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Intermittent Fasting 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Time-Restricted Eating

Intermittent fasting has become an incredibly popular health and fitness trend in recent years. But what exactly is intermittent fasting, and how can it benefit your health?

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll cover the basics of intermittent fasting and a specific type called time-restricted eating. Read on to learn how to get started with intermittent fasting!

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat, but rather when you should eat them. The most common IF approaches involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.

IF contrasts with the normal pattern of eating three meals per day plus snacks. By fasting for time-restricted “windows”, you’re giving your body a break from digestive duties so it can focus on rest and rejuvenation.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Studies suggest that intermittent fasting may:

  • Enhance weight loss – IF makes it easier to reduce calories and lose weight. Periods of fasting can burn stored body fat for energy.
  • Extend lifespan – Animal studies link intermittent fasting with longevity. It may also protect cells and tissues from damage.
  • Improve health – Intermittent fasting can reduce risk factors for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  • Boost brain function – It may improve memory, reduce oxidative stress and preserve learning capabilities.

Time-Restricted Eating: A Type of Intermittent Fasting

Time-restricted eating (TRE) is the most straightforward IF approach for beginners. With TRE, you narrow your eating window each day. For example, you might only eat within an 8-hour timeframe and fast for the remaining 16 hours.

A common TRE schedule is the 16:8 method:

  • Fast for 16 hours per day
  • Eat within an 8 hour window, such as 12-8pm
  • Drink water, black coffee and tea during the 16-hour fast

This daily fasting period allows your body to enter a metabolic state called ketosis, which burns stored fat for fuel. The 16:8 method is a simple way to get started with intermittent fasting.

Tips for Getting Started with Time-Restricted Eating:

  • Gradually reduce your eating window – Start with 12 hours fasted, then 14 hours, and work your way up to 16 hours. This allows your body time to adjust.
  • Stick with your chosen hours – Try to be consistent and fast during the same hours each day. Most people prefer afternoon to evening eating windows.
  • Listen to your hunger cues – Eat regular meals and healthy snacks during your window. Only eat when hungry.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of non-caloric fluids like water and herbal tea during fasting periods.

The bottom line is intermittent fasting can be a sustainable, flexible way to improve your health when done properly. Start slow with time-restricted eating to see if intermittent fasting works for you. Pay attention to your body and don’t hesitate to make changes as needed.

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  1. Melissa Brown on January 4, 2024 at 12:39 pm

    I may have fooled myself into thinking that I could get away with 50 calories of coffee creamer in the morning and still say I’m intermittent fasting. It doesn’t seem to be working anymore, although in the beginning, I saw results even with adding the half and half. Someone somewhere said up to 50 calories would be ok. I may have to drop out the creamer but then I won’t want the coffee, so may have to switch to tea which I don’t need milk or cream in to enjoy.

    • Karen Admin on January 4, 2024 at 9:39 pm

      We’ve all had those negotiating sessions with ourselves but I think the switch to tea is a good idea all the way around.

  2. Bianca on January 4, 2024 at 11:46 pm

    I’m curious about the second intermittent fasting option (fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.) Are those any two days of your choosing? Is that more or less effective than the 16:8 fasting method?

    • Karen Admin on January 5, 2024 at 9:15 pm

      Bianca…it’s a matter of personal preference. Some people find it easier to not eat at all rather than having to time their food intake every day. I personally do a 16-18 hour fast very day because it’s what I’m mot comfortable with. After reading the book, ‘Fast Like a Girl’ by Dr. Mindy Pelz, I’m looking forward to tying longer fasts, as each additional hour of fasting will provide more and more benefit.

  3. Doug on January 5, 2024 at 12:38 am

    I have seen many ads promoting IF. Most recently, they were showing what to eat/drink and varied it for various age ranges. Now that I am retired, a 16:8 regime is manageable but with a regular forty hour work schedule, it is more difficult.

    • Karen Admin on January 5, 2024 at 9:17 pm

      Doug…as we get older, I think it’s very important to manage all those numbers they tell us to manage. Cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar can all be positively impacted by using a form of IF to manage your dietary habits. I say go forth and IF!

  4. Kate Loving Shenk on January 5, 2024 at 5:07 am

    I feel better doing IF and just started back after a year of full time night work at a nearby hospital. When I stopped, I gradually gained 15 pounds. After gradually reincorporating IF back into my routine, I’ve lost 5 pounds.

    Most importantly, I feel so much better.

    • Karen Admin on January 5, 2024 at 9:09 pm

      It’s really a pretty sustainable way of life. I agree, I feel so much better doing it than not doing it.

  5. Stephanie Dougherty on January 8, 2024 at 6:49 pm

    It’s a great blog, Karen, I started intermittent fasting about a year ago and it has made a difference in my overall well-being and some weight loss. I’m now starting a three day water fast starting tomorrow with Dr. Mindy Peltz and I’m looking forward to the amazing autophagy & increased immunity that a three day water fast will bring. And the increased immune system. Feeling calmly pumped 🙌😂🐬

    • Karen Admin on January 8, 2024 at 9:29 pm

      That’s a great plan Stephanie. I’m a big fan of Mindy Pelz. If you haven’t checked out her book, “Fast Like a Girl” you absolutely should. It’s all about fasting for women at different phases of our lives.

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