Intermittent Fasting for Beginners 101: What, Why & How

While there are many types of diets in the world of health, fitness and nutrition for weight loss, intermittent fasting has come up as a concept which is beyond just a diet and it is also one of the most popular fitness trends followed by a lot of people and helpful at the same time as well.

Intermittent fasting also known as IF, is more of an eating pattern than a diet which cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It is called an eating pattern because it doesn’t specify the exact list of foods you are supposed to eat but encourages when to eat them instead. Timing is one of the most important intermittent fasting rules.

How to do Intermittent fasting for beginners?

Intermittent fasting is done with different methods and it varies from person to person who does it. However, we shall discuss about the most popular and common method of intermittent fasting in this article which is the 16/8 method.

What is 16/8 method of Intermittent fasting?

The 16/8 method of intermittent fasting is also called the Leangains protocol. Many of us believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but in contrast, this method actually involves skipping breakfast as it restricts the daily intermittent fasting hours – eating period to 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours in between.

For example: A person can set their intermittent fasting times between 1:00-9:00 PM as their eating hours and 16 hours as fasting for the rest. During fasting hours, they can still consume low calorie beverages like green tea, black coffee, water, coconut water in place of solid foods.

Most of the people find this method of 16/8 as the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to follow. That’s why it is one of the most popular types of intermittent fasting.

Here is a sample intermittent fasting plan for your better understanding to help you customize your own diet plan.

NOTE: In intermittent fasting for beginners, it is also important to follow a healthy and nutritious diet in overall along with the eating pattern accordingly. Eating in restricted hours doesn’t mean one can eat in excess and eat anything randomly. With wrong approaches, the efforts will go futile.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting for beginners?

intermittent fasting for beginners

  • Promotes weight loss: As intermittent fasting restricts our timings to eat, it can help us reduce our calorie intake not only by saving our calories during our fasting period but, also with a habit of consuming food in moderation during eating hours. So, it is mostly followed by those, who look forward to losing weight or as a lifestyle to stay fit or to implement healthy and disciplined eating habits.
  • Reduces insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce the chances of insulin resistance as it might help lower blood sugar and fasting insulin levels which protects against type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduces inflammation: Some evidences show that intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation, which also helps lower the risk of many chronic diseases.
  • Better heart health: Intermittent fasting might help reduce LDL cholesterol which is a bad type of cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammation and insulin resistance since these all are risk factors for heart disease.
  • Prevents cancer: Intermittent fasting might help reduce the chances of cancer, as suggested by some animal studies.
  • Better brain health: Intermittent fasting might protect against Alzheimer’s disease by aiding the growth of new nerve cells.
  • Promotes anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan, according to animal studies and also with healthy consumption of food in eating hours with a disciplined pattern, it may be good for skin health.

Who should do intermittent fasting and who should avoid it?

Here is the table of comparison for those who should go for intermittent fasting and for those who should avoid to get a better idea on intermittent fasting for beginners.

FACTORSIntermittent Fasting – YESIntermittent Fasting – NO
SustainabilityIF works for those who can sustain and stay consistent with this eating pattern in a long term.IF may not work for those who can’t follow the eating pattern of IF for long.
LifestyleIF works for those who wake up late and have a lifestyle where skipping breakfast is easier and workout in the evening.IF may not work for those who have a regular habit of consuming breakfast and wake up early in the morning to hit heavy exercise sessions.
HistoryIF works for those who don’t have a medical history in the past and are physically fit in the present.IF may not work for those who have had a history of eating disorders. It is advised to consult a doctor first.
Current Medical/Physical ConditionsIF works for those who are NOT suffering from any medical or physical conditions especially – diabetes, heart disease, hypotension, women who are pregnant etc.Common side effect of IF is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor.
Eating HabitsFor weight loss, IF only works in the cases, if you’re in a calorie deficit with this eating pattern which includes consuming healthy sources like whole foods, protein rich foods, fruits vegetables etc.IF may not help lose weight for those who are in a calorie surplus – eating excess in their eating hours especially – junk food, processed, high calorie foods, large portion size etc.

The Bottom Line

Intermittent fasting has come up as one of the most popular eating patterns and fitness trends indeed. It is mostly adopted by people who wish to lose weight or implement disciplined eating habits in their life to stay healthy and fit.

However, it is not for everyone. It depends on your choice if you wish to do it. You can definitely stay healthy and get desired results without following intermittent fasting too, with a healthy and balanced diet.

But, if you think intermittent fasting is something which might help you reach your fitness goals, go for it with all the right approaches. After all, it is helpful only if you follow the corrects steps to do it.

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