Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting – My Tips for an Easy Transition

INTRODUCTION 

Welcome to Part 2 of my Intermittent Fasting series.  

In Part 1, you learned all about what Intermittent Fasting is, the sort of benefits you can expect from it, and how it can potentially be a missing link to your best health.

If you missed it, I highly recommend you go back to read it before moving on.

In Part 2, I am going to be telling you my favorite ways to gradually implement IF in your life so that you can finally start experiencing things like increased energy, weight loss, clarity, and overall vitality!

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting and Condensed Eating Windows 

Just a quick review: Why teach your body to do intermittent fasting? 

Sure, you will likely experience more fat loss with intermittent fasting, which is a fantastic outcome if that is your goal.  However, many of us out there have different goals. That is why it is important to think of it as less of a diet plan and more of a lifestyle approach that can result in some incredible health benefits.

Those of you who are already utilizing fat for fuel will see benefits sooner (14-18 hours) than those of you who are still using glucose as your main source of energy (20-24 hours).

As study which looked at the impact of a time restricted feeding window on those with increased waist circumference, blood pressure, blood glucose, triglycerides, and lowered HDL (ie good) cholesterol found that a 10 hour feeding window with a 14 hour fast helped decrease body weight, waist circumference, blood pressures, LDL (aka bad) cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, Hemoglobin A1C (a marker of Diabetes), and increased quality of sleep. 

Another study found that eating the same amount of calories but within a restricted feeding window led to a decrease in biohealth markers associated with obesity, hyperinsulinemia, inflammation and even improved their circadian rhythm. 

Additionally, fasting will increase autophagy. 

Autophagy is a state in the body that deals with cellular waste. 

During this process, lysosomes (which are part of the immune system) are getting rid of all the byproducts and dead cells. 

Our cells are continuously recycling, they accumulate dead organelles, damaged proteins, and oxidized particles that all can interfere with cell function, accelerate aging, and literally bog you down. 

One of the best ways to trigger autophagy is through intermittent fasting. 

Simply increasing the time between meals, waiting to eat until you are really truly hungry in the morning, and making sure you have an early dinner can: 

  • Improve focus and clarity 
  • Increase mental endurance 
  • Reduce blood pressure 
  • Decreased inflammation 
  • Increase energy 
  • Increase your basal metabolic rate 
  • Speed your fat burning capability 
  • Balance blood sugar 
  • Increase your cells sensitivity to insulin
  • Encourage hormonal balance 
  • Help stabilize your moods 
  • Keep your cravings for carbohydrates minimized throughout the day 

How Do You Begin with Intermittent Fasting and Condensed Eating Windows? 

If you are just getting into IF, I highly recommend taking a gradual approach so that you don’t overwhelm yourself.  Here are some of my tips for helping you make the transition easier:

Lengthen the time between your meals.

You can do this slowly to avoid feeling anxious, irritable, or shaky.  Ideally, you ensure that each meal you are eating is providing you with adequate amounts of energy.

You don’t need a Thanksgiving feast but focus on building your plate around healthy fats, plenty of veggies, and protein. These are foods that are less likely to require insulin.  And, due to a complex chain of mechanisms, insulin is actually known to increase hunger as well as your desire for that sweet flavor.

So, maybe at first you will only be able to go 2 ½ hours.  Increase that by 15-30 minutes every few days until you are able to go 5-6 hours between meals. 

Again, the incremental increases will likely come with changes in macronutrient ratios and possibly even food quantity.  Don’t be afraid to experiment and make sure to listen to your body. 

Over time, you will begin to notice the benefits of fat/Keto-adaptation, such as more energy, better mental clarity, and increased performance. 

Eat dinner early and stop eating at least 3 hours before bed. 

This is super important because this tip comes from the knowledge that what if we eat close to the onset of melatonin (our sleep hormone which rises in the evening to let us know it’s time to sleep) it is associated with an increase in body fat percentage and body mass index. 

Three hours may seem like a lot at first, but you can change gradually with 15-30 minute increments, just as you did when you started spacing your meals out.

Besides impacting melatonin, insulin can interfere with the production of growth hormone which naturally released within that first hour of sleep.  Growth hormone is important for endocrine (i.e., hormone) function, cell and tissues repair, and a healthy metabolism.

Any dysregulation in growth hormone production can mean unbalanced hormones like cortisol, melatonin, and leptin get out of whack, weight gain, and increased risk of disease.

Plus one of the most important reasons not to eat 3 hours before bed is because the bulk of your cells detox, clean out, and repair happens during the night (think autophagy here), and if your body is busy digesting food, then these processes don’t get to happen.

If you are someone who loves night time snacks, you can gradually move those back as well in 15-30 minute increments until you no longer have the urge to eat after dinner.  

Make sure your first meal of the day emphasizes healthy fats, whole-plant fiber from low starch vegetables, and protein. 

The ideal breakfast is abundant in green vegetables, omega-3 fats, and protein.   You want to avoid high carbohydrate foods such as oats, cereals, breads/toast, bagels, muffins, and possibly even starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.

All of these foods can artificially spike leptin earlier in the day, increase cravings, and lead to hunger after dinner. 

If you are too busy to make the proper meal then it may be better to wait and increase your fast, rather than eat a meal filled with carbohydrates. 

Making a Keto Green Smoothie is an excellent option for a blended meal that is easy to digest (if you want to get creative with your smoothie, check out my Keto Green Smoothie template!)

Make sure you are not restricting calories during your condensed eating window.

This is a huge piece of the puzzle.  IF is not intended to be an excuse to cut out meals or go into extreme caloric deficit.  

Doing so not only will this will keep your metabolic rate low, but you will also tend towards hunger late in the day which will make fasting even harder (and honestly, not even recommended!) 

DON’T MAKE IT HARDER THAN IT HAS TO BE 

You can start to play around with intermittent fasting by lengthening the time between meals, limiting snacks, and waiting to eat in the morning until you really feel hungry.

It can feel daunting which is why I always advocate for making gradual changes rather than trying to overhaul your life. 

If you are someone who still eats 5-6 meals/snacks per day, then your first goal should be to increase meal sizes in order to increase the time between meals.  If necessary, start with one meal at a time.

Eventually, as you grow accustomed to less frequent eating, you will be able to start shifting your meals back so that you eat later and stop earlier.

Now I do have to point out that those of us with blood sugar imbalances and blood sugar dysregulation issues will have the hardest time with IF. If this is you, and trying to fast tends to cause anxiety, irritability, cravings, lack of patience, or even anger, then it’s even more important not to push it too long. Pushing a fast that results in any of these feelings is creating a stress response or sympathetic state which ends up negating all the benefits fasting can bring.

I have to reiterate that IF works best if you DO NOT restrict your overall caloric intake! 

Proper meal timing becomes even more important for people after the age of 30, or at any age if exercise is infrequent.

There will be some days that this is easier than others so on the mornings you wake up hungry, have a lot scheduled, or don’t exercise at all, go ahead and eat a satiating HIGH FAT breakfast. 

Just make sure to avoid carbohydrates in the morning and include your allotment later in the day instead.

Timing of carbohydrates is an important factor in fat adaptation. Remember, if you eat your carbohydrates first thing in the morning or before a workout you set your body up for using glucose for energy as opposed to building ketones.

SOME BONUS TIPS FOR YOU

If you are finding it difficult to extend your fast, try starting your morning with fat in the form of MCT Oil or MCT Oil Powder, and ghee mixed into your coffee or tea.  

MCT is a form of fat that does not impact digestion and instead is utilized for energy.  That means it can help you extend your fasting window and will not take you out of nutritional ketosis. 

To create these fat fueled drinks, try adding 1 tsp-2 Tbsp. of grass-fed ghee and 1 tsp-2 Tbsp of quality MCT Oil or MCT Oil Powder to your hot drink. 

You can either blend it for 20 seconds in a blender or froth it with a hand-held milk frother. This process disperses the fat molecules for easier digestion and absorption. 

If you are new to MCT oil please start with only 1 tsp. a day as it can cause diarrhea if your body is not accustomed to it; you can increase your amount as your body adjusts. 

Some days you may need more than just a fatty drink. 

Adding a scoop of collagen protein will help keep your hormones balanced, increase your metabolic rate, and energize you for the day. One scoop of collagen protein has about 10 grams of protein. 

Avoiding carbohydrates in the morning lowers the need for insulin and encourages the body to create energy from fat. However, adding 1-2 Tbsp. of full fat coconut milk or blending in a spoonful of nut butter for a few carbs (ideally 3 grams or less), may help you adjust more quickly to intermittent fasting. 

Add some micronutrient flavorings such as cinnamon, vanilla powder, cacao powder, turmeric, ginger, or mushroom powders such as lion’s mane. 

Try my easy Fat Fueled Chai Latte and Matcha Latte or check out the famous Bulletproof Coffee for good examples. 

I’m going to leave you with this.  Successful IF will only happen if you find what works for you and approach it in a way that aligns with your needs!  

Don’t expect to just be able to flawlessly fast without any repercussions.  

Go ahead an experiment to find your best mix and see what helps you push your breakfast off a little longer or get you through a more challenging fast. 

Some of you may need a fat fueled drink to start your day, some may need to take more time spacing meals out, and some may need to slowly move away from their night time snacks.  

If you stay committed, and focused on WHY you are doing this, I know you will be successful!

And if you need some help, I’m here for you.  You can sign up for my 30-Day Pure Keto Reset, my Sweet Release 28-Day Detox, or my Complete Health Overhaul package.  And if you’re not sure which one suits you but know you are ready for a change, let’s get on a free discovery call to see how I can best help you increase your energy, improve your mental capabilities, and experience your full potential and live a vibrant life!

References:

  1. Ten Hour Time Restricted Eating Reduces Weight, Blood Pressure, and Atherogenic Lipids in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome 
  2. Time Restricted Eating without Reducing Caloric Intake Prevents Metabolic Disease in Mice Fed a High Fat Diet.
  3. 7 Ways to Induce Autophagy 
  4. Insulin Levels, Hunger, and Food Intake: An Example of Feedback Loops in Body Weight Regulation
  5. HGH and Sleep – 5 Ways to Hack Your Life in 2020 and Increase HGH During Sleep
  6. Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body fat