Intermittent Fasting Explained: Performing a 24-Hour Intermittent Fast (Video)

 

Let’s face it, we eat when we’re feeling lonely. And sad. And frustrated. And angry. And happy. And confused. And excited. We eat in response to our emotions, and this direct connection usually results in…overeating. There are two types of hunger, and understanding the true difference between them is important in determining exactly when to eat food.

Performing a single intermittent fast is a great way to experience the difference between our two types of hunger: physiological hunger and emotional hunger.

Physiological hunger is the type of hunger you experience when your brain, muscles and internal organs are in a low-energy state. This is the type of hunger that you experience following a demanding workout. It’s the type of hunger you experience when you have exerted significant physical or mental energy, and are in need of fuel to replenish your energy needs. Physiological hunger is the signal to intake carbohydrates, fats, and protein in order to meet the energy requirements of repairing and growing tissues.

Emotional hunger is the type of hunger you experience when a situation or thought process dictates your desire to eat. As opposed to physiological hunger, emotional hunger creates a feeling of true hunger even though the biological requirement for fuel is low or nonexistent.

Understanding the difference between the two of these types of hunger can make a huge difference to your overall health. Do you eat when you’re only physiologically hungry? Do you eat when you’re emotionally hungry? Do you eat in both situations?

Performing a single intermittent fast can help you determine the difference between the two types of hunger.

Sample Intermittent Fasting Regimens

No matter how you slice it, intermittent fasting isn’t just good for you, it’s GREAT for you. In addition to the physical benefits described above, consciously restricting food intake even for a single 24-hour period can be quite challenging, and helps you establish a true independence from food.

There are endless permutations of intermittent fasting regimens, so I’ll present only the ones that are achievable and boast significant short term benefits. There is no sense in doing intermittent fasting if the direct benefit takes months or years to achieve. Lucky for you, performing a single intermittent fast is a fun experience that can make a noticeable and measurable difference in your health.

The most achievable intermittent fasting regimen is the once-per-week 24-hour intermittent fast, as described below:

The Weekly 24-Hour Intermittent Fast

Just as the name implies, choose one day of the week and don’t eat. Choose a day of the week in which you are largely sedentary.

Let’s assume that you do a Thursday fast. Here is an example 24-hour protocol:

  • 1

    7pm Wednesday

    Eat your last meal of the day. Drink 2-3 cups of water

  • 2

    8pm Wednesday

    START FAST

  • 3

    10pm Wednesday

    Go to sleep. Nighty night.

  • 4

    8am Thursday

    Drink 2-3 cups of water, or drink 1-2 cups of green tea

  • 5

    12pm Thursday

    Drink 2-3 cups of water, or drink 1-2 cups of green tea

  • 6

    3pm Thursday

    Drink 2-3 cups of water, or drink 1-2 cups of green tea

  • 7

    7pm Thursday

    END FAST

  • 8

    7pm Thursday

    Eat a small dinner before bed, complete with plenty of real carbohydrates and a serving of a lean protein (beans, legumes, peas or lean meat). Drink 2-3 cups of water.

  • 9

    7am Friday

    Return to your normal eating schedule

Meal Time Liquid Options

2-3 Cups of Water

Drink 2-3 cups of water at meal time to help distend your stomach and “fake” the feeling of being full. When your stomach distends, it sends a signal to your brain which can curb your feelings of hunger.


1-2 Cups of Green Tea

Drink 1-2 cups of green tea at meal time, to help curb your feelings of hunger. Green tea can often act as an appetite suppressant to curb your feelings of hunger, and it does so remarkably well.

Tips and Strategies for Easing Through the Intermittent Fast

  • The green tea is not essential to fasting, but it can make the experience easier. Green tea can act as an appetite suppressant and curb your feelings of hunger.
  • Drinking water in particular helps to mitigate feelings of hunger, by filling your stomach. This sends a signal to your brain and often results in you feeling less hungry.
  • Be aware of your body cues. Feeling stressed out or “upset” during your fast? Relax. Take a few deep breaths, and pay close attention — this is what true hunger can feel like.
  • Have healthy food (lean protein, veggies, etc.) in the house and ready to go when you “break” the fast on Sunday night with a small meal.
  • Stocking healthy food in the house is good insurance that you won’t binge the following day when you return to normal eating.

The Modified 24-Hour Intermittent Fast

For some people, performing a full 24-hour fast is very difficult. Especially for people with diabetes, fasting for extended periods of time can increase the risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), so it is very important to counteract this risk by having food on hand.

Some people get hangry. Hungry and angry at the same time. This can be a real problem, and if this is the case, then modified intermittent fasting is for you.

If you fall into one of these categories, consider performing a modified 24-hour fast:

  • You have type 1 diabetes
  • You have type 2 diabetes
  • You have prediabetes
  • You are prone to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • You have a very difficult time concentrating when hungry
  • You experience violent mood swings when fasting
  • You are unpleasant to be around when you are hungry (you know you you are!)

What is Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)?

The main reason why it is difficult to perform a true 24-hour intermittent fast for some people is because when you consume no calories for an extended period of time, your brain can often become starved for fuel, resulting in any of the following feelings:

  • Mood swings
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Shaky hands
  • Slurred speech
  • Sweating on the palms of your hands or forehead

How is a Modified Intermittent Fast Different than a True Intermittent Fast?

The major difference between a true and modified intermittent fast is the amount of calories that you take in at meal time. In a true intermittent fast, you consume 0 calories at meal times, whereas in a modified intermittent fast, you consume a small number of calories (about 100-200 calories) at meal time. Even with a small intake of calories, you still get some exceptional health benefits!

Let’s assume that you do a Thursday fast. Here is an example 24-hour modified protocol:

  • 1

    7pm Wednesday

    Eat your last meal of the day. Drink 2-3 cups of water

  • 2

    8pm Wednesday

    START FAST

  • 3

    10pm Wednesday

    Go to sleep. Sweet dreams.

  • 4

    8am Thursday

    Drink 2-3 cups of water, or drink 1 cup of vegetable juice.

  • 5

    12pm Thursday

    Drink 2-3 cups of water, or drink 1-2 cups of green tea

  • 6

    3pm Thursday

    Drink 2-3 cups of water or eat a vegetable snack or eat 1-2 pieces of fruit.

  • 7

    7pm Thursday

    END FAST

  • 8

    7pm Thursday

    Eat a small dinner before bed, complete with plenty of real carbohydrates and a serving of a lean protein (beans, legumes, peas or lean meat). Drink 2-3 cups of water.

  • 9

    7am Friday

    Return to your normal eating schedule

100-200 Calorie Meal Options

1 Cup of Vegetable Juice

Drink one 8 oz. cup of vegetable juice, made from any combination of tomatoes, beets, celery, carrots, cucumbers, mint, parsley, arugula, kale.


1-2 Pieces of Your Favorite Fruits

Eat 1-2 piece of your favorite fruit (banana, apple, pear, persimmon, orange, a handful of berries etc.)


1-2 Servings of Vegetables

Eat 1-2 servings of vegetables (cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, okra etc.)


8-10 of Your Favorite Nuts

Eat 8-10 nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts etc.)


A Small Bowl of Salad

Eat a small salad containing 1 serving of vegetables (salad base is made from any combination of cabbage, spinach, lettuce, arugula, kale)

The Magic of Negative Energy Balance

In each of the above intermittent fasting regimens detailed above, during the period of fasting you enter negative energy balance in which your rate of energy expenditure exceeds your rate of energy intake. In other words, you are losing energy throughout the fasting period.

You may think that it’s possible to eat twice as much food immediately afterwards, in order to compensate for the amount of food that you didn’t eat during your fast. In reality however, it is very difficult to eat enough to compensate for your fasting period, which results in a continuation of negative energy balance even after the fasting period is over.

Negative energy balance is exactly the hidden “magic” of the intermittent fast. As opposed to calorie restriction in which you are hungry every day, performing intermittent fasts on a specified day of the week allows you a mental and physical break from fasting, which is vital for long-term success.

Take Home Message

Intermittent fasting is a great way to separate the physiological and emotional hunger states, and is a great exercise to help in weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, improved cardiovascular health, and decreased cancer risk.

Performing a fast is not nearly as hard as you think, so give it a try and report back. Feel free to leave comments below with your intermittent fasting experience, whether positive or negative.

Download Your Free Cheat Sheet

Click on the image below to download your free cheat sheet that describes exactly how to perform both a true and modified intermittent fast.

 

 

Listen to What My Clients Have to Say

Surprisingly I find intermittent fasting to be really easy to do, and I actually look forward to it.  I think it's particularly easy to do if I don't have any "bad" carbs the day before. Bad carbs make my life harder during the fast, and make me feel more addicted to ]junky food. Going morning to morning is easier for me because the hardest part is the end of the 24 hour period, and if I'm sleeping then it's no big deal. The biggest benefit is that I drop weight every time I do an intermittent fast (which I'm excited about). I expect to put that weight back on the  next day, and then it doesn't happen. I don't rebound, and it's awesome. Jonathan Murray
MyVR
Intermittent fasting is more of a mental exercise than it is a stomach exercise. I know I eat when I’m bored or stressed. I certainly had a little hunger pang at the end of the day, but it was manageable. This was sooooooo much easier than I thought it was going to be because all you really have to do is miss 2 meals, breakfast and lunch. I’ve been used to eating on a regular snacking basis my whole life, and intermittent fasting is a great way to liberate myself from emotional eating. Leslie
I feel like when I perform an intermittent fast, I can actually feel the difference that it makes after 24 hours. I feel lighter on my feet. I feel fitter. My digestive system loves it. Sometimes it can be hard towards the end of the day, but the benefits are so clear that it’s just mind over matter. Mark Joseph
Pixar
I think I could do this every week for the rest of my life. It's amazing how much more energized I feel from not eating. It goes against what I thought would happen, but I wont' argue.  My stomach actually enjoys taking a break like that - the feeling is unmistakable. Daniel Rosen
Mosaic

References

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About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

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