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Intermittent fasting for beginners

Thinking about going on Intermittent Fasting? There are 3 types of Intermittent fasting: 16/8 method, 5:2 method, Eat-stop-eat. How do I start intermittent fasting?

Harshita BK
February 11, 2021

Intermittent fasting is currently one of the most popular trends in health & fitness. There is quite a lot of buzz around IF and lots of new studies have been coming out, revealing some amazing facts. I am sure you might have heard a bit about IF and how magical it can be! 


Basically, IF is an eating pattern in which you switch between fasting and eating periods. Technically we all fast every day, when we are asleep.  Intermittent fasting is all about increasing the amount of time we fast.


There are 3 methods to carry out IF the 16/8 method, Eat-Stop-Eat and the 5:2 diet approach.


Now that you have understood what Intermittent fasting is let's understand how to start an IF.


Have you ever heard of the proverb “A good start is half done”, Intermittent fasting can be a bit challenging for someone who just getting started with diets! You need to prepare ahead of time to have a smooth take-off, here are few tips that will get you started

  • Have an early dinner so that majority of your fasting hours is completed during sleep and also you can easily push back the timings of your first meal.
  • Begin your fast on a working day as you will be distracted with work and may forget that you are fasting.
  • Make sure you carry fluids/water along with you to keep you hydrated as there are good chances of dehydration.


If you haven’t done intermittent fasting before just think it is more similar to religious fasting but there are different methods which you probably by now would have known of, but let’s just refresh, I have penned down all the methods for you

  • 16:8 method: In this method, you are fasting for 16 hours and have an 8-hour window period to eat. For example, you might e
  • 5:2 Approach: You will be are restricting your day’s calorie consumption between 500-600 calories twice a week with normal eating the rest of the other days. 
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: This pattern involves fasting once or twice a week for an entire day (24 hours). You will not be eating anything except consuming water for a whole day until the next day.


Now that you know the methods, you need to know what are the benefits and drawbacks of following each method as well.


16/8 METHOD

This is said to be the most simple and sustainable intermittent fasting method, you need to pick an eight-hour window period of feeding, people usually choose 9 am-5 pm, if you are a breakfast person then this timing suits you best.

Have a balanced meal, here is a list you can use to include in your diet

  • Whole grains: Millets, oats, whole wheat, etc.
  • Protein: Poultry (skin removed), fish, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, etc.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries, oranges, peaches, pears, etc.
  • Veggies: Tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, leafy greens, etc.
  • Healthy fats: Olive oil, Rice bran oil, avocado, walnuts, and flax seeds.

Benefits

  • Increased weight loss: effective and sustainable weight loss method
  • Improved blood sugar control: There is evidence that intermittent fasting may reduce up to 31% of sugar level in the blood which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Enhanced longevity

Drawbacks

  • Since the feeding time is restricted to eight hours, you may tend to overeat and end up gaining weight.
  • There are short term negative effects of intermittent fasting, like tiredness and hunger which will be taken care of once it becomes a routine.


5:2 APPROACH


To start this method, you need to pick 2 days that you want to consume fewer calories, make sure you have a gap between those two days and the rest of the other 5 days where you can eat normally, which mean you need to have a balanced meal do not eat junk foods you may end up gaining instead of losing weight. On fasting days follow a 2-meal pattern and focus on having a high fiber and protein meal.


Benefits

  • Improves insulin sensitivity- tends to reduce the risk of a type of diabetes
  • Weight and fat loss-decreases bad fat levels like LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein) in your body
  • Reduces inflammation

Drawbacks

  • Increases hunger pangs which may lead to overeating.
  • Makes you tired and ill at the start.


Eat-Stop-Eat


This is a unique approach where you separate your meals with 24-hour complete fasting. When you are following this method make sure you are strongly hydrated as the fasting period is more. Do not make up for the fasting days on days you consume food and make wise and healthy food choices.

Benefits

  • Weight loss and fat reduction

Drawbacks

  • Insufficient nutrient intake: this method will not meet your daily nutrient requirement.
  • Hormonal changes: This diet may have a negative effect on the reproductive health of especially women.
  • Low sugars: Due to 24 hours of fasting it will lead to reduced sugar levels and if not taken care of may lead to fatal consequences like a hypoglycemic shock.


Reading through the benefits and drawbacks you may be confused about what to follow but since you are new to intermittent fasting, I suggest you can start with the 16/8 method which is simple and sustainable and provides an adequate daily nutrient requirement.

If you haven’t zeroed in on a plan still, don’t worry! I have provided a generalized diet plan for your benefit 


16/8 Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan


You may ask what to do if I go off track or face difficulty in following the plan?

Below I have mentioned a handful number tips which will keep you intact to the plan:

  • “Be positive and stay more active”, invest your time more in recreational activities so that you will avoid unnecessary snacking.
  • “Eat your post-fast meal as if you haven’t fasted all”, do not overeat your post-fast meal.
  • To maximize your health benefits, have a nutritious meal that includes a lot of veggies and protein.
  • “Portion control is the best control”, keep a check on the portion size, since there are good chances you may overeat you need to keep your portion size at check by noting it down in a food diary.


Intermittent fasting is one of many lifestyle strategies that can improve your health. But let me tell you something, IF is not suited for all, some of you may find it difficult suddenly changing your lifestyle & others may find it the best strategy to get fitter. The only way to find out which group you belong to is to try it out.

Hope I have provided all the information you need on starting intermittent fasting, all the best!!


About the author
Harshita BK

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