An Intermittent fasting (IF) Diet Plan is a simple and easy way to clear your head and ditch extra pounds. Why is that? Because oddly enough, as human beings we are not meant to eat as much or as often as we do.
If you are considering adding IF to your health regime, but are not sure how to go about it, I have some ideas for you. I have been using IF for several years to heal various health issues, like food cravings. But where IF really shines is how it heals your whole body from the inside out.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes.
Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent = Not continuous or steady. Fasting = Abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink.
If you think of humans as hunter/gatherers, as many scientists do, then the idea of having food available 24/7 does not seem right, does it? No, we are meant to hunt and gather food.
So some days there would be plenty and other days there would be none.
As well, you are already fasting every single night while you sleep. If you choose to skip breakfast and eat your first meal at lunch, you’re just stretching out the fast longer.
For example, you can choose to fast for 16 hours and then only eat during an 8-hour period. This methodis called “16/8” and it’s rather simple to do since most of the fasting time you’ll be sleeping.
Intermittent Fasting 16/8 fasting merges well with low carb and keto.
You naturally fast on low carb eating plans, like Keto, so it easily pairs with IF.
This blog is based on a whole food/low carb approach, which I believe is the smartest way to improve health. Adding in IF is the gravy, so to speak.
Intermittent fasting has been around for literally thousands of years as a way to heal the body, maintain a healthy body weight, and bring mental clarity.
With intermittent fasting, you simply choose a time of not eating (fasting), with a time of eating.
There are many different ways to do it. The time you choose to fast depends on the type of results you want and what works best with your lifestyle and current health profile.
A huge benefit to Intermittent fasting is how well it works for weight loss.
It’s only during feeding that your body can store fat.
The reason is that when you’re eating, insulin is released into your blood stream in order to keep your blood sugar level stable. Extra blood sugar is moved to muscles, liver or fat storage.
When you’re fasting, this process isn’t occurring. Therefore you cannot store fat.
If you think about this, the advice to eat six or more small meals a day to keep your blood sugar stable is actually causing your body to have the ability to store more fat.
When humans were still hunter-gatherers we often naturally went through times of feast or famine, so your body is already naturally set up for fasting as a normal state.
Always having food available has not ever been normal until rather recently in our history.
The truth is that most of us are eating way too much and can live on less food if it is better quality. One way to accomplish this rather painlessly is with intermittent fasting.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
The reason fasting is so popular is that it’s purported to help people heal themselves of all kinds of issues.
From being overweight to being depressed, people get relief from all sorts of problems using this type of diet to help themselves without medication.
These benefits of intermittent fasting should be considered.
- Insulin Levels Drop – If you really want to burn fat, you need to have lower, yet balanced sugar levels on a consistent basis. Giving your body rests between eating can help you do this effortlessly.
- Increase Human Growth Hormone – Studies have shown that people who engage in periodic fasts have higher levels of human growth hormone which can help people increase muscle mass, improve skin texture, and increase fat burning.
- Encourages Cellular Repair – Giving your body a break from digestion gives it time to start repairing itself. When the body doesn’t need resources to digest it can send resources to the rest of the body to get rid of waste, detoxify and heal problems.
- Aids in Weight Loss – Because you don’t seek to replace the missed calories, you’ll naturally lose weight due to eating fewer calories. Weight lossbecomes a by-product of improving overall health, as opposed to it being the main goal.
- Improve Cardiac Health – Many people who use intermittent fasting are experiencing a decline in blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and other markers that indicate good or poor cardiovascular health. Since it helps control inflammation, it works very well for this purpose.
- Slow the Aging Process – Studies have shown that people who eat less live longer. A great way to eat less without feeling deprived is intermittent fasting. One study showed that rats who were fed only every other day increased their lifespan by more than 80 percent. That’s quite a lot as it almost doubled their lifespan.
- Helps Detox the Cells – Your body only repairs itself after a specific amount of fasting, which is usually only while you’re sleeping. But with intermittent fasting, you can increase the times your body is in detox mode exponentially, which will help your cells detox. This cell repair process is called Autophagy.
- May Lower Risks of Cancer – Due to the detox effect that fasting causes, some studies have suggested that people who fast may be at a lower risk of cancer. Before modern medicine was available, fasting was often a regular treatment for disease.
- Improves Your Mood – Because of reduced oxidative stress, lower inflammation and blood sugar levels along with increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor many people experience improvement in depression and other illnesses of the brain.
- Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes – Whether people like to admit it or not Type II diabetes is a preventable food borne illness. It doesn’t need to be a lifelong battle requiring medication. Using fasting as a treatment is successful because of the lower insulin levels it produces. Before artificial insulin was created, fasting was a common treatment for both types of diabetes.
It may begin to seem as if intermittent fasting is a cure all. While it’s not really a cure all, it is a way to help your body heal itself and induce wellness in all ways.
Dr. Jason Fung has written and talked about fasting extensively. Watch this video on why the “calories-in-calories-out” theory of weight loss does not work, and why Biggest Loser contestants gain their weight back after they are no longer on the show.
If you want more mental clarity and to maintain a healthy body weight it won’t hurt to give it a try.
The Types of Fasting Models
Intermittent fasting helps the body get the right amount of calories for weight loss or maintenance.
It also helps your body fight fat due to the way it causes your body to use your fat reserves without having to cut your calories too low. There are a lot of different methods to accomplish your goals that you can read about below.
Personally, I use an 18:6 fasting method.
I eat during the hours of noon to 6 pm (6 hour eating window) and I do not eat outside that window (the other 18 hours of the day). The only exception is coffee in the morning.
Then I eat my ketovore foods. See my post Ketovore For Better Health.
Eat Stop and Eat
This style of intermittent fasting described in Faron Connelly’s book which uses Brad Pilon’s method where you stop eating for a time, once or twice each week.
This method uses the theory that your body is, due to its genetics, used to periods of high calories and low calories. The idea is that you’ll experience hunger only a couple times a week, not daily like you do on other types of diets.
The Warrior Diet
This plan created by Ori Hofmekler which tries to use the idea of the ancient warrior eating only after he caught his hunt in the evening as its model.
You have to avoid processed foods, use periods of “undereating” with fruit and raw vegetables and exercise to move your body toward full health.
When you eat a full meal, you eat it in the evening and you can eat as much as you want until you feel thirsty. Once thirst sets in you should drink and stop eating for the day.
Fat Loss Forever
This fasting diet created and promoted by Ari Whitten and uses the same model of eating, then not eating, then eating again to induce fat burning. He also introduces a cheat day in the mix. It’s presented as a 12-week program that you can do for just 12 weeks but repeatedly.
The 5:2 Fast
This is also known as The Fast Diet and you can get the book by Michael Mosley to help you accomplish this type of fasting. But, the point of the diet is simple.
Two non-consecutive days a week, you limit your calories to about 500 to 600 depending on your sex and the other days you eat normally per your body’s requirements.
Alternate Day Fasting
This style of fasting written by James B. Johnson M.D. involves restricting caloric intake exactly how it sounds, every other day. It claims to turn on your “skinny gene” called the SIRT1 gene, improve insulin resistance, heal the body, and help with weight loss.
This is just like any of these diets or methods but instead of ever going a full 24 hours without eating, it’s usually that you eat during a 6 to 8 hour window and fast or eat lightly (such as fruit only) during the rest of the day.
All of these methods of intermittent fasting are essentially the same with a slightly different flair of various eat and not eat times. They all purport to improve health, advance weight loss, and burn fat specifically.
Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan
Some people think intermittent fasting is license to eat whatever you want during feeding times.
But, the entire point of intermittent fasting is to eat fewer, but better quality, calories.
Eat whole foods, avoid processed foods, and drink plenty of water.
You can also follow other protocols such as paleo or low carb, which make fasting easier due to the higher protein and fat, both of which are more satiating than carbs.
- Vegetables – Raw veggies can be eaten even during some fasting periods depending on the protocol you’re following. You can eat lightly steamed veggies any other time. The great thing about raw vegetables is that you can eat them even during your fasting stage if they’re uncooked and unadorned.
- Berries and Fresh In-Season Whole Fruit – Avoid fruit juice (liquid sugar) and stick to eating a piece of fruit or fresh berries.
- Nuts & Seeds – It’s okay to eat nuts and seeds but don’t eat more than a handful at a time. Avoid binging on these items when you’re hungry. Eat your meal before eating any nuts and seeds or make them part of your meal such as a topping on yogurt or a salad.
- Healthy Fat – It’s great to add some healthy fats like coconut, avocado, or any food that has natural fats. You can also add butter or ghee to your food.
- Dairy or Substitutes – Don’t feel as if you have to eat dairy, but if you want to you can eat or drink full fat dairy to help fill you up between fasts.
- Protein – With each meal, balance them and eat some type of protein. You don’t have to eat meat if you prefer not to, but be sure to combine enough protein foods to create a complete protein.
Eating quality whole foods and Doing IF will give you more mental clarity and energy daily and you will not miss eating six small meals at all.
What Not to Eat
There aren’t very many restrictions on an intermittent fasting diet. However, as with most healthy diets it’s important to eat good quality, whole food.
Related Post: The Benefits of Eating Healthy for Beginners
Depending on whether you’re on a fast day/time or a feeding day/time will determine what you can and cannot eat.
In some cases, you’ll want to avoid all food, but you can have water and tea (black – no cream or sugar which have calories).
Do not drink alcohol on fast days, it can be very dangerous. As well, your liver will process alcohol first, so that automatically stalls weight loss.
If you choose a plan that allows you to eat, you need to be strict with counting calories.
You can find a great calorie counter at CRON-O-Meter.
It’s very important to keep your carbs restricted during this time if you want to get the full fat burning effect. Your body will stop burning fat if carbohydrates are available to burn.
Try to avoid processed foods (most processed foods are in the center aisles of stores). This includes packaged foods, foods that use industrial seed oils (like canola or soybean oil), and fruit juice, which is basically liquid candy.
Stick with meat/protein, good quality fats, and leafy greens.
You don’t need to count calories, but eat until you’re completely satiated.
If you choose an IF plan like 23:1 (23 hours of fasting with a 1 hour eating window), you’re going to feel strange sitting down to a huge meal. However, life is like this some days.
I have had lots of days where I only feel like eating once a day. I love it! #easy
As I said earlier, I tend to do a 18:6 fast, but some days I am hungry and I end up eating all my daily calories in a 1 hour window.
It just happens, and I am never hungry when I go to bed.
Or when I get up the next day.
Your body uses whatever calories that you give it, and cares not if you eat all the calories at one sitting, or throughout the day.
However, your body cannot detox while you are digesting food, so the longer the fast, the better the results.
Who is Intermittent Fasting Right For?
If you’re healthy, and don’t have any type of food borne illness, you can safely try intermittent fasting.
Of course, it has to go without saying, but it has to be said too, that you should always check with your health care professional to ensure that you’re healthy enough to try it.
Even if your doctor is against the idea of it, ask the right question. Don’t ask what they think about it; ask if you’re healthy enough to try it.
Who Should Not Fast Intermittently?
If you are:
- have any type of eating disorder such as anorexia
- are under 18 years of age
- have type-1 diabetes
- take medications that rely on food or affect your food consumption
intermittent fasting may not be right for you.
But again, check with your health care professional to find out if it’s acceptable to try it.
Some doctors will be all for a type II diabetic to try intermittent fasting, if they think this will help them lose weight which can end the problems of having type II diabetes.
The thing to remember is that people will have different opinions about whether or not IF is a healthy. But, if you’re healthy other than having some weight to lose, it probably won’t hurt you.
Be mindful of your health, and know who you really are so that you can stay and get even healthier.
Common Reasons IF Fails
Many diets are prone to failure.
People get hungry and eat wrong-for-their-body foods or over eat. People eat because they are emotional, tired, sick, and just bored.
Some diets actually do work to help people lose weight if they stick to it.
But, many of them are impossible to stick to. Some concepts that make diets harder to work with:
- Six small meals a day – Many people will eat food all day long and well into the evening or right before bed, leaving your body no time to heal.
- Enormous amounts of raw food daily (raw food diet) – Raw fruits and veggies have few calories and you have to eat all day to feel full.
- Incomplete Protein – You see this in Vegan diets. The average person doesn’t know enough about nutrition to make incomplete proteins work together to create complete proteins. As well, heme iron (from animals) is superior to non-heme iron (from plant sources).
- Lack of healthy fats (low fat diets) – Our bodies require fat. That is what feeds our brain and every cell in our bodies. It must be quality fat, not vegetable oils which are lab-made, full of Omega-6’s, and unhealthy.
- Lack of proper guidelines from Government food recommendations – Like eating a whole bagel thinking that it is one serving of grains. It is actually four.
- Mis-information about the actual cost of food – The media would have us believe that Keto or Paleo plans are more expensive, but this is a lie. Eating quality foods nourish us in a way that processed and high carb plans simply do not. You spend less overall to eat healthy food and you feel better. #win-win.
- Eating meat is bad for our health and the planet – Some people just want to scare you into eating their way. They would have you avoid the most nutrient dense food on the planet, for whatever reason. But we’ve been eating meat for centuries because it is nutritious and tasty.
With Intermittent Fasting, it’s mostly about when you eat and not what you eat.
Although, if you truly want to be healthy, you should stick to whole food. Meat, vegetables, and whole fruit.
Of course, you can eat whatever you want on your feeding days up to your point of satiation and you may still lose weight. But, it won’t mean that you’re super healthy.
Anyway, there are several reasons why people fail on IF to consider.
- Failing to Plan – If you don’t pre-plan your fast and feed days, you may find yourself in a situation where you are at a birthday party and can’t enjoy the festivities. Then you’re going to fall off the plan and think you’ll make it up later. That won’t work. Only consistency will work when using IF as a way to lose weight and gain mental clarity.
- Not Exercising – It’s important for any healthy lifestyle to exercise. Fasting days should include slower paced days; take those days to get a massage and take care of yourself, instead of working too hard. On feeding days, work out like you normally would, depending on your goals.
- Over Eating – Many people use intermittent fasting as an excuse to overeat. They think “Well, I fasted all day yesterday so I’m going to this Chinese food bar and I’m going to eat everything.” No, that doesn’t work. Don’t over eat. Eat only until you are satisfied. For most people this is a little bit behind “not hungry” to a little bit of a full feeling in your tummy.
- Other People – Sometimes when you go on a diet other people will discourage you, question you, and suddenly act as if they had a degree in nutrition hidden in their file cabinet. The best thing to do is not tell other people what you’re doing unless they are going to join you.
- Negativity – Sometimes, it’s the wrong time to try any type of eating plan at all. If you’re going through a divorce, a death, or even just got a new exciting job, it’s a bad time to change your eating plan or lifestyle.
Here is a video describing simple low carb meal planning. This can make IF much easier in the beginning:
You can overcome all of these negatives if you think about them and work around them.
Plan ahead, use the calendar, eat right, drink plenty of fluids, and get exercise.
Only tell the people who need to know what you’re doing and seek support from online groups, or a friend who will do IF with you.
Why Intermittent Fasting Can Be Successful
IF can be very successful because it is truly scientific.
On most diets that restrict calories every single day of the year, your body gets used to the deprivation. It adjusts its metabolism to reserve fat to use as fuel during this famine.
When you switch back and forth between deprivation and plenty you trigger your hormones to burn fat, heal the body, the mind and get healthier.
The reasons intermittent fasting can be successful aren’t that hard to figure out.
No matter what type of diet you’re on, calories do matter. But, they don’t matter exactly in the way everyone thinks.
You need a calorie deficit to lose weight, but it’s more than that since the human body is so smart.
On a low fat or Standard American Diet (SAD), the fewer calories you eat, the harder your body will work to hold on to fat because it doesn’t want to starve to death.
Most people know about “starvation mode” which is when your body slows down. You feel sleepy, confused, and like you’re starving.
Most diets trigger starvation mode due to being very restrictive in quality nutrition.
But, with intermittent fasting you sort of trick your body into thinking it’s being over fed by eating good quality calories. You don’t go into starvation mode, even with a calorie deficit, and you lose weight.
Eating Healthy Foods Matter
Many people who try IF do think they can eat whatever they want during feeding.
Sure, occasionally, maybe weekly, you can add a “cheat meal” which might be some cake or other processed, high fat, high sugar, high calorie food.
But, if you eat those on a regular basis, even while fasting, you can still easily over eat.
The reason is that processed food is often more calorically dense which means you have to eat more of it to feel full, even while it has more calories. Plus, many processed sweet treats are may with the highly addictive high fructose corn syrup.
Fructose taps your brains pleasure sensors, causing you to crave more of it because your brain thinks this is food that makes you happy. Fructose = sugar addiction.
Your body doesn’t really know if it has 3 pounds of apples inside it or 3 pounds of cake. But, three pounds of cake obviously has far more calories than 3 pounds of apples.
Intentional Exercise Matters
The truth is, about 80 percent of your results will come from the food you put into your body. If you put highly nutrient dense food in it, you’ll be healthier and get close to your body’s healthy weight over time.
But, if you don’t move, you aren’t going to get the full benefits that you could enjoy.
Intentional exercise doesn’t have to be difficult.
It can consist of something as simple as a fast 20-minute walk daily, running, biking, weight lifting and more.
Or you can rake leaves, build a backyard garden, or move around your seasonal tires. It all counts if it takes some time and physical effort.
The best way to ensure that you’ll always include exercise in your life is to pick something you truly like doing. There is no point doing anything you hate.
Just like, if you hate broccoli you don’t need to eat it because there are other things you can eat with the same nutrients, you don’t have to bike up a mountain if that isn’t something you will enjoy.
With any type of weight loss or mental improvement plan, you need to be ready to stick to your plan for the long haul.
You won’t know if something is going to work or not after just a day or even a week.
You need to decide to stick to anything new for at least 21 to 30 days.
The reason is that it will take that long to know if you can stick to it without too much problem.
Plus, it’s long enough to see results, but not too long that you will give up. After all, you can do almost anything for 30 days.
Your Lifestyle Matters
Most people are super busy and it’s a challenge to prepare meals in advance.
With intermittent fasting, you really don’t have to do that. You’re not going to eat six small meals a day, and in fact, you can plan that you’ll fast all day if you have a busy job, and eat your meals only at night (even before bed).
Plus you can skip breakfast without guilt.
This plan works well for super busy people who have more going on in life than cooking and eating.
Additionally, your frame of mind also matters a great deal. If you’re experiencing anything negative, don’t start anything new.
But, if you are otherwise healthy and you truly want to try IF for weight loss and mental clarity you should. It will work for you if you find a plan that works around your lifestyle that you can stick to consistently.
Now that you know about intermittent fasting, you may want to think about how you can incorporate its many amazing benefits into your life. I find that eating Ketovore makes IF a breeze. It really is a natural progression to improved health.
Make a short-term plan to try IF for about 21 days or so.
Look ahead at your calendar to find out what events might interfere with fasting days so that you’ll be prepared.
As you progress with IF/Low carb, you can cheat for special occasions with no-or-almost-no loss of benefits. Weight still comes off and health still improves. It is quite amazing, really.
If you really want to track your progress to know for sure whether intermittent fasting is working, keep a diary.
Get blood work. Then take your measurements and weight before you start.
Do this again when you’re done. Compare the numbers. You may discover the secret to longevity, health, weight loss, and mental clarity for you is intermittent fasting.
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Combining IF with Keto or Ketovore creates harmony for your health.
Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!