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I think one of the main reasons I enjoy intermittent fasting, aside from the weight loss and all the amazing health benefits, is its simplicity. There is no tracking calories, points, macros, carbs, or proteins. There are no ratios that I have to concern myself with. Nothing. None of that.
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’m going to introduce you to 5 simple steps that helped me get started with intermittent fasting.
#1. Start with a small fasting window.
Intermittent fasting all about the “schedule”. Before you begin your intermittent fasting plan you will need to determine your schedule. (Not sure about that that even means? Check out my Intermittent Fasting Schedules Defined post.) 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.
For example, when I started intermittent fasting, I started with the 16:8 schedule. I chose to stop eating at 7:00 pm at night and then I opened my window with my first meal or snack at 11:00 am the next morning. When I think of it, all I did was eliminate my late night snack and then skipped breakfast in the morning. It all seems easy enough, but I’m not going to lie, it was a challenge when I first started. But, BUT it got much easier as my body adapted to the schedule.
Now, there are many individuals who may not be comfortable starting with a 16 hour fast, and that’s OK. If that’s you, then great! You may need to start a little smaller and a little slower. And, don’t beat yourself up over it! This lifestyle is about health and longevity (the weight loss comes as a benefit) so if you have to start smaller and slower in the beginning in order to love, appreciate and sustain this lifestyle, then DO IT!
If a 16:8 schedule isn’t your jam to get you started, then start with a 12: 12 schedule or a 14:10. I mean, there is nothing wrong with closing your window at 7:00 pm and then opening your window at 7:00 am when you first get started. For me, just by closing my eating window at 7:00 pm removes that late-night snack. A snack that caused so much bloat and problems come morning. It’s a small change, but it’s a small change with many benefits.
Take it slow! There is no need for you to jump right into the longer fasting times right from the get-go. But, if you’re looking to really benefit from intermittent fasting you will eventually need to work your way up to a longer fasting window. If you need more tips on how to do this, you can sign up for my FREE 3 Day Intermittent Fasting Self Paced Short Course. I provide guidance on how to work your way up to a longer fast in the course.
Remember. Time and patience, you will get there!
#2. Start clean
Ya’ll aren’t going to like this, but it’s so worth it, I promise!
The best way to start fasting is with a clean fast. That means nothing but water, black coffee or black tea in your fasting window. (I also drink sparkling mineral water or regular mineral water. Nothing with flavor, though.)
I know, I know. No creamer? No artificial sweetener? That’s a no and a no. I know some fasting advocates will recommend that you start this process off slow (a dab of creamer or a smidge of sugar), but I found that I felt better and was more consistent with my weight loss when I fasted clean. I also found that by adding a little dab of creamer to my coffee derailed my entire fast and IGNITED my hunger hormones. In order to keep my hunger hormones at bay, I stick with black coffee, sparkling mineral water, and just plain water.
NOTE: If you can’t pull the black coffee Band-Aid off that quickly when you start intermittent fasting, then go ahead and add your creamer, etc. BUT, start to phase it out as you go deeper into your intermittent fasting journey (you’ll thank me later!). Because creamer will break your fast and can derail your progress. If you want to enjoy your creamed coffee, play it safe and drink it during your eating window.
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.
#3. Stop tracking.
You may have hated what I had to say in #2, but you are going to LOVE this. When you IF you don’t need to track a thing. Not a calorie, not a carb, not a macro, nothing! This does not mean that you get to eat all the things during your eating window, but tracking just isn’t necessary when you fast. Why? Because your body, in a fasted state, will start to pull from your fat stores and not your food stores to keep you going! Amazing news, right?!
In my early stages of intermittent fasting, during my 16:8 fasting schedule, I would eat all the things during my eating window, and I still lost 15 pounds in 3 months. I LOVED it. I just ate what I wanted until I was full. No tracking, no counting, no worrying. It was so simple. And, I still don’t track. I’m riding my second plateau after a total of 30 pounds lost, and to get the weight loss going again, instead of tracking, I just tightened my eating window. Right now I fast for 18-19 hours a day and only eat within a 5-6 hour timeframe. It’s really that easy!
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.
#4. Research (Books & Podcasts).
I am an information psycho. I need to know everything there is to know about anything that I start doing. But, this doesn’t mean that you have to take the time to read everything that I’ve read. But, I do suggest that you take some time to read some books and listen to some podcasts on IF. Don’t read? Listen to them on Audible! I’ve convinced several friends to listen to some of my favorite IF books on their commutes to work and they are well into their intermittent fasting journeys. You can find my favorites HERE. All the books are short and sweet and full of information. Once you take a little time to understand the benefits of IF, you’ll have more success on your IF journey. I promise!
My favorites include The Obesity Code, By Dr. Jason Fung, Fast Feast Repeat, by Gin Stephens, and The Power of Appetite correction, by Dr. Bert Herring. All very short but they provide a wealth of information when it comes to intermittent fasting.
#5. Find your community.
Community is key. You need to find like-minded people in the IF community that have the same goals and ideas about this lifestyle as you do. When you tell your friends that you’re trying IF, they’ll probably look at you like you have three heads, but I’m here to tell you that there are a lot of us out there! Welcome!
If you want an active, knowledgeable and amazing FB group to join, check out the Delay, Don’t Deny FB Groups. I’m not usually a groupie of anything or anyone, but Gin (the author of Delay, Don’t Deny) is a woman to follow. She’s down to earth, takes no crap and is there to help those in the FB group. She’s very active in the group, she’s consistent with her feedback, and her book and FB page have helped me navigate this amazing lifestyle.
Or, you can 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.
I hope these simple steps can help get you started on your intermittent fasting journey. What I shared in this post helped keep me focused and on track when I first started intermittent fasting, and I hope it can do the same for you.
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!
- Not sure what intermittent fasting schedule you should start with? Check out my Intermittent Fasting Schedules Defined post where I highlight the most popular and effective fasting schedules around!
- The benefits of intermittent fasting are many. Check out the 6 Unexpected Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting that I experienced. Pleasant surprises all around!
- Oh hey, I’m really trying to be a more sustainable human being, too. Check out 7 simple swaps I made to be sustainable.
- And, for those of you who hate me because I told you to drink black coffee, I’m so sorry, but it has its benefits! Check out my 5 Tips to Help You Drink & Enjoy Black Coffee and my 5 Benefits of Drinking Black Coffee to held shift your views of black coffee!