A quick guide to starting with fast

Podcast notes for Feb 14, 2022

Fasting part 2

Best ways to fast

How to start fasting.

If you’ve never fasted before the best advice is to start slowly. In today’s world, a lot of people eat dinner late, say.. sometime after 6pm and then snack throughout the evening.

Start your fasting experiment by cutting out all the after dinner snacks. Eat your dinner as usual, and then don’t eat or drink anything that contains calories until breakfast the next morning.

This is probably a good point to stop and talk about what you can drink during a fast.

A lot of people suggest you drink nothing except plain water when you’re fasting. But, I tell my clients that you can have any beverage that doesn’t contain calories.

That means water, seltzer water, unsweetened tea, unsweetened coffee, Things like that. Do not drink diet soda Honestly, no one should be drinking diet sodas — but that’s a topic for another episode. Stay away from artificial sweeteners of any kind.

Instead, use pure stevia to sweeten your drinks. There are several good brands available. I can even find pure stevia at my local Walmart now, so it’s not as difficult to find as it once was. Read the label. You’re looking for something that lists stevia as the only ingredient. If you can’t find a product that contains only stevia send me an email, and I’ll send you links to a couple of brands that I use.

If you currently drink soda, you can easily replace it with seltzer water and stevia. You can flavor the water with extracts (like you use for baking) or essential oils.

Okay. back to the fasting.  Once you have successfully cut out the after dinner snacking, take a look at what time you eat breakfast or drink your coffee in the morning. Coffee with stevia won’t break your fast. But, if you add sugar and cream you’re breaking that fast.

Let’s say you finish dinner at 7 pm and you get up at 6 am. If you put off breakfast or morning coffee until 7 am, that gives you a 12 hour fast.

And that’s a great place to start.

Like we discussed last week, a 12 hour fast over night is in harmony with the human body’s natural rhythm.

Stick with the 12 hour fast for several weeks. Give your body plenty of time to adjust. And make sure you’re drinking enough water during the day. I recommended drinking about half your body weight in ounces most days. So, if you weigh 180 lbs, you want to drink about 90 ounces of water. There are lots of reasons to make sure you’re properly hydrated, but when you’re just starting out with fasting one of the biggest reasons is natural detoxification. When you are fasting your body uses a lot of water to move nutrients into cells, and carry waste products out. Your kidneys will remove dead cell tissue, toxins and other materials from your blood. They need enough water to do the job properly, so that the waste is removed through urine like it’s supposed to be. If you are dehydrated the kidneys will conserve water and waste material will recirculate back into the blood.

The next step is to move to a 10 hour eating window. Doing that will give you 14 hours of fasting. How can you do that?

A lot of people push dinner up an hour. So, to stick with our example, if you’re eating currently finishing dinner at 7 pm, change your eating time, so that you’re done at 6 pm.

That gives you an extra hour of fasting.

Then, push breakfast back to 8 am.

There’s your 14 hour fast.

Most people don’t notice any difference in how they feel at this point. If you’re overweight, you might lose some weight. Most of the lost weight will be water weight from a reduction in systemic inflammation. A bit of the lost weight might be fat.

After you get used to fasting for 14 hours everyday you’ll probably notice an increase in energy. If you struggle with acne your skin may clear up. Woman may notice slight changes in their cycle. Monthly cramps and moodiness tends to ease. I’ve had clients report that depression eases and their mood lifts. If you have high blood sugar, you may notice that your blood sugar is more even. The highs may not spike as high. Blood pressure tends to drop at this point, too. After a few weeks with a 14:10 fasting schedule many people also report a reduction in waist circumference. In other words they lose fat around their middle.

Keep a 14:10 schedule for at least 4 to 6 weeks before you move on to the next stage.


The next stage is 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating.

This the the fasting routine that I recommend for most people. It’s relatively easy to get to, and comfortable to maintain.

Most people get to the 16 hour fast by moving their first meal of the day back two more hours.

So, if on the 14:10 schedule you’re eating breakfast at 8 am, move that to 10 am. I suggest this approach because most people want to eat dinner with their partner and kids. If the family eats dinner together every night at 6pm, then that’s when the family eats dinner. Very few people are willing to skip dinner with the family in order to maintain a fasting schedule. And that makes sense.

So, it’s easier to push your first meal of the day back to get to your desired fasting routine.

For people who are with their family all day, people who work from home, for example, I recommend choosing one meal to be your main family meal. And stick to that.

For example. In our house the family meal is dinner. personally I maintain a 6 hour eating window that ends around 6 pm. My first meal of the day isn’t until noon.

So, plan your 8 hour eating window to accommodate your family.  If your family finishes dinner at 8 pm then your eating window is from noon until 8 pm.

Actually, this is a great time to talk about when your last meal should end. Most doctors and dietitians suggest that you eat your last meal at least 3 hours before you go to bed. Eating too close to bedtime effects sleep quality, hormones, and even how efficient your digestion is. So, time dinner so that you’re finished eating at least 3 hours before you normally go to bed.

I want to remind you here that even though you are reducing your eating window, you’re not starving yourself. I recommended that new fasters use a nutrition tracking program like cronometer to track what you’re eating. Doing so will give you information about how many calories you’re eating and any nutrients you might be missing in your diet. The goal is to eat the correct number of calories for your body and activity level within your designated eating window.

There are additional health benefits to maintaining an 8 hour eating window.

Better insulin regulation means lower blood sugar. Some people see their Type 2 diabetes completely reverse at this level. Others experience more efficient cell regeneration. There have been studies showing an 8 hour eating window could help prevent dementia and some cancers. People who are fasting to lose weight notice accelerated fat loss with an 8 hour eating window. Other’s have noticed positive changes in their immune system. They don’t catch colds or the flu as often, or at all with this eating pattern. Systemic inflammation reduces. Swelling goes down, asthma symptoms improve.

There are a lot of reasons to adopt an 8 hour fasting window. But, ultimately the decision is yours. I recommend my clients work their way to an 8 hour eating window and maintain it for several months. Then I suggest they play with some of the more restrictive fasting plans to find out how their body responds.

Play with it. Experiment and learn what works for you.

For more information or customized fasting support join me at The Chronic Illness Toolbox.

Tell me your thoughts.