The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting

Feb 17, 2020

 by Travis Graham

Intermittent fasting is heralded as one of THE most effective ways to lose weight and

get your body into shape.

Simply put, Intermittent Fasting is not a diet - it is an eating pattern.

Where Did it Come From?

Believe it or not, Intermittent Fasting is derived from the eating patterns of our

ancestors, the hunter-gatherers. Their eating patterns relied on an ever-changing (and

often unreliable) abundance of food, and as such, they often went long periods of

time without eating.

When they DID make a kill, they often ate and shared their catch amongst the entire

tribe in one go - keep in mind also their lack of preservation methods or spices. Some

days would not yield a catch or kill for them to eat, thus creating unintentional

periods of ‘fasting’.

The following day they would have to trek, hunt, and search for unknown lengths of

time in order to try and produce some catch - a level of activity combined with food

intake which kept them lean and agile throughout their whole lives.


These eating patterns are thus ingrained in our DNA - part of us KNOWS that

overeating is never, and was never, a sustainable or natural thing to do. Surprisingly,

our bodies actually react positively to lengthy periods without sustenance, provided

there is no mental stress or tension involved during these times.

Thus, the ‘new’ phenomenon of Intermittent Fasting is actually based on centuries of

the evolution of humankind - a good argument for anyone trying to coin it as a new

‘fad’ diet. There are numerous studies that show the benefits of diets based on

Intermittent Fasting - yet as with any eating pattern, it doesn’t come without its


We’ll be outlining the advantages, disadvantages, and more of Intermittent Fasting.

Try to maintain an open mind and please get ready to learn as much as you can

before deciding if it’s for you!

Example of a positive personal experience of trying IF (Intermittent Fasting):


IF (Intermittent Fasting) generally involves varying periods of fasting interspersed by

shorter windows of eating, during which calorie deficiency for the period of fasting

time is accounted for. There are several cycles of this which have been proven to

work for those seeking to lose weight.

By adjusting the pattern and frequency by which you consume your meals, you

prolong the period of ‘fasting’ generally reserved for night time, and restrict your

eating hours to a shorter period during the day.



As a general rule to which all weight-loss programs will agree, the best way to create

weight loss is to restrict the amount of calories consumed in relation to the amount

of activity partaken. Intermittent Fasting is no different, as the ‘restriction’ of calories

takes place between the fasting hours and helps the body to properly digest and

assimilate what was consumed during non-fasting hours.

The important part of this cycle is to ensure that the meals you eat in between fasting

periods are balanced and contain enough nutrients and minerals to see your body

through the next period of ‘fasting’.

There are numerous arguments both for and against these patterns of eating that are

still causing disagreement and discontent in the diet and fitness world, so it’s worth

learning as much as you can to see if they suit you, your lifestyle, and weight loss

goals before committing to a period of Intermittent Fasting.

The following article outlines some factors to consider before committing to IF:



As it wouldn’t be fair to focus solely on the negatives, this kind of dieting has

ultimately provided some participants with certain levels of success. Let’s start by

detailing some of the positive outcomes observed by diets of IF.

Some aspects of Intermittent Fasting that the media has directed attention to is the

fact that almost all people undertaking a period of Intermittent Fasting have

experienced the following:

Lower instances of cardiac complications

Lower risk of developing diabetes

Lower levels of inflammation and joint pain

Loss of excessive belly fat

In addition to these positives, IF can help to regulate imbalanced hormonal and

cellular function. This can be observed when after not eating for a period of time,

your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to

make stored body fat more accessible.

While fasting for a certain amount of time inevitably sends the body into ‘weight loss’

mode, as existing fat cells and hormones are called into use to replace the depleted

amount of energy the body is receiving (in the form of calories), the sustained period

of time with NO caloric intake followed by a significant intake sends the metabolism

into overdrive and as such burns more during digestion than would usually occur on a

normal diet.

More about this weight loss or ‘starvation mode’ and its effects on the body during

fasting hours:


While the overall benefits of Intermittent Fasting seem to be largely positive (and it’s

even recommended by some medical professionals), there are (as with most weight

loss programs) some downsides to be aware of, too.

One of the most appealing factors of Intermittent Fasting is that during the nonfasting

hours, the meals you eat aren’t necessarily specified as having to contain any

particular amounts of calories, however they do have to be balanced.

This means that while meal-prepping everything isn’t a requirement, you still need to

be relatively smart about the foods and portions you consume during the non-fasting


Just because you’ve built up a calorie-deficit over the fasting period doesn’t mean

you can eat anything you like for 8 hours and have there be no consequences! This is

where most people fall down with Intermittent Fasting, so it helps to be aware that

it’s not only during the fasting hours that awareness of the body’s hunger cues must

be observed.

Eating Issues


Intermittent Fasting can also elevate the likelihood of developing or worsening eating

disorders. As so much of IF revolves around controlling and maintaining certain levels

of food intake, there’s a fine line between when obsession over eating and not-eating

during your fasting/non-fasting days becomes heightened enough to become similar

to eating-disordered thinking.

If you’re concerned about your attitude to food and whether or not it’s healthy, there

are some good online tests you can take to determine this:


Perhaps the most well-known version of the intermittent fast was originally

suggested in the book ‘8 hour diet’ by David Zinczenko. In this book, he suggested

that leaving longer periods between meals allows the body to properly process food

and break down any excess fat cells is actually preferable to eating more numerous,

smaller meals during the day.

Good News??

The good news is that for those sticking to the 16:8 diet, you actually sleep through

most of the 16-hour fasting window!

The idea is that you follow a pattern of not eating early in the morning, and then

eating at 11am or 12pm, and then confining any subsequent meals to within an 8-

hour window. Leaving 2 hours AFTER your last meal before bedtime, and following

the same pattern the following day. Simply put, the 16:8 method pretty much

involves you just skipping breakfast, and then ensuring your last meal is consumed at

least 2 hours prior to when you go to sleep.


Sounds easy, right?

It is! The main challenge people face during a period of 16:8 dieting is during the

window of fasting in the morning. For anyone who has become accustomed to the

‘breakfast like a king’ rule the fitness media has shared with us for years, this might

present itself as a challenge. However, if the other meals the previous day have been

nutrient-dense enough to provide both enough nutrition and also to satiate hunger,

the morning fasting period should prove to be easier.

It takes time to figure out which kinds of foods will successfully see your energy levels

through until the following afternoon, so don’t give up if you find it hard for the first

few days!

More on Zinczenko’s ‘8 hour diet’ here:


The biggest question on most people’s fast-hungry lips is what can they actually EAT

during their 8 hour eating window.

Another positive element of this diet is that calories are not restricted during your

‘eating’ hours. Both meals and snacks can be consumed, with the only guideline

being that they consist of healthy, balanced, and portion-controlled.

There are NO ‘forbidden foods’ on this diet, but professionals would recommend only

that you avoid overindulgence as much as possible. The urge to overeat or binge can

arise after a period of fasting, and so 16:8 dieters much be aware of this danger in

order to lower the likelihood of them binging. If it helps for you to break your fast

initially with a light snack instead of a heavy meal, this can help with avoiding urges to

binge later on.



During the 16-hour fasting period, non-calorific liquids can be consumed (such as tea,

black coffee, or water). Making SURE they contain NO sugar is key to a successful 16

hour fast.

It helps to take your time while eating, savour each bite, and maybe even take few

minutes break in the middle of your meal to allow digestion to begin as studies have

shown this is beneficial for overall gut and mental health, as well as weight loss.

An interesting REVIEW of the 16:8 diet and an example of some foods that are good

to incorporate:



The fact that the author of this diet states that types of food ‘don’t matter too much’

seems to vastly contradict pretty much every other kind of healthy diet plan we’ve

ever seen. I’m sure that eating 3 meals of fried, sugary, and fatty foods during your

‘eating window’ would lead to different results after a period of following this diet, so

some common dieting sense is advised during this time!

As with all intermittent fasts, this diet is not suited to anyone with unstable or

unreliable blood sugar, as the low levels during fasting hours can lead to




So many studies in recent years have indicated the benefits of consuming breakfast

within an hour of waking, and so it can be hard to change thought and habit patterns

to suit this new mindset. The trick is just to try it - and if it works without too much

anxiety involved, then you can hope for more success with 16:8.

Repeated eating patterns become easier for the body and the mind to adjust to, as

with any diet-plan, so 16:8 can prove challenging at the beginning.

Some questionable evidence and discussion on the benefits of eating breakfast here:



Another popular kind of intermittent fast is the 5:2 diet. This option involves fasting

completely for 2 entire days a week, and following your normal diet patterns on the

other days.

During the fasting days, dieters are recommended to only drink water and noncalorific

liquids, and refrain from over-exertion. The other days of the week can be

considered much alike to the ‘eating window’ of the 16:8 diet - that is to ensure that

all meals taken during this period are healthy, balanced, and not used as an excuse to

overeat after a period of non-eating.

Also known as the ‘Eat-Stop-Eat’ diet, the theory here is that the days where food is

not ingested are seen as a means of letting the body properly absorb and ‘rest’ from

digestion. The negatives here include long-periods of fasting being initially extremely

challenging for new dieters, so if this is the case, the instigators have allowed for a

gradual weaning on to the diet to ensure maximum effect. (Anyone with existing

anxiety, sleep, or blood sugar issues should avoid this diet.)

The longer fasting periods can also make it more tempting to binge after a fast, and

so it’s worth noting that this takes a lot of willpower to control.


Is this diet something you’d consider trying?


This is exactly what it sounds like - fasting on every alternate day as opposed to set

days a week. Many doctors will advise against this method for anyone completely

new to the fasting technique, as full-fasting every other is a bit extreme for bodies

unaccustomed to the effects.

There are many different versions of this kind of fast, however, some of which allow

up to 500 calories per day on the fasting-day. Many health professionals maintain that

this method is inadvisable for long-term weight loss pursuits, as the frequency of the

fasting periods lean towards unhealthy habits and shouldn’t be attempted without

having tried fasting.

Full guide to alternate-day fasting here:


The Warrior Diet consists of fasting completely during the day, and eating one large

meal at night time. The thinking behind this one comes from a similar origin to the

16:8 diet - the ‘warrior’ reflex of the human body having been accustomed to long

periods without food in times before ready-made meals and grocery stores were

commonplace and easily accessible.

Ori Hofmekler was the first person to popularize this diet, and he emphasized the

importance of consuming light, low-calorie snacks during the day - such as plan fruits

and vegetables, and then eating one large, balanced meal at night time. The

permitted or recommended food groups for the large balanced meal should include

ingredients similar to those consumed on the PALEO diet - unprocessed, natural

whole-foods that would have been accessible by some of our earliest ancestors in the

paleolithic period.

The following is a link to a podcast chat with Ori, where he answers probing questions

about ‘The Warrior Diet’ and his journey with Intermittent Fasting.

(HINT: Podcasts are GREAT way to take your mind off exercising while walking, running or in the gym!)


A large part of successful intermittent fasting is centered around creating the right


As with any new ‘diet’ or eating plan, you can’t expect to see immediate results -

human beings are creatures of habit, and shifting away from your normal

eating/exercise regime (or lack thereof!) can take time to adjust to. This is actually

more of a mental thing than physical, as the recent studies on getting rid of the ‘diet

mentality’ suggests!

But intermittent fasting needn’t be so hard. It’s important, however, to understand

that you can’t just decide you’re ‘fasting’ if you accidentally miss or skip breakfast or

another large meal. This kind of false justification rarely works, and generally results

in severe troughs in energy levels or even binges and spikes in blood sugars.

The best way to go about starting an intermittent fast is to PLAN ahead of schedule -

start your eating pattern on a Monday, for example, and spend the Sunday prior to it

getting yourself more educated on what exactly it is you’re getting yourself in for -

make yourself aware of all potential outcomes, and potential reactions (both negative

and positive).


Consult Medical Advice

If you’re in any way unsure about whether or not intermittent fasting is something

that could work for you, seek your doctor’s advice beforehand. The following

conditions are signs that you probably should NOT try intermittent fasting:

If you are pregnant of breastfeeding

If you have or have a history with an eating disorder

If you have diabetes or issues with blood sugar levels

If you are prone to experiencing anxiety

If you are prone to fainting

More on how to decide if IF is for you or not:


As so much of dieting is focused around negative emotions and ‘punishment’ for slip

ups or deviations from the diet, it’s SO important to establish a healthy mindset

surrounding weight loss before trying intermittent fasting.

Successful weight loss (and that means sustainable, long-term weight loss that STAYS

lost), generally centers around creating positive lifestyle changes that incorporate

healthy eating and automatically lend themselves to weight loss. This involves not

only diet, but also activity levels, environmental factors, and most importantly -


Intermittent fasting can be used as one of these lifestyle changes - a simple eating

pattern that you follow several days of the week or month that helps to regulate your

metabolism and slowly return your body to its most natural and balanced state.

But keep in mind how you view the process of Intermittent Fasting in your head - if

you’re expecting it to work as a quick-fix, just know that this is not sustainable, either.

Trust Your Body


A huge element of successful weight loss involves learning how to listen to your body

correctly. This means feeding, moving, and being kind to your body when it needs you

to be. A lot of health professionals over-complicate weight loss by cornering it into

one small element of a pie-chart that relies on the entirety to achieve


Anyone who has experience achieving weight loss and gaining it back will tell you that

the satisfaction was fleeting. Only by listening to our bodies and providing them with

the nutrients, environment, and movement necessary to cultivate a balanced lifestyle

can we hope to achieve our ideal weight.

If Intermittent Fasting helps you reach this point - great. View it as a tool which has

helped you reach full awareness of your body. Don’t get addicted, don’t constantly

fast, and don’t expect to see changes overnight.

More on shifting the ‘diet’ mindset:


Studies have shown that Intermittent Fasting can affect the functioning of your cells,

genes, and hormones, as the altered pattern of your eating will ultimately releases

the hormones necessary for cell growth and repair.

Intermittent Fasting is particularly effective regarding the hormones that have to do

with your hunger, blood sugar, and metabolism. Reducing insulin resistance is

extremely effective in lowering blood sugar levels, thus lowering your risk of

developing type 2 diabetes.


Cancer Research

It has even been suggested that periodic fasting can trigger improved cell regrowth

and immune system repair, assisting the body’s recovery from treatments such as

chemotherapy. As well as using stores of glucose, prolonged periods of fasting also

breaks down significant portions of white blood cells.

This then triggers stem-cell based regeneration of new immune system cells.

Fascinating article about fasting-induced cell regeneration:


The Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is known to be one of the most highly affected

hormones in the body during a period of fasting. After 6 hours of a fast, this hormone

goes into overdrive and starts producing physiological results in the form of increased

metabolism and fat-burning. The proteins it produces - amino acids - are used to

improve brain and neuro functioning, also repairing collagen and helping with skin

growth and repair while it does so!

Insulin and HGH work as opposites in this function.

Read more about this in the article here:


Cardiovascular Health

As fasting helps to reduce instances of inflammation, contributing to lowered

cholesterol, blood pressure, and overall weight, there are definitely benefits for those

seeking to improve their heart health. However doctors also advise caution to these

patients, as electrolyte imbalance can occur, giving rise to arrhythmias.


The doctor in the following article also states however that there is still a lot of

research to be done in this area regarding heart health and Intermittent Fasting, so

for those unsure or wary of trying it, he advises to consult medical professionals

before embarking on a period of fasting.


It seems that the same goes for any existing medical condition - if you wish to try

losing weight with Intermittent Fasting, it’s best to consult your doctor first.

Heart health article:



Curiously, there have been studies to show that Intermittent Fasting has more

successful rates in men instead of those in women.

This has to do with hormonal rates involved in metabolism and fat storage, and takes

into account centuries of women’s activity levels being lower than those of men.

If we’re considering the origins of Intermittent Fasting from the perspective of

ancestral habits, this definitely should be taken into consideration when analysing the

difference in results between men and women.

The idea is that because men were traditionally involved in the more active ‘hunting’

and sourcing of sustenance, women’s bodies developed differently with a higher

reliance on fat storage and muscle stability for tending crops, children, and




Males and females inevitably also require and process hormones differently to one

another. As we’ve already discussed the effects of Intermittent Fasting on hormones,


it follows that different initial levels and types of hormones will produce different

effects in response to fasting.

The following is a very interesting read on how fasting affects men and women



Overall, In terms of ‘dieting’ and ‘losing weight’, it’s best to be honest with yourself

about WHY you want to achieve what you’ve set out to do by trying Intermittent

Fasting. You’ll find that motivation can come simply from taking the time to find this


The same goes for any kind of weight-loss plan. If you have a clear goal, with clear

motivation, and clear steps to achieve it, it’s difficult to fail.

While there’s still relatively little research done on the long-term effects of

Intermittent Fasting, it can’t be denied that enough people have experienced positive

results from using the methods we’ve discussed today for it to have become as

widely-discussed as it has.

Being honest with yourself about these factors is also important - honestly noting

reactions or responses your body might have to fasting and seeking medical advice if

you’re unsure of what you experience.

Take this next few minutes to consider what your goals are and how you feel - WHY

do you want to try Intermittent Fasting, and what do you (realistically) think you will receive from trying it?

Are you uncertain about any aspects?


Thanks for reading!

Travis Graham, RMT, CHEK, FDN