would be. If you are starting at 8 AM say after breakfast, then no food till 8 AM the following day. That’s it. The fast take off time is entirely up to you. It could be 8 PM on a Sunday till 8 PM the next day being Monday.
4. Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast every other day.
This is quite an extreme kind of fast. A 24-hour eating window followed by a 24-hour fasting window all through the week.
Remember, you can have your calorie-free drinks all through your fasting window.
5. The Warrior Diet: Fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night.
This is sometimes called the one meal a day eating protocol. You fast all through the day and eat one heavy meal at night.
6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip meals when convenient.
In this method, you simply skip one or two meals when you just don’t feel like eating.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Just in the event, you are wondering why you need to take on this method of eating ( or rather staying off from food). There are so many reasons and several benefits of including fasting in your diet.
- Weight Loss
- Increased Metabolism
- Longer Lifespan
- The Potential to Boost the Capacity of the Brain
- Reduce Inflammation
- Increased Immunity
- Survival of cells when under metabolic distress
Read more details of the benefits of Intermittent fasting here
Intermittent Fasting for Weight L
It has become increasingly popular to add intermittent fasting to our arsenal of tools for weight loss. The reason being that it’s actually been proven to boost weight loss by 3.6 to 15%.
The scientific basis for this is that when you fast, there are 3 hormones that are affected in the the body.
1. The Human Growth hormone (HGH)
This hormone supports fat loss, muscle gain and many other functions in the body. HGH is known to increase by a whopping 500% during a fast which will invariably lead to weight loss. Not just weight loss but the good kind – fat loss and muscle gain.
Insulin is released in the body when we eat food, especially food that contain carbohydrate. When we fast, insulin production is drastically reduced. And the body will be forced into using energy from fat stored in the body. This results in a fat burning effect on the body.
High insulin levels in the body makes your body store fat – weight gain. While low levels of insulin (achieved through fasting) makes your body burn fat. This leads to weight loss as well.
3. Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline)
During a fast, the body also releases more of norepinephrine. This hormone heads to the fat cells and converts them into free fatty acids which the body uses as a source of energy.
So the increase in norepinephrine levels in the body during fasting acts as a fat burner and leads to weight loss.
NOTE THAT TO ACHIEVE WEIGHT LOSS THROUGH INTERMITTENT FASTING, THERE HAS TO BE A CALORIE DEFICIT IN YOUR DAILY DIET.
Intermittent Fasting and Ketogenic Diet
How to Survive your First Day of Intermittent Fasting
With all you have learned, especially about the weight loss benefits of Intermittent fasting, I’m positive you can’t wait to get started. Here are some tips that are sure to help you survive the first few days.
1. Plan and prepare ahead of time
Planning they say is the key to success. If you are to succeed in intermittent fasting, you have to put things in place.
First of all, rid your fridge, pantry and environs of snacks that could easily make you fall. You’ll need to stay away from the bakery especially. We all know the temptation of the aroma of freshly baked bread. Don’t put yourself in a tight corner!
Secondly, you’ll need to go grocery shopping for the drinks you’ll take during the fast.
- Green tea
- Apple Cider Vinegar etc
Any drinks that are free of calories – remember, you don’t want your body’s production of insulin to be increased. No calories whatsoever during your fast.
Green tea is especially helpful as an appetite suppressant. Click here to read about how to use green tea the right way to achieve weight loss.
2. Prepare iced green tea a day before you start the fast.
Learn how to prepare iced tea by watching the video below.
3. Begin over the weekend.
It is best to start during the weekend. The reasons being that you are probably off work and less busy, therefore requiring less energy. If you start at the beginning of the week, you might give up due to excessive weakness especially when you are not used to fasting.
4. Start the day drinking a cup of hot green tea with a few slices of lemon.
I find that this warms up my belly and actually fills me up both psychologically and otherwise. It fills like you’ve had breakfast and most times I don’t even remember Im fasting till about 10 am or 11 am. Besides, this helps a great deal with digestion.
5. Drink water or iced green tea every hour
Additionally, it also helps to take a fasting compliant drink every hour or so. You don’t want to allow your self to feel any hunger pangs for any reason.
6. Replace sugar with healthy food substitutes
Also, remember to replace sugar with calorie-free healthy substitutes like stevia. We don’t want any insulin spikes during the fast. But your best option is to train your taste buds not to need sweeteners.
Weight loss Results from Intermittent Fasting
The secret to successful intermittent fasting days – Calorie-free drinks as often as you want during your fasting window. This keeps you filling full and hunger pangs far away from you.
Intermittent fasting, when done correctly can enhance weight loss by as much as 3 – 15%. It is therefore advisable to add it to your arsenal of tools for a successful weight loss program.
A word of caution though, Intermittent fasting does NOT replace your diet. If you eat in excess, you might even put on weight! The ketogenic diet is a great diet plan and here is a free meal plan for you.
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To your success!