Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss – 10 Tips to Get Started
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In the intermittent fasting guide for weight loss, you will learn how this type of calorie restriction can be effective in your healthy living journey. We will also provide some helpful tips for getting started with intermittent fasting (IF).
We are going to cover the following topics in the intermittent fasting guide for weight loss:
- What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
- Different IF Protocols
- 10 Helpful Tips to Get Started
My wife and I have been following an intermittent fasting protocol on and off for almost 2 years now. I can honestly say that I normally feel the best in life … when I am finishing up a fast. Eating healthy and exercising are still great … but there is something about intermittent fasting that helps my body recharge.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet … but rather a lifestyle.
Contrary to what many people think … intermittent fasting is not about starving yourself. Instead, it is a schedule for when to eat (consume calories) and when to fast.
The goal of intermittent fasting is to get your body into a fasted state. For most people, this normally happens 8 to 12 hours after you eat.
Most Americans eat late into the evening and then have breakfast first thing in the morning. We are constantly eating and never give our bodies a chance to enter that fasted state.
The good news, is if you can follow an intermittent fasting protocol (and get to a fasted state) … your body will start to burn stored fat.
Which Intermittent Fasting Protocol is Right for Me?
There are all sorts of different intermittent fasting protocols. Each version has it’s advantages and disadvantages … so keep an open mind when choosing one to start.
Here are a few of the more common types of intermittent fasting.
- 16/8 Fast – Just as the name describes, you fast for 16 hours per day and limit your eating to the remaining 8 hours. The most common way to follow this protocol is to stop eating after dinner and then skip breakfast the following morning. Check out the Leangains Guide for more in depth information on this protocol.
- Alternate Day Fasting – Following this method, you would eat every other day. On fast days, you either consume no food or limit your food intake to 500 calories or less.
- The 5:2 Diet – For 5 days of the week, you would eat normally. The remaining 2 days of the week … you restrict your food intake to 500 calories or less. The days you fast should not be back to back.
- Warrior Diet – Based on the eating patterns of ancient warriors, this protocol allows you to eat one large meal. Often referred to as the 20/4 Diet, this protocol allows you to eat one large meal … usually at night. It is basically a stricter version of the 16/8 fasting method. You restrict calories for a 20 hour period and consume food during the other 4 hours in the day.
Top 10 Tips When Following the Intermittent Fasting Guide for Weight Loss
As you can probably tell by now … there are many different options for fasting.
If you are a beginner and looking for a place to get started … we have put together our top 10 tips for the intermittent fasting guide for weight loss.
Please keep in mind that we are not doctors … or anything close to a medical professional. Consult with your doctor first before starting intermittent fasting.
For more information on this, please refer to our disclosure policy.
The following tips are written from my perspective of intermittent fasting. Remember that everyone is different and what works for me … may not work the same for you.
1. Follow the 16/8 Intermittent Fasting Protocol
My first suggestion is to start intermittent fasting (IF) following the 16/8 protocol.
I personally believe this is the easiest form of calorie restriction and fasting for beginners.
This is the protocol that my wife and I currently follow when we fast.
What this means is that I try to fast for 16 hours per day and can eat during the remaining 8 hour window.
This protocol is only followed on days I plan to fast (see #2) … not every day of the week.
While 16/8 intermittent fasting can start anytime of the day … I prefer to do most of my fasting while I am asleep. Which means I try and follow a plan where I stop eating around 8:00 PM in the evening and begin eating again around 12:00 Noon the following day.
This gives me a 16 hour fasting window … with 7 to 8 hours of that window spent sleeping.
I think this is a huge factor in my success with IF, because I don’t worry about eating while I am asleep!
Of course, sometimes life gets in the way and I may eat dinner later on occasion. So I try and be flexible on when the fasting clock may start.
For example, if I stop eating around 10:00 PM one night, then I would begin eating again the next day starting at 2:00 PM.
On some occasions, I even try and mix things up and fast for 18 to 20 hours … but starting out I suggest to try for 16 hours of fasting.
Suggested Intermittent Fasting Protocol = 16 hour fast / 8 hour eating
2. Fast 3 Non-Consecutive Days per Week
I don’t fast every day of the week.
My personal belief is that keeping with the same routine over and over can limit the impacts of something like a fast. And also could become very boring … which means you likely won’t stick to it.
So … I prefer to follow the 16/8 intermittent fast on 3 non-consecutive days per week.
When following an intermittent fasting schedule, I keep in mind how busy life can become with 3 kids and a full-time job. So the days of the week may not be the same every time I fast … and I try not to get hung up on that fact.
The days I fast can differ week to week or month to month.
However, starting out … I always try and stick to a specific set of days to fit with my work and family schedule.
For example, lately I have been following the 16/8 IF protocol on – Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. For now … these days are just easier based on activities with our family and my work.
Days I Currently Fast
On the days I fast, I make sure to stop eating around 8:00 PM the evening before. For example, I stop eating by 8:00 PM on Sunday evening. Then I would not eat until 12:00 PM on Monday … which is 16 hours later.
This same pattern is then be followed on Wednesday and Saturday. Or whatever days of the week I decide to change my fasting to in the future.
Start Out by Fasting 3 to 4 Non-Consecutive Days per Week
3. No Calories During Fasting Hours
I know that some people will still drink things like bulletproof coffee during their fasting hours.
However, for me … I always keep my fasting hours strictly to water, tea, and black coffee. And if I can get used to it … I may try to even cut out coffee … but first things first.
Basically, I only drink non-calorie beverages during this time that are not processed.
Then on non-fasting days … I try to start my day out with a strong cup of black coffee with a tablespoon of ghee.
This will let me start my day off with fat first. The goal on normal non-fasting days is to eat lots of healthy fats early in the day and save my higher carb foods for later in the day.
But on fasting days … nothing but water, tea, and black coffee during the fast.
And in all honesty … I really keep it to water and black coffee. I am not much of a fan of tea.
If you have any questions about why black coffee is good to drink while fasting, here is a good reference on why it is okay – Does Coffee Break a Fast?
Only drink non-calorie beverages like teas, water, and black coffee during your fasting hours.
4. Drink Lots of Water
Speaking of water … it is very important during a fast.
I used to think that I drank a lot of water … or at least enough throughout an average day.
However, that was based on the standard rule of drinking eight 8 oz glasses of water each day rule. I am not even sure who came up with that rule … as I cannot find any research on it.
What I was able to find were some recommendations for men older than 19 years of age should drink 13 cups of water per day. That water could potentially come from coffee and tea … not just plain water. Unfortunately, this rule is still a little vague based on activity level, body weight, and even the climate you may live in.
Looking at the numbers, I don’t believe that I drink 13 cups of water on a given day. Adding in coffee … I might get close, but I think I can do much better.
So now I shoot for 13-15 cups of regular water every day while I am on my intermittent fasting plan. Days I work out would be on the higher end and days I don’t could be lower.
Like everything … I will adjust based on how my body feels overtime.
The main takeaway here for anyone looking to start IF is that drinking water (while fasting) is a huge help. Drinking water helps to take the edge off during my fasting hours by making me feel full.
Drink LOTs of Water When Fasting – For me that is 13 to 15 cups of water per day
5. Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Another helpful tip when doing an intermittent fast is to avoid inflammatory foods during the hours you are eating.
For example, I try and avoid the following types of foods when doing an intermittent fast – grains, alcohol, most dairy, legumes, and most importantly sugar.
Often times I will try and combine intermittent fasting with eating paleo or sometimes following the keto diet.
Other times I will do a Whole30 in combination with my 16/8 intermittent fast.
Taking out the processed foods that cause inflammation pushes me to eating healthier whole foods that keep me satisfied and full. This is a huge help when I am fasting.
I suggest checking out the Whole30 program or a similar program to get all the junk out of your diet.
Avoid Eating Inflammatory Foods When Intermittent Fasting
6. Sleep at Least 7 Hours
This is the one things that always “gets me” when I am intermittent fasting.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night (7 to 8 hours) is not as easy as fasting for 16 hours … in my opinion.
Most nights I typically get about 5.5 hours of sleep … so I have a lot of room for improvement here. On the nights when I do get 7+ hours of sleep … I wake up with a lot more energy compared to nights I don’t.
Not only does more sleep help me feel better, it also is a great way to spend your “fasting hours”.
For example, following the 16/8 protocol … all my “sleeping hours” are in my fasting window. So if I’m sleeping 6 hours a night … those hours are spent in a fasted state.
I don’t know about you but I generally don’t want to eat while I’m sleeping. The more hours I can distract myself from not thinking about eating food, the easier it is.
So the more hours I can sleep, the easier my intermittent fast becomes.
Make Sure to Focus on Getting Enough Sleep During Intermittent Fasting.
7. Distract Yourself As Much As Possible
Speaking of more sleep and distractions … I find the easiest times to fast are when I am busy.
On days when I stay busy, I have been known to fast for 20 to 24 hours on certain occasions.
Can you guess what day I usually have the easiest time fasting?
It may seem counterintuitive but Saturday’s are generally my easiest days to fast. Instead of being stuck at work behind a computer screen for 8 hours … I am usually busy with the kids or doing something around the house on the weekend.
These weekend distractions help me take my mind off of food. Unlike being at work where I get bored and want to snack all day long!
Trick your mind into not thinking about food during an intermittent fast by staying busy and distracting yourself. It is a huge help!
Staying Busy When Fasting Will Help You Stay Distracted.
8. Get Your Spouse, Significant Other, and/or Family Members on Board
My wife and I generally try and stick to the same fasting schedule – Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Every once in a while she will switch to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday … but most of the time we are fasting together.
I cannot stress the importance of having this support system in place while fasting.
For example, instead of having your spouse snacking at night … my wife and I stop eating by 8:00 PM on our fasting days. And we do it together!
She is not eating chips at night in front of me when I am fasting … and neither am I. This takes away any possible temptation of breaking our fast.
And it simply helps to have a partner to motivate each other to stay on track.
Find a Buddy to Follow Intermittent Fasting With Your for Support!
9. Get 30 Minutes of Exercise – 4 Days per Week
I strongly believe in taking a balanced approach to health.
Intermittent fasting along with eating healthy unprocessed foods are both part of that balanced approach.
What also goes along great with intermittent fasting?
I try and get in about 30 minutes of moderate exercise 4 days per week.
Running for 25 to 30 minutes a couple times per week is a good form of cardio (provided I don’t overdue it). I also like to add in a day or two of high intensity interval training or Tabata workouts to mix things up.
I like variety in my workouts … just like I prefer eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
Many studies have shown that exercising while in a fasted state has huge benefits.
Add a Moderate Exercise Program 3 or 4 Days per Week When Intermittment Fasting.
10. Be Flexible and Don’t Give Up
When most people hear the word fasting … I’m sure they are thinking starvation or deprivation.
But intermittent fasting isn’t either of those at all. As mentioned earlier … IF is planned eating around a set schedule. Never once have I (or my wife) counted calories, macros, or anything else when fasting.
What we have done is stayed focused on eating healthy, whole foods that are minimally processed.
We have eaten when we were hungry (during our eating hours) and stopped eating when we are full.
We have stuck with the 16/8 protocol by avoiding calories during our 16 hour fasting window.
There have also been times when life got in the way.
For example, I got home late one night and couldn’t eat dinner until after 9:00 PM on a evening I was starting a fast. So instead of giving up completely on intermittent fasting … I adjusted my schedule to start my fast at 10:00 PM instead of 8:00 PM. That meant my fasting lasted until 2:00 PM the next day.
No big deal. I just adjusted my fasting schedule around this life event.
There are no hard rules to intermittent fasting. If you are following the 16/8 protocol … then you can start your fasting at 8:00 PM, 10:00 PM, or 9:00 AM.
The best way to have success with intermittent fasting is to be flexible and fit it in with your every day life.
Be Flexible When Intermittent Fasting and Don’t Give Up!
Intermittent Fasting Guide for Weight Loss
Hopefully you have found some value from the intermittment fasting tips we have provided.
These are things that have helped my wife and I continue to make intermittment fasting a big part of our health journey.
Calorie restriction has been proven to have plenty of health benefits … but noboby wants to starve themselves for days or even weeks on end.
That is where intermittent fasting can help. Following a intermittent fasting protocol can provide similar health benefits (such as weight loss) with a lot less sacrifice.
Have you ever had success with intermittent fasting? For anyone who has not tried IF yet … what factors are holding you back?