Intermittent fasting 101: 7 intermittent fasting tricks for beginners to kick start your weight loss safely and effectively.
This article will explain exactly how to set yourself up for fasting success, while giving you some simple “mind hacks” and tools to help you banish the barriers standing between you and the body of your dreams.
From the day before to the day of, and everything in between, here’s the beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting for weight loss, plus my favorite fasting hacks that helped me lose 70lbs and keep it off.
Intermittent Fasting: The “Non-Diet” Diet
When I tell people that I intermittent fast, the response tends to fall somewhere between the incredulous, “I could never do that!” and the skeptical, “are you sure this is safe?”
For some reason, the term fasting immediately conjures up images of eating disorders and restrictive dieting. I suppose that sort of makes sense, seeing as the definition of fasting is literally “the willful refrain from food for periods of time.”
But what makes fasting so unique is its incredible ability to not only help shed fat quickly, but restore homeostasis in the body – in turn improving health, cognitive functions, and much more.
Before we dive in, if you’re just getting starting check out The Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss, which covers intermittent fasting 101 basics plus the most frequently asked questions about intermittent fasting. This article also covers some of the weight loss benefits of fasting as well as more tips to get started.
AVOID THE “LAST HURRAH” MENTALITY
Some of you may be wondering what a “last hurrah” is, while the rest of you are silently nodding your head up and down – fully aware of what this self-sabotaging phrase means and the devastating impact it can have on the size body you wear.
The “last hurrah” is the best friend of “I’ll start tomorrow.” They are two peas in a dangerous pod, and it doesn’t take much of this insane cycle to start packing on some real pounds.
You picked intermittent fasting for a reason. There is no such thing as a “last hurrah” anymore. There is always an opportunity to feast and eat to full satiety around the corner, so it’s due time to ditch the scarcity mindset. There is no diet to “cheat” anymore and nothing to be gained from this self-sabotaging nonsense.
There is no need to binge or act like a crazed animal around food anymore. If your eating plan begins to feel too rigid down the line, that is a sign that something needs to be tweaked. But for now, one step at a time.
Right now, we are simply laying the framework for a successful intermittent fasting start.
PLAN FOR TOMORROW
It is CRITICAL to set your day one up for success before it starts, because once you’ve conquered that – the first battle will be won.
Have an answer to the following three questions already mapped out:
- When is your intended feasting period tomorrow?
Example: Eat from 2 pm to 8 pm (6-hour eating window)
- What is your “break fast” plan?
Example: I will be at home tomorrow when my fast ends, so I will eat leftovers from tonight’s dinner at 2 pm tomorrow to break my fast.
- What is your back-up hunger plan?
Example: If I get held up at work tomorrow afternoon, or if I feel ravenous before 2 pm, I have an emergency frozen bean burrito at the office I can eat.
💡 TIP: It can be tricky navigating the first few days of intermittent fasting as your body adapts to the new schedule. I like to “break fast” with something simple before preparing my larger evening meal. Otherwise, I tend to get grumpy and impatient when life inevitably happens (and dinner is delayed.) These hiccups in my schedule also put me at greater risk of mindless snacking – making this a critical make-it-or-break-it window where preparation is vital.
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During Your Fast:
NOTE: If you are still unsure about which intermittent fasting schedule is right for you, then you may want to check out the 7 Most Popular Intermittent Fasting Schedules for Weight Loss.
PAD YOUR FEEDING WINDOW
Instead of an all-or-nothing approach, give your feasting window a little padding at first as you adjust to this new way of life.
Say your eating window is 12-6 pm. If you’re used to eating from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed, this 6hr window may require a bit of an adjustment period. Minor discomfort is normal at first and to be expected – the goal now is to start moving the dial in the right direction.
In other words, if you’re feeling a ravenous unstoppable hunger at 9 am, don’t ditch the fast just yet. Get as close to the eating window as possible, and when you cannot wait any longer, go ahead and break the fast.
There is no such thing as “I’ll start tomorrow” with fasting, so there is no need to scrap the whole day just because you got hungrier than you expected. Just make a note of when you broke your fast, continue your day as planned and on schedule, and tomorrow work to narrow the gap. It’s that simple!
Remember, this isn’t a typical “diet” – your day doesn’t revolve around food anymore.
We are, however, living in a different world as we enter 2021 – with many of us spending the majority of our waking hours cooped up at home. If you’re one of the thousands of people who packed on the COVID 15, it’s not your fault – it’s your system’s fault.
We’re living in unprecedented times, and many of us are still relying on an outdated set of tools that simply don’t work anymore in our post-pandemic lives.
I know for myself, fasting is 10x more manageable when I am out and about all day. Fasting is effortless and easy when I’m not at home. But now that a lot of the world is closed, I find myself wandering around the kitchen WAY too frequently on days I work from home. It is CRITICAL that I fill my fasting window with tons of activity on days where I’m fasting. This ensures that I don’t get bored or antsy – two emotions that often lead to mindless snacking.
PRESS THE MIDDAY “RESET” BUTTON
Fasting or not, it’s normal to experience ebbs and flows during the day. For many of us, it’s that dreaded mid-afternoon slump where we feel zapped, irritable, and tired. While your first instinct might be to reach for something sweet or salty, fasting helps teach you that there are many other ways to get over these slumps and smooth out the day.
Instead of turning to food, switch gears a different way.
- Take a shower: Sometimes a mid-afternoon shower is all it takes to push the “reset” button on your day and help you start fresh.
- Change your scenery: Take a walk around the block or run a quick errand. You may choose to save your errand for 3 pm, for example, if this is the time you find yourself getting peckish and agitated.
- Take a big drink of water: Yes, this advice is redundant and boring, but you’d be amazed at how well this trick works for snapping out of a bad mood. It is especially important to drink extra water while fasting, as a good deal of the water we consume is through the foods that we eat.
If you do nothing else, at the very least, break your fast correctly! So often, new fasters obsess over the idea of “starvation mode.” We might worry that our bodies are “confused” and may mistake our intentional fasting with a food shortage – causing us to store fat like a bear before hibernation.
By breaking your fast correctly, you will be sending clear signals to your body that nutrient-rich food is always available. Be sure to feed yourself to comfortable fullness with a healthy spread of foods.
This is not the time to eat a sleeve of Ritz crackers or a pint of ice cream. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of room for that later.
💡 TIP: Expect the unexpected! A couple of cans of soups and a healthy frozen “emergency” meal can make the difference between a successful day and a mediocre day of fasting. Keep a few of these safe foods on hand wherever you spend the most time.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you “have” to break your fast with a plate of french fries and beer at happy hour just because you didn’t have the foresight to plan ahead.
Bonus Trick: Turbo Charge Your Weight Loss!
EAT FEWER CARBS
At the very least, do yourself a favor and make your evening meal free of processed carbs.
Disclaimer: I am a HUGE consumer of carbs. I’ll be the first person to say that a low-carb diet is NOT for everyone. But in the spirit of full transparency, I’ll also be the first to admit that lower carbs the night before is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for fasting success.
Not only does this curb hunger cravings first thing in the morning, but you will also have a leg up on fat-burning since your body will be running through your glucose stores quicker and help you make the switch to ketosis – the optimal fat-burning zone – much faster.
Lower glucose = increased insulin sensitivity. Increased insulin sensitivity leads to a more efficient body – in turn facilitating weight loss thanks to your body’s ability to make the critical switch to “fat-burning mode.”
When your body runs out of glucose and glycogen to use as energy (which is depleted by fasting) then your body is forced to adapt and use the one source of energy that it does have available: the fat in your cells.
Fasting alone depletes this readily available glucose energy supply, but you can accelerate the process by avoiding a high carb meal the evening before. Alternatively, you can utilize exercise to speed this depletion along simply by adding a cardio session to your fasting window.
Remember, this is about fasting smarter, not harder!
HUNGER ISN’T A 911 EMERGENCY
Hunger is fleeting. Drink some water, do something else, and the hunger pangs will pass.
Admittedly, when you’ve been used to eating 12 hours a day, your system will no doubt feel a bit jolted. Again, this is perfectly normal. It is just a sign that your body is adjusting to a system it hasn’t experienced before.
Don’t worry, your body is FINE! It is YOU who needs to make a slight adjustment. Begin making peace with the tummy grumbles and embrace this new feeling of hunger.
Hunger leaves just as fast as it appears, so shift your focus and attention onto something else and it too, shall pass.
Intermittent Fasting 101: Reprogram Your Mind for Weight Loss
Forget everything you’ve been taught about weight loss.
As a society, we have been brainwashed on the notion that six meals a day is not only acceptable – but necessary if we want to lose weight. In order to make this eating plan work for you, it is imperative that you forget everything you’ve been taught about weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is a game of subtraction. There are no lobbyists or special interest groups trying to get us to minimize our lifestyles. They need us spending and eating and consuming, so intermittent fasting is unsurprisingly NOT going to be a big hit with the powers that be. There’s no money to be made in subtraction.
How is the billion-dollar breakfast industry going to survive, for example, if we all ditch the “most important meal of the day?”
It is the dawn of a new day. For this next chapter, you’re going to need to scrub your mind of all thoughts and ideas that no longer serve you. In order to truly succeed at this, you must start fresh.
Because the YOU that is sitting here today is a completely different person than the YOU that you will become.
Intermittent fasting changed my life. I used to be fat, miserable, and hopeless. Now I have the body of my dreams. Thanks to intermittent fasting, I was able to reprogram my brain and sync my mind and body for effortless weight loss.
Along the way, I uncovered some incredible strategies that were key to helping me lose 70 pounds and keep it off.
Whether you are looking to lose weight or improve your overall heath and well-being, it doesn’t get much simpler or more straightforward than intermittent fasting.