Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but a lifestyle change. To achieve your desired health goals, it is not only important to change eating habits, but to study how your body works.
When practicing intermittent fasting, the body is trained to enter a 16-hour fasted state and an 8-hour fed state. This allows the body to use up all its reserved energy for fuel when in a fast and lose weight.
To properly practice intermittent fasting, experts suggest not to fast everyday as a beginner. It is necessary to get a feel of how your body responds to fasting before fully incorporating the method into your everyday schedule. To safely practice intermittent fasting, start with a Weekly Intermittent Fasting schedule, then move on to Alternating and then to a Daily schedule if you feel that the method works for you.
We have compiled a breakdown of when to enter both states from the beginner level all the way to advanced. Do remember that intermittent fasting may surprise your system at first. But keep in mind that the only barrier that keeps people from practicing it is only mental—once you’re past it, then you can fully benefit from intermittent fasting.
Beginner Level: Weekly Intermittent Fasting
If you’ve still got one foot out the door, a weekly fast (instead of jumping head first into daily fasting) would be a great way to start without leaving you overwhelmed and deprived. Starting once a week, or even once per month, one can already experience some of the benefits from fasting.
The illustrations below will demonstrate what your day/week will look like during a 24-hour fast. If you believe that a 24-hour fast is too overwhelming for you as a starter, a 16-hour fast is acceptable—intermittent fasting and achieving your weight goals is not a contest. Adjust the timetable as you see fit, depending on if you wish to follow the 16-hour or 24-hour fast.
With this graph, lunch on Monday is your last meal until you refuel again at lunch on Tuesday. With a weekly fast, it is unlikely that you lose weight since you are not omitting a significant number of meals per day, but this schedule is great for when you want to bulk up or increase your weight. This schedule allows you to keep your regular eating patterns everyday, while gaining the benefits from a 24-hour fast.
A weekly schedule is a great way to get over the mental barrier of fasting. If you’ve successfully followed this schedule, then it is most likely that you can fast more often.
Intermediate Level: Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting
So you’ve already got to the point where you know what intermittent fasting can do for you and how your body responds to it. All is good and you want to increase your fasted states and keep a consistent intermittent fasting schedule—you’re ready to move on to the Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting Schedule!
This fasting pattern (when done with 24-hour fasting periods) is also referred to as the Eat-Stop-Eat method. Refer to this guide to keep you on track of when to enter a fasted state and a fed state on alternating days:
This calendar suggests that your last meal would be dinner on a Monday and then resume with another meal on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, you can consume another meal in the morning and start fasting again after dinner. Again, this schedule revolves around a 24-hour fasting period. For 16-hour fasts, accommodate your meal schedule accordingly.
Advanced Level: Daily Intermittent Fasting
If you’re considering incorporating intermittent fasting into your everyday life, then a Daily Intermittent Fasting schedule should be easy after you’ve tried the Weekly and Alternating schedules.
The daily intermittent fasting schedule is more popularly known as the Leangains model, named after Martin Berkhan of leangains.com. With this schedule, you enter a daily fasted state for 16-hours and enter a fed state for 8 hours consistently.
It’s not a big deal when you decide to start both states, what works for you and your daily activity level are big factors that you should consider. It is important to note that for people whose jobs (during the day) are physically demanding, it is best to start the fed state at breakfast to be able to cope with strenuous activities.