The Advantages Of Intermittent Fasting & Your First Fast

It’s known as intermittent fasting, or IF for short and it’s become pretty popular in the couple of years, but what is it? Just another dieting fad, or a genuinely healthy way of eating? Well the good news is that intermittent fasting may actually be much healthier than the more normal pattern of eating exercised throughout the developed world.

Salad - ideal pre-fasting food

(Salads are ideal for a pre-fasting meal. Image Credit)

The theory behind IF is that we were created by evolution over hundreds of thousands of years and therefore it makes sense that we should perform best under the sorts of conditions we evolved in. Suffice to say that our ancestors didn’t eat 3 or 4 times a day and they may often have gone for several days without food.

But you care about your lifestyle and how IF can help with weight loss right? Ok, so let’s look at the upsides:

Lose Weight

No matter what eating plan you are on, to lose weight you need to eat less. Eat too much and you’ll gain weight. So not eating is obviously going to lead to weight loss as long as you don’t overcompensate when you do eat.

Change How You Eat

By going without food you learn that you don’t actually have to be a slave to your appetite. Not eating is ok and you don’t have to plan your life around food. It’s actually very liberating!

Keep Your Muscle

It’s best to work-out whilst following an IF diet and assuming you do so, fasting actually spares muscle compared to a ‘regular’ diet with a similar calorie deficit. Keeping muscle means you lose more fat, so that’s a good thing.

Clear Out The Toxins

Your body spends most of its time digesting food and it’s not great at multi-tasking, so when you stop eating, something amazing happens: digestion stops and your body instead focuses on repairing and clearing out toxins.

Your First Fast

Intermittent fasting isn’t an easy way to lose weight (there’s no easy way to lose weight), but it is a tool which will help you to adhere to a healthier lifestyle. Before you can benefit you need to resolve to eat more healthily and live better.

In the days before your first fast you should clean up your diet, don’t eat anything processed or unhealthy. That includes things like:

  • Bread, Pasta & Rice
  • Cakes, Cookies & Biscuits
  • And Only Drink Water

Additionally, the day before your fast, lower your calorie intake. Overeating in preparation is a bad idea since it will just up-regulate your appetite for the following day. Focus on only eating low-calorie and nutritious food (think vitamins).

You can also supplement some vitamins if you struggle to eat enough veg (although don’t use that as an excuse not to eat any veg) and some whey protein might also help, since protein satiates you better than carbs or fat.

How Long To Fast For

Some people fast for a day or more at a time and others stick to regular shorter fasts, so just focus on what works for you. For your first fast you will probably want to keep it less than 24 hours, but you can try a longer fast once you get used to it.

A popular option is to fast for 20 hours and have a 4 hour eating window, but you could even start with a 16 hour fast and 8 hour eating window.

If you are doing shorter fasts you can fast every day, and once you get used to it, sticking to a daily 18 hour fast is actually fairly easy. You basically skip breakfast, have a late lunch and eat dinner at a normal time, then don’t snack in the evening.

If you prefer longer fasts you can try one or two 24 to 36 hour fasts a week. Just find which option suits you best.

How To Survive Your First Fast

Just remember that the first fast is the hardest one, particularly because of the detoxing that occurs. Detoxing releases toxins into your body (ready to be flushed out) and it can cause side-effects which make you feel a bit rubbish.

Rest assured though, this is temporary and once you begin your healthy lifestyle you will be able to keep it up and you’ll feel better as a result. Remember to eating lots of natural foods and avoid any additional toxins – this will make your body’s job easier.

As you start fasting, as long as you don’t overeat during feeding times, your appetite will diminish. Appetite is more habit than actual need, so fasting does get easier and eventually you will find that you don’t even think about it!

If you do choose to experiment with IF, good luck with your first few fasts. Stick at it and before long you will feel the amazing health benefits and lose weight at the same time.


Jonathon is a fitness freak and intermittent faster. He works for Natures Best (visit their website here) who sell supplements and supplies for anyone who wants to live a little more healthily.

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