The best of all medicines are resting and fasting. Fasting has been practiced throughout history by almost everyone we know and today intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular trends for the purpose of weight loss.
One should know in addition to weight loss intermittent fasting also helps to improve glucose level, lower cholesterol, lower risk of diabetes, better heart health, prevent cancer and also expand your lifespan.
After learning so many benefits of intermittent fasting it’s sure you must be enticed to know what intermittent fasting is and how it works. So let’s get straight to it.
1. UNDERSTANDING INTERMITTENT FASTING:
Intermittent fasting is in the simplest words ‘cycling between fasting and eating’. It does not focus on what to eat like other weight loss plans but rather focuses on when to eat. It suggests to eat for specific hours of day and fast for the rest.
Although we think fasting can make you weak and can harm your body but it does not. Our body is evolved in a way to be able to go without food for many hours, or even several days or longer. When we are fasting the body has time to not only digest the eaten food properly but also later burn fat. This is known as metabolic switching.
There are several ways one can practice intermittent fasting, the key is to go for the one that suits your lifestyle and compliments your body. The three most popular ways are:
- 16:8: This suggests 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating window. This is the most popular plan people adopt since it is easy to adopt due to the fact that we already fast for several hours while we are a sleep and extending it to 16 hours is a doable thing. This can be achieved through not eating post dinner and skipping breakfast.
- Eat stop eat: This method suggests you to fast 24 hours once in a week and rest of the days you can eat what you want. You can certainly decide the day you want to fast.
- 5:2 diet: In this type of diet it is suggested to eat only 500 calories for 2 days and eat what you want on the rest of the 5 days.
- Alternate days fasting: You can also opt for this method if you are someone not too good with consistency when it comes to restricting food. You can fast for one day and eat what you want the next day and repeat.
2. THE 21 DAYS INTERMITTENT FASTING CHALLENGE:
Now that we have discussed the different ways you can fast and are clear with an idea of what intermittent fasting is. We present to you a 21 days intermittent fasting challenge with eating plans and guide. We will be focusing on the most easiest and popular method which is the 16:8 method discussed above. Tag along your friends and family to join you in this process for motivation and support. We are going to break down the 21 days into 3 weeks of 7 days right from the beginner level and increasing the level with time.
Now let’s not wait for a Monday and kick off with the fitness journey and make sure you enjoy it.
Things you can eat/drink in this journey:
- Green leafy vegetables and include beans, pulses in your diet for protein
- Fibrous foods like nuts and fruits
- No processed foods
- Drink lots of water for hydration
- Beverages that does not contain sugar and fat
3. WEEK 1
Day 1: 12hrs fasting and 12hrs eating
Mission: Choose your schedule for fasting
The first day we are going to focus on easing into the whole process which is why the fasting time is less than 16hrs. This is also the time you need to choose your schedule you will be following for all the days. It can be either skipping breakfast and eat directly lunch post dinner, or you can skip dinner and eat breakfast the next day. You can drink water and healthy drinks to deal with food cravings. Choose what suites your lifestyle.
Day 2: 13hrs fasting and 11hrs eating
Mission: Start to push yourself
On the second day we have increased the fast timing by an hour. One should progress slowly when adopting a new lifestyle so that your body has the time to accept the change. Ease into healthy options of eating and slowly get away from sugar and processed food. Add less salt in your food. The hours we are going to eat is not a gateway to eating whatever you. You are supposed to eat healthy and sustainable foods which gives you nutrients. Try to cook balanced and easy meals which are available all over the internet.
Day 3: 14hrs fasting and 10hrs eat
Mission: Feel accomplished
Its day three and most of you must have eased into the plan. It is also the time you eat full-fledged healthy food. At least 3/4th of your diet should consist of healthy food. It can be tough for some people since it is the start but the more time and efforts you give the more you are going to get used to it. If you feel tired or light headed have a energy drink or rest. Reward yourself and start to appreciate your efforts. This is going to encourage and give you more confidence. Cheer yourself and tick off another day from the calendar.
Day 4: 15hrs fasting and 9hrs eating
Mission: Eat food that is rich in protein
Day 4 is going to be a little tough with increased hours of fasting. This is the start of the time when you will be required to put in effort to push through the fasting time. Therefore, it is suggested to eat protein rich food that will provide you with the energy you will need. There is no restriction on the amount of food all you have to do is eat the right food. Things are going to get tough from now on so brace yourself and trust yourself. You can do it!
Day 5: 16hrs fasting and 8hrs eating
Mission: Include healthy drinks in your fasting period
We have made it to day 5 and also at the ultimate level of 16hrs fasting. 16hrs is a lot of time for all of us to stay without food but you will notice that it is not that hard. We have been preparing ourselves since day 1 slowly and steadily with increasing 1hr everyday which is why. To help curb the hunger in the hours of fasting it’s time we introduce more drinks into our plans like coffee, green juice, tea, smoothies etc. which will give you the required energy and supress your hunger. Make sure there is no added sugar, milk or cream if you are consuming coffee, shakes, smoothies or any other drink.
Day 6: 16hrs fasting and 8hrs eating
Mission: Start with exercises
Day 6 starts and now that we have come in terms with the schedule and the eating habits it’s also time we inculcate some form of physical activity in the day. It can be as simple as a walk or jogging. This is going to add to the whole process of intermittent fasting and will make you more active rather than lethargic. It will shift your focus from hunger and make you feel fresh.
Day 7: 16hrs fasting and 8hrs eating
Mission: Appreciate and give yourself a treat
It is finally end of the first week and you have successfully passed it with flying colours. Now it’s time to appreciate your efforts. Week one is challenging so be proud of yourself. Give yourself a treat with the food that you like but remember only in the eating window. Think about the changes that your body has gone through and analyse them.
Understand your bodies responses whether it has worked for you or not. If not it is suggested to draw back from the process. Never force your body into something that it is not accepting. No method should be uncomfortable. Your body is a temple so respect it.
4. WEEK 2 & WEEK 3 :
Day 8 – Day 21: 16hrs fasting and 8hrs eating
Mission: Be consistent
After completion of week 1, week 2 and week 3 are going to be very comfortable. We believe you are continuing because you feel good and can observe good changes. Your body is set into the schedule now. If you eat unhealthy food at this stage you will notice your body revolting against it and you yourself is going feel guilty. Your only mission now is to be consistent with your efforts and do not give up. The positive results in your body are going to be your biggest motivation for continuing the plan till the end.
If you lose motivation remember why you started it in the first place. Our lives go through a lot of changes so the plan can also be flexible according to your life, extending the eating window when necessary is completely fine. When you feel it’s getting tough you can also download apps that help you get through the journey. A lot of apps focus on tracking your fasting process and help you remind when to eat and when not to.
Some of the best intermittent fasting apps are:
At the end of week 3, the 21st day is the day of victory. Realize how you can control and direct your body and mind towards healthy lifestyle. Calculate your results and compare them to the body that you had on day 1. Remember, every persons body is different and reacts differently to different things. So do not compare your results to another person, only focus on how your body feels.
5. SIDE EFFECTS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING:
Side effects caused by intermittent fasting are not to serious. They are very common because you are changing your diet altogether. The estimated time for these side effects are short and are noticed mostly in the starting stage. Following are the side effects:
- Head ache
- Low energy
- Heart burn
6. WHO SHOULD AVOID IT?
- If you have eating disorder
- If you are underweight
- Pregnant women
- Women who are breastfeeding
- In case of any other medical problems consult your doctor first
Intermittent fasting has become as famous as any other plans. With its numerous benefits and flexibility with its types of plans has contributed a lot for the same. Once you are done with the 21 days challenge you can decide if you want to continue it or not or go for another kind of fasting.
It’s all about listening to your body. It helps you know your body and what it needs. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle not a diet. People adopt it for weight loss but stay for the benefits. All things do not work with all people therefore results are not guaranteed. The main purpose of all the plans such as this is to eat healthy and live healthy.
It will hurt, it will require dedication, time, will power, sacrifice and there will also be temptations. But…when you reach your goal it’s worth it.