Intermittent Fasting for Beginners
Can you be successful on keto without intermittent fasting?
This is a question I see over and over, especially from those who are new to keto and believe the idea of intermittent fasting sounds scary.
Let’s talk about intermittent fasting, whether or not you really need it … and once it stops sounding so scary, how to get started with an easy fasting routine of your own.
You CAN get results on keto without intermittent fasting… but you’re missing out.
The quick answer to this is yes – most people can find success just by dropping carbs and focusing on more real foods. Adding intermittent fasting to your keto routine isn’t necessary for weight loss results.
In fact, even adding keto to your routine isn’t even 100% necessary for weight loss results since so many can see a lot of success with following an easier low-carb lifestyle. Remember – I lost my first 70 lbs just by working to improve digestion and following a low carb plan.
But when you do follow keto correctly and work to become fat-adapted, that’s when adding intermittent fasting becomes really easy.
Now your body gets busy feasting on your stored fat, so you don’t feel the need to eat every 2-3 hours as most people do. Plus, intermittent fasting has so many health benefits that come with it when you do it correctly. Now the question becomes, why wouldn’t you want to add intermittent fasting to your keto routine?
When I began my low carb lifestyle back in 2014, lowering carbs was really all that was talked about … and that was a drastic enough diet change to start with. Switching from the fuel source I gained 50-60% of my daily calories from to less than 5-10% was a pretty big change that my body had to adjust to.
Not too long after I dropped carbs, intermittent fasting became more of a hot topic.
When I first heard about fasting, I won’t lie – I thought Michael Mosely and his 5:2 plan – where you eat normally 5 days each week and then only eat around 500 calories the other 2 days, sounded scary. On the other hand, eating whatever I wanted instead of having to drop most of my daily carbs was intriguing.
But … after 20 years of non-stop yo-yo diets, I was finally seeing some success following a low carb plan – and I finally gained a little bit of wisdom about which plans would work for me … and which plans would lead me to crash and burn within days of starting them.
Even though I’d already been following low carb for several months before I added any form of intermittent fasting, I knew eating only 500 calories at least 2 days each week wasn’t a plan that I’d stick with without feeling like I was dying, and that I’d really hate my life at least 2 days every single week.
But, once I took the plunge and started an easy intermittent fasting plan, not the 5:2 plan Michael Mosely talked about – because that would have been way too much for me to handle both physically and mentally, but a much easier plan where I simply fasted 12 hours, and most of that time happened overnight while I was sleeping, my diabetic blood sugars dropped into normal ranges, I also felt more control around food and made a big dent in a large amount of weight I wanted to lose.
So even though it isn’t necessary to combine fasting with keto, the benefits that come from fasting the right way, combined with it just becoming really easy once your body is fat adapted, really make it an amazing combo for both weight loss and improved health.
Let me share how I got started with intermittent fasting, along with the baby steps I took overtime to take my fasting results to the next level.
I started with 12-hour fasts
When you hear about someone going an entire 24 hours with zero food, I can see why intermittent fasting sounds scary. I honestly thought these people were nuts since back when I started dieting, people who went an entire day without food were typically admitted to group homes, force-fed, and labeled anorexic.
But I decided to continue my research on intermittent fasting anyway and soon realized strategically not eating at certain times wasn’t anorexia at all, as long as you were fasting when it was time to fast, and feasting when it was time to eat.
The feasting part is so important when it comes to getting results.
After sifting through the research, I eased my way into a 12-hour fasting schedule. Now even though going 12 hours with food sounds easy enough, most people start eating the second they open their eyes and keep shoveling food in right up until their heads hit their pillows each night.
Before I began my keto and fasting routine, I remember I had a bag of Hershey Kisses in my nightstand, and I’d eat 1 or 2 right before I brushed my teeth and went to bed. I figured they were low enough in calories to not really make a difference, and I enjoyed this small treat after enduring a long day of taking care of a fussy baby.
While back in the day of June Cleaver, it was normal going from dinner to breakfast without any food in between, these days it sounds ludicrous to people who don’t already fast! And if this sounds crazy to you, I can assure you – not eating between dinner and breakfast is perfectly normal. Then the food industry stuck their big noses into our homes and told everyone we need to eat every 2 to 3 hours in order to be healthy.
To complete a 12 hour fast, I stopped eating after dinner, which was about 6 pm. Since I went to bed between 9-10, that means I stopped eating at least 3 hours before bed. To continue my fasted state, I waited around 1 hour to eat after waking up.
Sure, it was tempting to chomp on some popcorn after dinner … and at times my tummy grumbled a little in the morning as I waited to eat breakfast, but it wasn’t anything drinking a little bit of water didn’t help. Soon enough, this just became my routine.
After following this routine for just a few months, along with lowering carbs and processed foods, my blood sugars dropped from 140 to around 90 while I fasted. That means with just a few small changes of both what and when I ate, I went from diabetic blood sugar levels to normal in only a few months.
Most doctors don’t even get those kinds of results with heavy-duty diabetes medications.
Next, I added in a fasted workout
This took my fasting window to 14 hours most days. While many believe working out while fasted will be too hard, it’s actually much easier than you think.
If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to keep your workout light since a fasted workout that’s not too stressful can help you build up feel good ketones. If you’re worried about strength training without a protein fix, don’t be since strength training while fasted can actually have benefits since you’ll have more HGH (human growth hormone) to help build muscle.
If you’d rather eat prior to strength training, just stick with a light to medium fasted cardio workout, like a walk or an easy elliptical session.
Once I added a morning cardio session, I waited at least an hour after my workout before I ate. Not only did this extend my fast even longer, but it allowed my body time to utilize more stored fat from my workout instead of using any fuel I’d give to my body if I were to eat right after my workout.
We talk about fasted walks a lot in our Keto Decoded group since they are super effective for burning fat. If this isn’t a tactic you’ve tried, it’s definitely a strategy worth working up to.
After a few months of this routine, I upped my fast to 16 hours, most days of the week.
Taking my fasting window from 14 to 16 hours actually was more of a mental shift than a physical shift. I stopped eating after dinner, so around 6, and then I pushed breakfast out to around 10 each morning. After a few days of allowing my body to adjust, this routine became normal.
These days, it actually feels strange to eat anything prior to 10. I no longer feel the need to eat almost immediately upon waking, which gives my digestion a break and my body time to dig into stored fat.
I’ve been fasting for quite some time, so these days I typically don’t eat anything until 11 or 12. Just to give you an idea of what my schedule looks like, I wake up most mornings between 5 and 6, and just drink water until around lunch time. I rarely eat anything after dinner, so my eating window falls between noon to 6 each day.
It took me time to work up to that … and that’s the routine that feels good for my body. Your routine might be completely different, and that’s perfectly OK.
When you venture into a 16 hour daily fasting routine, if you find yourself hungry while fasting, try to drink more water or even black coffee. Adding in that easy fasted workout can also help with hunger.
So that’s how I got started with intermittent fasting … by working my way up slowly to daily fasts and allowing time for my body to adjust. Adding intermittent fasting to your routine can really be that simple. And if you want fasting to work for you, it kind of has to be that simple.
When you begin intermittent fasting, do not over-stress your body.
One of the worst things you can do when you begin intermittent fasting is to stress your body out even more. When you stress your body out too much, your cortisol spikes. When cortisol is high, you are in fat storing mode. This is part of the reason people stall with fasting when they try to follow an intermittent fasting routine where they’re not already fat-adapted, or not allowing their body enough time to adjust.
Adding too many stressors all at once will cause your body to freak out. Then, it will throw a temper tantrum and not let go of any weight at all.
Intermittent Fasting for Beginners