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What to Know About Intermittent Fasting for Beginners

What to Know About Intermittent Fasting for Beginners

By: Scott A. Aruti

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is one of the most ancient and widespread traditions in history. It’s a tradition in a significant number of major religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. In fact, the philosopher Hippocrates (c. 460 to c. 370 BC) also prescribed and championed the practice of fasting, as well as Plato and Aristotle (x, x).

The ability to go without eating is an effect of human evolution. For example, hunter-gatherer cultures obviously did not have access to grocery stores and were not always able to find food year round. As a result, humans evolved to the point of being able to function without food for extended periods of time.

Why Do People Fast Today?

The concept of intermittent fasting as a dietary practice in modern society works in a similar way. Intermittent fasting, specifically, is a cycle between eating and voluntary fasting over a given period of time. People either consume no food at all during the fasting period or significantly reduce their calories. Theoretically, your body adapts to a certain dietary plan over time. As you can probably imagine, the practice has been linked to dieting and weight loss.

We reached out to Lisa Richards, a certified nutritionist and creator of The Candida Diet, as a resource to determine the safety of intermittent fasting for beginners. Richards claims that intermittent fasting “has some significant health benefits and is more than an unsustainable fad diet, but a dietary pattern” that people can follow long-term, with a doctor’s approval and supervision.

Types of Intermittent Fasting Schedules

16/8 method diet
5:2 fasting diet
Eat-stop-eat fasting diet

Now that you know a little background information, we can get into how to start intermittent fasting and the different types of fasting patterns. There are several possibly effective approaches to intermittent fasting, but it all comes down to personal preference and your body’s needs. Some people may find it easy to fast and confine meals times. But others may have a more difficult time and may need to shorten that fasting window. Here are some common types of intermittent fasting schedules:

  • The 16/8 Method: Fasting for 16 hours per day.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Engaging in a 24-hour fast once or twice a week.
  • The 5:2 Diet: Fasting for two days per week.
  • Alternate-Day Fasting: Fasting every other day.
  • The Warrior Diet: Fasting during the day and eating large meals at night.
  • Spontaneous Meal-Skipping: Skipping meals spontaneously when it is convenient.
Alternate-day fasting diet
The warrior diet
Spontaneous meal skipping diet

How Does Intermittent Fasting for Beginners Work? 

According to experts—including Lisa Richards—intermittent fasting can provide significant health benefits if it’s done right. It’s been associated with weight loss, reduced blood sugar and cholesterol levels and fat burning. But how does it work? Intermittent fasting for weight loss may be effective because fasting causes changes in the body’s cellular and molecular functions related to:

  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Metabolism
  • Human growth hormone production (HGH)

Insulin Sensitivity

After we eat, enzymes break down the food in our guts into smaller molecules in the bloodstream. Meanwhile, they quickly break down carbohydrates into sugar that our cells use for energy. Sugar enters our cells via insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that controls blood sugar (x, x, x).

Richards explains, “The body’s natural fat burning hormone, glucagon, begins to rise after approximately 16 hours of fasting. When this hormone is high, insulin has to be low, which causes the body to burn fat for fuel more efficiently. During fasting periods the cells become more sensitive to insulin, meaning… [after eating, the cells] are better able to carry glucose into the cells rather than [storing it] as fat.”


What’s the story on fasting and metabolism? Research suggests that intermittent fasting may cause the same or possibly less of a negative influence on metabolism compared to traditional dieting. Researchers think intermittent fasting may improve metabolism because it may reduce loss of lean body mass and increase fat burning. One study analyzed subjects’ health as they participated during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar characterized by a month of fasting. The researchers noticed changes in the subjects’ metabolism during fasting periods (x, x).

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) 

Another one of the main benefits of fasting is its potential ability to reduce insulin resistance, but it can also increase noradrenaline, cortisol and human growth hormone (HGH). The latter is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland—i.e. the master gland—which plays a significant role in child and adolescent development. But in adults, HGH deficiency leads to increased levels of body fat, less lean body mass and reduced bone mass (x).

Is Intermittent Fasting for Beginners Healthy? 

According to Lisa Richards, intermittent fasting for beginners is “absolutely” safe, but she stresses the importance of consulting with a doctor first. There are a number of published studies that highlight the possible benefits of intermittent fasting (x, x, x). However, Richards claims that an intermittent fasting diet is beneficial if the person fasts for three to four days a week, not daily. She says that “fasting on a daily basis can have the opposite effect desired by reducing calories and slowing metabolism.”

Warnings and Safety Precautions

Even if it’s done safely, intermittent fasting still may not be safe for everyone. It may not be beneficial if the person is in a malnourished state, such as a cancer patient suffering from chronic weight loss that often accompanies chemotherapy or who has trouble putting on weight (x). Children and teenagers, patients with type 1 diabetes and patients with eating disorders should avoid fasting. It may also be damaging during pregnancy and breastfeeding (x).

Some possible side effects of intermittent fasting include irritability, low energy, persistent hunger, temperature sensitivity and poor work/activity performance (x). Again, we recommend consulting a doctor or nutritionist for advice, especially regarding intermittent fasting for beginners.

See Also
Vegetarian Diet

How to Take Supplements for Intermittent Fasting

Now we’ll get into a subject that Bulk Supplements knows a thing or two about—supplements, specifically supplements for intermittent fasting. Although these may be safe for a fasting diet, it’s important to be aware of what supplements you’re taking during a fast especially in regards to intermittent fasting for beginners. Some of them may lower blood sugar, increase insulin or cause nausea. Others may require food in order to absorb properly into the body.

Vitamins to Take on an Empty Stomach

The body can absorb water-soluble vitamins without food, but excretes them during the day if you drink liquid. You do not need to take them on a full stomach, but they may cause nausea so make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Water-soluble vitamins include (x):

Vitamins for intermittent fasting

Vitamins to Take with Food

In contrast, the body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins and stores them in the liver and in the body fat. They do not dissolve in water. So you’ll need to be consuming fat from food in order for them to absorb properly. Fat-soluble vitamins include (x):

Vitamins for intermittent fasting

Where to Buy Supplements for Intermittent Fasting

Are you interested in trying any of these supplements for intermittent fasting? They are available for purchase at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor for pure dietary supplements that also supplies pure ingredients to other brands. All products at Bulk Supplements are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices. Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.

Bottom Line

Intermittent fasting is a dietary pattern that cycles between eating and voluntary fasting. Research associates fasting with dieting and weight loss because it may have positive effects on insulin sensitivity, metabolism and human growth hormone (HGH) production to increase fat burning and reduce lean muscle loss.

Intermittent fasting for beginners is safe, but it’s important to practice it safely. Fasting may not be safe for everyone, such as children and teenagers, those who have difficulty gaining weight or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, research also boasts the potential benefits of intermittent fasting for health. Always consult a doctor or nutritionist before you start intermittently fasting or any other dietary regimen.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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