You’re interested in starting intermittent fasting or maybe you have a family member or friend that’s interested in starting it?
Well, this complete guide of intermittent fasting is going to be your entire overview. It’s going to give you everything you need to know to get started with intermittent fasting. So the cool thing is intermittent fasting is really easy to get started on. Now, the caveat is there are some little intricacies that you need to be paying attention to.
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Firstly, what is intermittent fasting and why you shouldn’t overthink it. We’re going to talk about the basic benefits. Not going to spend a whole lot of time on that, because if you’re here, you’re probably already interested in your curiosity has been piqued because you know someone that has had crazy success with it.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
First and foremost. So simply put, intermittent fasting isn’t a diet. Intermittent fasting is a meal timing plan. So basically what you’re doing is you’re focusing on a specific period of time in which you are abstaining from food and abstaining from calories. And then you have a set period of time in which you consolidate all of your food, all of your calories. So you’re basically going for an extended period of time and not eating, fasting, and then you’re going into a period of time where you are eating your food window. So one of the biggest problems that people make with fasting is they overthink it. They tend to complicate things. And it’s human nature for us to do that. So you really need to keep it very, very simple. Intermittent fasting is just not eating for a set period of time and then consolidating your calories. There’s a lot of different intricacies in between, but for all intents and purposes, that’s the goal.
So let’s briefly talk about the benefits. There are huge physical benefits, and that’s probably the main reason that people are attracted to intermittent fasting. Physical benefits include dramatic, dramatic fat loss, all while maintaining muscle, also increasing muscle tone, increasing muscle density. And there’s some other general things like actually improving your vascular function as well that can improve your look. So in addition to helping out your skin, helping out your appearance in that regard, there are other benefits, too, like your nails, your hair, all kinds of things, simply because of the nutrient uptake that occurs. So without going into exquisite detail, basically you have these physiological functions that occur mainly because of the release of what are called catecholamines, adrenaline, norepinephrine, stuff like that, that allow your body to tap into fat stores and preserve muscle when you go. Extended period of time, it allows your body to start tapping into its fat reserves, plain and simple. The cool thing is you have a lot of different hormone functions that are preventing you from burning up or losing muscle.
So you get all the benefits of fat loss without losing your muscle. I digress a little bit. Then we have the mental benefits. You see, what ends up happening is when you’re on any kind of fasting protocol, you’re going an extended period of time without eating. When you go an extended period of time without eating, your brain goes into somewhat of a survival mode. Now, this sounds bad, but it’s actually good because what ends up happening is when your brain goes into survival mode, it gets hyper focused, very, very focused, because it preserves the energy into whatever the task is at hand. So instead of having all of these extra thoughts, you’re able to focus on what you really want to focus on. And in today’s society, it’s very difficult to find true focus. So fasting is very powerful for that.
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It also allows you to produce what are called ketone bodies. You may have heard of ketosis before, but it actually doesn’t really necessarily mean the same thing as it does with fasting. Your body produces ketones, which are tremendous brain fuel.
Then we have the cellular rejuvenation side. Maybe you’re here because you’re interested in the cellular benefits, the overall health benefits of intermittent fasting. You see what happens in your fasting if something occurs in your body known as autophagy. Autophagy is the process where old cells get eaten up by newer cells and it consolidates them into stronger, more powerful, efficient cells. So therefore, making your skin glow better, making you live longer and improving all kinds of organ function. So you combine these together, you can see why your friends and family might be pushing you to try intermittent fasting.
How do you start fasting?
So let’s go ahead and let’s get into the details so you can actually get started on your fasting journey. All right, how do you start a fast now, I don’t literally mean how do you start fasting? That part’s pretty simple. You just stop eating and you’re fast has begun. But what you eat leading into a fast can make a big difference. For example, if you eat something that’s higher in fiber, it’s going to put you in a situation where you’re a little bit more satiated. So I usually recommend consuming a higher fiber meal prior to starting your fast. So if you’re going to be fasting from, let’s say, 10:00 pm the night before, all the way through to maybe 2:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. the next day at 10:00 pm, you may want to have a little bit of fiber, maybe some psyllium husk, maybe some vegetables that have a little bit more fiber, because what it’s going to do is it’s going to allow you to stay satiated for a longer period of time.
You’re still going to get all the metabolic benefits. But as far as your hunger is concerned, you’re not going to get these stomach rallies. You’re not going to get all of that. It’s going to help you out a lot. I also recommend having a little bit of fats. Fats, of course, are going to digest a little bit slower, but they’re also going to leak free fatty acids into your bloodstream a little bit more. So you’re able to produce those ketone bodies I talked about. So a little bit of fat, a little bit of fiber, a little bit of protein. Really pretty simple. You don’t have to overthink it. So a little bit of broccoli with some coconut oil might just be the perfect match for you.
How long should they actually fast?
Now, the next thing that people like to know is how long should they actually fast when you’re facing the benefit that you’re trying to achieve is usually dictated by how long your fast is.
So what I mean by that is the shorter the fast, you’re going to be able to get some body composition effects, but the longer that you fast you tap more into the cellular rejuvenation effects. So what I usually recommend people do is start off with a 16 hour fast. This is known as 16 eight fasting. So basically, what it means is you’re fasting for 16 hours and then you have an eight hour eating window.
Now, most of us aren’t awake for twenty four hours straight. So that eight hour eating window doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be eating the entire eight hours. If you were to fast for 16 hours, you might be awake for four or five of the eight hour eating window, which works out perfectly because it allows you to restrict your calories a little bit more and get more of a metabolic effect.
So 16 hours is the bare minimum. You see, after 16 hours, you start to have an exponential benefit every hour. So 16 hours is where the benefits of fasting really start. So if you’re fasting less than 16 hours, you’re still getting a good benefit, but you’re not getting the same kind of intermittent fasting benefits that occur in the way of autophagy and really occur in the way of the cellular rejuvenation that start at six hours. So I recommend starting 16 and working your way up to 18 or 20. Personally, I’m a fan of 20 hour fast, but that’s a hard pill to swallow for someone that’s just getting started.
16 hours is very acceptable, pretty darn easy to do. An example of that would be stopping your eating at 10 pm and then going to bed and then waking up and not eating until 2:00 p.m. That’s 16 hours. That’s really not that bad. Then you go ahead and you just eat whatever you need to between two and say six, seven, eight, nine, 10 p.m. again. So you’re really in this perfect situation, the perfect setup of fasting and eating windows. And again, you don’t have to eat throughout the entire eight hour eating window.
What you can consume during your fast?
The next thing that you need to know is what you can consume during your fast. And this is very important because a lot of times, once you get started fasting, you’re going to want to start exploring a little bit. You’re going to get curious about different things. So I figured I’d give you the breakdown of the things that you truly can consume without any hiccup whatsoever. All right. So you can consume black coffee, don’t add a sweetener to it and don’t add any creamer to it. Black coffee in and of itself is very, very powerful. And it actually has some effects on autophagy, meaning it actually speeds up the process of your cells recycling each other. There’s actually a study was published in the journal Cell Cycle that found that the polyphenols in coffee, whether it was decaf or caffeinated, actually encouraged cells to recycle and go through autophagy much more so than those that didn’t have coffee.
Now, additionally, coffee has a little bit of caffeine in it. And believe it or not, caffeine supports your fast. Caffeine not only helps boost fat loss, but it also supports autophagy as well. So it helps the cellular rejuvenation effects. So black coffee is great. The issue is once you add the sweetener to it, whether it’s artificial sweetener that doesn’t have calories or not, it can trigger an insulin response. The other thing that you can consume is to go ahead and have to eat. You’re totally fine.
You can have black tea, you can have green tea, just no sweetener and no creamer in it.
A lot of people are probably wondering, what about bulletproof coffee or bulletproof tea?
We are adding the butter coconut oil to your coffee. Keep that out of the equation to have a good fast. You shouldn’t have any calories coming in. It should just be basic tea or basic coffee. Now, diet sodas are a little bit of a gray area. Diet sodas you can have every once in a while. But the thing is, the artificial sweeteners can still trigger an insulin spike. That insulin spike can screw up your fast just because it triggers a metabolic response. So if you’re going to have a soda, I recommend having something that’s sweetened with stevia.
So you’re at least getting a natural sweetener that is zero calorie versus bringing in something that’s completely artificial and going to trigger what’s called an cytotoxic response within your brain.
Water is obviously OK.
You can consume as much water as you want to unless you’re specifically doing a drive fast, which I will talk about in a moment.
Now, additionally, I don’t think that you should be consuming any bone broth or anything like that. Some people think you should be consuming broth during an intermittent fast, but there are specific types of fasting that will allow that. Then it comes down to like your pre workouts and your beka’s and things like that. I would not recommend consuming pre workout during a fast. I would recommend leading on coffee whenever possible and don’t consume your branch chain amino acids. And here’s the thing. The branching amino acids can actually break your fast. So just keep them out of the equation because honestly, you’re going to preserve muscle either way because you’re in a fast state where the physiology is working to your advantage. Now we get into how to break your fast. Now, this is where there are a lot of different methodologies. I’m a big fan of taking care of your insides first. You can’t get in good shape. You can’t look amazing and feel amazing if you’re not taking care of your organs.
So I’m a big fan of breaking a fast with some kind of bone broth. OK, when you break your fast of bone broth, it allows the collagen to help restore the gut. A lot of times when you’re fasting, you end up weakening temporarily the mucosal layer, OK, this mucosal layer is what protects you from any kind of acid or any kind of just damage in the gut. So if you consume some bone broth, it can make it so that the gut can actually absorb things better. So you don’t need much for six ounces. But I highly recommend no matter the length of your fast, if you break your fast with some bone broth, it helps you out a lot. Then after that, it’s very, very important that you’re not combining fat. With carbs, that is rule number one. OK, so as long as you’re not combining fats with carbs, I’m really OK with whatever you do. Again, there are some intricacies. But for all intents and purposes, for the sake of this overview, you don’t want to mix fats and carbs because what happens is carbs cause an insulin spike. This insulin spike causes the cells to be very receptive to retrieve whatever you just consume so you can kind of do the math. If you consume carbs that trigger insulin, the cell opens, OK, if you’ve consumed fat at the same time, the carbs go into the cell, so does the fat.
If you consume carbs by themselves, just the carbs go in. If you consume fat by itself, fat doesn’t even trigger an insulin response. So you’re not getting the cell to open. So just don’t combine fats with carbs either have carbs and protein or fats and protein, but not a mix of the two.
Should you work out when you’re fasting or should you work out after you’ve broken your fast?
Now the big one. When should you work out when it comes down to your fasting period. Should you work out when you’re fasting or should you work out after you’ve broken your fast?
Well, I can tell you honestly that you can do either one. But if you want a little bit more of a physiological body composition effect, or should I say a lot more, you’re going to want to train in your fasted state. Here’s how fast I go to bed. I wake up and I get my workout in the morning. Then I continue to fast the remainder of the day until it’s time to break my fast. So essentially I’m working out in the middle of my fast, even though it’s the first part of the full day that I’m fasting. A lot of people do like to workout at the end of their fast and this is very, very beneficial. But it’s hard to do if you work out at the end of your fasting right before you break your fast.
You are most likely to burn the most amount of fat then simply because you’re already at the exhausted portion of your fast where your body is already burning fat. The problem is you will see some performance decline at that point in time. If you workout earlier in the day, you still have a lot of strength and stamina from the food that you ate the night prior, but you’re not going to be weak from the fast yet. So you get the benefit of being able to still work out hard without losing the effect of the fast. Now, if you do decide to workout after you’ve eaten, you’ll probably find that your strength is quite high. But one of the things that you should make sure you’re aware of is that you want to digest your food a little bit. First, as soon as you break your fast, all the blood is going into your internal organs. It’s going to your stomach to help you digest. This means that if you go work out, you’re detracting from that. You’re taking away the blood from the vital organs and sending it out to your extremities to work out. This means that you’re not absorbing the nutrients in the fashion that you could be if you worked out a little bit later.
Just remember, you’re going to have great strength gains, but you’re not going to have as much in the way of body composition effects.
You see, there was actually one study that was published in the journal Physiology that found that when you work out in a fasted state, you burn significantly more fat. And it’s simply because you have little bits of fat that are actually inside your muscle. And they’re called intracellular lipids. These intermediate cellular lipids get evacuated out of the muscle when you work out in a fasted state. So they leave the muscle and they go into the bloodstream and the body burns them for fuel. So the body takes little bits of fat that are in the muscle, puts them into the bloodstream and burns them and then the process repeats.
So fasting and working out is really a powerful way to kind of hack the system a little bit and get a bit more fat burning out of your fast.
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Types of intermittent fasting
So let’s talk about the different types of fasting, too, because this is going to help you determine which one is for you. The first one that I mentioned is intermittent fasting. That’s the basic 16 hour, eight hour split, maybe 18, six, maybe twenty four, depending on what you’re up for. That’s basic intermittent fasting. The second type of fasting is called prolonged fasting. And that’s any kind of fast.
It’s a little bit longer. We’re talking like twenty four hours type fast, maybe twenty four or forty eight hours, a little bit less on the body composition benefits and more so just on the cellular rejuvenation benefits, of course, you’re also getting an exponential amount of mental benefits when you go in these longer, fast to believe or not. The longer that you fast, the more that your mental acuity sharpens, you actually get sharper as you fast longer. But the physiological body composition effects tend to start to diminish after twenty four to 48 hours. So don’t push it past 48 hours unless you’re doing it for a specific reason. But prolonged fasting is very good to do like once a month or once every quarter or so, just to get yourself a little bit of a change of pace and something a little bit more aggressive. Now, another kind of fast that you can do is a liquid fast. This is where you’re still consuming coffee, you’re still consuming bone broth, you’re still consuming even bulletproof coffee. It’s all the things that still have calories but are liquid. Technically, I guess you could drink a soda, but I wouldn’t recommend it. So the whole idea of a liquid fast is not about the metabolic benefit. It’s about giving your digestive system a break.
But the point is it’s still there. And the last kind of fasting is called dry fasting to dry fasting is where you don’t consume any food. More water and this is extreme, you should only do dry fasting once every three to six months.
Honestly, what ends up happening when you drive fast is you end up pulling hydrogen from your fat stores to make what’s called molecular water.
Now, I’m overcomplicating this for the sake of this article. But basically what it means is your body burns more fat because it has to take a portion of the fat to make water.
Yes, literally fat contains hydrogen, which means that the hydrogen in the fat can combine with oxygen that you breathe to make what’s called molecular water. So dry fasting is effective at burning fat, but it’s not something you want to do more than once every three to six months.
Difference between fasting for men and fasting for women?
So now let’s talk about the difference between fasting for men and fasting for women. All in all, I don’t want you to pay attention to a lot of the crazy nonsense and bro science that’s out there on YouTube, because reality is that men and women are very, very similar when it comes down to how the metabolisms work with fasting. Now there’s different things and other people will have different arguments on things. But when it comes down to women fasting, the only thing that they need to be a little bit more concerned with is going to be the fact that because of their reproductive system, their body is going to send hunger signals a lot more aggressively.
It’s a little bit more dangerous for lack of a better term, for a female to be fasting in a survival standpoint because they need to have extra reserves that are there to carry a child. So their body might go into a little bit more of a fighting response. It might send hunger signals up through the roof and make them really, really hungry. So if you’re a female, it’s watching this. This is something to be aware of. And even though the benefits of fasting don’t start until hour 16, you can still get some effects by fasting for a short amount of time. So maybe start with 12, maybe start with 14 hours and work your way up to it. And then, of course, the fasting is pretty straightforward. You don’t have nearly as much of the complex reproductive system that women have. So it’s a little bit easier to go ahead and jump into fasting without any concern. Now, let’s address the common concerns. So now you’re just about ready to start fasting, you’re ready to dive in, get the biggest benefits. But there’s still a couple of questions that are kind of looming here. The first one that I want to address is, are you going to lose muscle? So to make some sense of this so you don’t just think I’m just some random guy on the Internet.
This study that you can see right now is published in the Journal of Translational Medicine. And this study flat out proved that intermittent fasting versus not intermittent fasting, but eating the same amount of calories ended up resulting in subjects not only burning more fat, but also building more muscle, literally eating the same kinds of foods, the same calories, the same macronutrients, protein, fat and carbs. Just one group had them allocated to a specific window and one group ate them throughout the course of the day. And you’ll find that the benefits of intermittent fasting as far as muscle preservation are very, very clear in that Journal of Translational Medicine study. So don’t worry, you’re not going to lose muscle. You’re just going to burn fat. But if you were to go ahead and fast for like three, four or five days, you might lose some muscle.
Does fasting Metabolism Slow Down?
The other concern that comes up is will my metabolism slow down? Will it affect my thyroid?
The metabolism is kind of a tricky word. OK, metabolism, metabolism, slowing down. It’s something that people throw around. And it’s really kind of a tricky way of explaining your caloric needs are going to decrease if your calories decrease, but your caloric needs aren’t going to necessarily decrease if you go for a period of time fasting.
So as long as your calories are where they need to be, you’re not going to slow your metabolism down. You’re totally fine. But the question that comes up a lot is, what about my thyroid? You see, the interesting thing is there’s a study that was published in the journal Endocrinology. And this study found that during the fast during the time that you’re not eating thyroid function would stay the same, but thyroid precursors would start to decrease, meaning that the production of the thyroid hormone would start to slow down. But the actual thyroid hormone itself didn’t slow down is just sort of the machine that created thyroid will start to slow down. But the second subjects ate. It came right back. You see, what ends up happening is, of course, when you’re not eating, your thyroid is going to slow down. But once you’re eating, your metabolism is going again. So that’s not a fair assessment. So it is safe to say that while you’re fasting, you might see a slowdown in your metabolism by the standards of your thyroid. But once you’re eating, it all balances back out. Plus, another thing to note is the thyroid rejuvenates very, very quick. So hypothetically, even if it did slow down, you’d be back up and running again like 10 to 14 days.
And it’s all good. Another one is when to take your supplements because some supplements break a fast, some don’t. So I’ll make this very simple. If the supplement that you’re taking has carbs or has calories, it breaks a fast. If the supplement that you are taking is a soft gel like it’s an oil, like a fish oil pill or coenzyme Q10 that’s in an oil, anything that’s in a soft gel is usually suspended in vitamin E or some kind of oil that will break a fast that has a caloric effect that’s no different than having oil like olive oil or coconut oil. It’s just a different kind of oil. Suspending a fat soluble vitamin consumes those like your vitamin D and your fish oil after you’ve already eaten that. It won’t break your fast water soluble vitamins, like multivitamins, like vitamin C, things like that. Those are OK to take during your fasting period.
Alcohol During Intermittent Fasting
Now, I will recommend that you still try to consolidate them during your eating window simply because it can be a little bit hard on your stomach. And lastly, I want to end with alcohol. Alcohol is a pretty interesting one. We have to look at how the body processes alcohol. When you consume a drink, it converts alcohol into what is called acetaldehyde, which is a very, very toxic thing to your body.
We all know that alcohol can be hard on the body, but what ends up happening is the acetaldehyde is so toxic it jumps ahead of all the other food inside your body. So what that means is your body still has to have a metabolic effect and it’s going to prioritize alcohol over anything else. But one thing it’s very important to know is that fat burning occurs from your liver. If you’re not having a functioning liver, if your liver is not doing well, you’re not going to burn fat very well. So if you’re asking a lot of your liver to prioritize acetaldehyde from alcohol and ethanol, then you’re slowing down the process of burning fat. So alcohol will definitely break a fast. But I highly recommend if you’re going to consume alcohol, that you do it after you’ve already absorbed some of your food. So go ahead and break your fast and then a couple hours later have a little bit of a drink, then that’s a safer bet. So I hope that this overview has given you a solid perspective on what intermittent fasting is and what intermittent fasting is. Not, honestly, is for everybody. You can use intermittent fasting with Quito’s, you can use intermittent fasting with paleo being a vegan or whatever you want. The thing is, intermittent fasting is the proper protocol in which you are not eating versus which you are eating.