How to start intermittent fasting?

Posted by Wen Dan Jiang on

How to start intermittent fasting?

If you are thinking about losing some weight through following a diet, you might have done a little search and come to note other people are searching for “how to start intermittent fasting.” The term intermittent fasting in itself is highly intimidating for a lot of people wanting to lose weight. This is because the diet plan often leaves the impression that one has to starve oneself literally all of the time to get to the perfect weight goal. But on getting to the details, you will come to know it is pretty much different from what is instilled in your mind through the media and social media. 

With just a little attention to the details, you can know how to start intermittent fasting and how to make the most out of it without having to starve yourself to the point where everything seems to be unbearable for you. 

History of intermittent fasting 

Intermittent fasting has its roots from ancient times, especially in highly religious and cultural groups where it was perceived as a way to wash off your sins, make sacrifices to earn good, or to attain internal peace with yourself as seen in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. Whatever the religious or cultural aspects are attached to it, and whatever might be the actual goal, one thing stands common in all different groups, intermittent fasting is done – weight loss. This is why advanced societies and even communities who are not belonging to such groups are beginning to use it as a diet plan to lose weight. 

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What is intermittent fasting?

In easy terms, intermittent fasting involves putting yourself in a restricted diet mode until your body begins to consume its energy from means other than the food it consumes – your excess fat. This way, as you go through long periods of the day with calorie restriction, your fat reserves begin to melt, and as a result, you lose weight to a significant value. This is the underlying principle of this diet. 

A long span of time is selected, generally eighteen hours out of the total hours of the day, in which you have to restrict yourself from consuming any food. After the time has passed, you allow yourself to consume food within the span of the remaining hours left in a day, which makes six hours in total.

How can intermittent fasting benefit me?

Intermittent fasting implies a number of benefits to the body that goes beyond the realm of weight loss. Not only do you burn off excess fat, but your cellular health also improves amazingly, and your body shifts to an energy source switch. 

  • Improved insulin sensitivity: Your body becomes more able to metabolize glucose, which improves the functioning of your pancreas. In return, your insulin sensitivity increases. With better insulin sensitivity, you have better glucose levels in your blood that stay in a healthy range.
  • Lower blood pressure: one of the best reasons for knowing how to start intermittent fasting is to realize that it visibly improves your blood pressure levels. That is why it is great for people who often complain of high blood pressure. 
  • Improved mental health: scientific studies reveal how intermittent fasting helps you think more clearly and stay active throughout the day. Also, it helps you get rid of the mood swings you get from consuming too many carbs and sugar throughout the day that also make you sluggish. 
  • Improved immune system: you will note as you keep on following the diet, your body’s natural ability to fight against diseases will become better. This is because when you are fasting, your body begins to heal and builds up resistance against inflammatory agents that cause damage to your body. Also, the decreased fat ultimately means you have a lower content of free radicals inside your body.

Other benefits include reduced oxidative stress, increased autophagy, and sustainable fat loss. 

How do I start intermittent fasting?

If an 18-hour fast plan overwhelms you, which is fair, start by avoiding eating anything for at least 12 hours. This can be made possible if you get up in the morning and consume breakfast. Suppose you wake up at 8 am, try to consume around 800 kCals from 8 am to 8 pm by taking small, frequent meals. Be careful about consuming refined carbs and trans fats as they are not recommended in any way if you want to lose your weight and maintain health. Stop eating anything after 8 pm, and from 8 pm till midnight, avoid eating. Go to bed as the clock strikes 12. This way, you only get to stay awake without food for four hours, while you spend the rest of the time of your intermittent fasting by sleeping. Sounds easy, right?

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Continue this pattern for four to five days and then move on to the next phase, where you have to fast for fifteen to sixteen hours while restricting your calories from 800 to around 700. It will be a little challenging at the start, but the key is to take a frequent supply of high nutrient food when you are allowed to eat. Instead of taking larger portions, take smaller portions and focus on eating healthy foods. 

When you are done with your 16-hour fast, and you feel like you have built enough resistance, it is time to move to the actual challenge – the eighteen-hour diet challenge. For that, try skipping your breakfast and start consuming your meals from midday to supper time. Try eating foods totaling up to a minimum of 500 to a maximum of 650 kcals in that portion. Fast for the rest of the time and try sleeping for no less than eight hours. 

These were some essential steps that can help you get the weight you want, but if you want a sustainable loss, you should try some alternate scheduling to make sure your body does not get rewound once it is no more subjected to this diet. This is when you fast on alternate days and consume a calorie-restricted diet throughout the other days of the week. Most experts believe fasting twice or thrice a week is enough to get the desired results. 

What precautions do I need to take?

Your body enters a drastic shift once it gets to an extremely low-calorie food. No matter how careful you are in terms of eating high nutrient food, you cannot get enough nutrients just from taking 500 calories a day. So, supplementation might become important for you if you are already nutrient deficient. 

Also, make sure you do not exceed staying on a severe calorie restriction like this for more than twice or thrice a week as such a prolonged change in the metabolism can cause harmful changes such as ketoacidosis and low sugar levels. 

Always consult a doctor and a nutritionist before going to such a drastic diet plan as any underlying medical condition might not render your body suitable for this plan. For example, patients with diabetes type 1 cannot go under such calorie-restricted durations or else they will get severe hypoglycemic effects such as fainting. 

If you are immunocompromised, such as in Cancer condition, you have to avoid such a calorie deficit diet as your body needs a constant supply of energy and nutrient-rich to maintain health and your symptoms. 

What else do I need to do?

Before getting on such a diet, always make sure if you are physically and mentally fit for taking such a step. That is why you must take the help of a professional first. Also, get groceries rich in nutrients and avoid taking processed and refined products as they will not only hinder the effect of weight loss but also leave a negative impact on your health. So, always make sure you are getting it right. 

Diet, Calorie Counter, Weight Loss

Also, you need to set a schedule and a set plan for following this diet. Just like the keto diet, you can follow an intermittent fasting diet plan for a month to the most, after which you will have to slowly yet steadily increase your calorie intake. For example, if you had an estimated calorie intake of 2000 kcal according to your healthy BMI and you have gone to a calorie restriction up to 600 kcal through this diet, you need to slowly increase your calorie intake from 600 to 1000 kcal in the two weeks succeeding the diet, and then take it to 1800 kcal till the end of the month. This way, you will slowly come back to normal, and your weight will not be gained like before. 

 Final word

We hope this article helped you gain a good understanding of weight loss tips and tricks needed in following intermittent fasting. When you know how to start intermittent fasting and take all important precautions associated with it, you can achieve the weight that you have always dreamed of. The key is to always remain positive and consistent while following any diet plan, including this one. 

References

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