How to Start Intermittent Fasting
Jumping into an intermittent fast without preparing the body will surely lead to failure or at least a miserable experience. Getting the body ready to go into a fasted state takes some strategy, planning, thought.
But where should one begin? Simply follow these two steps:
Step #1: Start With A 12 Time Restricted Eating Window
If this is new to you, start with a 12 hour fast. Be done eating at least three hours before bed and don’t eat for 12 hours. This type of fasting aligns the circadian rhythm with our biology.
Since insulin and digestion come to a near halt at night its best to work with biology than against it. Time restricted eating in a 12-hour window is easy and will start to train the body to burn fat.
Step #2: Start Increasing Your Fasting Window
Depending how easy this is for you, begin to increase your fasting window by an hour each week until you are fasting for a period of 16-18 hours. Now you are getting more into an intermittent fasting mode.
Many intermittent fasting lasts 16-18 hours while compressing the eating window to 6-8 hours. What you are doing is training the body to burn fat as fuel and go into ketosis.
Eat a healthy whole food, plant centric diet in your eating window. This includes low carb veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olives, and olive oil, a moderate amount of beans and low carb fruits. Depending on your goals keep your animal protein to about 20% of your meals and at a level of about .31-.36g/lb of body weight.
This level of protein of for most people who want to achieve healthy longevity. If your goals are to add muscle mass and at a fast pace then you will want to eat more animal protein and at higher levels.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting, click here to read one of our older posts.
Additional Tips for Starting Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting for a few weeks to a month periodically will help your body to adapt to efficiently burning fat as fuel. As you begin training your body to burn fat as fuel, you’ll also want to reduce your carbohydrate intake a few days to weeks leading up to your fast.
Reasonable levels of a low carb diet range between 25-100g of carbs per day. That said, those carbs need to be complex carbohydrates like veggies and beans not bread, candy, sugar, muffins, scones or other refined carbs. All refined carbs are no-no’s.
Also snacking between meals is completely restricted. You are trying to keep insulin and glucose levels low and trigger glucagon to look to fat for fuel, ketosis.
Do what you can to be done eating 2-3 hours before bed, still maintaining a normal circadian rhythm. Keep in mind you don’t need to eat three meals a day. You can do just fine with two. After your body is fat adapted, you’re ready to begin your fast.
A day leading up to you fast really restrict carbs. Definitely no alcohol!
Go into your fast as close to ketosis as possible. It will make it easier.
Final Thoughts on Starting An Intermittent Fasting Program
All that said I have done a lot of intermittent fasts, both water only, and a fasting mimicking diet. Each brings its own unique challenges, but have incredible benefits.
After you achieve you desired fast, be sure to break it with gentle foods like salads, olives, and veggie soups. Add in protein like eggs on the second day and meats and nuts on the third. The entire time be sure to consume adequate water and electrolytes.
Stay tuned for my next article on things to do to make your fast even easier and how to cope with hunger, feeling cold, and grouchy. If you want to learn more on how to start intermittent fasting, make sure to check out my quick tutorial below. - DOCTESTA
About the Author: Dr. Mark Testa, DC, MHA, is an expert in Fasting a Fasting Mimicking Diets. Dr. Mark is Chief Wellness Adviser for Train for Longevity.