The HOW TO of Intermittent Fasting
To first ease your mind, there is no right way to do intermittent fasting. There’s only the right way for you! So how often should you fast? You can fast every day or few times a month, but changing up the schedule throughout your weeks will help you figure out what’s right for you. Here are the steps I recommend to make it work for you and help you know if what you’re doing is working.
- 5/2: Eat a typical diet 5 days a week and use fasting 2 days out of the week, either consecutive or not. I like to begin with Tuesdays and Fridays to “test the waters” of fasting.
- Begin with 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of eating. So, if you stop eating at 8pm, don’t eat again until 8am. This sounds easy, but a 12 hour fast can be a challenge if you are used to eating first thing in the morning and eat multiple times a day. If you aren’t uncomfortable, simply speed up the process. However, I recommend beginning with 12 hours and each time you fast, adding another hour of fasting each day until you are up to 16 hours. Remember that these hours include sleeping time. Beginning your fast after dinner is what most people like but if you are someone that loves to eat in the am simply stop eating by late afternoon.
- TIP: You may feel hungry when you fast and that’s OKAY. However, what you should avoid feeling is lightheaded, dizzy, faint or just plain HANGRY (hungry and angry at the same time). If you are feeling these symptoms, eat food and challenge yourself to prolong fasting for an extra 20 minutes to an hour the next fasting period.
- TIP: You can subdue your hunger by drinking fluids so remember that you can drink water, black coffee or tea while fasting.
- Go from 5/2 to 2/5: You can experiment with fasting more days a week, which means fasting 5 days a week and eating when ever you prefer the other 2 days
- Extend your fasting periods beyond 16 hours to 18-20 hours, or try eating once per day and see if that feels good to you.
*Side Note: There are health benefits to eating once a day like fat loss, and some studies even mention that it can increase life longevity, however, I don’t support it as a lifestyle decision. It is unclear if this method is as effective if you begin at a later stage in life; when your metabolism has declined, you tend to be less hungry anyway. It also difficult to get all the nutrients you need to thrive if you only eat once per day.
- TIP: Remember to eat when you innately feel led to. Listen to your body’s direction and don’t pressure yourself to eat less just because you’re trying to meet a goal. There is a line between challenging yourself and suffering needlessly, only you know the difference.
- You can experiment with multi day fasts. This means 2,3,5, even 7 day fasts or longer, which man has done since the beginning of time. The rules are simple, you just don’t eat, but you should drink plenty of non caloric liquids. Adding a pinch of Himalayan Sea salt to your water once a day and or adding an electrolyte supplement to your water daily can keep away muscle cramps and fatigue.
- Just in case you’ve heard of them this, there are also proponents of “DRY” fasting. That means that besides food you also don’t drink any fluids. I only recommend it if you plan to fast no more than 48 hours. Be sure to get your doctor’s approval first and check for signs of dehydration or malnourishment during any extended fasting. As of now I don’t see a reason for the “Dry” fast outside of 12 hours at a time, but I can always learn more.
- TIP: Don’t go beyond a 24 hour fast without having a WHY. This is an understanding of why you want to fast for that long. If there is no why, then there is no point of extended fasting. Some examples of strong whys are obesity that is causing health issues, certain chronic digestive issues, and spiritual growth.