Your Paleo Practitioner Expert in Health Promotion and Health Education

Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Before beginning the next phase of long-term weight loss, it’s important to get your body ready for Intermittent Fasting (IF). True fat loss can only occur when insulin levels are low.

First you MUST be “fat-adapted”. This means that your body now prefers to burn fatfor energy rather than sugar.In our modern age, this means you must train your body to use fat rather than sugar. Of course, you cannot feed it sugar. Fat-adapted means . . .

  • You must restrict sugar and carbohydrates and provide lots of healthy fats, protein and non-starchy vegetables.

IF is a method of reducing food intake and subsequently, insulin levels plummet. That is the only way to real fat loss without muscle loss. Going a day or more without food has been the norm for human kind since . . .  forever! It is just the 20thcentury which has created the “three meals a day” paradigm.

The most common dietary pattern for most Americans is to wake, eat, and continue eating throughout the next 12-15 hours. Then we sleep, and fast until the next day.

We should spend a little more time in the fasted state, which can last 24-48 hours, on occasion. This is normal and healthy and encouraged. 

There are many different ways to practice IF. The most common ways are:

1.  Eat in 6 or 8 hour windows only, every day. This is actually called “Time Restricted Eating”. You can do this for 2-3 weeks at a time or do this always. The reasoning is that you will be fasting from 16-18 hours out of every 24 hours daily.

2.  Fast for 24 hours once or twice a week.Yes. That means no food for a whole day! Start once a week and increase to twice a week.

3.  Fast for 36 hours once a week.This is a little advanced for most beginners, but I’m adding this as a future option. After practicing IF for a few months, many people will see an explosion of fat loss at this level with increased muscle mass and improved energy levels.

Fasting rules: you MUST drink a lot of water and/or seltzer on fasting days to help flush out toxins. You are also allowed bulletproof coffee, plain tea and bone broth. Take medicines and supplements only as your doctor recommends. 

Yes, you can exercise on fasting days. Just see how you feel. 

How does IF work?

To understand how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss, we first need to understand the difference between the fed state and the fasted state.

Your body is in the fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. Typically, the fed state starts when you begin eating and lasts for 3-5 hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the fed state, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.

After that timespan, your body goes into what is known as the post-absorptive state, which is just a fancy way to say that your body isn’t processing a meal. The post-absorptive state lasts 8-12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for your body to burn fat in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low. (Alcohol intake in the evening kind of ruins your morning fasted state due to the slow nature of alcohol metabolism)

When you’re in the fasted state, your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state. This is why morning exercise on an empty stomach burns more fat than any other time of the day.

Because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start IF will lose fat without decreasing their overall calorie intake. Fasting puts your body into a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

Benefits of IF:

1. Fasting makes your day much less stressful. No worrying about what or where you will eat that day.

2. Your food bill will cost much less! Eating high quality food may cost a little more, so this is a welcome relief.

3. Fasting helps you to live longer. Studies have shown that restricting overall carbohydrates and reducing calories long-term can extend your healthy years.

4. Fasting may reduce your risk of cancer. Tumor growth is fueled by sugar and restricting sugar appears to reduce the risk of cancer.

5. Fasting once a week is much easier than dieting daily.