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  • Writer's pictureisaacmathu

A Ridiculously Easy 5-Step Plan To Get Into A Fasting Lifestyle

How to begin a fasting lifestyle

Notice that this post is about getting into a fasting lifestyle. Not how to start fasting or how to fast for 24 hours, but how to start a fasting lifestyle. That’s because fasting regularly for the rest of your life is how you get the most benefits - better health, lower risk of disease, more energy, longer lifespan and more. 

If you are used to eating at all times of the day, like most of us are, going for hours without food can seem daunting. But it’s a lot easier than you think. In fact, I promise that you are probably going to enjoy not eating. 

Here’s an easy 5-step plan to start fasting and stick with it. 

Note: If you have any health issues, consult your doctor before you fast. 

Step 1: Ignore Everything About ‘Dieting’ 

When you hear about getting into a diet, you likely think about being very choosy about what you eat, counting calories and watching your portions. That’s true for a lot of diets, and this is the main reason many people struggle to sustain a particular diet. Many diets require radical changes immediately. 

Fasting is one of the few ‘diets’ where the focus is on when you eat rather than what or how much you eat. Sure, calories, portions and a balanced diet are important, but we are going to ignore them when we start fasting. 

It’s a lot easier to cut back on calories and eat more vegetables once you are used to fasting. In fact, you’ll find yourself automatically eating healthier without even trying, 

So, for now, don't attempt to make any big changes to your diet. Don't count calories, don’t drastically cut back on portions, don't even change from eating three meals a day. 

Step 2: Start Slow and Build Up to a Fasting Lifestyle

You probably feel like you could do a 16 hour or even 24 hour fast. But if you are just getting into fasting, don’t try. You’ll only hate it and it will discourage you from fasting. 

When doing an intermittent fast, most people find it easier to skip breakfast and include it in their fasting period. Being an extension of the natural fast we all do while we are asleep also makes it easier to start your fasting trials in the morning. 

Remember, no radical changes. We won’t even skip breakfast. Instead, push your breakfast time forward by one or two hours and maintain it for a week. It’s easier for your body to make this small adjustment. 

After a week, if you feel great about your new routine, try three hours. Keep delaying your breakfast by an hour longer each week until you’ve reduced your eating window (between breakfast and dinner) to eight hours. 

Of course, this may require some changes in your routine. For instance, you may have to take breakfast on the go or pack it instead of eating at home. One advantage of taking the slow approach is that you have time to adjust your routine to fit your new eating window. 

Note that you don't have to start fasting in the morning. If you prefer having your breakfast in the morning, you can adjust your dinner time backwards instead. Start having dinner an hour earlier each week until you have an eight hour eating window between breakfast and dinner. 

Tip: Keep your eating window during the day when you are active. This aligns it with the body’s circadian clock and optimizes digestion, nutrient absorption and metabolism. 

At the end of the first few weeks, your eating window should look something like this: 9am to 5pm, 11am to 7pm, 2pm to 10pm and so on — whichever window works best for you. 

Congratulations, you are now intermittent fasting. 16:8 is the most popular type of intermittent fasting, meaning you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours each day. 

No change in diet, no change in calories, no change in the number of meals but you’ll already be enjoying some benefits of fasting.   

Step 3: Now Try To Watch What You Eat 

Once you’ve managed to cut down your eating window to eight hours, that’s a huge deal. The next part’s easier — improving your diet.

Nothing crazy here. Just the usual stuff: add more vegetables and fruits to your diet, cut back on sugar and processed foods and try to reduce your portions if you feel you overeat. 

There are two main reasons why you need to improve your diet when fasting. 

  1. A poor diet makes fasting harder. If you eat lots of sugar foods, the crash that comes later during your fasting window can make you really hungry. If you want your fasting to 

  2. Fasting alone, without improving your diet, is not enough to reach your goals, whether it is weight loss, managing type 2 diabetes or extending your lifespan. 

As part of your improved diet, try going from three meals to two meals. You can have light healthy snacks in between. This makes your life easier (eating three meals within an 8-hour window can be hectic) and makes it a lot easier to cut down your calorie intake. 

One thing you will notice is that fasting makes it easier to improve your diet. One of the ways it does this is changing your relationship with food. When you are not eating all the time, you automatically attain healthier food habits. You don't eat when you are bored, you don't crave sugary or salty snacks as much, and you don't binge on food. 

Fasting also resets your palate, so you actually enjoy eating a wider variety of healthy foods like vegetables and legumes that would have tasted awful or bland before.

Step 4: Try Your First 24hr Fast 

By now, you are fasting 16 hours daily or on most days. Time to try your first full day fast. 

Longer fasts have certain benefits that you don't get from shorter fasts. They can get you into ketosis (which is great for the brain and fat loss), they boost autophagy (the body’s garbage collection mechanism), and they improve insulin sensitivity. 

Once you are used to fasting, you should aim to do 1-3 24-hour fasts a week (some seasoned fasters only eat on alternate days) and maybe a 48 to 72 hour fast once a month. 

Your first 24hr fast shouldn’t be too hard since you are working up from a 16-hour fast. You’ll just need to miss your usual 8-hour eating window. If you find it difficult, you can start by halving the eating window to 4hrs one day a week, then 2hrs, then try a full 24hr fast.

In the beginning, do a 24hr fast just once a week. You can then work up to two or three full day fasts each week.

By the way, these longer fasts will accelerate weight loss, if that’s your goal. They are also great for maintaining a healthy weight. 

Step 5: Build Up To Regular Long Fasts 

Once you are comfortable with 24-hour fasting, try longer fasts. It is generally safe to fast for many days (the record is 382 days), but health experts often recommend most people do a maximum 72-hour ro 3-day fast. 

That’s long enough to get into ketosis, supercharge autophagy, bring down inflammation, lose lots of fat and much more. 

Take the same approach we have used for other steps. Start slow and build up gradually. Start with a 36 hour fast and see how it goes. After some time, try 48 hours then 60 hours, then 72 hours. 

All the best with your new fasting lifestyle. You got this.

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