Fasting can ramp up fat loss, reduce blood pressure, and boost overall health. Learn everything you need to know in our intermittent fasting guide!

Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting

If you’ve been hearing about intermittent fasting lately, that’d be no surprise to us. Fasting is experiencing a renaissance period at the moment. But this incredible health hack isn’t anything new.

The practice of fasting can be traced back to the Greek Physician Hippocrates, father of medicine and author of the Hippocratic Oath that medical doctors swear by to this day. Hippocrates believed that fasting blessed practitioners with spiritual clarity and physical detoxification. It took a couple thousand years, but we can finally say, ‘He was right!'”

Intermittent fasting works by restricting your calorie intake for a period of time. For many, the biggest goal of intermittent fasting will be weight loss. Luckily, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The benefits associated with fasting are many. In this post, we’ll cover all that and more.

Want to get started quickly? Check out this beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting below:

Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting

The Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Here’s what our free intermittent fasting guide will cover:

  1. What is intermittent fasting?
  2. What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
  3. Can anyone do intermittent fasting?
  4. Can I take medicines while doing intermittent fasting?
  5. What are the basics of intermittent fasting?
  6. How do I get started with easy intermittent fasting?
  7. Can I drink water, coffee or tea and stay on my fast?
  8. Do women have the same rules for intermittent fasting as men?
  9. Does intermittent fasting help with long COVID and post-vaccine syndrome?
  10. How can I learn more about intermittent fasting?

1. What is intermittent fasting?

Fasting, by definition, means abstaining from eating. So technically any period in which you are not eating a meal, you are fasting. But for health and wellness, the idea of intermittent fasting means limiting food intake to a short window during the day and taking in only fluids such as water, tea, or coffee for the rest of the day.

The FLCCC has created Eat Well: Guide to Fasting and Healthy Eating as a reference for anyone interested in exploring the beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating.

Mark Twain fasting health quote

2. What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Modern medicine has delivered numerous breakthroughs, yet sometimes the most effective treatments are both low-cost and non-invasive. That’s the central claim in a new study featured in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Winter 2023).

The authors of the study demonstrate how fasting, coupled with other affordable therapies, could potentially reduce or eliminate the need for costly medications in Type II diabetes patients.

The study was conducted by researcher MTJ Halma along with FLCCC’s Dr. Paul Marik and Dr. Mobeen Syed, both advocates of intermittent fasting for a healthy lifestyle. In fact, Dr. Marik says his own successful management of diabetes is due in large part to the practice of intermittent fasting. They emphasize that Type II diabetes is among several health conditions that can benefit from fasting.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

  • Weight Loss and Fat Reduction: Fasting can lead to a reduction in calorie intake and enhance hormone function to facilitate weight loss.
  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity: It can lower blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart Health: Intermittent fasting may benefit heart health by improving blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglycerides.
  • Brain Health: Fasting is believed to support brain health and could protect against neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Cellular Repair: The process of autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins, is increased during fasting.
  • Longevity: Some animal studies suggest that fasting could lead to a longer life, though human studies are needed.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Some research indicates that intermittent fasting can reduce markers of inflammation, which is key in many chronic diseases.
  • Cancer Risk: Early animal studies suggest fasting may reduce the risk of cancer, though more research is needed.
  • Hormonal Balance: Fasting can lead to an adjustment in hormone levels that facilitate weight loss and muscle gain.

When paired with a low-carb diet, almost anyone can lose weight with intermittent fasting. But with all the other health benefits, even those who don’t need to shed pounds can see positive results.

👉 Learn more: Intermittent Fasting for Health

3. Can anyone do intermittent fasting?

Generally, the answer is yes, anyone can do intermittent fasting with a few exceptions:

  • Children younger than age 18 should not fast as it impairs their growth.
  • People who are malnourished or underweight (BMI < 20).
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should also not try intermittent fasting.

If you have diabetes, gout, or serious underlying medical conditions, you should consult your primary care physician before trying to fast, as changes in your medications and close monitoring may be required.

Intermittent fasting promotes autophagy

4. Can I take medicines while doing intermittent fasting?

Some medications are also contraindicated with intermittent fasting. For example, proton pump inhibitors (PPI), which reduce stomach acid, should be avoided as they block autophagy.

Suddenly discontinuing a PPI can cause rebound esophagitis, so an H2-blocker like famotidine or ranitidine may be an alternative. An aloe vera stomach formula or diluted apple cider vinegar have been suggested as alternatives to a PPI; however, there is limited data to support these interventions (plus, diluted apple cider vinegar tastes awful!)

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which is recommended in some COVID-19 protocols, can interfere with the autophagy process and therefore may limit the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Generally, it is fine to continue taking vitamins and supplements while fasting; these do not break your fast.

5. What are the basics of intermittent fasting?

At its most basic, the only rule of fasting is that you need to stop eating for some period of time. But the exact schedule you follow can vary. Here are a few of the most popular intermittent fasting schedules that have become popular in recent years.

Intermittent Fasting Rules

  • 16/8 Method: Involves fasting for 16 hours each day and eating only during an 8-hour window. For example, you might eat between 12 pm and 8 pm, then fast until 12 pm the next day by skipping breakfast.
  • 5:2 Diet: