Have you wanted to start your intermittent fasting journey but don’t know how to begin? This step-by-step post will explain the basic rules and schedules so you can start today!
With so much conflicting information online, it’s hard to know what might be applicable to your personal goals. The information below is written for people like myself, that want to incorporate intermittent fasting as part of their overall health and wellness lifestyle.
First, you should consult a licensed medical physician before jumping into intermittent fasting. IF isn’t for everyone, and therefore, it’s something to discuss with a licensed professional.
The purpose of this post is to give you a simplified version of how to get started with intermittent fasting and explain the rules and schedules; it is not to provide any professional/medical advice.
Intermittent Fasting 101
Intermittent fasting is not a weight loss plan. Intermittent fasting is the practice of alternating when you eat and when you don’t eat. Fasting is when you refrain from eating; so intermittent fasting is a pattern in which fasting (not eating) and eating is cycled.
The hours you fast and your fasting period, depend on the fasting schedule you choose to practice. More on this below.
Keeping a few simple fasting rules in mind, like adhering to a fasting schedule, not eating or drinking any calories during fasting, and eating during your eating window only, will ensure IF success.
Even if you’ve heard that intermittent fasting is good for weight loss, you do not want to restrict your total caloric intake for the day. You want to make sure you provide your body with the nutrition it needs to thrive.
While there are no rules about the types of foods to consume, I suggest pairing intermittent fasting with a nutritious and varied diet for optimal health benefits.
Beginner Schedule for Intermittent Fasting
The most popular beginner schedule for intermittent fasting is referred to as the 16:8 intermittent fasting schedule. This is where you refrain from eating for 16 hours and stick to eating all of your meals during an 8-hour window.
The reason this is the most popular is because most people choose to start their fast after their evening meal, take up some of the time in their sleep, and then break their fast sometime late morning or at lunch.
It’s also the easiest to incorporate into a busy schedule. That said, check out this post for everything you need to know to set up an intermittent fasting schedule that works best for you.
When Does the Body Start Burning Fat During Fasting?
Depending on the types of foods you consume, the body starts burning fat during fasting after 12 to 14 hours into a fast.
After 12 hours of fasting (not eating), our bodies begin to enter a state of ketosis, where it begins to burn fat for fuel (what people call the fat-burning state).
That said, you do not need to practice a ketogenic or low-carb diet to benefit from this fat-burning state. All you have to do is follow a fasting schedule of at least 12 to 14 hours to feel the benefits.
How Long Does it Take for Intermittent Fasting to Work?
Most people begin to experience mental benefits from intermittent fasting within a couple of days and physical benefits (weight loss, less bloating, etc) after ten days of intermittent fasting.
Research shows that it can take up to a month for the body to adjust to intermittent fasting, it all depends on other lifestyle factors such as diet quality, sleep, and physical exercise.
How Will I Feel When I Start Intermittent Fasting?
While most people feel an improved ability to focus during their fasting period, others can experience headaches from a drastic reduction in caloric intake.
The best way to eliminate those pesky headaches people complain about with intermittent fasting is to make sure you plan your meals and don’t reduce the quality of food and give your body the calories it needs.
The first couple of days you might feel less bloated and make more frequent trips to the bathroom due to additional water intake during your fasting window.
Can You Eat Anything While Intermittent Fasting?
You can eat a variety of nutritious foods during intermittent fasting without restricting food groups. Most people seek the help of intermittent fasting to aid in weight loss, so it’s important to mention that the best way to make sure you give your body the nutrition it needs is through a variety of healthy foods.
In this post, you’ll find a complete list of what you can eat or drink while intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting meal plan PDF
The best way to achieve your health and weight loss goals while intermittent fasting is to follow a meal plan.
Regardless of how long your fasting window is, planning your meals is a great step toward sticking with intermittent fasting long-term.
Here is what one of my 7-day meal plans looks like:
If you love the way this meal plan is laid out and want help getting started with intermittent fasting, you’ll love my Intermittent Fasting eBook For Women.
Intermittent Fasting Book + Meal Plan
Everything you need to jumpstart your intermittent fasting journey: full eBook, meal plan, plus recipes!