Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of intermittent
fasting. This is being mentioned everywhere, from social media sites to health TV
shows like Dr. Oz. If you read a weight loss, fitness, or health blog, you will most likely
see it mentioned often there as well. Intermittent fasting is a new way of eating that
promotes weight loss, fat burning, muscle building, and many other health benefits
through a very simple eating pattern. Here is more information about intermittent fasting
so that you can decide if it is a good option for you.
IF is a Pattern of Eating
Many people call intermittent fasting a diet, but it is rather a pattern of eating or dieting for optimal success.
It teaches you a lot, including how to listen to your body’s hunger signals, and to follow a healthy pattern of eating. You are following a specific pattern each day, where you only eat during a shorter block of time, fasting for the rest of the day, except for having coffee, tea, and water. This pattern helps your body to burn food more quickly, so that there is more time for burning fat.
There are Different Protocols
The next thing you will learn about intermittent fasting is that there isn’t just one way to
do it, but several methods or protocols to choose from. It is very flexible, so you can
look at the different methods and choose which one works best for your schedule and
your lifestyle. Here are some popular IF protocols people like to turn to:
16:8/LeanGains – This is a popular option, allowing you to eat for 8 hours, then fast for
16 hours. You try to do it as often as possible. It can be done every day of the week.
5:2 – The 5:2 diet requires you to eat how you normally would 5 days out of the week,
then have 2 alternating days of the week where you fast for 24 hours. You can often
have a low amount of calories on fasted days, up to 500-600 calories.
Warrior Diet – With the warrior diet, you go 24 hours between eating, having just one
large meal at the end of every fasted day.
Eat-Stop-Eat/24-Hour – This is similar to 5:2, except you may only go 24 hours once a
week. You also don’t have the calories, but a full fasting day with only water, coffee, or
Tips for Starting Intermittent Fasting
Here are a few quick tips that can make this transition easier for you:
Pick your protocol first, then do plenty of planning. You want to make sure you know
when you will eat, what to eat, and how much.
Don’t go extreme on the first day.
It is best to start with the lesser protocols, like a 12-12 or 16-8 where you still have a pretty lengthy window of eating. Wait a bit before you go to the 24-hour fasting protocols.
Listen to your body. The intermittent fasting method you are using might not work good
for you, so if you notice bad side effects, go back to your normal way of eating.
How to do the Eat-Stop-Eat Diet
Intermittent fasting has many different protocols, each of which have a different eating
pattern. The eating pattern describes how long you go with eating and how long you fast
One of the popular protocols is called the eat-stop-eat diet. Instead of doing fasting
daily like with the LeanGains 16-8 protocol, you will instead fast for 24 hours 1-2 days a
week, and eat mostly what you want the rest of the week. Here is more information
about following this intermittent fasting protocol.
Basics of This Diet
Here is how the Eat-Stop-Eat diet protocol works: you eat how you normally would for
the majority of the week, fasting for 24 hours at a time, 1-2 days a week. Some people
will fast just one full day a week, while others will fast twice a week, with a few days in
between. You can also transition into it slowly, starting with one day, then increasing it
to two when you feel comfortable with that.
When to Start the Fast
The great thing about intermittent fasting is that it is very flexible, including with this
protocol. You just have to go 24 hours in between eating days, but they can start at any
time. You can start them at midnight or 2 in the afternoon – it doesn’t matter. Work with
your own schedule, preferably starting it around the middle of the day. This helps to
break up the days of fasting, where a good portion of it exists when you are sleeping.
Note what time your last meal is, and just make sure you wait 24 hours until your next
Breaking the Fast
Another important thing to be aware of with intermittent fasting, especially diets where
you are going 24 hours without eating, is how you break the fast.
Don’t just pig out and binge eat when it’s time to eat again.
You are going to feel ill after going so long without food. You need to ease back into it slowly by having a normal-sized meal of something you’re used to eating when breaking the fast. This first meal might be a little smaller than other meals during the eating phase, and that’s how it should be.
Start With Just One Day
Don’t try to do 2 days during the first week of the eat-stop-eat way of intermittent fasting.
For the first few weeks, start with just one day out of the week where you fast for 24
hours. After several weeks of this, you will then be ready to move on to two days out of
IF Versus Starvation
Among the different questions people ask about intermittent fasting, a common one is
comparing it to starvation. Fasting can be confusing because you are going a certain
length of time without eating or drinking anything with calories, but that doesn’t mean it
is the same thing as starving yourself. Keep reading to learn the difference.
What is Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating where you only eat during certain times of the day
or week. This is not the same as starving yourself. The point is to get where your body
is burning fat for energy, instead of taking all day just to burn the food you eat. This is
the difference between maintaining weight and actually losing weight. While you are
fasting, you are not going so long that you begin starving yourself or entering the
dreaded ‘starvation mode’. You are also not trying to deprive yourself of necessary
The Difference Between IF and Starvation
This might sound like starvation so far to you, but they are quite different. One of the
biggest differences is in your mindset. When you are starving yourself, you are doing it
purposely to keep yourself from eating foods that will fuel your body. There is often a
deep-rooted mental issue related to starvation, not to mention failing to provide nutrients
that help to sustain life. With intermittent fasting, you know when you will eat next, and
you will try to eat nourishing foods for your body. You also don’t fast for so long that it
will have a negative physical effect on your health.
Knowing the Side Effects of Starvation
Another way you can tell the difference between intermittent fasting and starvation is
that with IF, you won’t have all those classic malnutrition side effects. When you are
starving yourself or simply not getting enough nutrients, you might have lightheadedness and feel faint, have nausea, abdominal pain, and constipation. If you
are experiencing these symptoms while doing intermittent fasting, you are either not
eating enough, or the foods you are eating do not contain the nutrition your body needs.
Doing Intermittent Fasting the Right Way
This is why you should make sure when you do eat while doing intermittent fasting, you
eat the healthiest foods you can find. They should preferably not be processed, and be
whole, fresh foods. Plenty of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds,
will sustain you during the following fasted periods.
Intermittent Fasting FAQs
If you are new to intermittent fasting, you probably have a lot of questions. But that’s
okay – because we have a lot of answers for you! Here is a list of some of the more
commonly asked questions about intermittent fasting and the answers, which should
help you decide if and when you want to try IF.
Q: Can my child do intermittent fasting?
Answer: This is not recommended for children or youths, including teenagers. Unless your doctor has a reason to suggest intermittent fasting for a child, it is not usually a good idea. Children should not have any strict diets, but instead follow a healthy lifestyle of plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. If you want your entire family to be on the same schedule, talk to your doctor first.
Q: Are there any side effects?
While most adults can handle intermittent fasting without any bad side effects, there are
some effects for certain individuals. For example, if you are used to eating every 2-3
hours, it can be hard to switching to a 24-hour fasting protocol like Warrior or the Eat-
Stop-Eat plan. You may notice some side effects for the first few days like shaking or
lightheadedness. Women who do intermittent fasting also have a risk for hormonal
changes, so it is important to know the signs of them and stop IF if it persists.
Q: Will I go into starvation mode?
This is a very common question people ask when they look into intermittent fasting.
There is this thought that if you don’t eat enough, your body can go into starvation
mode. This is not necessarily a myth, it just doesn’t work how people think it does. If you
consistently don’t eat enough, eating below 1,000 calories a day every day of the week,
then yes, your body can eventually go into starvation mode. However, that is not what
intermittent fasting is. The eating periods you still eat enough calories for your body, and
get lots of nutrients. Your fasting windows are just a little bit longer.
Q: Can I follow another diet while fasting?
You can still follow another diet on your eating days when you are doing intermittent
fasting, but it is not advised to start both at the same time. That is a lot of stress to put
on your body all at once. It is best to switch to the new diet for a few weeks, then when
you get adapted to it, add in intermittent fasting.