If you are interested in learning about how to do intermittent fasting for weight management, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Organifi, we have not only been exploring and leveraging the benefits of fasting for health and weight management in our own lives, but we've also been helping others' achieve their goals for years, too.
When you’re practicing fasting to lose weight, boost your immune system, balance gut bacteria and reboot your metabolism, it’s essential to have an optimal intermittent fasting schedule that meets your life and nutrition needs appropriately. And that includes paying special attention to how to break your fast, too.
Before we dive deeper into that let's clear some basics up:
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is merely an approach to health and weight management where you go through eating cycles that alternate between eating and not consuming food. It may sound extreme to go multiple hours without a meal, but you already fast each day when you go to sleep. That's why we call it break-fast!
Fasting s a common practice in nature and human history. Some people fast every week or for months at a time for religious reasons, while others do so for medical purposes. If you’ve ever had surgery or got your bloodwork done, you probably noticed that you were asked not to ingest food or drinks for a certain period of time prior to the procedure - you were asked to fast.
These examples may not be about fasting for weight management, but this is one effect that the practice often has.
In fact, prolonged fasting has multiple incredible health benefits; a study by the University of Southern California (USC) showed that fasting between two and four days can actually regenerate your immune system, enhance cellular resistance to toxins and trigger the generation of more white blood cells.
Research suggests that when the body is starved -for controlled periods of time- it activates stem cells, which produce a higher white blood cell count (the ones that fight off infections) and also gets rid of old, damaged or inefficient cells, literally creating a new immune system.
Research suggests that when the body is starved -f or controlled periods of time - it activates stem cells, which produce that higher white blood cell count, and also get rid of old, damaged or inefficient cells, literally creating a new immune system.
Furthermore, prolonged intermittent fasting activates weight management because the body is forced to use stored lipid and glucose cells - the very fat and sugar that is usually hard to eliminate. And by heating up your system, it also activates your metabolism.
This very study, which asked people to go through on and off fasting cycles for six months, noted an important reduction of a particularly pesky enzyme linked to aging, higher cancer risks and even tumor growth (PKA enzyme).
If you were originally thinking: Why do people do intermittent fasting for weight management?
The better question is, why don’t more people practice intermittent fasting for weight management?
Intermittent fasting is to weight management what a private jet plane is to transportation. Simply put, it’s the fastest, most convenient and most efficient way to break bodily patterns that store fat and keep our metabolisms sluggish and slow.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Weight management:
- Intermittent fasting simplifies weight management for busy people: moms, dads, people who go on long commutes that can't meal prep all the time.
- Can be accessible and beneficial for all ages and body types (even the elderly see benefits with it!) - just consult with a doctor before doing this or any major diet shift.
- Is often easier than calorie counting or practicing calorie restriction.
- Has been shown to reduce visceral fat (a.k.a. waist circumference) and whole body adiposity.
- Can increase your metabolic rate by 3 to 14%.
- May help lower insulin levels, which would make fat easier to burn!
- May improve your body's ability to gain lean muscle.
Promotes cellular repair and damaged cell elimination.
Intermittent fasting for weight management is not a diet; it's an energy restriction program. You're not told what to eat and what not to eat, but rather when to eat and when not to. It’s far more accessible than dieting and helps people that struggle with weight loss find balance and avoid the yo-yo effect.
There's something to be said about the mental stress calorie counting and diet restrictions have on some people. I know I've been there! But intermittent fasting for weight management is an effective way to get results without adding the mental load that comes from typical diets.
Why cut back every day, when you could see fat loss results by fasting a few times a week?
People who choose to lose weight (and keep it off) through intermittent fasting, tend to feel more relaxed and energized because they feel in control of their nutrition, don’t have to count calories and get to continue enjoying the foods that they love in moderation. Additionally, they also get to see the many health benefits listed before and which we encourage you to continue to research on your own!
At this point you’re thinking: sign me up! How do I do it?
Before you empty your pantry and dive in, it's important to think about what comes after that fasting period. Keeping a mindful intermittent fasting schedule - and knowing what you will eat when that time is up - can actually be more important than the fast itself.
How to Break Your Fast The Right Way
Your body is biologically wired to make sure you survive; it is designed to breathe, drink water and eat every single day. These are all fundamental aspects of your body's natural mechanisms to ensure you continue to thrive, therefore you must proceed with caution when you try something new like intermittent fasting for weight management on an on-and-off fasting schedule.
Fasting, while not new to humanity, may be new to your body and it will go through an adjustment period. Make sure you leverage the best of intermittent fasting for fat loss following these Do's and Don'ts:
DO Follow an Intermittent Fasting Schedule
An intermittent fasting schedule that meets your needs and lifestyle can make or break your fat loss goals, so pick from one of the most popular fasting cycles and experiment until you get the one that feels right. Many people start with a 10-hour eating window (giving them 14 hours of fasting) and move it down to 8. However, your nutritionist or doctor will help you find what's right. In addition to their recommendations, remember to listen to your body and energy levels.
DON'T Practice Fasting While Pregnant
Fasting is a fantastic tool and strategy for most of us, but certain people should not engage in intermittent fasting for weight management. If you're pregnant or might be, are lactating, or have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes type 1 - don't practice intermittent fasting!
DO Consult with a Trusted Integral Physician
Some doctors still think that intermittent fasting for weight management is a fad or dietary gimmick, but the research shows that fasting is not dangerous and provides multiple health benefits when done correctly. Find an integral physician who is up to date with the latest research and consult with them about your desire to try intermittent fasting, especially if you are under 18 years of age, have a history of eating disorders or are past the age of 65.
DON'T Ignore The Context
If you're prepping for a big event, like running a marathon, getting through a stressful milestone at work, it might not be the best time to try intermittent fasting for weight management. Finding a rhythm that naturally flows with your current lifestyle makes the first cycle easier and more effective.
DO Help Yourself With Juices!
Juice fasting is a great way to get nutrients in with no significant caloric intake while you’re following an intermittent fasting schedule. One of my favorite juice fast recipes is quick, simple and keeps me alert while I wait for my next meal. Often, what you consume before an after intermittent fasting is just as important as the fast itself.
We've considered your body's needs for micro-nutrients and superfoods with our juices and proteins. When you are ready to end your fast, you can make sure you are getting everything you need to replenish your body with the Complete Health System.
It is easy to feel you can overeat on your last meal prior to the fasting window, or eat more high-calorie, high-sodium, low-value foods. Don't jeopardize your progress overindulging in the very foods that got you feeling like you needed to drop pounds in the first place.
DO Prepare in Advance
Prepare your home, workspace and personal devices before you start your intermittent fasting schedule. You want to keep your daily spaces (even your car!) free from tempting snacks, set an intention and write it down so you remember why you started the fast, and get some tools to make it easier for you.
For example, you can create a spreadsheet or calendar update with your fasting schedule, blocking out your fasting days from big socializing events. You can let close friends know, so you can all book activities that either match the schedule or fall on "eat days" so that everyone is happy.
Prepare mentally knowing you're rejuvenating, boosting your immune system, clearing your gut and dropping unwanted fat.
DON'T Hurt Yourself by Exercising Heavily on Fast Days
While it is true that the first few days you try a fasting schedule can be challenging, you should not be in significant pain, faint, or collapse while doing your everyday tasks. Make sure you're giving your body enough to run on with water, detoxing juices and concentrated mixes so that you stay alert and happy.
A learning curve is ok, loss of consciousness is not!
If you're currently weight training or want to start, make sure that the heavy workouts match your eating periods and not your fasting ones. Your body will need the energy food provides and you'll be at a caloric deficit on days that you don't ingest solids.
Consider one of these popular intermittent fasting schedules to start your fat loss journey:
8/16: Go through a fasting period for 16 hours each day and restrict eating to 8-hour windows.
You can also do 14-10 and fit three regular meals each day. Most people skip breakfast and drink low to no-calorie beverages during the fasting period. This method is also known as also known as the Leangains protocol.
4/3: Eat 4 days during the week and fast 3 non-consecutive days of the same week.
Keep yourself under 500 to 600 calories on the days that you don't eat at all with power-liquids. For many people, this is the easiest way to try fasting for weight management purposes.
5/2: Eat 5 days a week and fast for just 2 days.
Again it is good to consume under 500 to 600 calories on these fasting days.
24 Hour Fasting from one meal (such as breakfast or dinner) to the next equal meal for one day a week. This can be very challenging, and it is not recommended for beginners.
Every Other Day Fasting, my personal favorite, most studies cited in this article used a similar version of the continued fasting (24 hrs to 72 hrs) or this "alternate day fasting." You either eat nothing or stay under 500 calories through juicing and powder drinks.
As you can see there are many options and approaches to intermittent fasting for weight management, this post is meant to help you find your groove with fasting so you can become the best version of yourself easily and effortlessly. To achieve results most studies aimed for three to six month periods of intermittent prolonged fasting, so please understand that fasting one day will not create drastic changes.
Make this a constant exercise in improving your health and in a few weeks, you'll love how you feel after a fast so much that it won't be an issue.
Bottom line: Intermittent fasting works over an extended period of time by restricting energy intake and rebooting your system so active stem cells can kick in as your metabolism heats up. Just make sure you are refueling your body with nutrient-dense foods, supplements and drinks.
Want to make your fasting schedule even simpler? Try our Complete Health Bundle and be ready to come off your fast feeling better than ever.
Are you going to try intermittent fasting for weight management? Feel free to share your experience here. Remember, we’re in this together.