I think one of the main reasons I enjoy intermittent fasting, aside from the weight loss and amazing health benefits, is its simplicity. There are no tracking calories, points, macros, carbs, or proteins. There are no ratios that I have to concern myself with. Simply follow my super simple 5 step intermittent fasting guide for beginners and you can start enjoying these weight loss and health benefits today!
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
As a 45-year-old woman with over 50 pounds to lose, I needed simple.
My mind, my body, and my well being just could not handle another complicated program that would take up one more second of my very limited time.
In this post, I will coverall 5 steps of my intermittent fasting guide for beginners. This will include:
- Choosing the right intermittent fasting schedule for you.
- How to prepare for your first fast.
- How to prepare for your feast (you eating window).
- Research for success.
- Finding your community.
#1. Pick your Intermittent Fasting Schedule.
The very first simple step to start intermittent fasting is to pick your schedule.
If you don’t already know, Intermittent fasting is all about the “schedule”. Intermittent fasters focus on WHEN we eat, not necessarily WHAT we eat.
Visit: Check out my Intermittent Fasting Schedules Defined post to review the different intermittent fasting schedules and what intermittent fasting schedule might work for you.
A few popular intermittent fasting schedules include:
- 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule.
- 18/6 intermittent fasting schedule
- 20/4 intermittent fasting schedule
- alternate-day fasting schedule
The most popular intermittent fasting plan out there is probably the 16:8 schedule. This schedule will have you fasting for 16 hours with an 8-hour eating window. This means that you don’t eat for 16 hours straight, and will eat within that 8-hour window.
This is the intermittent fasting plan that I started my intermittent fasting journey with and was the perfect starting point for me.
My 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule looked like this:
- 7:00 PM -Close eating window.
- 7:00 PM – 11: 00 AM – Fast.
- 11:00 AM -Open eating window.
- Rinse and repeat.
What was interesting about starting this intermittent fasting plan (for me) wasn’t necessarily found in my weight loss, but in another benefit that I experienced. One that I didn’t anticipate. A pleasant surprise!
Prior to intermittent fasting, I was a late-night snacker. This snack caused me much GI distress come morning. By closing my window at 7:00 PM, I removed that late-night snack and woke up with an empty belly. And, by extending that fast until 11:00 AM the following morning, I further allowed my body time to work on itself, rather than process the junk I ate the night before.
Side Note: I use the LIFE App to track my daily fast. It’s a super simple app to use and it’s FREE!
The beauty of choosing your intermittent fasting schedule is that you can choose what schedule you think will work well for you!
In general, if you’re following a daily intermittent fasting schedule (not participating in alternate-day fasting, a 5:2 schedule, etc.) you will adjust your fast/feast schedule so that it adds up to a full 24-hour cycle.
For example, you could decide to participate in a 17/7 intermittent fasting schedule, or even a 12/12 intermittent fasting schedule.
You do what works for you!
Important Note: If jumping right into a 16 hour fast seems scary to you, then start small! Start with a 12/12 plan and slowly work your way up to a longer fast. But keep in mind that you may not start to experience weight loss results until you reach, at least, a 16 hour fast or more. That being said, you will most likely start to experience non-scale victories (NSV) such as less belly bloat and a decrease in “brain fog”. As mentioned above, I reduced my morning belly bloat almost immediately upon starting intermittent fasting!
Simple enough, right?
It sure is!
But what about that fast? Does that seem scary to you?
Let’s take a look at my next simple step to start intermittent fasting: tips to help you prepare for the fast to help get you ready for that FAST!
#2. Prepare for the FAST!
Ok, so you’ve chosen your intermittent fasting schedule, you’re motivated, you feel good and you’re ready to start. But you wonder, how in the heck am I going to last XX hours without anything to eat?
Once you get a plan into place, the next simple step to start intermittent fasting is to help prepare you for your FAST, the fasting part of your intermittent fasting plan will become like second nature to you.
Make your plan.
Create your outline.
I break this down a bit more in my 3-Day Intermittent Fasting Short Course, but outline every little thing that you can do to get you through your fast.
For example, most days my outline may look like this:
- 8:00 AM – wake-up
- 8:15 AM – 10:15 AM – make black coffee and sip first cup of coffee for about 1+ hours.
- 8:30 AM – check work emails
- 8:45 AM – wake up kids, get kids ready for class
- 9:30 AM – workout
- 10:45 AM – shower
- 11:00 AM – make second cup of coffee
I realize that it may seem redundant, but some days it’s the busy work that gets me through my fast! The consistency of my morning outline (listed above) keeps me motivated to get me to my feast.
If I perform the items listed above, I’ll be at my feast before I know it!
Prep your tools!
The beauty of intermittent fasting is that you need very little “stuff” to succeed.
There are no planners you need to fill out, no shakes or supplements you need to consume and track. It’s just the fast (not eat) and the feast (eat).
So, does that mean that there are NO tools that can help you get through a fast?
No! They do exist, but since you are fasting there are not many tools that you need in your toolkit to get you through.
That being said, a few tools that you can use to help get you through your fast might be:
- black coffee, black and green tea
- plain and sparkling mineral water
- plain hot water
(The items above are sure to NOT break your fast.)
But, black coffee?
Yes. black coffee.
I thought the same thing when I first started intermittent fasting, but honestly, I’ve come to enjoy my black coffee.
Not only does it make me feel great every morning, I truly believe that I’m starting to benefit from drinking it!
While there are some people who can drink coffee with a little milk and experience no ill effect on their fast, I suggest that you start this process as clean as possible. There are many intermittent fasters out there who find that going completely clean with their fast made a significant difference on the scale.
Note: I highly suggest you check out Gin Stephens blog post about clean fasting and why it matters. She even has a great little graphic showing what’s OK to have in the fasting window. You can find the link to that here.
Read More: Head over to my Intermittent Fasting for Weight loss: Manage the Hungry post for more tips on how to get you through your fast!
Want to see what tools I use to help get me through a challenging fast, check out my Intermittent Fasting “Toolkit”.
#3. Prepare for the FEAST!
The next super simple step to start intermittent fasting has to do with preparing for the feast!
But first, let’s clear the air a little bit about WHAT you can eat during the feast.
All the things?
When I think of what it means to eat “all the things” while intermittent fasting I don’t think of that to mean eating “all the things” for the entire duration of my eating window. I can tell you from experience that this method does not work and can actually cause weight gain!
“All the things” actually means that there are no food restrictions when it comes to WHAT you eat for your planned meals during your eating window.
For example, my current intermittent fasting schedule is an 18/6 intermittent fasting schedule with a few 20/4 days thrown in the mix. I consider my eating plan to be OMAD+ so my daily eating schedule may look like this.
- 1:00 PM – Open eating window with a snack (almonds, cheese, salami, pickles, dark chocolate)
- 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM – don’t eat
- 5:30 PM – Make a large and super satisfying dinner. (Examples include, pizza, gyros, chicken tikka marlas, pasta, etc.)
- 6:30 PM – Eat a super fattening and delicious dessert. (Examples include, pumpkin crunch cake with vanilla ice cream, pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream, etc.)
Do you see what I did there?
While there are no food restrictions when it comes to WHAT I eat, I focus on WHEN I eat to help keep me in check.
By doing this I allow myself the ability to eat an amazing dinner, an amazing dessert (maybe enjoy some wine) without the need to count calories or worry about how long my workout has to be in order to burn off that amazing meal and dessert.
What the food?
Considering I only eat OMAD+ (one main meal a day + a snack), I want to make sure that one main meal is full of nutrients, it’s filling, super delicious, and insanely SIMPLE!
I’m one of those busy moms to two kids, so quick, easy, and delicious is a necessity!
To accomplish this, I do the following on a weekly basis:
- Plan the meals.
I am a HUGE fan of Skinnytaste. There are hardly any of Gina’s dinners that I’ve made that have received the thumbs down from my family. The only change I make to her meals (as an intermittent faster) is that I swap out her low-fat ingredients with the full-fat version. As an intermittent faster, I no longer need to worry about the low-fat/low-calorie versions of food.
You can find some of my favorite Skinnytaste meals in my 5 Super Simple Weeknight Meals for Busy Moms post.
- Plan the grocery list.
About a year ago I started using this little Knock Knock What to Eat Planning Pad. Since my main meals revolve around dinner, this little pad turned out to be the perfect solution for my meal planning and grocery shopping needs.
Every week I sit down with my pile of recipes or my Skinnytaste One and Done Cookbook and plan my meals for the week using the Knock Knock pad. Once my plan is complete (I also include additional food and meals for the kids on that sheet), I tear off the dinner list, turn it over and write out my shopping list on the back of that sheet.
It’s a simple solution that has worked for me for well over a year, maybe it will work for you, too.
Keep it simple.
When it comes to your food choices, like intermittent fasting itself, find what works best for you and keep it simple.
#4. Research for Success.
Another simple step to start intermittent fasting has to do with information.
When I started intermittent fasting over two years ago, I was in it for the sole purpose of weight loss. I knew little about the many health and wellness benefits that many intermittent fasters enjoy. (I’m starting to enjoy them, too!) When I started to research intermittent fasting and its benefits, it only further cemented my desire to continue with this lifestyle.
If you are interested in learning more about intermittent fasting and it’s benefits, I highly suggest you take some time to read (or listen to) books and podcasts regarding intermittent fasting.
Three incredible books to get your started (they are what I read to get me on track with this lifestyle) are:
- The Obesity Code, By Dr. Jason Fung,
- Fast Feast Repeat, by Gin Stephens, and
- The Power of Appetite correction, by Dr. Bert Herring.
To date, I’ve read additional books about intermittent fasting, but the books above are books that I’m constantly loaning out to friends when they inquire about intermittent fasting.
Important Note: For more information on why we should fast and the health benefits of fasting, take a moment to watch the following Ted Talk from Cynthia Thurlow. It’s a short video, but it’s full of information. It might just blow your mind a little. Especially if you eat all the meals and all the snacks all day long.
#5. Find your community.
Community is key.
When I started this blog I was surprised to learn that many of my family, friends and neighbors are intermittent fasters! I can’t tell you how lovely it is to talk intermittent fasting with all of them! I talk intermittent fasting with my sister all the time!
If you don’t yet have friends or family that you can talk intermittent fasting “shop” with, feel free to join the Stuck Ass Down FB Community!
We’re a small group now, but we’re growing. I provide a daily check-in for group members to check-in and share their intermittent fasting progress. For the most part, we are there to help support each other on our intermittent fasting journeys.
(If needed) Talk to your doctor.
Is IF for everyone? I think so, but there are a select few that really shouldn’t do it. I’ve always been a pretty healthy person, so rolling into this lifestyle was not an issue for me. If you feel like you may be one of the select few who just can’t do IF, then have a conversation with your doctor.
When I was faced with the prospect of losing 50 pounds, I was overwhelmed. As a busy mom, I just didn’t have the time to commit to a complicated weight loss program.
Intermittent fasting is not just an easy and effective weight-loss tool, it’s a health tool. If you read my suggested books you will soon learn all about what else intermittent fasting can do for you!
I hope these simple 5 step intermittent fasting guide for beginners will help get you started on your intermittent fasting journey.
Questions? Feel free to ask in the comments.
Check out my Intermittent Fasting Toolkit! In include everything that I have read that has helped me gain a better understanding of my intermittent fasting lifestyle, and all the items I use that helps keep me on track during both my fast and my feast!
- Intermittent Fasting Schedules Defined.
- 6 Funky Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting.
- Is working out while intermittent fasting safe?
- October 2020: I Gained 10 Pounds While Intermittent Fasting.