Intermittent fasting is considered by many to be a "biohack", by restricting your eating time to only a few hours a day you can promote rapid fat loss, improve cognitive function and feel amazing. This guide is designed to teach you what you need to know about intermittent fasting with sections on benefits of fasting, strategies for fasting, food lists for the different types of fasts as well as a collection of recipes that fit into your fasting window.
I recommend checking out our other articles that cover more advanced strategies like targeted ketogenic dieting, 16/8 protocols and even recommendations for what to do after your fast.
Benefits of Fasting
There are many benefits of intermittent fasting, including but not limited to:
Rapid fat loss. By keeping insulin levels low your body will preferentially burn fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates reserves, allowing you to lose weight without having to restrict caloric intake.
Improved mental performance because your brain runs on glucose when you eat every 2-3 hours it gets groggy and unfocused after a meal. The longer you wait the better your focus becomes.
Increased lifespan. Intermittent fasting has been shown in several studies to increase the lifespan. It also promotes autophagy which is where old dysfunctional cells are recycled into energy. Repeatedly exposing yourself to these stressful growth promoting conditions allows for cellular rejuvenation.
Strategies for Fasting
There are several types of fasting that can be done , each with their own benefits and drawbacks.
Time restricted feeding (TRF) is the basic type where you have a specific window of time in which to consume your meals. This method has been shown to promote autophagy, improve lean body mass and has been shown to lead to less overall intake when compared with a free eating schedule.
Intermittent fasts combine periods of time where you don't eat with periods of time where you do, these have been shown to promote autophagy as well as fat loss while keeping insulin levels low.
Finally there is a strategy called targeted ketogenic dieting which combines a ketogenic macro nutrient profile and intermittent fasting. This strategy has been shown to be particularly effective for bodybuilding because it can keep insulin levels low while promoting muscle growth.
The Key: Remember, Don't Eat
Some of the most common mistakes people make is to start snacking when they are not hungry. Water, coffee and tea are good ways to kill the cravings but you must practice self restraint in order to keep them at bay.
Try drinking coffee to ward off the cravings between meals, for many it helps to reduce or eliminate the hunger pains. When breaking your fast try having a small snack like pieces of fruit to help you get through until you are ready to eat your next meal, this will give you more energy throughout the day and keep you from feeling ravenous when the time comes.
Another strategy to stay on course is pour yourself a large glass of water first thing in the morning, this will make sure your body is hydrated and can begin burning fat for fuel instead of food before you even start your day.
Food Lists and Recipes for Fasting
Here is a list of food that can be great to eat while fasting.
Almonds are great to snack on during your fast, try adding them into a smoothie for extra calories or blend them up with some water for an almond milk substitute to put in your coffee.
Avocados are super nutritious and contain both fiber to keep you full plus healthy fats to satiate you.
Butter makes everything better! Put some in your coffee or tea for early morning fat fuel. You can also mix it with cinnamon and nutmeg for a french toast flavor combination. Grass fed butter is another favorite among those fasting, if you aren't going to drink coffee try mixing it in your tea for a warm fatty drink to keep you full.
Cacao powder contains healthy fatty acids as well as powerful antioxidants which make it a great addition to smoothies, coffee or desserts like brownies.
Dark chocolate contains powerful flavanols which can help fight inflammation in your body.
Eggs are a favorite among the intermittent fasting community, they are high in protein which will keep you feeling full throughout the day.
Almond milk is another great option for coffee or tea to get some healthy fats into your diet while fasting.
Fruits are not allowed on most types of fasts as it is best not to eat them, because almost all fruits contain carbs that digest quickly and cause an insulin response. You also don't want to include too many juices when you are fasting because they contain very concentrated sugars so try sticking with whole fruit when possible.
Heavy whipping cream can be used much like butter to add some fat into your fast, this is a good option for those who may not tolerate dairy well or have problems digesting butter.
Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats which have been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol levels and promote brain health. It also goes great with the flavors of garlic and basil so try drizzling some on top of your food.
Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats, if you are looking to snack on something nice try mixing it up with some almond milk or dark chocolate for a peanut butter cup like experience.
Raspberries are high in fiber as well as antioxidants that help protect against cancer and heart disease. They can be used raw or blended into smoothies for extra flavor and texture.
Raw honey contains glucose which acts as fuel for the brain when there aren't carbs around. It also has enzymes that aid in digestion which make it great to put in your tea (preferably organic) along with some cinnamon powder to make it more flavorful.
Easy recipies for fasting success
Almond Pancakes - 1/2 cup almond flour, 1 egg 3 Tbsp Raw Honey
In a bowl stir together the ingredients until you have a solid batter. In a frying pan heat up some grass fed butter and cook up your pancakes just like traditional ones. Top it all off with some unsweetened whipped cream which tastes great on top of any pancake.
Cherry Vanilla "Milkshake" – 2 cups frozen cherries – ½ tsp vanilla extract – 2 Tbsp raw honey
Throw these in your blender for 30 seconds or so and you'll have yourself an incredibly tasty milkshake that will hit the spot every time! Don't drink too many though because this is still fasting where calories can add up, but it's nice to have a fast friendly treat every once in a while.
Egg Salad – 5 eggs boiled and then peeled
1/2 cup grass fed butter
1 Tbsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Throw everything in your food processor and blend until you get the creamy egg salad that you love! This pairs well with some dark chocolate or almond flour pancakes for dipping. You won't want much else after these few meals because they are so satisfying.
Grilled Onion Avocado Breakfast Sandwich - 1 slice of bacon (organic nitrate free if possible) 1 egg 3 slices avocado ½ onion sliced 1 tsp ghee Put the bacon and the onion in a frying pan while putting your egg in another frying pan with some water in the bottom to steam your egg. Make sure that you are using a cast iron skillet or something similar because these are best for cooking eggs, but if not that is okay just use another pan. Toast up your bread while everything else cooks and assemble your sandwich once you're done!
Grilled Ham & Cheese - 2 slices of nitrate free deli ham 1 slice organic provolone cheese 1 tsp grass fed butter Grill this sandwich in a frying pan on low heat so that the cheese melts nicely without burning or sticking to the pan. This one's nice after a morning workout when you need something tasty to get back at it again.
There are many things to consider when it comes to fasting. It is important that you research this topic more before starting yourself on any fasting regimen because there can be some side effects depending your health status and age. Most importantly, always remember the golden rule for fasting 101: listen to your body!
Your body knows best so if you feel weak or nauseous then it might not be a good idea eat or drink anything at all, no matter how bad you want something sweet. Also if you have a history of any chronic illness such as diabetes, hepatic encephalopathy, kidney disease or stomach ulcers then please consult a doctor before trying intermittent fasting out.