INTERMITTENT FASTING – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Intermittent fasting is something you can do, no matter what you are eating. For the people following any form of a low-carb high-fat diet, intermittent fasting is what I wholeheartedly recommend for the best results.
For those of you who have never fasted before, first things first – the whole point is letting your body dictate when you should eat. When I did it for the first time, I was positive I could do the entire 24 hours. Guess what? I did 16 hours because I was close to faint. My body was exhausted. I had to eat, and my body was clear about that.
Real intermittent fasting is basically consuming only water during your fasting period. Of course, some people (myself included) cannot run on water alone. I need my coffee. So, black coffee is allowed, tea is allowed, vitamins and minerals are allowed (even recommended).
The period of fasting is definitely an individual thing. You should listen to your body – eat only when you are really hungry. Morning is the time of day when your hormones, like cortisol (“stress hormone”), can make you feel slight hunger. Once you learn that’s not real hunger, you’ll start intermittent fasting. You will realize how much longer you can keep on going without consuming any food.
On the other hand, if you start feeling headache, stomachache, weakness, and fatigue – that’s your body telling you it is time to eat. These symptoms will be especially present at the beginning. As you start feeling comfortable with fasting, they will disappear. It might take a while (a couple of weeks or months), but you just need to keep on going.
If you are used to eating three meals and 2 or more snacks, you need to start intermittent fasting slowly and gradually. First, forget about snacks and focus on three meals per day. Important things to remember is to eat enough fat to keep you satiated from meal to meal, and enough vegetables to provide you with all the vitamins and minerals. Once you are on a 3-meal pattern, let your body tell you when to eat. Once you ditch the carbs, you will realize that you are not really hungry first thing in the morning. That’s when you might start changing your eating time vs. fasting time.
e.g. 12:12 (fasting : eating), 3-meal pattern
8 am breakfast – 2 pm lunch – 8 pm dinner
e.g. 16:8 (fasting : eating), 3-meal pattern
10 am breakfast – 2 pm lunch – 6 pm dinner
e.g. 18:6 (fasting : eating), 2-meal pattern
12 pm brunch – 6 pm dinner
e.g. 20:4 (fasting : eating), 2-meal pattern
2 pm lunch – 6 pm dinner
e.g. 24:0 (fasting : eating), 1-meal pattern (OMAD)
it is up to you to choose the time of the day when you eat your meal
These are some suggested and pretty common patterns. You should find the one (after experimenting and trying) that works best for you. However, whichever you chose, I highly recommend keeping yourself busy. If you just sit around and wait for the next meal, trust me guys, the time stands still.
During the fasting period, you will probably drink a lot more water than you usually do. Therefore, you will be “losing” some precious minerals, and your sodium level might get down. That is why it is essential to add some sea salt to your water, take some electrolytes to avoid having a headache, lack of energy, and feeling overall weakness.
Before I wrap it up, it is important to mention that with the benefits (weight loss, focus, a clear mind, better skin, no inflammation…), intermittent fasting brings certain side effects.
– Uric acid level goes up, which can lead to gout or kidney stones (if you ignore the symptoms like your toes hurting, pain in your joints, kidneys, etc.- it might happen). To prevent that, increase your potassium intake, your electrolytes, eat a lot of salads, and most importantly LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
– Headache – similar to what happens when you start ketosis. If you are not already fat-adapted, your body is still running on sugar. When you are skipping meals or increasing the fasting periods, your brain is going to feel it, and you may have a headache from low blood sugar. If you are not on any low-carb diet, this is normal; it might last for a couple of days, don’t stress about it. Drink a lot of water and take up your vitamins and minerals to help you go through this phase.
– Nausea, when you eat a meal after 18 or 20 hours of fasting, is not so common, but it might happen. Your body is just going through the adaptation, and it needs time to get used to the new routine.
– Stomachache or heartburn may occur because fasting increases acids in your stomach. If it happens, I would suggest pushing through this phase, if you can, and eating at the “scheduled” time. If you cannot do that, then just eat something, and the problem will be gone.
– Dizziness, fatigue, fainting – this might happen if you don’t go into fasting gradually. If you start intermittent fasting with whole 24 hours without eating, you will feel some of these, for sure. Lack of electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, etc. might cause it. That’s why I always recommend starting it slowly and adjusting your fasting vs. eating windows over time.