Fasting for Beginners (Starving vs Intermittent Fasting)

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan | Updated on 9 August 2022

A beginner fasting mistakes hunger for thirst, as well as starving for fasting.

Although skipping meals or starving yourself can seem like a quick way to lose weight fast, the long-term health effects are not worth the short-term benefits. However, for those attempting to lose weight through eating less, beginners can try intermittent fasting as a practical solution.  

What is Fasting?

Instead of going into “starvation mode” and cutting out meals during your day, consider using intermittent fasting methods. Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, is a dieting method that individuals can use to force their bodies to burn fat stores instead of sugar stores. By reducing the eating windows in which they can consume calories, individuals teach their bodies how to burn fat.

However, before you can safely begin intermittent fasting, there’s countless fasting myths out there so it’s crucial to understand safety protocols before fasting haphazardly. After all, safely doing a fast can help maintain stress hormones, reduce inflammation, reduce insulin resistance, lower blood sugar levels, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease [1]. Learning more about the different intermittent fasting methods can be an essential to building a foundational building block of eating, making smart choices, and eating a nutrient-rich diet [2]. 

While fasting isn’t a weight loss rule to live by, it’s a useful technique to help time meals and can assist with weight loss in some individuals. Fasting for beginners can really give you a head start on your weight loss goals.

How Fasting Promotes Weight Loss

Although fasting should not be considered a permanent diet or lifestyle change, intermittent fasting can help with weight loss even if studies show fasting isn’t a cure all or better than a regular calorie deficit. 

Yet, fasting can help individuals lose weight due to the eating windows which help manage hunger pangs, bad habits, and make people more conscious of what or when they’re consuming it.  

For those who want a short-term change, need a jump start if they’re tired of feeling fat, or those who need to reset their metabolism and digestive system, fasting can help individuals achieve the necessary results. Fasting for short periods of time directly results in a lower caloric intake – when a person’s daily caloric intake is less than their daily caloric burn, this causes weight loss [3]. Use intermittent fasting to help you not eat for a set portion of each day to assist in losing weight.  

Regardless of how long the fast is in terms of duration, intermittent fasting can help individuals cut calories, lose weight, and reduce body fat [4]. People who safely undergo intermittent fasting will see successful results in reducing body weight, reducing waist circumference, and preventing potentially harmful diseases. 

Intermittent Fasting Does Not Reduce Muscle Mass

But what do you do if you are a fitness guru or intense athlete and you don’t want to harm your hard-earned muscle gains during intermittent fasting? Those who are unsure about the process of fasting may be concerned about the end results if they are trying to maintain a muscle mass or high energy levels. For those who are apprehensive, you will be relieved to know that studies show people can maintain their pre-set level of muscle mass or only experience a slight reduction in muscle mass [5]. 

Intermittent Fasting Makes Healthy Dieting Easier To Maintain

Not only does intermittent fasting help you maintain a high level of muscle and potentially prevent long-term illnesses, but IF can make healthy eating easier. 

For those unsure of how to eat healthy, such as meal planning, knowing the difference between the various macronutrients, and making healthy food choices while on-the-go, intermittent fasting for beginners and veterans alike can provide health benefits without needing extra knowledge or planning. 

So get the idea of not eating equals losing weight out of your mind and give IF a try. 

Can I Safely Use IF To Lose Weight?

As we know, short-term intermittent fasting can cause varying degrees of weight loss based on the person’s metabolic state and fasting regime….that’s a fasting fact. Although intermittent fasting helps you lose weight, the long-term effects may not be sustainable or healthy. 

So if you’re a learning how to lose belly fat in 7-10 days as a woman, man, or just beginning fasting, make sure you closely monitor your progress to avoid any long-term health complications like extreme weight loss, nutrient deficiency, or muscle mass reduction. 

Individuals can safely do intermittent fasting by counting their calories, being consistent with their health, remaining patient, and eating a diet focused on whole foods

Additional Benefits of Fasting

Along with the aforementioned benefits of a high chance of weight reduction, body fat reduction, and prevention of chronic disease, there are additional positives of fasting [6].

  • Controls your blood sugar – Intermittent fasting can be successful in controlling your blood sugar and reducing your risk of diabetes. Since diabetes results from a very high level of blood sugar, intermittent fasting can be a successful measure in helping reduce insulin resistance.
  • Reducing inflammation Intermittent fasting can help reduce common inflammatory “markers” that lead to a lower chance of arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and heart disease [7].
  • Increase heart health – Intermittent and alternate-day fasting are effective methods of reducing your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can significantly lower the chance of diabetes and coronary artery disease [8]. 
  • Prevent neurological degeneration – Intermittent fasting can prevent potential degenerative illnesses by helping with brain function and brain structure [9]. Studies have shown that IF positively affects the brain before aging, increasing memory and learning strategies.
  • Increases Metabolism – Short-term intermittent fasting can boost metabolism, directly causing a reduction in body fat and body weight without reducing muscle tissue [5]. Choosing the right vitamins for your food intake can also help with weight loss and an increase in metabolism while fasting.
  • Increases Growth Hormone – A natural increase in HGH, human growth hormone, is effective in helping relegate and improve a person’s metabolism, weight loss, and strength [10].
  • Cancer Prevention – One of the last benefits of intermittent fasting is the potential prevention of cancer and increasing the chemotherapy aftereffects, with studies showing that there may be a potential reduction in tumor growth [11].

Many people directly link not eating and losing weight, but while not eating enough calories to sustain energy could be potentially dangerous, intermittent fasting for beginners is a great way to eat cautiously while maintaining a healthy relationship with food.

References

[1] Kris Gunnars (2021). 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting

[2] Kris Gunnars (2021). 6 Popular Ways To Do Intermittent Fasting. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-to-do-intermittent-fasting

[3] Stockman, M., Thomas, D., Burke, J., & Apovian, C. (2018). Intermittent Fasting: Is The Wait Worth The Weight? Current Obesity Reports, 7(2), 172-185.  doi: 10.1007/s13679-018-0308-9. PMID: 29700718; PMCID: PMC5959807

[4] Barnosky, A., Hoddy, K., Unterman, T., & Varady, A. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research, 164(4), 302-311. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2014.05.013.

[5] Varady, K. (2011). Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss? Obesity Reviews, 12(7), 593-601. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00873.x. Epub 2011 Mar 17. PMID: 21410865. 

[6] Rachael Link (2018). 8 Health Benefits of Fasting, Backed by Science. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

[7] Faris, M., Kacimi, S., Al-Kurd, R., Farajeh, M., Bustani, Y., Mohammed, M., & Salem, M. (2012). Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutr Res., 32(12), 947-55. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.06.021. Epub 2012 Oct 4. PMID: 23244540.

[8] Horne, B., May, H., Anderson, J., et al. (2008). Usefulness of routine periodic fasting to lower risk of coronary artery disease in patients undergoing coronary angiography. Am J Cardiol., 102(7), 814-819. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.05.021

[9] Li, L., Wang, Z., Zuo, Z. (2013). Chronic intermittent fasting improves cognitive functions and brain structures in mice. PLoS One.8(6). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066069. PMID: 23755298; PMCID: PMC3670843.

[10] Møller, N., Jørgensen, J., Abildgård, N., Orskov, L., Schmitz, O., & Christiansen, J. (1991). Effects of growth hormone on glucose metabolism. Horm Res. 36 Suppl 1, 32-5. PMID: 1806481.

[11] Rocha, N., Barbisan, L., de Oliviera, M., & de Camargo, J. (2002). Effects of fasting and intermittent fasting on rat hepatocarcinogenesis induced by diethylnitrosamine. Teratog Carcinog Mutagen. 22(2), 129-38. doi: 10.1002/tcm.10005. PMID: 11835290.

About the Author

Nathan

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.