Intermittent Fasting: Beginner’s Guide

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What is Intermittent Fasting?

Once your body has finished processing food it enters a fasted state. This state allows your insulin levels to decrease and your fat cells to release stored sugar to be used up as energy. In order to burn fat, your insulin levels must go down and it is this principle that intermittent fasting is based on. Each night you go to sleep your body will naturally enter a fasted state once it has finished processing your last meal. Intermittent fasting extends this fasted state to increase your bodies natural ability to burn fat.

Is it a diet?

Intermittent fasting is more of an eating pattern than a diet. Its popularity is partly down to the individual not having to eat specific foods or spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It includes a fasting period followed by a feeding window where you consume your daily intake of calories. It’s totally up to the individual when it comes to the timing of these components and the severity of the fast. Fasting can be completely customised to what suits your body, your goals and your lifestyle. Intermittent fasting can be carried out in a variety of ways; some of the most popular include 16:8 =  A daily fast for 16 hours and an eating window of 8 hours.5:2 =  5 days of ‘normal’ eating and 2 non-consecutive days of 24-hour fasts. Pretty much everyone has tried intermittent fasting, even without knowing it! Ever missed a meal because you were too busy? Well, that’s intermittent fasting. For a more comprehensive list of benefits check out our post on 10 Key Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.

When you fast, human growth hormone levels go up and insulin levels go down. Your body’s cells also change the expression of genes and initiate important cellular repair processes.

Intermittent Fasting for Women: Best Types

The best way to approach intermittent fasting for women is to listen to your body and do what feels good for you. Don’t force yourself to stick to certain fasting patterns if you’re really struggling. It’s fine to feel peckish but your hunger shouldn’t be all-consuming and uncomfortable. Remember intermittent fasting is meant to improve your life not make you miserable. Here is a list of intermittent fasting methods for women I would suggest you try out:

Crescendo Fasting

This fasting method is all about easing your body into fasting. Try fasting for a period of 12 – 16 hours a week for two or three non-consecutive days. For example, have your last meal at 7 pm and your next at 8 am for a 13 hour fast.

5:2 Fasting

Rather than doing two complete fasts for two days a week, instead, reduce your calories to around 1/3 of your usual daily intake. For example, you might consume 1500 calories for 5 days and on your fasting days, you consume 500 calories.

Alternate Day Fasting

Similar to the 5:2 diet, but instead you will reduce your calories every other day to a 1/3 of your usual intake.

14:10 Fasting

Using this method you would fast each day for 14 hours and eat during a 10 hour window. For example, stop eating at 8pm and start eating again at 6am. If you feel comfortable with this fast, you can then build up slowly to a 16:8 fast.

Intuitive fasting

This fasting method is all about doing what feels right. Eat when you’re hungry and fast when you’re not. It’s a great method for helping you to get in tune with your body and listen to its signals. You’ll be surprised how much less food you actually consume when you’re only responding to hunger signals! Whichever method you try, it’s important to eat a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods when not fasting. If you take up fasting but only eat fast food that is high in saturated fat and sugars, you won’t experience the full benefits of IF.

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