I dropped 37 pounds in just a few months (as of Aug 2022) using IMF 20/4. It wasn’t that hard to do and it’s mostly free. I didn’t work-out and I still frequently eat most of my favorite foods.
IMF is simply eating within a smaller window of time each day. When you do this your body gets a break from constant insulin spikes and the job of processing food. So, your body regulates, heals, and drops fat. It’s that simple.
In this article, we will discuss the best tips for intermittent fasting 20/4 success with a one-step-at-a-time guide for an easy transition to the 20/4 lifestyle.
Move through these steps at your own pace, remember this is a lifestyle, not a fad diet. I was pretty hardcore and jumped right into most of it, but you could take just one step a week and still see amazing results, pretty quickly.
Disclaimer: This should not be considered medical advice or replace your doctor’s instructions. Research the scientific evidence about the health benefits of intermittent fasting for more info. This is my experience only and your results may vary.
How to Start Intermittent Fasting
Step 1: Stop Eating 4 hours before Bedtime
It takes about 4 hours after your last meal for your body to stop processing food. So, to take advantage of the automatic fasting you get while sleeping, just stop eating 4 hours before you go to sleep. You can still have water, just no calories.
Step 2: Adjust Your First Food in the Morning
Our body is super sensitive to insulin after fasting periods (including sleeping) so breaking your fast with fat signals your body that your eating window is starting, but it doesn’t spike your insulin. So, it’s like telling your body, “I’m going to eat now, but you don’t have to hold on to the fat.”
Break the sleeping fast with 1/2 an avocado or 1 tablespoon of sugar-free nut butter. You can have water, tea, or black coffee, with no sugar. More hard-core would be to take 1-2 MCT gels (coconut oil). Now, wait 45 minutes to an hour before eating a meal or drinking coffee with any calories other than fat.
Step 3: Drink Your Vitamins and Minerals to Avoid Withdrawal
At some point, as you begin these subtle but powerful changes, your body might start to experience detox or withdrawal symptoms, depending on your current eating and drinking habits. You can avoid this by supplementing with a vitamin and mineral drink.
Don’t suffer through unnecessary and possibly debilitating withdrawal during fasting and low-carb or low-calorie diets. It’s demoralizing and time-consuming.
I created this mix from 3 different products to get all the nutrients I need. You don’t have to do this, but it helped me sustain ongoing weight loss while feeling confident that I’m not depriving my body. The cost of the packets is about $3 a day. Since this (over time) replaced my Starbucks habit, I ended up saving money.
- Water: Buy a 6-pack of 33-ounce smart waters (any brand of good water, just make sure the bottle is 33.8 ounces for the best mix), or buy a glass bottle. I keep a few smart waters in the car so I’m never without my drink. I refill my glass bottle or smart water empties with filtered water from the fridge or my Sparklett’s cooler. Drinking water from the tap is not recommended.
- Packets: Take a swig or dump a bit of water from the bottle so you have space to add packets. Add 1 packet Modere Go, 1 packet Modere Revitalize, and 1 packet Power-Pak. Shake well. Now pour over lots of ice in your Yeti or any stainless steel tumbler. This one is only $10.
Click the links to see the packet ingredients.
- Drink as much as you like and refill throughout the day. I usually drink 2 bottles (67 ounces) a day. Remember there is caffeine in the green tea extract, so cut off about the same time as your last meal so you can sleep well.
Step 4: Move Morning Mealtime Forward 1 Hour
After you’re in a groove and doing steps 1-2 and step 3, (optional, but HIGHLY recommended) every day, it’s time to move on to narrowing your eating window. Whatever time you usually have your first meal now, start eating it an hour later. Or two hours. Whatever you can handle.
If that means not eating at the table with the family or not driving through McD’s on the way to work, just do it. Find a way to eat an hour or two later than your routine. Then eat your first meal.
It may be best to NOT include family on what you’re doing to avoid the negativity and resistance that usually comes with that. Instead, just keep it to yourself—20 pounds from now, the fruit of your actions will speak loudly. Just my opinion.
Step 5: Modify Coffee Slightly
You can drink coffee while doing IMF. You just need a few modifications. If you drink coffee with creamers or sugar or something decadent from Starbucks, let’s move slowly…
- First, switch to a smaller size for a week.
- Next, nix the sugary toppings for a week.
- Now replace sugar with Stevia or sugary creamers with a couple of tablespoons of pure whipping cream and Stevia.
- Next, drop to the smallest size.
- Now, can you skip a few days a week?
- Last, can you live without it now? If not, it’s ok to drink your revised drink and later you can have your original drink as a special treat. For now, let’s lose weight and get healthy!
Realizing that you (not your body) have control of your hunger — especially when the hunger just fades away to nothingness after not eating anything — is the greatest superpower you get from fasting. When you look at the scales and when people look at you and go oh my gosh what have you done! That also builds your superpower. –S Wilson, Client Testimony
Step 5: Move Morning Mealtime Forward Again
While you are implementing the coffee strategy, let’s move our morning meal forward again. Can we just skip breakfast and start our eating window when we eat lunch? It’s okay to make lunch a large meal at first. This way of eating takes a mental and emotional adjustment. If you can’t skip to lunch that fast, move breakfast a little later each day until it starts at your lunchtime.
We were raised to believe in 3 meals a day! But studies suggest otherwise now. It looks like these habits have contributed to obesity, diabetes, high insulin levels, chronic inflammation, and chronic diseases. It seems our ancestors and some current cultures show less disease and better overall health when they practice(d) eating less often, which meant they were (planned or not) restricting calories.
Don’t let that term scare you. As you narrow your feeding window, you naturally eat fewer calories and you probably won’t even notice.
Today let’s add in Apple Cider Vinegar gelcaps. These help to stabilize acid reflux (counter-intuitive, but true, post coming soon) and have been shown to help weight loss. Plus many other overall health benefits. Recommendation: The original ACV manufacturer, Braggs.
Step 6: Narrow the Window Again
Where are you now? Eating from lunchtime through dinnertime? This is great! Time to hone in on your favorite and optimal time to eat and take the final step.
Step 7: Narrow Your Window to 4 Hours
Either eat lunch later or dinner earlier. Or try combining them to OMAD (one meal a day).
I personally switched to OMAD at this point. So, for my one meal, I eat whatever I want—even once-a-week Raising Cane’s 4-piece without fries, then sugar-free truffles. Sometimes I eat a hamburger and onion rings, sometimes ice cream from marble-slab.
In general, one decent-sized meal picked with care, at around 1000-1200 calories, can fully satisfy you until the next meal. Of course you should make healthy choices, but my meals above are just an example of what I get away with when I feel like splurging.
Ultimate Results: Get Hardcore a Few Days a Week
Most people will see the shrinkage of fat stores and feel more energetic by now.
I expedited my own fat loss and improved all of my health conditions by helping my body to induce autophagy. Autophagy means “self-eating” and is a benefit of the intermittent fasting protocol. (It can be brought on even faster with alternate day fasting.
I keep repeating this disclaimer for both of us: This should not be considered medical advice or replace your doctor’s instructions. Research the scientific evidence about the health benefits of intermittent fasting yourself. This is my experience only and your results may vary.
A few days a week, to make the body burn fat faster, I drop to just a medium cauliflower pizza with veggies (800 calories) or my instapot cabbage soup (two bowls, about 600 calories, recipe below) followed by a chunk of dark chocolate, and don’t really want or need much more—my stomach has shrunk. Those are some specific foods I enjoy, but you choose what brings you the most joy. Bone broth or a nice salad are also great ideas.
Note: I would never do super calorie-restriction or an extended fasting period without the mineral drink. The drink ends up with about 45 calories so it’s not considered complete fasting, however it works for me and I prefer to safely move a little slower and avoid the whole withdrawal headache issue.
Alternating between the 20/4 window and the 18/6 window is a healthy weight management system for life. You can eat normally both in a four-hour eating window or in a six-hour window and not feel hungry.
Allowing yourself to be flexible and have your favorite foods, with joy, contributes to your weight loss in the long run because you can do lower calorie days easily without the fear of never tasting the foods you love again. For instance, your son wants to take you to eat at an earlier hour. Go and enjoy! Tomorrow, get back in your groove and maybe do a low-cal OMAD.
The great thing about this being a lifestyle is once you have the basics down and you’re on track to taking off extra pounds or are at your happy weight, you can vary or take a day off. Then just return to the standard plan without losing much ground.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Improved Insulin Sensitivity and Decreased Insulin-Resistance
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Less Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Heart Disease
- Less Desire for Binge-Eating
- Self-Repair of Damaged Cells (Autophagy), including Cancers
- Better Metabolic Health, Weight Loss
- Lower Blood Sugar, Reversal of or Improvement in Diabetes
- Improved Overall Health and Wellness
- Better Attitude
- Longer Life
More General Tips
- Any time you can choose less carbohydrates in a meal, do it.
- Snacking is not something you need! Snacks IMHO are misinformation and also an emotional habit. (See medical disclaimer.)
- There are NO fast diet miracles, claiming instant fat-loss, that are healthy or sustainable.
- Bodies need healthy fats so make sure you include some, especially avocado and coconut or olive oil.
- Whole foods and raw foods are great for you.
- Whatever you choose to eat each day, eat it with joy and gratitude.
IMF is NOT good for pregnant or breastfeeding moms or those with certain eating disorders. If you have an existing medical condition check with your doctor.
Continuous calorie restriction may not be right for you. It’s right for me! But, check with your doctor.
Once again, see the full medical disclaimer:
This should not be considered medical advice or replace your doctor’s instructions. Research the scientific evidence about the health benefits of intermittent fasting yourself. This is my experience only and your results may vary.
Scientific studies and research have proven many of the benefits listed above, but these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. No information stated or products recommended are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Cabbage Soup Recipe:
1/2 chopped onion
3 stalks chopped celery
1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1 teaspoon course salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes (optional, but tasty)
1/2 bag of baby carrots
1/2 container fresh sliced mushrooms
32 oz Vegetable or Chicken Broth
4-6 mini white potatoes
6-8 brussel sprouts (cut the dark ends off) or 1/2 head of organic cabbage
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 can tomato sauce
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
Turn Instapot to saute. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and let heat for 1 minute.
Add onion and celery. Cook, stirring once, 2 minutes. Add spices. Stir.
Add carrots, 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, 2 minutes. Turn off Instapot.
Add Vegetable or Chicken Broth.
Add potatoes, brussel sprouts and stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn and black beans
Set Instapot to pressure cooker with lid on and settings at high for 16 minutes.
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