Intermittent Fasting – A Beginner’s Guide

Intermittent or interval fasting is an eating method that involves refusing food for the day.

This method is not about making a strict diet but about reducing the hours of the day when you can eat.

The creators of the method suggest that intermittent fasting has been a common practice throughout human evolution. Recent research has confirmed that it has numerous health benefits. (1,3,4,5)

This article details how to do intermittent fasting and why you should start with this method.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting or fasting is a nutritional system that rejects food for specific periods. At no time is total caloric intake reduced or certain food groups restricted.

The basis of intermittent fasting is autophagy. A process that the body activates when you don’t eat for several hours. This allows obsolete cells to be removed from the body.

The most classic method of intermittent fasting is known as the 16/8 diet. This is not eating for 16 hours and eating the other 8. This should be done at least two times a week.

A typical day of intermittent fasting begins with a breakfast skip, a hearty lunch at noon, and ends with an early dinner.

Why do intermittent fasting? – Profits

The benefits of this nutritional system are several. Intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to improve carbohydrate metabolism, strengthen the immune system, improve skin health, and prevent certain types of cancer. (1)

Under low glucose conditions, the body begins to use old cell organelles as an energy source.

Intermittent fasting normalizes the body’s response to sweet foods and blood glucose levels. Ultimately, one of the benefits of intermittent fasting is preventing diabetes and insulin resistance.

Another benefit of intermittent fasting is total control over the urge to eat. As well as the ability to eliminate body fat without the need to reduce the amount of food consumed during the day.

The benefits of intermittent fasting are:

  • Regulate blood sugar levels
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
  • Remove body fat
  • Prevent type 2 diabetes
  • Improve the health of the skin
  • Increase the secretion of growth hormone and norepinephrine

RELATED: Is Cutting Carbs Good for Weight Loss?

How to do intermittent fasting?

If you are a beginner, it is best to start with an intermittent fast where there is an alternation of 8 hours of eating and 16 hours of not eating. To do this, the idea is to divide the day into 2.

Here you can see a table with an example of intermittent fasting for beginners.

An example of intermittent fasting is eating from 12 to 8 pm. This is followed by a period of fasting for 16 hours. This cycle should be repeated at least twice a week.

Water, teas, and isotonic drinks without sugar are allowed during the fast.

Basic Intermittent Fasting Nutrition Rules

If you decide to do intermittent fasting, it is important to follow healthy eating rules.

The first meals should always provide some source of complex carbohydrates. The quinoa,  buckwheat, and oat are ideal food for breaking fast.

Sweets, sugars, honey, and other simple carbohydrate foods should be avoided during intermittent fasting. These can drive hunger pangs out of control, making the fasting process more difficult.

To calculate the amount of food you need per day, you can use the concept of basal metabolic rate. This is the best way to determine how many calories you need per day. Remember that when you do intermittent fasting, it is not the amount of food that changes but the time of day you eat it.

The basic rules of nutrition in intermittent fasting are:

  • Do not reduce calories by more than 10-20%
  • Hydrate yourself more during the fast
  • Do not eat sugar or refined flour
  • Breaking the fast with balanced meals and a complex carbohydrate food source

Types of Intermittent Fasting – Which One Is Best For Beginners?

Traditional intermittent fasting involves alternating between 16 hours and eating for 8. However, other types of fasting are known; depending on the level of fasting training and a person’s routine, you can choose the one that best suits you. The most used types of intermittent fasting are:

Fast 16/8Regular alternation of 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours for meals. It consists of an early dinner and turning down breakfast. An example is eating food from noon to eight at night; the rest of the time, only drinks, teas, and back amino acids are allowed.

  1. Fasting 10/14

This is the ideal type of intermittent fasting for the first few days for beginners—14 hours of fasting alternate with 10 hours where you can eat. The benefits of this type of intermittent fasting are minor, but it is one of the best for adaptation.

  1. Fast 24/0

This is one of the types of intermittent fasting for advanced. Unlike other types, it is not recommended to do it more than once or twice a week. The first meal after the fast must be selected carefully.

  1. Fasting 48/120

This is one of the most questioned types of intermittent fasting. It consists of limiting food for two days. This regimen should not be carried out by entirely restricting meals but with a daily calorie limitation to a minimum of 500.

  1. Fasting LeanGains method

The Leangains method is a variation of modified intermittent fasting for bodybuilding. Leanna suggests a daily combination of 16 hours of fasting with 8 hours of food. This type always includes the use of sports supplements such as the amino acids bcaa or glutamine.

Fasting and physical exercise

In its early days, intermittent fasting was used by high-performance athletes as a method to eliminate body fat. Gradually, this nutritional method became one of the most popular weight loss methods.

However, training on an empty stomach is not a method for everyone, especially for sports beginners or people with carbohydrate metabolism disorders such as diabetes.

When doing intermittent fasting combined with physical exercise such as cardio, you should always be careful to have a serving of carbohydrates on hand. It is not recommended to do sports at high intensities such as CrossFit or HIIT on an empty stomach as it can cause dizziness, even fainting.

As for sports supplements, the only ones allowed during fasting are the amino acids bcaa.

// Recommended: How to tone the body? – Nutrition and exercises

Can it be combined with the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate restrictive diet. It causes effects very similar to intermittent fasting on the body. However, combining them is not the best idea.

Intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet combined can cause hypoglycemia, fainting, and dizziness.

In addition, according to studies, the results of losing weight are usually similar. (6) If you decide to lose weight with intermittent fasting, focus on this method; speeding up the process with the ketogenic diet can be counterproductive to your health.

RELATED: Ketogenic Diet for Beginners


Intermittent fasting is an eating method that is based on autophagy.

The benefits of intermittent fasting are: preventing type 2 diabetes, improving skin health, and strengthening the immune system, among others.

How to do intermittent fasting? A beginner does not need more than to adjust the hours of the day when it is necessary to eat.

During the fast, you should hydrate more; you can make teas and isotonic drinks without sugar and amino acids bcaa.

If you are a beginner, it is not recommended that you do long hours of fasting; this can cause dizziness, hypoglycemia, or even fainting.


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