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Intermittent Fasting Diet for Beginners (The Complete Guide)

Intermittent Fasting Diet for Beginners (The Complete Guide)

This guide will take a beginner through the basics of why to start intermittent fasting, how to start an intermittent fasting diet, and incorporating it into your routine.

I’d like to preface this article by saying that I’ve recently received my own personalized DNA report from 23andme, and then submitted it to Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s Genome Analysis Tool for another comprehensive report which comes from querying one’s DNA through a large research database.

The report actually showed that my DNA favors the use of Intermittent Fasting 16+ hours, in conjunction with the use of Resveratrol (Grape Seed extract, Red Wine and other sources), and an exercise regime which includes High Intensity Interval Training, and low repetition heavy weight lifting.

Funny – that’s exactly what I have felt naturally included to do over the past 5 years! I’ve simply begun supplementing Resveratrol, and needless to say I’m super excited to learn that Intermittent Fasting, HIIT Cardio, and heavy weight lifting are encoded into my DNA – as being shown with emerging genome research and technologies.

Now let’s learn more about what intermittent fasting is.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Quite simply, Intermittent Fasting (“IF”), also known as Time Restricted Eating, is a method of consuming food within a certain time-frame (“window”) each day. The application of IF essentially puts your body into a ‘fasted state’, in turn a catabolic state — a state of breaking down larger molecules into smaller ones within the body.

You may be breaking down fats into fatty acids, proteins into amino acids, even glycogen or other sugars down into glucose. Generally speaking the goal of IF is to optimize catabolic activity and anabolic activity. During the fasting window, you are in an elevated state of fat burning.

Other benefits include increased growth hormone, meanwhile insulin levels are low and fat handling is optimized because in theory, fats in the body are transported and stored as triglycerides (the break down of fats into fatty acids).

How To Start Intermittent Fasting

Firstly, let’s cover the basics of IF and how to start intermittent fasting effectively and make it sustainable starting by addressing the typical problems people face.

It’s important to note that a staple of intermittent fasting is hydration! You absolutely must hydrate throughout the day and while fasting, beyond the amount of water you would normally drink.

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When fasting, a good rule of thumb is if you feel hungry, drink some water, or chew some 0 calorie or no sugar gum and you’ll start feeling better.

3 Major Problems People Face with Fasting

1. Difficulty scheduling fasting time and eating window due to work or other life circumstances

I suggest starting the fast just before bed time, or a couple hours before bed, because it affords that 6-8 hours of sleep time that you won’t be eating.

Often, people reach out to me and raise the concern of scheduling due to shift work (police, nurses, doctors, firefighters, and more) or a hectic family life. Trust me, I understand it takes some planning to make IF work, but it’s always workable into the schedule.

When your schedule isn’t always the same, such as shift workers, I suggest adapting two or three types of fasting schedules.

For instance, you can focus on fasting at least 18 hours on the days when it works best for your schedule, and back-off to 14 hours, or 16 hours on days when it’s not convenient. You can setup fast-day-A which is according to a certain shift time or family time, then fast-day-B, and fast-day-C; each with a different scheduling approach.

What I’m getting at here is not to throw the baby out with the bath water! Just because your fasting days aren’t always the same, don’t give up hope on IF with the notion that it doesn’t work for your schedule — make it work!

If you’re serious about getting results, you will find a way, and after all it is called ‘Intermittent’ fasting.

2. Difficulty consuming adequate nutrients (macro-nutrient and micro nutrients) during the eating window

This happens either due to lack of readily available food or simply feeling too full to eat (not spacing out meals).

To tackle this download calorie and nutrient tracking apps such as MyfitnessPal to keep yourself honest and hold yourself accountable.

I especially like apps because if you are undertaking something like weight loss, you can get friends involved and support each other. Simply put, leave the guess work out and make sure you set goals and stay on track to getting the desired results.

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Next, I suggest meal preparation either 3 days, 5 days, or 7 days in advance. You can choose a day of the week such as Sunday, and spend an hour or two preparing bulk meals for the week that you can store in the fridge with ease.

Don’t leave yourself scrambling last minute each day looking for something to eat, that will almost always leave your timing off and your calories under for the day.

Remember the goal with IF isn’t to starve yourself; it’s to eat your meals and required calories within an eating window.

3. Not knowing whether to eat before or after training, or how soon after training

Firstly, if you are looking to lose weight, then absolutely eat after your workout. In fact for your workout, I suggest warm-up fasted cardio, and cool-down cardio to really burn that excess fat!

There’s a few opinions about how soon after a workout you should eat, ranging from some bodybuilders claiming it’s important to replenish the muscles (which may have been depleted of lactic acid during the workout) with quick digesting carbs such as a banana or pineapple slices.[1]

This approach may work for some bodybuilders, however for IF newbies, I suggest dragging out that period of fat burning (riding the Thermagenic wave caused from your workout), and potentially boosting the production of human growth hormone (HGH) by waiting up to 90 minutes to eat after a workout.

I know you may feel like you’re starving at that point, but trust me, the benefits are worth the wait!

HGH critically influences everything from bone density to muscle mass and organ reserve to general cell reproduction in the body’s systems, so waiting a little longer to eat will yield an even bigger return on your IF investment.

My Typical Intermittent Fasting Day

I’ll explain more with an example of my typical day which has me fasting (stop eating) at 11:00pm, or on days when I need more calories 12:00am, which is approximately the time I go to sleep.

I’ve actually been working to cut that back to an earlier bed time for added REM sleep benefits — which I’ve touched on in my previous article. Now back to a typical fasted day, which upon waking between 7am-9am still has me in a fasted state as I hadn’t been consuming food during sleep time.

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Now you may be thinking “duh, you don’t eat in your sleep!”.. However there have been times when I wake up in the middle of the night (on non IF days) and consume easily digestible proteins, such as cottage cheese, which digests very easily (for me at least) while sleeping and offers up many benefits in terms of protein synthesis.

For the purposes of this article, we need not get into this particular regimen, so let’s get back to the typical day!

I continue in the morning fasting by either consuming only water, or if I do have morning coffee, it will be black if I want to be 100% sure I remain in a fasted state.

Before moving on, I would like to address the fact that this is a HOT topic in the intermittent fasting/time restricted eating and biohacking community. The debate is whether or not having something such as MCT (Coconut) oil in coffee would bring one out of a fasted state, and it goes beyond that to whether or not even black coffee would kick someone out of their fasted state.

My personal opinion is that the body evolves over time, and if one has been practicing IF for several years their body has adapted to certain learned/programmed behaviors.

In my case, I’ve gone the route of just water when I began fasting, to then a few years later applying the MCT Oil approach, to several years later being able to have small amounts of butter, cream, or cane sugar and not having a feeling that I’ve broken fast. This is highly debated in the weight loss, biohacking community as I have mentioned, and I believe this is something that isn’t fixed for every human being.

The general rule that floats around is to remain below 35 calories to remain in a fasted state, however again this is up for debate as our genetics vary as I indicated at the beginning of this article. The take away here is to start intermittent fasting strictly with water to be sure you aren’t breaking fast, then stay in tune with your body and refine your mind-body connection as time goes on to determine how you feel and what your body requires.

Back to the day! I will either have just water, or some form of coffee until I break fast at either 3pm, or I’ll often wait right up until 6pm. If you recall my fasting begun from when I stopped eating the day prior (11pm or 12am same day), and begun eating between 16 hours to 18 hours later.

I’ve made a couple videos on YouTube explaining that the ideal starting point for fasting is 16 hours, however if you’re really new to IF, it’s fine to start with 14 hours for the first few days to a week.

During my eating window on a fasted day, the amount of calories varies depending on if I’ve exercised that day or not. It’s also important to note that my goals are not to lose weight at this point, but to gain lean muscle.

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If one is looking to lose weight, the best use of intermittent fasting is to exercise fasted in order to burn up those fat deposits as energy. If I have exercised for the day, it’s crucial that I eat an extra meal or two in order to ensure my calories are not in a deficit and that I’ve reached my macro-nutrient (protein, carbs, fats) target.

If you’re looking to lose weight with fasting, it’s not just a good idea to exercise fasted; but when you reach your eating window, avoid junk food and sweets!

Your aim should be clean meals that aren’t too difficult for your body to process/break down, that way when you reach the time for your second meal (still within the eating window), you aren’t backed up still digesting the first meal.

I usually recommend a lighter first meal such as salad and salmon, or even a vegetable soup. The second meal can be a bit more heavy, as can the third if you are squeezing three meals within your eating window.

On my typical fasting day I will have between 2 to 4 meals, again depending on whether I’ve exercised.[2]

Key Takeaway

The biggest takeaway from this article is that you should:

  • Fast minimum 14/16hrs to start and work your way up to 18/20hrs if you can, and make sure you hydrate!
  • Use apps and technologies to track progress and food/nutrient intake.
  • Workout fasted and do cardio or HIIT (high intensity interval training cardio) for maximum weight loss resulted.
  • Prepare meals in advance so you aren’t scrambling last minute!

There’re many other points we could cover with regards to building muscle, and timing fasting around certain types of workouts, however this guide is merely to get your feet wet with intermittent fasting and I believe you should now be confident in doing so!

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me — where I post holistic health content, and more!

More Resources About Intermittent Fasting

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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