So, you’ve read all the intermittent fasting blog posts, joined all the forums, and maybe even picked up a book or two. You’ve figured out by know what intermittent fasting is, you’ve decided that maybe you can go 16 hours or more without food, and you’re almost sold on the idea.
But you’ve still got one thing on your mind.
What does an actual day of not eating for at least 16 hours look like?
In this quick post, I’m going to share with you what my typical day of intermittent fasting looks like, along with ideas on what to eat and tips for how to deal with any challenges that might arise.
What a typical day of fasting is like
We all have different lifestyles and different schedules, so what works for me may not exactly work for you. But I hope this real-life example can at least give you some ideas for what you might like to include in your very own intermittent fasting plan.
6 am – Rise n’ Shine!
I wake up around 6 am every day and right away set the tone for what lies ahead
One of my goals is to drink at least 90 to 120 ounces of water per day, which really helps with curbing hunger on intermittent fasting. So, I start every morning with 30 ounces of water pretty much right away!
This knocks out 25-33% of my daily goal straight away and makes it so much more manageable. And after ALL that water, I don’t even think about food!
After that, most days I do some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes. Whether heading outside for a walk or jog (while listening to my favorite podcasts), or a little yoga indoors (YouTube is great for this).
While it’s not what would be considered a vigorous workout, I find this type of activity keeps hunger at bay and gets me started on a great note!
When before 7 am you’ve already drank 30% of your water goal AND exercised for 30 minutes, you’re already doing great! ????
7 am – Caffeine Boost
Sometime around 7am, maybe a little before, I dive into caffeine. It’s important to me to drink water and start moving my body first, though.
I don’t know if it makes sense or not, but I don’t like to feel like I depend on caffeine fully to wake up for the day.
I used to have coffee or energy drinks pretty much as soon as I got up, but that felt… weird. So now I at least get moving first. That’s just me though!
Dirty Fasting vs. Clean Fasting
Now, for intermittent fasting, some people think you should keep it “clean”. This means you can only have black coffee (no sugar or milk), water and plain tea. Anything else is off-limits.
I don’t fully subscribe to this, and will often use other things to get my caffeine boost. This is called “dirty fasting”.
I’d say about 50% of the time I’ll grab a sugar-free energy drink, 25% of the time I opt for green tea with sucralose (I LOVE this stuff), and 25% of the time I’ll use black coffee.
But I always have caffeine and again, it really helps to curb hunger.
9am – Getting A Little Hungry
I’d be lying if I didn’t say sometimes hunger strikes on intermittent fasting.
Yes, it does improve over time. Now that I’ve been fasting for a while, I can say there are weeks when I barely feel hungry at all, then sometimes I’m ravenous early in the morning.
When it’s only 9am and I feel hungry, I do one or more of a few things:
- Take a quick walk. Sometimes light physical activity helps to curb hunger
- Drink a TON of water. It’s super filling.
- More caffeine. It helps!
- Throw myself into work.
By the time I’ve run through this list, enough time has passed. And, so have the hunger pangs! Onward!
11am – Almost Time To Eat!
Depending on what time I stopped eating the previous night, my fasting window usually ends sometime between 11 and 12.
The crazy thing is by this time I’m usually NOT hungry.
I tend to wait until I’m hungry, even if I’m within my eating window time. I like to fast as long as I can, really. Within reason, of course.
I’d like to say that I always plan my meals in advance, and always have something restorative picked out. But I’d be lying to you.
Sometimes I’ll have a really big salad topped with lean meat and fruit. Other times it’s leftovers from the night before.
But sometimes it’s fast food.
Eating Fast Food While Fasting For Weight Loss
The thing is, if it’s fast food I’ll ALWAYS do one thing… visit the website of the fast food chain, check the calorie count of what I’m going to get, and make a MORE reasonable choice.
I believe this is the #1 key to easy success with intermittent fasting if you don’t want to give up all the fast food you like.
You have to at least be moderately better over time.
I always make sure if I eat out, I select something that fits reasonably within a range that, combined with any other food consumption of the day, would keep me in a decent calorie range.
So where in the past I might order an entire combo from Burger King or whatever (here in Los Angeles In N’ Out rules lol)? I don’t do that now.
I’ll compromise and just get a burger. Whatever would be below say… 800 or so calories. Because I know I’ll want to eat dinner later and need to bank some calories for that.
That’s really my secret weapon for continuing to enjoy some things while still trying to lose weight.
UPDATE: Since originally writing this article back in 2018 I have transitioned to a more plant-based diet, which I believe has been critical to maintaining my weight for the long haul. But if you aren’t considering taking that step right now, I want to let you know that you can still succeed! It just may be harder and take a little longer.
3 pm – Maybe A Light Snack, Maybe Not
Around 3 pm sometimes I’ll have a light snack, most often not.
The thing is, in my past it’s rarely eating whole meals that got me into trouble with my weight. It’s been the mindless snacking during the workday or while sitting in front of the TV at night.
Though even if you’re technically in your feeding window and you’d be well within the rules of fasting to have a mid-day snack, it’s not always best to make a habit of snacking because you can so easily go overboard, and it’s just not worth it!
One thing I try to do is cut my caffeine off sometime between 3 and 4 pm each day though. It’s important to me to be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I notice when I’m up later I also get the temptation to snack later into the night.
Everything works together and affects everything else with intermittent fasting and weight loss.
You have to look at all the pieces to the whole puzzle. At least I do!
7 pm – Dinnertime!
Sometime between 6:30 and 7:30pm it’s finally time for dinner!
One thing I can say is that I rarely ever eat out twice a day. Unless it’s a leftovers situation. That’s another strict rule I’ve made for myself that I believe has helped.
So, if I ate out for lunch, I’ll 100% eat something I cooked for dinner.
Another thing that I’ve gotten into the habit of doing is not really “meal prepping”, like those awesome photos on Pinterest you see of people putting their food into neat portions in their fridges? Nah. Too much work for me.
But I do batch cook.
I’ll spend a few hours on one day making a metric ton of food so that there’s always something to pick from. This has helped a lot too!
Also, much of the time when I’m craving fast food like burgers, wings, tacos, or pizza… I’ve also made a rule that I can pretty much always have it as long as I cook it myself.
I believe this also helps with not feeling so deprived, makes the food interesting, and is also way better for you because you at least know what’s going in it, right?
8 pm – Begin Fasting Window
By 8 pm or so I turn off my eating for the day, finish up any water I need to drink to hit my goal, and honestly? Sometimes struggle through watching my husband snack while we watch our favorite TV shows together.
That’s probably one of the most challenging parts, even still to this day.
But it’s a choice I’ve made and a decision I’m sticking with. Because one thing I say is that you have to make some sacrifice somewhere.
If you’re not going to always eat squeaky clean and exercise hard all the time, you need to reduce when you eat and at least make better choices.
I weigh less and feel better than I have in most of my adult life, and I owe it all to the simple action of reducing the hours during which I eat.
Intermittent fasting really works, if you work it!
So there you have it! Exactly how I approach intermittent fasting to lose and maintain weight!
It’s really so easy almost anybody can give it a try (regardless if you’re ready to change your dietary patterns just yet or not!)
I hope this article proved helpful for you, and I’m wishing you nothing but the best!