intermittent fasting

How to do Intermittent Fasting Safely and Naturally

Written by JJ Smith, certified weight management specialist (NESTA) and nutritionist (ANA)

Posted April 28th, 2021 under Diet/Weight Loss, Health and Wellness

Learn 6 Ways to do Intermittent Fasting and Tips on Successful Weight Loss

For many people who have tried other weight loss strategies, intermittent fasting is one that works and enables easy and consistent weight loss. Because you can choose the intermittent fasting method that meets your lifestyle needs, it’s much easier to follow and achieve success.

Intermittent fasting can result in a range of health benefits including weight loss, increased energy, mental clarity, stable blood sugar levels, and healthy liver support. However, intermittent fasting is not for everyone and this eating approach should be fully researched and understood before switching to this eating pattern.

Please consult your healthcare practitioner before starting intermittent fasting. Do not start intermittent fasting if you have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, are underweight, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or under the age of 18. If you’re taking any medication for any condition including diabetes, please discuss this with your doctor before beginning intermittent fasting.

In this blog, I share with you the key information you need to know about intermittent fasting including how to do intermittent fasting and tips on intermittent fasting for weight loss. Make sure you do your research before starting intermittent fasting – take your time to understand the different ways to do intermittent fasting and the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

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What is Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating and lifestyle approach, cycling between periods of eating and extended fasting. Intermittent fasting does not restrict the types of food you eat and drink.

The key facts on intermittent fasting you need to know:

  • There are 6 popular intermittent fasting methods. Popular strategies include 16-hour fasts or twice-weekly 24-hour fasts.
  • After 12 hours of not eating, your body enters fat burning mode. This is why most intermittent fasting approaches recommend a minimum 12-hour fasting period.
  • Intermittent fasting is an eating style or pattern – it is not a diet.
  • The human body is capable of functioning without food for long time periods. Fasting has been around for as long as humankind. Fasting is practiced for a range of spiritual and religious reasons.
  • Intermittent fasting does not place restrictions on the types of food and drink you consume. However, there are some dietary recommendations that enable an easier and more successful intermittent fasting experience. As well, depending on the type of intermittent fast you follow, you might consume a reduced calorie level for specific time periods.
  • During fasting, your body changes at a cellular and molecular level. Some of these changes make it easier for you to burn stubborn body fat and repair cellular damage.

Please remember intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Many people cannot adjust to fasting periods and experience side effects such as low energy, light-headedness, and fatigue.

If you do not feel well with intermittent fasting – do not continue this eating approach. People who have an existing medical condition or take medication should consult their doctor before fasting.

What are the Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can result in health benefits – but only when it is done safely, naturally, and responsibly. Restricted eating is not right for everyone and should be done with close attention to how your body is responding, both physically and mentally.

These three key health benefits of intermittent fasting highlight why fasting is so popular:

  1. Easy to lose belly fat and stubborn body fat. When you skip breakfast twice a week or only eat during an 8-hour time period, you turn on your fat-burning mode known as ketosis, kickstart your metabolism, balance your blood sugar levels, and can more easily lose weight and keep your curves.
  2. Improved liver health. Intermittent fasting has trickle-down health benefits for your liver. Because your body uses stored fat for energy during fasted periods, your liver is not overwhelmed with insulin spikes, working to burn off excess carbohydrates and fat, or processing additives and toxins from the foods you consume. This creates the ideal situation for a natural and safe liver cleanse, making it easier for you to heal and support your liver, lose visceral fat, and limit your risk of fatty liver disease.
  3. Reduces the risk of serious health conditions and disease. Obesity, belly fat, and stored body fat are primary contributors to numerous health conditions and disease. Any loss of extra stored body fat is beneficial in improving liver function, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and reducing the risk of fatty liver disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

John Hopkins neuroscientist, Mark Mattson, Ph. D., has studied intermittent fasting for 25 years and in a recent article he said,

Many things happen during intermittent fasting that can protect organs against chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, ag-related neurogenerative disorders, even inflammatory bowel disease and many cancers.

6 Ways to do Intermittent Fasting

These six popular approaches to intermittent fasting underscore how easy it is to incorporate intermittent fasting into your lifestyle. There is no “right” approach – choose the intermittent fasting approach that fits your lifestyle.

  1. 16:8 Method
    Fast daily for 14 – 16 hours and eat during an 8 – 10 hour window. The simplest way to do this is to not eat after supper and to skip breakfast.Some people follow this strategy daily and others do it only once or twice a week. You have the flexibility to follow this however you like. Choose an 8 – 10-hour window for eating such as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. – this eating window should fit easily into your routine and habits.Be careful not to overeat during the eating period – this is common when people start fasting and worry about being hungry or low on energy. Eat your normal meals and focus on balanced nutrition.
  2. 5:2 Diet
    Eat normally for five days a week and eat only 500-600 calories for the remaining two days.Also known as the Fast Diet, this is the most popular intermittent fasting approach. With the 5:2 Diet you may choose for example to eat normally Monday – Wednesday, fast Thursday, eat normally Friday – Saturday, and fast Sunday.The key is to have one day between fasting periods and to eat normal sized meals. On your fasting days, focus on highly nutritious meals with ample fiber and protein and make sure you’re staying hydrated. You may choose to eat three meals or two eat only lunch and supper. Do what feels right for you.
  3. Eat Stop Eat
    This intermittent fasting approach includes a 24-hour fast twice a week.During the 24-hour fasting periods, you can consume water, tea, coffee, and zero-calorie beverages.Choose two non-consecutive days for your fasting days, for example Monday and Wednesday. Eat normally on the remaining five days, but do not overeat or think you need to compensate for your fasting days.Healthline explains a method for following Eat Stop Eat: If you’re fasting from 9 a.m. Tuesday until 9 a.m. Wednesday, you’ll make sure to eat a meal prior to 9 a.m. on Tuesday. Your next meal will occur after 9 a.m. on Wednesday. This way, you ensure you’re fasting a full 24 hours – but no longer.
  4. Alternate Day Fast
    Requires you to fast every other day. You may choose to consume no calories on your fast days or to limit calorie intake to 500 calories.On fasting days, you can drink as many calorie-free beverages as you want. If you’re following a modified Alternate Day Fast, you can consume up to 500 calories of food.For many people, a modified fast is easier to sustain both mentally and physically.
  5. Warrior Diet
    This is a more restricted type of intermittent fasting, requiring you to eat only small servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day and one large meal in the early evening.This is an extreme approach to intermittent fasting and puts people at risk of missing out on crucial nutrients.Please read this Healthline article carefully before proceeding with the Warrior Diet – and make sure you contact your doctor beforehand.
  6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
    This intermittent fasting approach gives you the most freedom, allowing you to skip meals when it makes sense for you.Similar to intuitive eating, if you find you’re not hungry in the morning you may skip breakfast and another day may not be hungry for lunch, so you skip this meal.It’s important with this approach you do not ignore hunger signals or skip multiple meals in a row. As well, focus on highly nutritious meals and staying hydrated. If you’re active, do not skip meals around exercise or work-outs – your body needs these calories for recovery.

One of the main reasons people follow intermittent fasting is the minimal impacts it has on their daily routine. Success comes with choosing an approach that is right for you and by not stretching or extending the fasting periods – more fasting or prolonged fasting does not mean better outcomes.

If you’re curious about intermittent fasting, post on the JJ Smith Facebook community page – there, you’ll connect with other people who, like you, want to take charge of their health.

6 Tips on Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Remember these six tips for intermittent fasting for weight loss:

  1. Food quality matters. Make sure you’re eating nutritious and balanced meals. Try to incorporate liver superfoods into your diet and check out my recommended recipes. Fasting does not mean you can eat low-quality or junk food during your eating periods – your body needs essential nutrients to support your health and wellness.
  2. Do not overeat. Many people fear being hungry during their fasting periods and as a result overeat during the eating periods. Eat normal meals, focus on fruits, vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and slow-acting carbohydrates.
  3. Stay hydrated. Restricting food intake does not mean restricting your water intake. Your liver and all other organs need water to function properly. On your fasting days, try to start your day with a large glass of lukewarm water and aim to drink 2 to 3 liters of water throughout the day.
  4. Break your fast slowly. It’s tempting to dive into a big meal after fasting – but this will likely result in digestive problems and can cause you to overeat. Take your time, chew slowly, enjoy your meal, and focus on nutritious food.
  5. Be consistent. There is no magic solution to weight loss or improving your health. Like any other healthy lifestyle change, you cannot stop and start intermittent fasting and expect results. Everyone is different, some people lose weight very quickly with intermittent fasting and for others it can take longer to see results. Don’t get discouraged!
  6. Adjust your workouts. On your fasting days do not do intense or long endurance workouts. Your muscles need calories to fuel your workouts and help you recover after working out. On your fasting days, do light yoga sessions, go for walks, or take a rest day.

Above all else, pay attention to your body when you’re intermittent fasting. Do not ignore intense hunger signals or signs of lethargy, dizziness, or fatigue. Intermittent fasting is not right for everyone – if you don’t feel good doing intermittent fasting – this is okay.

There are lots of other healthy and safe options for losing weight and regaining control of your health. You may be better suited to my 14-Day Keto Smoothie Cleanse or 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse or following another approved weight loss approach.

Remember, the priority is on making safe, natural, and lasting lifestyle and habit changes that you feel good about. Above all else, I want you to reap the rewards of feeling great inside and out!

Read my blogs about healthy living, weight loss, liver health, and getting the most out of your life. And browse my website to learn more about my programs and supplements that can help you take control of your liver and whole-body health.