Intermittent Fasting (IF) is definitely a hot button topic. When I started paying attention to my blog analytics + the messages I have been receiving, I noticed 2 things: 1. People are curious 2. People are looking for answers.
Before I continue on with my tips on getting started with IF, take a few minutes to read through my "what happened with I stopped eating breakfast" post. It goes through the basics and benefits of IF in easy to understand terms.
Once you've done that, let's dive in!
Here are my tips and suggestions for getting started with If:
Do your own research
Every body is different. Everyone has their own issues. Just like I did my research in starting Keto, you've got to do the same thing here. Start with a Google Search, start listening to podcasts on Intermittent Fasting, and start soaking in advice from credible sources.
Immerse yourself in the knowledge and start doing the mental work to set yourself up for success. It was so much easier for me to make the switch mentally and physically when I had the science to back me up. I was able to push through cravings and hunger pangs in the beginning because I knew what I was working toward.
If you like Podcasts, I recommend listening to all of the podcasts on Fasting Talk. It's extreme, yes, as they talk about not just Intermittent Fasting, but extended fasting. Like "let's fast for a week or two" fasting. I'm definitely not there, I'm focused more on IF, but it's FASCINATING.
If you want to read or listen to a book, I recommend The Complete Guide to Fasting. Even though I haven't finished the book just yet, I've read enough to confidently recommend it. The same people who wrote this book facilitated the Fasting Talk podcast and the information is the same.
The next book I'm going to read is the Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. I am really excited to dive into that! You can read it too and we can have a book club, cool?
One of the best ways you can start IF is by being conscious of your snacking and working to eliminate it all together. Make the most out of your meal times by eating delicious and nutritionally dense food. If you feel the urge to snack out of habit or because you're "snack-y" (my word for when I want to eat because I'm bored or want to avoid something), distract yourself by drinking a glass of water or a La Croix, doing a beneficial chore like putting away laundry, or simply changing your scenery (leave the room). Doing a combination of these things helps to distract my mind from wanting to snack.
This was particularly difficult after dinner. I was a major after dinner snacker and I still struggle with this from time to time! It's most helpful when I have an activity like crochet or I'm browsing things on Pinterest -- something to keep my hands busy. It's also mega helpful if I keep cravings or snack ideas to myself. As soon as I say them out loud, it's over.
Understand the if Eating Windows
The typical eating windows for IF are:
The first number is how many hours you go without eating (fasting). The second number is the accumulative hours where you can eat. Let's take 16:8 for example, if you FINISH eating dinner at 7:00 and don't have any after dinner snacks, then your fasting would last until 11:00am. That's 16 hours of IF. Then, you would have from 11:00 am - 7:00 pm to eat your 2 meals.
Let's do the same thing for 18:6. If you finish dinner by 7:00pm, then you could have your first meal after 1:00pm and your 2nd meal would be finished by 7:00pm.
And just for good measure let's see what 20:4 would look like. If you finish dinner by 7:00pm, then you would eat between 3:00-7:00pm. Easy enough, right?
Set yourself up for Success
Keto and Intermittent Fasting work very well together. Because of the high fat content in the Keto Way of Eating, you stay fuller for longer periods of time. This enables you to go longer in between meals. When you're eating mostly carbohydrates, you do not stay full. I can attest to this from my own experience.
I share more details on that in this blog post.
So, when you're ready to make your first attempt at IF, eat a good Keto meal the night before. Make sure that you eat enough. One of the worst things you can do for your body and your metabolism is eat a low calorie meal before you fast.
You can totally do IF without doing Keto or another low carb eating style, it's just going to be difficult. Again, I can back that up from my own experience.
See how long you can go before eating your first meal
When you wake up in the morning, don't tell yourself that you can't eat. Don't obsess about it. For me, when I obsess about something I drive myself so crazy that I find myself doing exactly what I said I wouldn't do. Can anyone relate to that?
When you're just starting out, all you're doing is seeing how long you can go before you eat your first meal. Get out of bed, have a glass of water, **drink a cup of coffee and do all of your morning things (other than having a bowl of cereal, a couple of pieces of toast, and a glass of orange juice. Don't do that).
When you are legitimately hungry (not when you're bored, eating because others are eating, or because it's "time" to eat), have your first meal. Pay attention to the time and see how long you went between the last thing you ate the night before and now (including sleeping time!).
Those are my tips for getting started! If this is something that you're interested in or think would benefit you, you should give it a try! I know it might seem scary to think about going 16, 18, or 20 hours without having a snack or skipping a whole meal, but let me tell you that you are totally capable of doing it! If you can't make it a full 16 hours, be proud of yourself going 10 or 12! This is YOUR journey your progress is the only thing that matters.
I love this quote,
Thinking through that quote has helped me stay focused on what I am doing and not be envious of other people, but inspired by them.
I am going to continue writing about IF and what I'm learning because there is so much more! Hopefully, through me sharing my experience, I can help you feel empowered to try something new and take a close look at your habits and internal health. I don't claim to have all the answers and I'm definitely not a medical professional, but I can share my story and hopefully encourage someone else. Let's get to it! - JJ
**A note about Coffee. You can have coffee during your fasting times. Black coffee is best. You can have a splash of cream (I use Heavy Whipping Cream) and it will not break your fast. A bulletproof coffee WILL break your fast, though. So just be mindful of what you put in your coffee and how much you're putting in your coffee.