Intermittent Fasting for Beginners: The Ultimate 101 Guide

article based on science

Intermittent Fasting | Types | Myths | How It Works for Beginners | Weight Loss | Autophagy | Health Benefits | Simplicity | Side Effects | How to Start | Recipes | Plans | Risks | Keto | FAQ | Studies

No other diet has experienced as much growth over the past few years as Intermittent Fasting.

The reason for this is effective weight loss, proven health benefits, and a simplified daily routine.

But the supposedly simple diet always raises questions when you start.

That’s why this ultimate intermittent fasting guide for beginners provides you with the framework that guarantees a smooth start.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting involves eating for a set period and fasting for the rest of the day (or week).

During the fasting period, only water, mineral water, tea, and coffee are allowed. However, you must consume these drinks without additives (e.g., milk) and sweeteners (sugar, stevia, etc.).

There are various forms of intermittent fasting, but the most popular is fasting within 16 hours.

Nevertheless, it is also possible to fast for 12, 14, or 18 hours a day.

Types of Intermittent Fasting for Beginners

People are individual. So is intermittent fasting.

From a colorful variety of methods, I have summarized those that are very well known.

Accordingly, different methods also have individual advantages and disadvantages, which we will dive into together.

From the following methods, you should choose the one that fits best into your daily routine. Finally, intermittent fasting should not become an additional stress factor.

Because of its simple rules, which you can tailor to your daily routine, beginners achieve the best results with 16/8 intermittent fasting.

you may drink tea, coffee or water during intermittent fasting

16/8 Intermittent Fasting

Classic 16/8 fasting is also called Peak Fasting or Lean Gains Method because it allows you to gain lean mass while losing body fat.

In this method, you eat between 12 and 8 pm, for example. Therefore, your body can fast for 16 hours with an 8-hour eating period in between. Since you sleep 8 of the 16 fasting hours, classic intermittent fasting is easier than you might think.

Although you can start with fewer fasting hours with this method, 16 hours has proven effective since some health benefits for longevity don’t kick in until after 14 hours.

Since it is simply unnecessary due to the high energy level in the morning (more on this later), it is easiest for most people to skip breakfast at 16/8.

Nonetheless, forgoing dinner has also proven successful for some people.

  • Fasting period: 16 hours
  • Eating period: 8 hours

Crescendo Method

The Crescendo Method is a milder form of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting.

Instead of fasting every day, you fast on several days throughout the week. For example, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

It is especially suitable for starting intermittent fasting and is often preferred by women.

You can test how your body and its hormonal balance react to the change. If you feel comfortable, you can then cautiously approach the 16/8 method.

  • Fasting period: 12-16 hours
  • Eating period: 8-12 hours

One Meal A Day (OMAD)

OMAD is a more extreme form of 16/8 intermittent fasting. Here, One Meal A Day means nothing more than that you eat only once a day and fast the rest of the day. 

With this in mind, OMAD is not the most suitable method for beginners. 

Therefore, OMAD is a method for people who have been fasting with the 16/8 plan for a while.

Besides, it’s a situational method to me. If you are busy, you skip another meal, and 16/8 becomes 23/1.

  • Fasting period: 23 hours 
  • Eating period: 1 hour

Alternate Day Fasting (ADF)

This method is as simple as it sounds – eat one day, fast one day.

However, most people do this by eating a small meal (about 500 calories) on a fasting day. Therefore, this method is less effective than others.

Not only does a small meal make you hungry, but it also destroys most of the health benefits.

In addition, ADF is more difficult for many people to integrate into their daily routine than other methods.

Furthermore, many people abuse ADF, maintaining their habitual Western diet, which prevents success through fasting.

  • Fasting period: 24 hours (with small meal)
  • Eating period: 24 hours

24-Hour-Fasting or 6:1 Diet

The better version of ADF is 24-hour fasting. This schedule is also known as eat stop eat or 6:1 diet. Thereby, you strictly do not eat at all one day a week.

Since you usually fast for two nights, the fasting period often lasts longer than 24 hours. From dinner to breakfast the day after next, it is usually 36 hours.

For this reason, you may benefit more from the anti-aging effect and burn body fat much more efficiently during this period.

Especially for athletes and people who do not want to restrict themselves every day, 1-day fasting is a popular option on a rest day.

  • Fasting period: 24-40 hours
  • Eating period: Rest of the week

48-Hour-Fasting or 5:2 Diet

In the popular version of the 5:2 diet, calorie intake is limited to 500 calories per day for two consecutive days per week (with two meals of 250 calories each).

The remaining five days of the week, you usually eat. For example, you could eat only 500 calories per day on Monday and Tuesday and normally eat Wednesday through Sunday.

Although it may sound easier to approach fasting with small meals, it destroys the results. When insulin levels rise due to the meal, your body simply stops burning fat.

Also, small meals make you hungrier than if you don’t eat for a long time.

Therefore, it is much wiser to fast for only 24 hours strictly. This way, the body can cleanse itself, and you get into burning fat more efficiently.

Besides, it’s more practical to limit fasting to one day of the week. If you can incorporate two nights within the fasting window, it’s even better because it is easiest to fast while sleeping.

Moreover, it is even more efficient for cell renewal to fast strictly for 48 hours. However, this duration is not suitable for beginners.

  • Fasting period: 48 hours (with small meals)
  • Eating period: 5 days of the week

Common Myths About Intermittent Fasting

Many people panic about fasting, even though it is a thoroughly natural state. 

Yes, there were times in human history when there were neither refrigerators nor supermarkets open in winter.

As a logical consequence, humanity has always had to fast for many days. Nevertheless, in the age of abundance, persistent myths have evolved that are difficult to get out of our heads.

1. Intermittent fasting Slows Down the Metabolism

Over decades of advertising campaigns and poorly researched tips, conventional wisdom has developed that is hard to get off the horizon:

  • Never skip breakfast
  • Snacks help with weight loss
  • Many small meals boost your metabolism
  • You need to eat six times a day to lose weight

Conversely, the perception arose that fewer meals a day slow down the metabolism.

Nonetheless, eating more often to lose weight is just as silly as it sounds.

Accordingly, studies confirm that people who eat snacks eat more throughout the day (Stubbs et al. 20011).

In addition, it is a fact that snacks do not help people lose weight (Cameron et al. 20102).

Contrary to this myth, scientists proved more than 50 years ago that fasting improves metabolism (Drenick et al. 19643).

Due to the release of growth hormone, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, our ancestors were able to search for food longer, precisely when it was scarce.

Therefore, the hormones also ensure that the basal metabolic rate remains high (Zauner et al. 20004).

This way, nature ensured the survival of the species (Ho et al. 19885).

Intermittent fasting helps gain muscle

2. Intermittent Fasting Causes Muscle Loss

Contrary to popular belief, fasting does not cause muscles to atrophy.

The misconception that fasting destroys muscles arose because protein can be broken down and used for energy production during sufficiently long fasts.

However, this is not muscle protein. Instead, the body focuses on defective proteins, for example, in the skin or intestinal mucosa.

In this way, the body obtains amino acids that we would otherwise need to supply with food.

Moreover, this process of autophagy, which we will look at in more detail, also protects against muscle breakdown (Jiao et al. 20176).

Indeed, many of our metabolic pathways are designed to preserve lean mass at all costs.

The efficient fat burning of fasting (ketosis) also helps prevent muscle breakdown (Paoli et al. 20197).

Moreover, the body releases so-called counter-regulatory hormones to ensure that lean mass remains intact during fasting.

One of these is the human growth hormone (HGH). During fasting, the release of growth hormone peaks to make sure you don’t lose muscle mass.

Hence, intermittent fasting protects against muscle loss and protects bone mass from degeneration (Rudman et al. 19908).

3. Fasting Induces Dangerously Low Blood Sugar

In a world dominated by refined carbohydrates and sugar, it is an advantage that intermittent fasting can lower blood sugar.

Nevertheless, this fact has led some people to worry that lower blood glucose levels could induce circulatory problems, even fainting.

However, according to research, blood glucose levels remain stable even during prolonged fasting (Merimee et al. 19749).

Several protective mechanisms are responsible for this, which guarantee healthy blood sugar.

On the one hand, there are the carbohydrate stores of the body in liver and muscle mass. As long as this glycogen is present, the body uses it up and converts it back into glucose.

Since full glycogen stores provide about an entire day’s worth of energy, they slowly become empty after about 24 hours. Then, the body must burn fat reserves as a primary source of energy (Anton et al. 201710).

Except for the brain, all organs can run entirely on fat energy sources. However, it is not true that the brain relies only on glucose.

Accordingly, about 75% of the brain’s energy can be supplied by ketone bodies – a fat energy source that can cross the blood-brain barrier (Hallböök et al. 201411).  

For this reason, many people report increased mental clarity when fasting. Ketones are a kind of superfood for the brain.

The body provides the remaining 25% glucose that the brain needs by a process called gluconeogenesis.

Through this process, the liver can make new glucose from glycerol – a byproduct of fat breakdown.

In addition to ketones, it is the resulting stable blood sugar that eliminates mood swings during fasting. These originate from blood sugar highs and lows caused by carbohydrate-rich foods.

Furthermore, the very fact that essential carbohydrates do not exist should reassure us that we do not need them for survival.

How Does Intermittent Fasting for Beginners Work?

In a nutshell, intermittent fasting has two primary goals: 

  • Weight loss 
  • Improved longevity 

In this regard, our body’s hormonal balance is instrumental to both goals. Since it is the essential fat-storage hormone, insulin is the focus of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

People successfully lose weight with intermittent fasting for a good reason: fasting is the best way to lower insulin levels. 

Insulin is responsible for signaling cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream and store excess energy as fat or glycogen. 

Accordingly, researchers can already predict 75% of the gain and loss in overweight people using insulin levels (Kong et al. 201312). 

Moreover, insulin prevents the breakdown of body fat (Meijssen et al. 200113). 

The fasting window stops nutrient intake, lowers insulin levels, and thus ends the body’s storage mode. 

Therefore, the body can start to deplete carbohydrate (glycogen) stores. Once they are empty, body fat can be burned for energy production instead. 

Sweets prevent success in intermittent fasting for beginners

This mechanism is probably the essential goal of intermittent fasting for most people. 

Consequently, our bodies build up fat reserves during times of abundance to draw from this body fat during food shortages. 

Because we now eat at all times of the year and around the clock, we gain weight. In contrast, Intermittent Fasting restores the natural balance between eating and fasting. 

Accordingly, fasting corrects the hormonal imbalance that causes obesity (Lustig 200114). 

Intermittent Fasting for Autophagy

The second primary reason for intermittent fasting’s burgeoning popularity is myriad health benefits.

Besides weight loss, so-called autophagy is predominantly responsible for the rejuvenating effects of fasting.

As soon as food becomes scarce, this intracellular recycling system kicks in, breaking down broken cellular parts and directing toxins out of the body. 

In this way, autophagy prevents precisely those modern diseases that plague us today. For example, these may be cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease. 

In this context, the positive effect of autophagy is so groundbreaking that it was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Medicine (Levine et al. 201715). 

But how is autophagy turned on and off? 

To this end, three primary nutrient sensors exist in our bodies: 

  • Insulin: Sensitive to carbohydrates and proteins.
  • mTOR: Sensitive to proteins 
  • AMPK: Sensitive to lack of energy in cells 

Since AMPK can also be affected by fat, any caloric food breaks a fast.

However, many experts forget that there are also non-caloric substances that can interfere with fasting.

Although they sometimes have only a marginal effect on blood glucose, intense non-caloric sweeteners can significantly increase insulin levels.

For example, these include (Anton et al. 201016Liang et al. 198717Pepino et al. 201318Jeppesen et al. 200019Zhou et al. 200920):

They can stop both autophagy and fat burning. For this reason, not only any calories but also sweeteners in drinks are a no-no during the fasting period.

Intermittent Fasting Health Benefits

Fasting sets in motion impressive processes in our body. Thanks to advances in biochemistry and medicine, we are getting a better understanding of what fasting does.

Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting for beginners that research can explain to date:

1. Weight Loss

With numerous diets, the question arises whether losing weight will work. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, is different.

When you don’t eat, the energy expended must come from your energy stores. If stored carbohydrates are gone, the body must tap into stored fat for energy (Heilbronn et al. 200521).

In doing so, the body burns not only fat right under your skin but also visceral fat in organs, which is particularly harmful (Catenacci et al. 201622).

2. Muscle Gain

16/8 Intermittent fasting has been known among bodybuilders for decades as a strategy for muscle building.

Moreover, fasting is the most effective way to stimulate human growth hormone (HGH) naturally (Ho et al. 198823).

HGH promotes bone, cartilage, and muscle development. As a result, you get bigger, stronger muscles and protection against age-related bone and muscle loss (Rudman et al. 199024).

Accordingly, intermittent fasting combined with appropriate weight lifting helps build and maintain muscle mass.

3. Longevity

Fasting activates autophagy, which directs damaged, harmful and toxic compounds out of the body and recycles proteins.

Thus, it helps fight cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, liver, or autoimmune diseases.

Intermittent fasting for beginners offers an anti-aging effect

Since it can slow the aging process, autophagy is arguably one of the most significant health benefits of intermittent fasting (Nakamura et al. 201825).

According to studies, you have to abstain from food for at least 14 hours to start the intracellular recycling system (Yang et al. 201726).

Additionally, fasting may prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease (Raefsky et al. 201727).

4. Inflammation

In addition to autophagy, the reduction of inflammation in the body also contributes to the anti-aging effect of fasting.

Fasting lowers blood glucose and insulin levels, which reduces inflammatory markers and free radicals that cause disease.

Accordingly, a recent study found that lifespan extension is a significant benefit of intermittent fasting (Catterson et al. 201828).

Furthermore, numerous studies show that intermittent fasting can lower inflammatory markers that contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance (Faris et al. 201229).

5. Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

In particular, the refined carbohydrates and sugars of the Standard American Diet (SAD) stimulate insulin secretion.

Since insulin levels that are too high can be life-threatening, the body must protect itself by making cells insulin-resistant. As a result, however, the body has to produce more and more insulin.

In addition to type 2 diabetes, this vicious cycle causes (Ferreira et al. 201830Athauda et al. 201631Herman et al. 201732Orgel et al. 201433Kong et al. 201334):

  • Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Cancers 
  • Metabolic syndrome 
  • Obesity

Nonetheless, researchers have known for more than 50 years that intermittent fasting can combat insulin resistance (Jackson et al. 196935).

Accordingly, a study of more than 100 overweight women showed that intermittent fasting over six months could reduce insulin levels by 29% and insulin resistance by 19% (Harvie et al. 201136).

In addition, research has now recognized intermittent fasting as a safe treatment for insulin resistance (Catenacci et al. 201637).

Some studies even suggest that intermittent fasting can reverse insulin resistance and even type 2 diabetes naturally (Halberg et al. 200538).

6. Fertility and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

While excessive fasting poses a threat to fertility for some women, proper, targeted intermittent fasting can also positively affect it.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common metabolic disorder in women. It characterizes the development of cysts on the ovaries based on hormonal imbalance.

Like type 2 diabetes, PCOS is characterized by obesity and hypertension. In short, it is even caused by strong insulin resistance, which also enormously increases the risk of diabetes in affected women (Ali 201539).

Nevertheless, in a recent study, intermittent fasting was able to help overweight women with PCOS by increasing the release of luteinizing hormone, which promotes ovulation.

Intermittent fasting can promote fertility

Furthermore, weight loss and improved mental health from fasting could additionally contribute to fertility (Nair et al. 201640).

7. Mental and Brain Health

In addition, intermittent fasting may help reduce the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain that promote dementia (Li et al. 201741).

Therefore, intermittent fasting may counteract neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease (Raefsky et al. 201742).

One signaling agent that increases memory function is the neuronal growth hormone BDNF.

That’s why high levels of BDNF are also associated with increased intelligence. When you release BDNF, the brain can form new neural connections (Witte et al. 200943).

This fact could be another reason why many testimonials speak of increased cognition and heightened awareness with intermittent fasting.

Moreover, in one study, intermittent fasting significantly reduced depression and cravings after only two months, increasing overall mental health (Hoddy et al. 201544).

8. Gut Health

Since periods of fasting can give your gut a rest, they help starve bad gut bacteria and reduce inflammation.

Thus, according to a recent study, intermittent fasting increases gut health. In this regard, even short periods of fasting at a young age can extend life expectancy (Catterson et al. 201845).

As a result, intermittent fasting has the positive side effect of improving intolerances and allergies.

Practical Benefits You Did Not Know

Although I came to intermittent fasting because of its remarkable health benefits, it is the practical advantages in everyday life that are why I have stuck with it.

After a few weeks, even beginners will find that intermittent fasting makes life far more straightforward because of the following facts.

1. It’s Incredibly Simple

Unlike most dietary advice, Intermittent Fasting is simple for beginners. Classic 16/8 intermittent fasting has two rules:

  • No breakfast
  • No snacks

Bottom line. The simpler the rules, the easier it is to implement methods in everyday life.

2. Intermittent Fasting Is Cheap

Intermittent fasting is not only free, but you’ll save yourself money doing it:

  • No breakfast
  • Less processed food
  • No expensive exotic superfoods
  • No gym subscription

Even though marketing has taught us otherwise, less can be better. You’ll feel it in your checking account.

3. It Saves Time

The food industry loves diet tips that involve multiple meals because no one can cook six times a day. Hence, these tips create a need for more convenience foods.

On the other hand, with intermittent fasting, you can focus on 1-2 meals and prepare them relaxed using real food. Or simply skip a meal when there is no time.

This way, on stressful days, you’ll save yourself the junk food, the post-meal productivity slump, time, and money.

4. Fasting Is Executable With Any Diet

Intermittent fasting is not a trendy special diet but rather an omission.

Since fasting is about the time you don’t eat, you don’t need new recipes and shopping lists.

On the contrary, you have to choose what not to prepare and eat today.

5. You Can Do It Always and Everywhere

Beginners do not need special knowledge or preparation for intermittent fasting.

Besides, you don’t have to buy anything to start fasting finally. You can do it anytime and anywhere by simply skipping a meal.

As an intermittent fasting beginner, all you need is resolution, water, tea, or coffee.

Avocado on pink background

6. Fasting Can Reduce Stress

Unlike diets, fasting does not involve more effort but always less.

And that also affects cortisol levels. When the diet adds to an already stressful daily routine, it doesn’t help you relax.

For example, you can use the time you gain to read a book or exercise. Conventional diets probably can’t offer this advantage.

Intermittent Fasting Side Effects Beginners May Experience

Most people are used to burning only sugar for energy because of the Western Pattern Diet (WPD). Therefore, switching to fat burning for the first time can bring the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Low motivation
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

These physical symptoms are also known as the keto flu because the ketogenic diet requires the body to get used to burning fat for energy in the same way.

The trigger for this is the depletion of carbohydrate stores. Before the body can go into ketosis, it preferentially consumes glucose, which comes from glycogen in the liver and skeletal muscles.

Glycogen is a branched multisugar, with about 2-3 grams of water for every gram of carbohydrate.

Since this causes the body to flush out a considerable amount of water and electrolytes, physical symptoms can occur, most notably headaches and dizziness.

However, these disappear permanently once the body is fat-adapted. If you prepare for it, you can also prevent the keto flu while intermittent fasting, even as a beginner.

How to Do Intermittent Fasting for Beginners

All beginnings are hard. Thus, fasting is no exception. For this reason, here are the five most essential tips to help you get started with intermittent fasting.

A large number of different fasting methods can already seem overwhelming, so you should start by choosing a fasting plan that fits into your daily routine.

1. Choose the Proper Intermittent Fasting Schedule

A fasting plan must meet two characteristics to work:

  • It simplifies everyday life
  • You can obey its rules

According to my experience, two intermittent fasting methods have emerged that give beginners the best results.

One is the classic 16/8 intermittent fasting, and the other is the the 6:1 diet or eat stop eat.

Why?

Alternate Day Fasting and the 5:2 diet involve eating small meals during the fasting period. Therefore, they interrupt fat burning, autophagy and may nullify results.

Without snacking, these intermittent fasting patterns are again too extreme to be successfully followed by beginners.

In addition, people often use both methods to reward themselves with high-carbohydrate junk food on eating days, which destroys the chances of success.

OMAD is also too hard an introduction to intermittent fasting for beginners. If you only want to eat once a day, you should master 16/8 beforehand.

What makes 16/8 a guarantee for success is its simplicity. All you have to do is eliminate one meal and snacks. Most people have the best experience skipping breakfast.

In the end, it is the most important meal of the day only for the food industry.

Because the body increases adrenaline, glucagon, somatropin, and cortisol levels, we wake up. Therefore, the energy level remains high until noon.

However, those who have exceptional work schedules can equally eliminate dinner or lunch and succeed.

Because it can be integrated even more flexibly into the workweek, 1-day fasting is the second excellent choice for beginners.

Since you fast from dinner to breakfast the day after next, this results in a more extended 36-hour fasting period. Thus, it intensifies fat burning and autophagy.

For this purpose, it is best to choose a fasting day without exercise when you are well occupied, although this may vary from week to week.

2. Stay Hydrated

Especially when you start intermittent fasting, it is crucial to drink. Otherwise, the fluid loss caused by glycogen depletion will inevitably lead to headaches and other keto flu symptoms.

Also, drinking is the best cure for cravings. One of the most common beginner mistakes in intermittent fasting is confusing thirst with hunger.

Instead of reaching for water or tea, we then go for a snack since solid foods also keep us hydrated.

When we forgo habitual snacks, we don’t automatically replenish the fluids they had previously given us.

As a result, we think we feel hungry. Accordingly, with intermittent fasting, especially as a beginner, you often don’t experience food cravings but just thirst.

Three drinks, in particular, have proven to be effective against cravings:

  • Mineral water: Drinking water before a meal reduces hunger. The carbonic acid also helps with an unsettled stomach. In addition, mineral water contains electrolytes that the body has flushed out while emptying the carbohydrate stores.
  • Black coffee: While caffeine can boost metabolism, the antioxidants in coffee help suppress hunger. For this reason, decaffeinated coffee can also be a viable option.
  • Green Tea: After being full of polyphenols and other antioxidants, green tea has proven to be a good choice when fasting. It reduces hunger, stimulates metabolism, and helps you lose weight.

Now, should every beginner in intermittent fasting drink a gallon of water every day?

No. Drink when you are thirsty or experience cravings. No one needs to force themselves to drink all the time, especially since overhydration can also have adverse effects.

Also, fluid needs are individual so that no blanket rule can apply.

However, when in doubt, a glass of water or green tea won’t hurt.

3. Do Not Skimp on Salt

In addition to fluid loss, a second aspect is responsible for physical symptoms such as dizziness.

An undersupply of salt (sodium) is the primary trigger of keto flu. Therefore, even with strict autophagy fasting, natural salt is allowed in addition to water.

Pink Himalayan salt helps beginners with intermittent fasting

Sodium is also flushed from the body with other electrolytes through glycogen breakdown. After salt unjustly has an unhealthy image, especially diet-conscious people unfortunately often save with it.

However, we now know that it is precisely those countries with the highest salt consumption that have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease (Park et al. 201646).

Furthermore, salt takes the bitter taste out of food and acts against cravings. Since it also has a negative feedback loop, unlike sugar, your body will tell you when you’ve had enough salt.

While sugar consumption promotes insulin resistance and body fat storage, salt increases insulin sensitivity and helps with weight loss (Sakuyama et al. 201647).

Finally, salt is the natural antagonist of sugar. If you want to start intermittent fasting without any problems, salt your food as you like.

If you have a headache during fasting, you can also dissolve natural Himalayan salt in water or drink prepared sole water.

4. Reduce Carbohydrates

If you want to achieve good results in intermittent fasting as a beginner, you need to cut down on carbohydrates. There is a straightforward reason for this.

Every time you fill up your glycogen stores, you first have to burn all those carbs before the body can switch back to burning fat.

As a result, not only do you run the risk of having a recurring headache, but you also gain weight due to water retention.

So if you are serious about losing weight, it is better to avoid these refined carbohydrates:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Crackers
  • Tortillas
  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Pretzels
  • Juices
  • Soft drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Sweetened tea and coffee 

These highly processed foods drive insulin levels to unprecedented heights and promote inflammation, promoting weight gain (Buyken et al. 201448).

5. Eat More Fat

After refined carbohydrates leave your diet, that void inevitably needs to be filled.

Fat is the ideal macronutrient for this.

While refined carbohydrates stimulate the hunger hormone ghrelin, fat increases the release of satiety hormones such as peptide YY, CCK, or leptin (Teff et al. 200449Austin et al. 200950).

Thus, they keep you full longer and have been shown to reduce food intake (McLaughlin et al. 199851).

The best sources of fat in intermittent fasting for beginners include:

  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Olives
  • Avocados
  • Mackerels
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Anchovies
  • Pastured meat
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Organic lard
  • Pastured eggs
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Flaxseed

Pure fats like olive oil or butter hardly stimulate insulin secretion at all. For this reason, they do not interrupt fat burning and help you lose weight.

That’s why you can fat fast as a beginner if you have trouble keeping up a more extended fasting window at first.

Although it interferes with autophagy, the body can still burn fat efficiently as long as you don’t feed it carbohydrates and proteins.

For this purpose, high-fat drinks exist, which are especially loved by intermittent fasting beginners. For example, they are Bulletproof Coffee, Bone Broth, or Golden Milk.

Intermittent Fasting Recipes for Beginners

The essential recipes to get you started on intermittent fasting are training wheels that can be limited to fats, extend your fast, and supply micronutrients.

The Best Bone Broth Recipe (Beef)

Cook Time 12 hours
Servings 12 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs beef bones cut with marrow
  • 1 slice celeriac
  • 1 pcs leek
  • 2 pcs carrots
  • 1 pcs onion yellow
  • 2 pcs bay leaves
  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2-3 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 145 oz water filtered, enough to cover the bones
  • 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Peel the carrots, leek, and celery and cut them into coarse pieces. Then cut the onion in half, but do not peel it since the peel gives the soup a lovely color.
  • Now fry the onion halves briefly in the pot with the cut side down. Then add the rest of the vegetables and bones and fill the pot with water.
  • Add spices and apple cider vinegar, the acidity of which helps to extract collagen and minerals from the bones better.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 12 hours. The further it reduces, the more intense the flavor will be, and the more collagen will be extracted. Optionally, you can add water and get a thinner broth. Alternatively, you can use an Instant Pot as well.
  • Strain broth and enjoy or store.

After bone broth is full of collagen, healthy fats, and electrolytes, it is the all-purpose weapon for beginners during prolonged and intermittent fasting.

It can help fight headaches, last longer, or replenish the body with essential nutrients when breaking the fast.

Bulletproof Coffee Recipe Keto

Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 Cup
Author Dave Asprey

Ingredients

  • Tablespoons Coffee freshly ground
  • 1-2 Tablespoons MCT Oil or Coconut Oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Grass-Fed Ghee or Butter

Instructions

  • Brew a cup of coffee using 2 ½ tablespoons of freshly ground coffee beans.
  • Add 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of MCT oil. Start with 1 teaspoon and work your way up to 1-2 tablespoons over several days.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter or ghee.
  • Mix everything in a blender for 20-30 seconds until it looks like a creamy latte.

Bulletproof or keto coffee is that drink that sharpens mental focus when you’re initially struggling to concentrate while fasting.

Since it’s full of healthy fats, it can also replace a meal now and then when you’re short on time.

Simple Golden Milk Recipe (Vegan, Keto, Traditional)

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 4 minutes
Servings 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Almond or Coconut Milk (or both)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 slice Ginger (0.5 inches thick, finely chopped)
  • 1 pinch Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon (ground, optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Coconut Oil (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Grass-Fed Butter (optional)
  • 1 pinch Chili (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Honey (optional)

Instructions

  • Warm coconut or almond milk in a small pot at medium heat.
  • Add the remaining ingredients in a large cup and mix.
  • Dribble a teaspoon of the warmed milk into the cup and mix until the liquid is smooth and lump-free.
  • Add the remaining milk and mix well. The remaining ginger pieces can stay in the cup or be strained.
  • Last but not least, you can season the golden milk to taste and add optional spices.

Golden milk is a drink from Ayurvedic medicine known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

The mixture of healthy fats and cinnamon ensures that it will last you longer on intermittent fasting as a beginner.

Simple Intermittent Fasting Plans for Beginners

When you start intermittent fasting, you will surely think about how it will affect your body, metabolism, and mood.

That’s why the following two plans for beginners have proven to bring minimal changes to your everyday life through intermittent fasting.

Moreover, their rules are so simple that beginners can easily follow them.

Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan 16/8

With standard 16/8 intermittent fasting, it’s really up to you which 16 out of 24 hours you decide not to eat.

The only crucial aspect, in my experience, is to fit the 8 hours of sleep into the fasting period. Because this way, you shorten the fast to 8 hours a day. And that’s only half the effort.

For this reason, it makes little sense to skip lunch. Nevertheless, some people have successfully managed to do this because of their particular daily routine.

However, if you follow a regular 9-to-5 schedule at work, you will probably have more success skipping breakfast or dinner.

Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan for Beginners 16/8

Since most people like to eat in the evening in the company of their loved ones, skipping breakfast has largely proven to be the best approach.

Moreover, according to countless experiences, this approach is the most sustainable and easiest way for beginners to start intermittent fasting.

Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan 6:1

Eat stop eat or the 6:1 diet has also proven successful because of its simplicity. The restriction is limited to one day a week. You can choose which day you want to fast every week.

On the other days, you can simply keep your usual food routine. This Intermittent Fasting plan has proven itself especially for very active and competitive athletes who train several times a day.

The significant advantage here is that two nights may be hidden in the fasting period. Thus, you are fasting for more than 24 hours if you do not eat for a whole day.

Generally, this results in 36 hours from dinner to breakfast the next day. Hence, you get deeper autophagy and ketosis, but only once a week.

Since eating nothing once a week is a straightforward rule, 6:1 fasting has proven excellent for beginners.

Who Should Not Start Intermittent Fasting?

Although many beginners achieve immediate success with intermittent fasting, it is not necessarily suitable for all individuals.

Accordingly, there are situations when intermittent fasting may be inappropriate. Therefore, fasting can be a problem in the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy: Although there is a lack of long-term studies on the subject, there are better times for intermittent fasting than pregnancy. During pregnancy, the focus is on the nourishment and growth of the offspring. Plus, you don’t need the added stress.
  • Chronic stress: Although healthy can be stressful, there are times in life when Intermittent Fasting can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If you’re currently going through a mentally challenging phase of your life, focus on stress relief instead.
  • Eating disorders: Self-care is also needed when you try Intermittent Fasting. When you develop a questionable relationship with food, return to a standardized eating plan. If you have a history of anorexia or another eating disorder, fasting may not suit you.

If you have a medical condition, you should consult your trusted physician before beginning intermittent fasting.

Doing so is even more important if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Have other problems with blood sugar
  • Take medication
  • Have low blood pressure
  • Are already underweight
  • Are breastfeeding

Other than that, intermittent fasting is generally considered safe. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if you are healthy and well-fed. Fasting is simply natural.

Keto and Intermittent Fasting for Beginners

For most beginners, getting started with intermittent fasting can help with fat loss, disease prevention and thereby increase longevity. And all that comes with minimal side effects.

If you’ve ever eaten dinner, slept in, and not eaten until lunch the next day, then you’ve fasted using the 16/8 schedule before.

You may even know people who are simply not hungry in the morning and instinctively do 16/8 intermittent fasting resulting in excellent fitness. After unlearning to be hungry in the morning, most beginners achieve the best results in intermittent fasting with 16/8.

In addition, the method is flexible and saves time. Nonetheless, you need to keep in mind that intermittent fasting is just an eating pattern and not a complete solution to your diet.

Hence, regardless of which intermittent fasting method you choose, you will get better results with a low-carb diet.

Therefore, more and more people report that a ketogenic diet works wonders for intermittent fasting for a good reason.

Because both fasting and the keto diet are based on reducing insulin, emptying carbohydrate stores, and burning fat through ketosis, they are ideal matches.

By eating a low-carb diet, you get a clear head start on fat burning and autophagy since you don’t have to spend hours burning your stored carbs first.

Used correctly, intermittent fasting and ketogenic diets can have a massive impact on health and weight loss.

Intermittent Fasting for Beginners FAQ

How do I start intermittent fasting?

Skip breakfast, don’t eat any snacks between meals and drink only water, tea and coffee without sweeteners and additives.

What are the best hours for intermittent fasting?

The best hours to fast are between 8 PM and noon the next day since these 16 hours incorporate 8 hours of sleep. We better know this schedule as 16/8 intermittent fasting, which perfectly suits beginners.

How many hours should a beginner fast?

The most convenient way to start fasting for beginners is to fast 16 hours a day by skipping breakfast. This particularly smart since you are sleeping 8 of these 16 hours.

What can I eat during intermittent fasting?

During the fasting period, eating is prohibited. However, coffee ☕ and tea 🍵 without milk and sweeteners are allowed.

Studies

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