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What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. In other words, it’s a periodic energy restriction that accelerates weight loss and leads to various health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, regulated blood sugar and cholesterol levels, improved brain health and many others.
Most popular type of fasting is 16:8, which means eating during an 8-hour window and restraining from food for the remaining 16 hours everyday.
Why should we fast?
Take a good look at human history and you will find that fasting is deeply rooted in our biology. Back in the day, access to food was limited, which led to natural periods of fasting and changes in human evolution. The human body, including the brain, became accustomed to regular food scarcity.
Fasting is the most time-honored healing tradition in the world. It’s a part of every culture and religion on Earth. People from civilizations like Egypt or Ancient Greece would introduce periods of voluntary fasting into their personal lives. They observed that fasting had many health benefits, which is why they engaged in the practice even when the periods of involuntary starvation had ended. They called it “cleansing,” “purification,” and “detoxification.” If you think about it now, these civilizations were much more advanced than we credit them for.
However, in recent years, everything has changed. Today, we have access to unlimited amounts of food and our bodies find it difficult to handle the load. That’s where the need for Intermittent Fasting comes from. It’s only when we are not eating or drinking anything with calories in it that our bodies can begin the process of repair and create space for new cells to grow. Intermittent Fasting doesn’t prohibit people from eating but encourages them to eat only the food we need, when we need it, so we don’t eat more than our bodies are capable of processing.
What is modern fasting?
Humankind has a long history of fasting, but the aspects of how and why we do it have drastically changed. Modern Intermittent Fasting consists of periods of fasting that occur regularly between periods of eating. You are still able to eat a healthy amount of food, but you do it in a smaller time frame, which is called your ‘eating window.’
Today, you have the freedom to choose from many different methods of fasting. Fasts can last from 12 hours to 24 hours. You can choose to fast once a week, once a month, or even once a year. You can do shorter fasts daily, or longer ones (24-36 hours) two or three times per week. There is no single best way for everybody – it is always a personal preference.
What’s the difference between fasting and starvation? Well, for starters, people who are starving are not doing it voluntarily. They cannot tell when they will eat next. It can happen during war and famine when food is scarce. However, those who choose to fast are entirely in control of their eating patterns. Fasting is a voluntary abstention from eating for health, weight loss, or other reasons. It can be simple, practical, and very effective.
The Basics of Intermittent Fasting
Most of us already “fast” every day while we are sleeping. Intermittent Fasting can be as simple as extending that fast for a few hours longer. However, if you’re thinking about fasting as a long-term lifestyle change, you can choose from several Intermittent Fasting methods that are easy to implement into your daily routine.
Here’s one example: Skip your breakfast and have your first meal at noon. Then have your last meal at 8 p.m. That’s it! You’ll have fasted about 16 hours in a day. Generally speaking, women should fast for about 13 to 14 hours a day. Men should fast up to 16 hours a day.
One of the most important aspects of Intermittent Fasting is timing. In order to adjust the release of hormones in your body, it’s better to fast around the same time each day. This way, you will be able to ease your body into this new eating pattern and, of course, stick to the plan for the long term.
Methods of fasting
12:12 Intermittent Fasting
This type of fasting may be a good option for beginners. A 12-hour fast means that you eat within the first 12 hours of the day and abstain from food for the next 12 hours.
The easiest way to do the 12-hour fast is to include the period of sleep in the fasting window. For example, if you choose to fast between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. you have to finish dinner before 7 p.m. and wait until 7 a.m. to eat breakfast. This method will allow your body to start turning its fat stores into energy, which releases ketones into the bloodstream and will encourage weight loss.
Small piece of advice from us will guide you through basic steps how to make it easier: First of all, prepare balanced, nutritious, healthy meals and snacks. Split your meals into three big and one or two small snacks per day. Your daily calories per meal should split into: 25% of daily calories for breakfast, 10% for snacks, 30% for lunch and 25% for dinner. Make sure you have a routine and eat every 3 hours. Your last meal should be consumed 3 hours before bedtime.
Make sure you drink enough water and avoid fast food, sweets, cookies and other junk food.
14:10 Intermittent Fasting
This fasting type is a bit more challenging than 12:12. A 14-hour fast means that you eat within chosen 10 hours of the day and abstain from food for the next 14 hours. In order to make it easier, we advise you to include your sleeping time in the fasting window.
During fasting your body enters into a state called gluconeogenesis, marking the body’s transition into fasting mode and it not only helps you lose weight, but it can also improve digestion, give you more energy, help you focus, and even slow brain aging. It can also help regulate levels of insulin and lower blood sugar, which is helpful for people who are insulin resistant or prediabetic. Fasting influences metabolic processes, boosts metabolism, improves fat burning mechanisms, controls appetite, cardiovascular function, enhances detoxification. You can use this fasting method every day.
Keep up with healthy and nutritious meals during the day. The main rules for your general meals during eating window should follow the same steps and rules as described in 12:12 method.Make sure you drink 8 glasses of water every day. Avoid fast releasing carbohydrates, such as: crackers, cookies, white bread, sweets and etc., sugars, and trans-fats.
16:8 Intermittent Fasting
As said in the very beginning, 16:8 is one of the most popular styles of fasting. As the title implies, you should hold off from any food for 16 hours and eat during the remaining 8 hours of the day. 16:8 cycle can be repeated as often as you like — from just regularly once or twice per week to every day, depending on your personal preference.
You can experiment and pick the time frame for eating and fasting windows that best fits your schedule, but we highly advise you to include the period of sleep in the fasting window, and finish your last meal 3 hours before bedtime, for example: you can finish your evening meal by 8 p.m., then skip breakfast the next day and start eating again at noon. It’s important to note that during your eating window, you have to eat several small meals and snacks spaced evenly throughout the day to help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep hunger under control. Try to incorporate foods that are high in fiber. Stick to nutritious whole foods and beverages during your eating periods.Keep your body hydrated by drinking water, bone broth, coffee and other calorie-free beverages. Avoid all kinds of junk food. It’ll negate the positive effects associated with fasting.
While fasting for 16 hours, you’ll protect your body from aging, obesity, inflammation, diabetes, and liver disease.
20:4 Intermittent Fasting (The Warrior Diet)
This type of intermittent fasting is based on the eating patterns of warriors in the days of old when they would eat very sparingly during the day, then feast at night. For this reason, the 20:4 intermittent fasting method is also known as the Warrior Diet.
How do you do the 20:4 fast?
To effectively do the 20:4 fast, you need to abstain from any foods for 20 hours. You can drink calorie free drinks like water, plain black coffee, tea, and calorie free sports drinks. This might sound intimidating but ideally, you’d be sleeping for at least 8 hours of those 20.
Then you have four hours at the end of your day that you can eat all you want. If you are a shift worker, or just would rather eat during the day, you can tailor that four-hour window to fit your schedule.
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