Intermittent Fasting 101

Intermittent fasting has become a popular trend over the past couple of years. Why? Well it has so many benefits, such as helping shed extra pounds, improving health, and helping you live longer! Contrary to popular belief, your body does not go into “starvation mode” or store fat when you go without eating for hours. A lot of studies show that intermittent fasting has many benefits for your body. So how do you go about starting and easing into intermittent fasting?

Types of Intermittent Fasting

different colored clocks of all sizes layered on top of each other
There are different kinds of intermittent fasting, and you can choose the time you want to start fasting and end it.

There are several ways of doing intermittent fasting. Some do it daily, while some people do it weekly. Here are the most popular forms of intermittent fasting:

  • 16/8– This is also called the Leangains protocol. For this kind of fast, you fast for 16 hours, and then consume all of your calories during the 8 hour window that you are not fasting. For example, you can begin fasting from 8pm until 12pm the next day (16 hours), and then can eat from 12pm-8pm. You can choose which hours work best for your schedule.
  • 20/4– The same concept applies as the 16/8 method, except you fast for 20 hours and eat during a 4 hour window.
  • East Stop Eat– This form of intermittent fasting requires more discipline. You fast for 24 hours for one or two non-consecutive days per week. The easiest way to do this kind of fasting is to fast from one day’s dinner to the next. You can do this from lunch to lunch, or breakfast to breakfast.
  • The 5:2 Diet– This diet focuses on the amount of calories you consume for the day. You limit caloric intake to 500-600 on two non-consecutive days of the week. Generally for this diet women should consume 500 calories, and men consume 600 calories. During the other 5 days you would eat normally.
  • Alternate Fasting– This is also called the ADF protocol. This is when you alternate between days of eating normally and days of fasting. You fast every other day, which may be harder for some to do. Studies have shown people are more likely to abandon their diet.

Can You Eat At All During Fasting?black coffee in a white mug on top of coffee beans

tea cup with tea in it and a daisy

Generally no. When you are fasting, all you can have is water, black coffee, tea, and other non-caloric beverages. The goal is not to consume any calories during the fast. When you fast, your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. 

Health Benefits

Reduced Insulin Resistance– During the fasting period, lower insulin levels improve fat burning in the body. Not only will it improve fat burning, but the lowered insulin levels will help encourage muscle growth. Studies show that fasting reduces insulin by 20-31%.

Detox The Body– When you fast, your body removes toxins. One way this occurs is from shedding weight. When you intermittently fast, your body will burn fat, using it for the energy it’s not getting from food. The fat cells are the usual culprits for toxin storage, keeping it from what we eat and breathe.

When you cleanse your body from toxins, you will find that you have more energy, stamina, clear skin, better brain function, and restful sleep patterns. 

Lose Weight– Because your body lowers it’s insulin levels, your body burns\ the fat for fuel, and it no longer receives the signal to store extra calories as fat. Intermittent fasting can increase norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that can boost your metabolism! That way, your body will burn calories throughout the day.

caucasian belly with hands over the button in a heart shape, and a daisy over the belly button
Fasting boosts gut health and mood.


Improved Gut Health & Mood– Not only does your body burn more, but your gut health improves. Your mood and mental health go hand in hand with your gut microbiome. So, when your gut reboots due to intermittent fasting, your stomach and your mood are overall happier.

Heart Function– At least one study indicates that people who follow a fasting diet may have better heart health than people who don’t. When you fast, your levels of hemoglobin, red blood cell count are affected, in a good way. This improves heart health. 

Autophagy- The process of cells eating themselves to get rid of damaged cells, and recycle into better, more youthful ones is called autophagy. Viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens are destroyed in this process. The simple way to activate this is by fasting. Damaged cells are removed, and cellular and tissue rejuvenation occur.

Brain Function– Your body will burn glucose reserved in your blood and liver when you are fasting. The liver will turn the fat into ketones and use them for fuel. Your brain prefers ketones over glucose, and in turn, will work better and increase your ability to learn and think.

How It Affects Your Cells

Some of the changes your body will go through are:

  • Cellular Repair– Also known as autophagy, your cells break down and recycle old proteins that accumulate within cells, and make new healthy cells. Viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens are destroyed in this process. Damaged cells are removed, and cellular and tissue rejuvenation occur.
  • Growth Hormone– The levels of growth hormone increases by 5 times or more. This growth hormone aids in fat loss, and muscle gain.
  • Metabolic Rate– Your metabolic rate boosts as much as 3-14%when you are fasting for two days. However, other studies suggest that if you fast for longer than 48 hours, then you will slow down your metabolism.
  • Insulin– When fasting, your insulin levels stay low. Low insulin levels means that fat burning is increased. 

Easing Into Intermittent Fasting

It can be easy to begin fasting, but most people will give up within the first week, because they are not prepared. Some tips to make the transition easier:


  1. Start Slow– The easiest way to start fasting is by skipping a meal. Skip a meal, breakfast for example, and have water or coffee instead. You can eat lunch, which will break the fast.

    water bottle pouring water into a cup
    Drink a lot of water and electrolytes.
  2. Stay Hydrated– Drink a lot of water and electrolytes. This is very important for cognitive function. A plus is that water can help you feel full when you are hungry.
  3. Eat High-Quality Foods– When it comes time to break your fast, make sure to eat foods that are beneficial and essential to your health. Try to avoid junk food. Eat foods full of vitamins, minerals, and protein so you can fuel your body correctly. 
  4. Plan & Prepare– When you know when you are going to eat, it will make you obsess over the thought of food less. There are apps you can download that help you keep track of your fasting hours and send you notifications of when to start fasting, and when you have completed fasting and can eat. The app will have a timer to show how long you have been fasting, and how much longer you have 
  5. caucasian woman sleeping in a bed with white sheets and pillowcase
    Sleep is very important for cognitive productivity, fat loss, and metabolic reasons.

    to go.

  6. Sleep!– Get an adequate amount of sleep! Sleep is very important for cognitive productivity, fat loss, and metabolic reasons. When you do not sleep enough your hormones are affected as well as your insulin sensitivity. The less sleep you get, the hungrier you are. 

Consult With Your Doctor About Fasting If You:

  • Are underweight or have a history of eating disorders
  • Are pregnant or trying to conceive
  • Have a medical condition
  • Have diabetes
  • Have low blood pressure
  • Take medications

Herbs: Just Tasty or Something More?

Cooking with herbs: Health Benefits

We’ve all been there. You’re in the kitchen, grabbing food, and hurriedly throwing it in the pot while a hungry group of friends stares at your back.

But how often do you sacrifice healthy meals for quick ones??

More people are realizing how closely diet affects their overall health nowadays. Considering the amount of people struggling with weight loss, irritable bowel syndrome, or even simply an upset stomach, it is easy to see why. Research shows that food can not only fill our stomachs but can also heal our bodies. As Hippocrates says: “Let food be thy medicine.”

And the best medicine comes from our gardens.

Rosemary, For Nose and Allergies

Ah, Rosmarinus officinalis,  our lovely perennial herb that makes chicken (or tofu) so, so tasty. Rosemary gives a savory, earthy flavor to your meals. Some call it “woody” or compare it to mustard. But what exactly do these needle-like leaves do for our body?

This attractive plant contains phytochemicals such as rosmarinic acid and camphor.  Camphor was used in ancient India as a medicine for fever; its benefits are the ability to reduce fever and aid with swelling. The small amounts in rosemary can also help with congestion.

herbs health body benefits
The delicious smell of rosemary can make your house inviting as a bonus benefit!

The rosmarinic acid, of course, is the main player here. It’s anti-everything bad for you: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial.

Next time you’re sick consider adding rosemary to your chicken noodle soup, or add a dash to any meal for additional health benefits with a delicious flavor!

Thyme, For Protection

When it comes to standard kitchen fare, thyme is a reliable standby in the herbs and spices rack. This herb imparts a subtle aroma, likened to mint. Not only does it play well with others, but it also doubles the antibacterial properties of whatever you’re cooking.

The active ingredient here is thymol.  This fierce antiseptic was used to soak bandages in ancient times to guard us against infection. Now how do we use it? In mouthwashes. That’s right. Thyme is in that bottle of Listerine.

If it’s helping keep your mouth clean, what lovely things is it doing for us farther inside?

Garlic, For Heart Health

A close cousin to the onion, garlic has been used for thousands of years as a food and medicine. This garden gem will set off your spice sensors with its warm taste. Usually, you’re going to want to roast it to mellow it out. Other than its warrior nature against things like the common cold (Seriously folks, rosemary, garlic, hot water. It knocks it right out of me.), the plant can also be used to help your heart.

The powerhouse is allicin which is activated by crushing or chopping garlic and letting the air reach it. Allicin reduces cholesterol levels in the blood and regulates blood pressure.  Research suggests an effect on muscle soreness, and the heart is the hardest working muscle in the body. Is that a reach? Of course, but it’s nice to think about.

Garlic is so easy to work with. You can roast, fry, or eat it raw if you’re feeling adventurous.

Basically, you’re doing yourself a favor by ordering that garlic bread. Tell them I sent ya.

Turmeric, for Inflammation

This herb grows wild in South and Southeast Asian forests, and it gives curry its bright orange color. The herb is aromatic and more on the bitter side. Some compare it to ginger with a dab of orange. It’s found easily in stores in a ground powder form. This was something easy for me to grab during a grocery run and slap into a dish at home.

Born in Ayurvedic medicine, the herb adds a beautiful flavor to most savory dishes as well as its anti-inflammatory properties. This comes from a phytochemical inside called curcumin, and also where the vibrant color comes from.

Looking at our traditional Western diet, we could all use a little turmeric at our side to fight inflammation. Sugar is great but wow does it swell us up.

Lemon Balm, for Sleep & Digestion

This herb is one you’ve probably seen as an essential oil, but you can also use it in food. “Balm,” or “Mint Balm,” not to be confused with “Bee Balm,” is from the mint family. This may be used more in sweet dishes and teas, but anything (like fish) that could use some uplifting lemon notes to its flavor profile would benefit.

Lemon balm also contains rosmarinic acid, but with its other eugenols, tannins, and terpenes, the plants overall chemical effects are changed. Instead of just anti-everything-bad-for-you, it’s a soothing effect that helps you sleep. Lemon balm is still the main ingredient in Carmelite water which is still for sale in German pharmacies to this day.

A close friend suggested a simple recipe of cooking heirloom tomatoes with lemon balm and goat cheese. It’s a light, refreshing dish you can serve by itself, or with some toasted bread, similar to bruschetta.

Coriander(Cilantro), for Vitamins

While I’m one of the small percentages of people that taste soap when I eat this herb, I still try to include it in my diet. It’s also included here simply because it’s healthier than people realize. Similar to the earlier lemon balm, this plant has a lemony flavor, but it also has notes of orange, nuts, and a general spice aroma.

Native to Iran, coriander grows wild all over Western Asia and Southern Europe. Studies have shown that the plant’s leaves contain major amounts of vitamin A, C, and K, plus a large helping of beneficial dietary minerals. If you want, you can also use the seeds in your cooking. While they have less of those vitamins, they do make up for it in fiber, calcium, iron, and magnesium.

cilantro healthy herb cooking
Cilantro is as fresh and green as your helpings of spinach or kale, with just enough vitamins in it!

Basically, you’ve got a great arsenal of supplements all ready for you either growing in your garden or easily picked up at the store. Try a new recipe, and you may find something delicious and nutritious. Your body will thank you.