Getting Started Intermittent Fasting
Here is a practical guide for those who would like to try it.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) has gained popularity in recent years.
A lot of people are talking about it, some people are trying it, and others have made enduring changes to their eating schedules, improving health, quality of life, and potentially longevity.
Here is a practical guide for those who would like to get started.
This goes out to my pal The Meistah who has been asking me about IF and to everyone else who seeks a no-nonsense introduction.
At the end of the post, I include some resources for those who would like to continue to delve.
Here’s stuff you need to know up front.
1. Talk to your doctor.
If you have any medical conditions (like Diabetes or Crohn’s) or concerns, talk to your doctor. If you have Severe Obesity, call Dr. Tro. Seriously, he’s the guy.
2. Why IF?
IF reduces T2 Diabetes risk.
It reduces inflammation.
It may increase your lifespan.
It may reduce cancer risk.
It helps us stay lean.
It may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
It promotes cellular healing.
This last one, cellular healing, fancy term autophagy, is a big deal and contributes to the full list above and probably more.
Autophagy is a critical process where your body cleans up damaged cells. It’s one of those things you don’t hear enough about but is incredibly important.
Like Melatonin production, your body does less of it as you get older. One way to foster it is to leave your body with more time when it is not busy digesting food. So, eating less frequently promotes autophagy.
3. Consistency is incredibly important.
You want to keep this going and be steady about it day after day and month after month.
It's not about perfection. You will have times when you eat late or early. It doesn't matter as long as you get back at it in short order.
Consistency is the key to pretty much everything health related - nutrition, exercise, sleep hygiene, and IF.
4. Eat nutrient-rich foods.
If you eat nutrient-poor foods, you will sabotage your fasting efforts and increase your risk of failure.
The reason is simple - you need to give your body the nutrition it needs to function well. If you don’t, your body continues to crave those nutrients and so will tell your brain you're still hungry.
Nutrient-poor foods include foods that are low in protein but high in carbs including sugar and/or fat. Cakes, ice cream, breads, sweet fruits, pasta, sweet sauces, breakfast cereals and almost anything else out of a box are examples of nutrient-poor foods.
Nutrient-rich foods include fish, chicken, beef, greek yogurt, eggs, and the like. When you eat these foods, you feel less hungry because you’ve given your body what it needs.
Your body knows.
(As an aside, if you’re a vegetarian, this post is not for you. I write from my own experiences and knowledge and animal protein works for me.)
5. Mind The Right Foot Rule.
If you get off on the right foot, you increase your odds of success. This means making certain the first thing you eat everyday is nutrient rich.
I’m huge on Greek Yogurt (usually with some whey protein powder), eggs, chicken, or canned salmon for breaking fast.
6. IF is not about willpower.
The idea is not to deprive yourself and feel like you are starving. The idea is not portion control or calorie counting.
The idea is to get to a place where you’re not hungry during the fasting window. You get there by following 4 and 5 above.
7. Eat nutrient-rich foods during the eating window until you are sate.
Eat as much animal protein, yogurt, fish etc as you want.
Feast. Go ahead. You will be surprised by how hard it is to overeat nutrient-rich foods and how your body begins to regulate naturally.
8. Black coffee helps, especially early on.
When you wake up and don’t eat until noon or so, drinking black coffee (no sugar either, obviously), it makes it easier to get by without breakfast.
9. You’re going to fall off the wagon.
You’re going to eat late or early or whatever. The key is to get back at it.
10. Alcohol is a wrench in the machine.
It’s nutrient-poor, lowers your inhibitions so you are more likely to late night garbage eat, and makes the morning tough because your body is craving real nutrition.
Just telling it like it is.
The IF Schedule
Ok, all that said, let’s discuss how to IF.
There are many ways to set your eating window. It can get complicated and then people get confused.
We’re going to begin with one schedule that is the most straightforward and probably the most popular.
Once you have been IF’ing for a bit and want to add some variations, great. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up post called Intermediate IF.
This one schedule is called 16-8.
That is, you fast 16 consecutive hours and then have an 8 hour window where you eat.
The simplest way to do this is by not snacking after dinner and then skipping breakfast.
So, don’t eat from 8 PM to 12 PM the next day and do eat from 12 PM to 8 PM.
Reminder - #5 above, the right foot rule. Make sure the first thing you eat at 12 PM is nutrient-rich. Chicken, shrimp, burgers no bun, 8 egg omelette, etc.
TL;DR - Don’t eat between 8 PM and noon and eat nutrient-rich food.
If you have any questions or comments, reply to this newsletter email, hit the comments below, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some links that might be helpful getting started or maintaining.
Autophagy: What You Need To Know (Healthline)
Consistency Leads To Everything (Prime Cuts)
What to Eat (Prime Cuts)
Fasting Tips and Strategies (Dr. Tro)
The Opposite of Willpower (Prime Cuts)