Intermittent fasting for beginners has two rules to follow: (1) Fasting has to be pleasurable and NOT stressful. (2) Fasting has to be simple and NOT rigid.
From an experienced faster’s standpoint, I have a few suggestions for intermittent fasting beginners. There are two major reasons for people who want to do intermittent fasting (IF) – weight loss or health or both. In any case, it’s good to observe these two formulas:
More rules = more complicated = low chance of success
Less rules = less complicated = high chance of success
In terms of health, a 24 hour period off of eating is very healthful, it helps you reduce calories without sacrificing what you like to eat on your non-fasting days, and maybe even more importantly it stimulates your body to produce more growth hormone. Yes that’s right growth hormone, the same one you hear about the celebrities taking to ‘stay young’. Growth hormone has many anti aging benefits, and one of the most interesting being fat burning!
How to do Intermittent Fasting?
In an ideal situation, 2 sessions of 24-hour fasts in a week will be good enough to produce significant health and weight loss benefits. However for beginners, you are not recommended to jump start with a 24-hour fast, unless you are absolutely sure that you can do it.
There is no standard rule of doing IF. Simply try it and make it work for you. Let simplicity and flexibility be your fasting motto. Don’t make it stressful for yourself.
As a beginner to practice intermittent fasting, I would say ‘clear your mind from any other weight loss methods and focus on IF’. This is your first step towards IF success. Think how many times you’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal in a day or you need to eat 6 to 10 small meals a day in order to lose weight. I’m not saying these rules are wrong. If these rules work for you, stay with them. But if you are setting your feet onto the route of intermittent fasting, better put these concepts aside at least for the period you are trying out IF.
Having your IF mindset ready? Then begin with ‘skip meal’ and see how your body responds. I would say this is the simplest and easiest way to begin your intermittent fasting journey.
Pick a day to try ‘skip breakfast’. Have fresh juice, water or tea instead. No coffee please. If that works out fine, try ‘skip lunch’ and move on progressively. A 24-hour fast can be done by anybody with an appropriate fasting mindset. One useful tip is not to think of food. Avoid social talk at the pantry over lunch hour. Go out for a walk or do some simple exercises.
You can also explore these IF options:
• Condensed eating window, e.g. eat ONLY between 11am and 5pm;
• Skip meal on an unplanned basis, as far as it is natural and not interfere your daily work;
• Early and late, i.e. skip lunch;
• One meal a day, ideally dinner only when you are relaxed and really have time to enjoy food.
To repeat, fasting has to be pleasurable and not stressful. Don’t press hard on yourself. Be flexible. This is very important. Don’t upset your boss when you are called upon a business lunch by telling him that you are fasting. Do it as you see fit and your schedule permits.