To lose weight we have to combine different elements. Just like weight gain does not happen overnight, losing weight takes time, several steps and patience.
Note: I’m no doctor nor am I trying to be one. I have read and learned about fasting and I’ve been doing it for a year. Today, I will share my method because I have had such great results that might be helpful to others.
I’ve been using intermittent fasting with great success for one year, and I will continue to do so. You can find my 1-year intermittent fasting story here.
This is the fasting pattern I’ve been using for more than a year:
14 Hours Daily Fasting
I skip breakfast and I fast from after dinner (10 pm) to noon the next day. Some days I extend my fast by 4 hours more. Sometimes I do a 24 hour fast from dinner to dinner.
There are different fasting patterns. I’ve picked this one because I work out 4 times a week and I try to have some social activities in the evenings after work. Mornings are the times where I’m usually more focused on work with less social activity and fewer food temptations.
10 Hours Eating Period
I break my fast with fruit around noon. One hour later I usually go for a light meal to avoid upsetting my stomach. This will consist of salad or vegetables. I avoid meat and fish after a long fast as my stomach complains about it, probably because those types of food are complex to digest.
Note: Breaking your fast should always be gentle with light food (fruit or steamed vegetables). This is even more important when you fast for longer periods.
The rest of the day I eat when I feel hungry. I don’t restrict myself on what I eat, but since fasting, I’ve been changing my food choices. Fasting has given me so much energy and less anxiety that I don’t want to break such good vibes with bad food choices. So I’ve been avoiding certain foods like meat, cheese, refined grains and high sugar foods. But this is another story that may be for another article. If you’re interested in learning about how food affects your emotions and mood, let me know in the comments section.
1 – Cravings or Hunger?
The first time you fast in the morning will be changing many years of routine (having breakfast) and your body will offer resistance to that change.
It’s important to distinguish between cravings and hunger. When we are hungry we eat and enjoy mostly anything, even foods we don’t like.
Cravings are desires for certain type of foods: bread, chocolate, donuts, soda etc. These usually contain refined carbs high in sugar, fat and salt. Sugar is so addictive that once you stop, your cravings for sugar will cry like babies desperate for another treat.
Cravings come and go in waves. There will be high peaks where you can’t think about anything else and then they slowly go away. Avoid the temptation and believe that it will get better in the next hour.
Cravings are highly related to our emotions, because we all to some degree use food to deal (or not to deal) with our emotions. You can learn more about this on my article How to Stop Sugar Cravings.
Tips to overcome cravings and feelings of hunger
Green Tea and Coffee: In my first 2 months doing intermittent fasting I drank green tea or coffee in the morning. Tea and caffeine are known to naturally suppress hunger. It worked for me, but don’t overdo it to avoid a high caffeine addiction. That’s exactly what happened to me, I drank too much coffee so my addiction to coffee got more intense until one day I decided to stop drinking it. That wasn’t easy but it was well worth it because coffee was draining more energy than it was supplying. If you would like to know how I ditched coffee out of my life, but still enjoy a coffee once a while, drop a comment and let me know.
Water with lemon: Cut a lemon into 4 pieces, mix with hot water, let it warm up and drink it. Lemon suppresses hunger and is a natural way to wake you up.
2 – Breaking the fast
Fruit is always the best option to break your fast.
Have some fruit followed by a light meal.
Veggie salads or steamed vegetables are also great options.
I recommend that you avoid meat, as it may be too hard on an empty stomach.
3 – A good night’s sleep
Studies have found how sleep deprivation increases our hunger levels. A good night’s sleep makes your morning more enjoyable and fasting much easier.
4 – Be consistent
The first week might not be easy; remember, you’re skipping an old habit (breakfast). It will take some time to get used to it. Once you get your new habit set, you’ll not feel hungry again in the morning. It takes time, persistence and patience.
5 – Some days you will fail and that’s OK
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Some days will be bad and it might seem that the universe is against you. It takes time, but eventually, you will feel that extra boost of energy while fasting, or even calmness, and that’s the day you will get all the motivation you need to keep fasting.
Be curious, allow yourself to fail and understand that it’s part of the process.
6 – Get rid of processed food
Cravings are inevitable but you can avoid having junk food at home. Reducing the temptation is an important step to avoid those cheating opportunities.
When you stop eating processed foods which are very high in sugar, you may experience some crazy sugar cravings. Ditching added sugar is a good way to break the sugar addiction. You can find my 20 No Sugar Days Challenge and learn how to ditch sugar out of your diet here.
More about fasting
Fasting benefits go beyond weight loss. Weight loss wasn’t my goal when I started fasting, I was simply curious about its effects on one’s perception.
Fasting is a great way to discover new sensations and perceptions, better understand food addictions, how food affects our mood and it is definitely our natural tool to heal and recover from stress or injury.
I do believe that intermittent fasting is a sustainable way to keep our body clean, avoid weight gain and stay lean with clear mental focus and less stress.
Intermittent fasting makes much more sense for weight loss than any other diet. Most diets are doomed to fail, and they only work for the first 6 months. You can find my article “Why Fasting Is Probably the Best Way to Lose Weight” here.
I’ve shared my story of my first year with intermittent fasting. You can find the story here.
Let me know if you have any questions by using the comment section below. Please subscribe to my newsletter and get one email every Sunday with my latest articles.
Questions and Answers
Question by Maria
how did u stop drinking coffee? i have water with lemon first thing in the morning but an hour later i need a cup of coffee. i really want to stop drinking it. i am going to try intermittent fasting (14 hours ) . i can see it has many benefits besides from losing weight . i exactly need to lose 13 pounds. I assume you burn fat, not muscle right? do you do a low carb diet?.
i read the walking for health article too and i like the way you explain every detail, from the right shoes to wear to all the benefits of walking on regular basis. great information.
Thanks for your comment and your kind words.
One day I simply stop drinking coffee, that part was easy. Then I got very sleepy, very tired I even had a 25 min power nap at lunchtime. First 4 weekdays were very hard, as my caffeine cravings were kicking hard. As an alternative, I did some pure lemon juice in the morning. I just squeezed a lemon and add some water, no sugar no honey, just pure lemon juice. Other times I just simply ate the lemon, that really gave me an extra boost to help forget the coffee and feel some extra energy to start the day.
I do understand when you say “An hour later I need a cup of coffee”, but, in my opinion, that is just a habit, an addiction, and cravings. I believe that you don’t “really” need it. I say that from my experience, after my first 7 days without coffee, I had much more energy when I wake up. As soon as I open my eyes I want it to get straight out of the bed and start the day. Instead of, “I can only start the day after my 1st coffee” and be groggy the first half hour before the 1st coffee or staying in bed with my phone doing nothing.
From my experience, coffee was not really what was giving me energy, it was exactly the opposite. I was addicted to coffee to get energy. Soon as you stop drinking coffee, you also go to bed way more relaxed, less stressed and with less brain activity resulting in a much better quality night sleep. Good sleep hours are the true fuel for your day. A good night sleep can fuel all your day long.
I’m a hard fan of IT (Intermittent Fasting), I’ve been doing it every morning for more than a year (from 12h to 16h). I know that for some people (some of my friends tried on different occasions) is not really an option or some people for different reasons. And that’s ok. Yes, the benefits of fasting go way beyond weight loss. I find it way easier to concentrate, much more relaxed and way fewer food cravings, just to name a few. Fasting in the morning is what gives me all the focus and concentration for my deep work in the morning. I usually pick my hardcore concentration tasks for the morning, and fasting is the best tool I have to help me to do those tasks.
Fasting is probably the easiest way to burn fat. You will not burn muscle. Our body only uses muscle when all the other energy sources (glycogen and fat) are depleted, meaning you will only burn muscle if you are about to literally collapse. First, you burn glycogen and only then you start burning fat. No sugar diet and fasting will help you to burn glycogen in around 18h without exercise. If you do some exercise while fasting and in a low added sugar, you start burning fat way faster.
The combination I’ve used to burn fat and get the weight I want it: Intermittent Fasting (14h), Low carb lunch (salads with good fats: olive oil, seeds, nuts, and avocado), no refined carbs and for dinner a soup bowl. A weekly cheat day where I ate some pizza or overeat my favorite dish ..but only one day a week. Worth to mention, I play badminton 3 times a week, which is a very cardio demanding sport, that also helped me to burn glycogen and fat. This is not a perfect setup, nor a setup that will work for all people but that’s the one the work for me. I would say that from there you can try this one and adjust to your daily life.
Intermittent Fasting + 2 homemade meals and you most certainly will lose weight. If you want to lose more weight: totally avoid refined carbs (this is always a good idea), reduce dairy and avoid any kind of processed food (any product that comes in a package). Want to lose more? Extend the fasting, do some walking. Do you want to lose more? 3 times a week running and walking.
I think you get the point: Add levels to your plan. As more levels, you add more results you get, but you need to know how much motivation and energy you are able to spend. If you add too many levels too soon you most probably will fail and feel miserable. Go slowly and be consistent. Consistency is by far the most important skill in any weight loss plan or even any plan on our lives.
This answer gets way longer than I expected so I included in the article. Hope I’ve helped. Have a great day!