11-Step Guide to Losing Weight by Intermittent Fasting


You might’ve heard about intermittent fasting and wondered if it’s right for you. This guide will help you make an informed decision.

What Is Intermittent Fasting and its Different Types?

Intermittent fasting (a.k.a. IF) involves fasting or not eating for a certain period of time (fasting window) and then eating for a certain period of time (eating window). The different types are:

  • 12:12 — Eating for 12 hours and fasting for the other 12. Perfect for IF newbies since it allows 3 regular-timed meals and controls bedtime snacking.
  • 16:8 or Leangains involves 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating — basically skipping breakfast or dinner.
  • 5:2 or Fast Diet involves restricting calories to 500 calories/day (600 calories for men) 2x a week on non-consecutive days, and eating normally on the other five days.
  • Eat, Stop, Eat involves whole-day fasting once or twice a week.
  • Alternate Day Fasting or fasting every other day—consuming only 500 calories—may result to quicker weight loss, but only if it fits your lifestyle.
  • 20:4 or Warrior Diet is an advanced method, involving a 20-hour fasting window and a four-hour eating window, preferred by busy people.


images of foods on a plate in clock configuration with fork and knife as clock hands.


How Do I Choose?

Choose the one you can easily sustain. Consider your goals, lifestyle, work schedule, family life, and workout routine.

Most people start with 12:12 then move toward 16:8. Some prefer 5:2 for less frequent fasting. Try one method for a few weeks, then modify accordingly.


Won’t I Be Starving and Tired?

woman looking depressed with a bowl of cereal and cup of coffee in front of her.

You may feel hungry, tired, irritable, and even nauseous, but these feelings won’t last — Dr. Jason Fung, MD, author of The Complete Guide to Fasting, assures that after the first challenging week or two, your body quickly adjusts.


How Can I Alleviate Symptoms?

Drink plenty of water. Caffeine from black coffee or green tea also helps. A little pink Himalayan sea salt in your water can prevent light-headedness. Light stretching or walking can also make you feel better.


Will Intermittent Fasting Help Me Lose Weight?

Point of view angle of woman standing on the scale looking down at her feet

Fasting for long periods of time allows fewer opportunities to consume calories and therefore fewer total calorie intake. Dr. Luiza Petre, MD, a weight-loss specialist, told POPSUGAR that IF raises human growth hormone and lowers insulin levels, thus helping burn more fat.


What are the Other Health Benefits?

  • Improved digestion and decreased belly bloat
  • More energy
  • Improved focus and mental clarity
  • Disease prevention and autophagy (bad or weak cells are destroyed while creating new, stronger ones)
  • Helps overcome cravings and overeating
  • Improved sleep


What Can I Drink During My Fasting Window?

young woman drinking a bottle of water

You may drink sparkling or mineral water, add apple cider vinegar or a slice of lemon, but plain water is best.

Black coffee and herbal tea are allowed, but avoid adding flavors, or sweeteners, even stevia. Avoid smoothies, protein shakes, BCAAs, Gatorade, and broth.


What Should I Eat and Drink During My Eating Window?

picture of various fruits and vegetables on a dark blue background

While there are no restrictions on what you can eat during your eating window, you’ll have the best results if you eat mostly healthy, whole foods: lean proteins, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and veggies. Avoid fast food, refined carbs, and sugar. Take your medications or vitamins.

Eat enough during your eating windows to help you feel satisfied when you’re fasting, but do not overeat.


Can I Exercise?

young woman doing a yoga pose

Focus first on getting your IF schedule under control. Do less strenuous exercise, or adjust your workout time to your IF schedule. Gradually working up to your regular workout routine shouldn’t take more than a few weeks.


What Are Intermittent Fasting No-Nos?

  • Choosing an unsustainable plan
  • Doing too much, too soon
  • Giving up too soon
  • Eating too much or too little during your eating window
  • Eating the wrong foods


How Do I Know If It’s Working?

Young woman smiling and holding a measuring tape in front of her

Since working out can cause muscle gain and therefore weight gain, take measurements and progress pics in addition to weighing yourself throughout your IF journey.

Also, take notes of how you feel and write it down in a journal to determine if intermittent fasting is working for you.

If you’ve decided to take the IF plunge, be sure to check with your doctor first!

Source: Pop Sugar

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