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Intermittent Fasting 101: How to Do It the Right Way

When factoring in the wealth of weight loss and health trends, differentiating the unsafe ones from the reliable options can be an uphill battle. After all, it seems like a new trend crops up every other day, for instance, the Cookie Diet and Baby Food Diet, both of which seem unreal.

The problem with most of the fad diets is that they’re unproven, realistic, and restrictive for anyone to maintain in the long run. Nonetheless, intermittent fasting, also known as time-restricted eating, is a more sustainable lifestyle.

It’s a popular pattern that has been in existence and is still practiced in a boatload of cultures across the globe. Before you jump on the bandwagon, read on to learn about intermittent fasting 101 and the ideal way to do it.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

As an acronym for IF, intermittent fasting defines an eating pattern that cycles between eating and fasting periods. Rather than a traditional diet of what you should eat, it specifies when you should eat them. In that regard, intermittent fasting can be accurately described as an eating pattern. Common intermittent fasting methods entail 24-hour or 16-hour fasts, at least twice per week.

You may not realize that fasting has been a common practice throughout human evolution because ancient hunters didn’t have access to food, refrigerators, or supermarkets year-round which means at times they couldn’t find food to eat. Therefore, as humans evolved, they could function without food for extended periods.

The truth is, fasting from time to time is recommended, rather than consuming up to 4 meals per day. Additionally, fasting is a common practice for spiritual or religious reasons in Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Intermittent Fasting 101: The History

In addition to the natural fasting everyone experiences when sleeping, fasting is almost as ancient as human history. In pre-civilized times, when you think about it, the option to casually stroll to your refrigerator to grab something to eat or drink anytime didn’t exist.

Instead, humans were forced to wait for extended periods between meals which depended on a successful hunt. Since this era, intermittent fasting has been embraced as a cultural or spiritual norm.

Catholics fast during Good Friday and Ash Wednesday. Muslims refrain from eating from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan for a month. A multitude of Buddhists employs intermittent fasting every day for improved mental clarity.

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In the religious aspect, refraining from food is a means of purifying the spirit, mind, and body. The same concept is applied to other settings, for instance, Ayurvedic medicine, as a means of healing. Even in the Western culture, one of the inventors of medicine, Paracelsus, stated that fasting is the best remedy. Rather than a fad trend, intermittent fasting is an integral part of human nature.

Intermittent Fasting 101: The Health Benefits

Let‘s face it. For most people, intermittent fasting is compelling for one major reason; weight loss. Research has shown that it’s safe and effective in burning fat and achieving desired weight loss. Various Intermittent fasting studies have shown some level of weight loss that ranges from 2.5% to 9.9%. Other perks that come with IF are:

Life Expectancy

Despite the lack of definitive research in humans, intermittent fasting has proven to be effective in prolonging life and slowing down aging in rats and mice, increasing the life expectancy rate by anywhere between 4% and 27%. However, the results conflict with monkeys, our fellow primates.


Intermittent fasting has proven to boost memory and brain health in older adults. Additionally, the strong preclinical evidence shows that intermittent fasting effectively prevents or delays the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Cardiovascular Health

Intermittent fasting improves various indicators of heart health such as cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, insulin, heart rate, and triglycerides.


Current studies are delving into the impact of intermittent fasting on patients with cancer. In addition to impairing the energy metabolism in cancer cells, a boatload of animal studies has proven that intermittent fasting inhibits tumor growth, increasing its susceptibility to radiation and chemotherapy.

Physical Function

Human research proves that intermittent fasting can enable your body to retain muscle mass more efficiently. Various animal studies have shown improved coordination, endurance, and balance.


A myriad of studies has proven that intermittent fasting lowers particular blood indicators of inflammation that may positively impact chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and multiple sclerosis.

Intermittent Fasting 101: The Starting Point

If you want to try out a fasting method, the first step is to stock up on healthy foods. Although it’s not a requirement for any intermittent fasting method, it’ll help you maximize the results. Consuming processed foods and junk during your feeding window is unhealthy and increases empty calories and sugar in your body.

Once you have the supplies you require for a balanced meal plan; you’ll want to monitor your sleep. Mist adults require an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

To start with an intermittent fasting lifestyle, consider the time you’re sleeping during your fasting window. When you begin intermittent fasting, the simplest schedule is to avoid eating 2 hours before bed, wait 2 hours after waking up before breakfast, and aim to sleep for at least 7 hours. Doing so is an excellent starting point for a 12-hour breakfast.

The best part is that you’re asleep for most of the fast. 12:12 is a simple starting point, particularly if you typically don’t snack in the nighttime. Once your body gets used to it, you can progress to the 14:10.

The 14:10 entails refraining from eating at least 3 hours before your bedtime, 3 hours after waking up, and getting 8 hours of sleep. Keep in mind that when you begin a new type or phase of intermittent fasting, it’s important to give your body 7 to 10 days to adjust before you throw in the towel.

After you manage to fast for 14 hours per day, we recommend sticking to your fasting period for a few months before you attempt to increase the fasting window. Overall the idea is to start slow, gradually increasing the length of fasting after a while. Doing so will allow your body to recognize if it’s a healthy solution for you, depending on the desired outcome.

The Starting Point

Types of Intermittent Fasting

The regimens of this eating pattern vary in duration. Although some are more intense than others, we’ll delve start with the mildest types as we work our way up.

14:10 and 12:12

These windows define fasting for 14 or 12 hours and eating all meals within a 10-hour or 12-hour window. What makes this an easy adjustment is that it isn’t far off from your normal habits. With this schedule, it’s crucial to maintain the same timing. Rather than constantly changing your eating window, eat between 9 am and 7 pm every day.


Also referred to as the Lean Gains Protocol, Martin Berkhan initially created the 16-hour fast as an effective tool for bodybuilders and weightlifters. It involves refraining from eating after dinner and skipping breakfast.


In this approach, you eat as you would for five days of the week and strictly consume 500 to 600 calories on the remaining two days of the week. Like other fasting methods, the 5:2 intermittent fasting is only effective if you eat normally during your allocated feeding window. If you’re limiting your calorie intake, for instance, on Tuesday and Thursday, it’s essential to avoid overeating on the other days of the week.


As an acronym for one meal a day, OMAD is just as it sounds, whereby you only eat one per day. It’s the most challenging type of intermittent fasting. If you work your way up to this eating pattern, you should have a plan for moderate eating once you stop the fasting period and the duration you intend to do it.


It steps up the 5:2 intermittent fasting by a few notches whereby you eat as you would for five days and fast entirely for the remaining two days of the week. Although this isn’t an eating pattern you’d start, it’s one you can work your way towards. Furthermore, fasting for two days out of the week might not be sustainable in the long run.

Therefore, we recommend opting for an eating pattern that works perfectly for you as a lifestyle change rather than a short-term push. Otherwise, intermittent fasting becomes counterproductive.

Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?

Although the eating pattern is regarded as safe for most people, limiting calories for an extended duration might not suit everyone. You should consult with your healthcare provider before you start an intermittent fasting regimen if you fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Pregnant women
  • Diabetics
  • Breastfeeding women
  • History of low blood pressure
  • Underweight
  • History of an eating disorder
  • Elderly
  • Difficulties regulating blood sugar level
  • Children
  • Take medications that require taking them with food

Intermittent Fasting 101: How It Impacts Your Hormones and Cells

During your fasting window, an array of things occurs in your body on the molecular and cellular levels. For instance, your body adjusts its hormone levels to allow for the easier accessibility of stored fat. Furthermore, your cells initiate the essential repair processes and alter the expression of genes. We’ve rounded up the changes that take place in your body when you fast.

1. Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

The levels of the growth hormone rise by as much as five-fold, which ushers in the perks for muscle gain and fat loss.

2. Insulin

Intermittent fasting increases the body’s insulin sensitivity, and insulin levels drop drastically. Reduced insulin levels increase accessibility to the stored body fat.

3. Cellular Repair

During fasting, your cells initiate the cellular repair processes that include autophagy, whereby the body absorbs the cells and gets rid of the dysfunctional and old proteins that build up.

4. Gene Expression

There are changes in the function of the genes when it comes to protection against ailments and longevity.

Listen to Your Body

Just like other eating patterns, the results of any intermittent fasting schedule rely solely on your lifestyle and body. With this guide on intermittent fasting 101, you can test it out and see if it works for you. As you do so, be patient with your body, adjust the eating patterns to mesh well with your needs, and, more importantly, listen to your body throughout the journey.