Medical News Today: How to begin intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is a timed approach to eating. Unlike a dietary plan that restricts where calories come from, intermittent fasting does not specify what foods a person should eat or avoid. Intermittent fasting may have some health benefits, including weight loss but is not suitable for everyone.

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. At first, people may find it difficult to eat during a short window of time each day or alternate between days of eating and not eating. This article offers tips on the best way to begin fasting, including identifying personal goals, planning meals, and establishing caloric needs.

Intermittent fasting is a popular method that people use to:

  • simplify their life
  • lose weight
  • improve their overall health and well-being, such as minimizing the effects of aging

Though fasting is safe for most healthy, well-nourished people, it may not be appropriate for individuals who have any medical conditions. For those ready to start fasting, the following tips aim to help them make the experience as easy and successful as possible.

1. Identify personal goals

Typically, a person who starts intermittent fasting has a goal in mind. It may be to lose weight, improve overall health, or improve metabolic health. A person’s ultimate goal will help them determine the most suitable fasting method and work out how many calories and nutrients they need to consume.

2. Pick the method

Intermittent fasting for weight loss
Typically, a person should stick with one fasting method for a month or longer before trying another.

There are four potential methods that a person may try when fasting for health reasons. A person should pick the plan that suits their preferences and which they think they can stick with.

These include:

  • Eat Stop Eat
  • Warrior Diet
  • Leangains
  • Alternate Day Fasting

Typically, a person should stick with one fasting method for a month or longer to see if it works for them before trying a different method. Anyone who has a medical condition should talk to their healthcare provider before beginning any fasting method.

When deciding on a method, a person should remember that they do not need to eat a certain amount or type of food or avoid foods altogether. A person can eat what they want. However, to reach health and weight loss goals, it is a good idea to follow a healthful, high fiber, vegetable-rich diet during the eating periods.

Binging on unhealthful foods on eating days can hinder health progress. It is also extremely important to drink lots of water or other no-calorie beverages throughout the fast days.

Eat Stop Eat

Brad Pilon developed Eat Stop Eat, which is a fasting method that involves eating nothing for 24 hours twice a week. It does not matter what days a person fasts or even when they begin. The only restriction is fasting must last for 24 hours and on non-consecutive days.

People who do not eat for 24 hours will likely become very hungry. Eat Stop Eat may not be the best method for people who are unfamiliar with fasting to start with.

Warrior Diet

Ori Hofmekler is the creator of the Warrior Diet, which entails eating very litlte for 20 hours each day. A person fasting in this way consumes all their typical food intake in the remaining 4 hours. Eating a whole day’s worth of food in such a short time can make a person’s stomach quite uncomfortable. This is the most extreme fasting method, and similarly to Eat Stop Eat, a person new to fasting may not want to start with this method.


Martin Berkhan created Leangains for weightlifters, but it has gained popularity among other people who are interested in fasting. Unlike Eat Stop Eat and the Warrior Diet, fasting for Leangains involves much shorter periods.

For example, males who choose the Leangains method will fast for 16 hours and then eat what they want for the remaining 8 hours of the day. Females fast for 14 hours and eat what they want for the remaining 10 hours of the day.

During the fast, a person must avoid eating any food but can drink as many no-calorie beverages as they like.

Alternate Day Fasting, 5:2 method

Some people fast on alternate days to improve blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight loss. A person on the 5:2 method eats 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days each week. Some alternate-day fasting regimens add in a third day of fasting each week. For the rest of the week, a person eats only the number of calories they burn during the day. Over time, this creates a calorie deficit that allows the person to lose weight.

Resources on the Eat Stop Eat, Warrior, and Leangains fasting methods are available to purchase online.

3. Figure out caloric needs

There are no dietary restrictions when fasting, but this does not mean calories do not count.

People who are looking to lose weight need to create a calorie deficit for themselves — this means that they consume less energy than they use. People who are looking to gain weight need to consume more calories than they use.

There are many tools available to help a person work out their caloric needs and determine how many calories they need to consume each day to either gain or lose weight. A person could also speak to their healthcare provider or dietitian for guidance on how many calories they need.

4. Figure out a meal plan

Intermittent fasting for weight loss meal prepare
Making a meal plan for the week may help someone who is trying to lose or gain weight.

A person interested in losing or gaining weight may find it helps to plan what they are going to eat during the day or week.

Meal planning does not need to be overly restrictive. It consider calorie intake and incorporate proper nutrients into the diet.

Meal planning offers many benefits, such as helping a person stick to their calorie count, and ensuring they have the necessary food on hand for cooking recipes, quick meals, and snacks.

5. Make the calories count

Not all calories are the same. Although these fasting methods do not set restrictions on how many calories a person should consume when fasting, it is essential to consider the nutritional value of the food.

In general, a person should aim to consume nutrient-dense food, or food with a high number of nutrients per calorie. Though a person may not have to abandon junk food entirely, they should still practice moderation and focus on healthier options to gain the most benefits.

How effective is intermittent fasting

Fasting has several effects on a person’s body. These effects include:

  • Reducing levels of insulin, which makes it easier for the body to use stored fat.
  • Lowering blood sugars, blood pressure, and inflammation levels.
  • Changes gene expressions, which helps the body protect itself from disease as well as promoting longevity.
  • Dramatically increases human growth hormone, or HGH, which helps the body utilize body fat and grow muscle.
  • The body activates a healing process doctors call autophagy, which essentially means that the body eats up its own damaged cells.

Fasting dates back to ancient humans who often went hours or days between meals as obtaining food was difficult. The human body adapted to this style of eating, allowing extended periods to pass between food intake.

Intermittent fasting recreates this forced-fasting. When a person undertakes an intermittent fast for dietary proposes, it can be very effective for weight loss. In fact, according to one study, most people try intermittent fasting to help lose weight.

Other research backs up the claims that fasting can help a person lose weight. For example, a review of studies shows that many people who fast see a higher loss of visceral body fat and a similar to slightly less reduction in body weight compared to people who follow more traditional calorie reduction diets.

Research also shows fasting to be beneficial for the management of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, extending lifespan, protecting neuron function, and shows promise in those with digestive diseases.

Side effects

Intermittent fasting for weight loss not advised for pregnancy
Pregnant women may be at risk from fasting and should consult a doctor before trying any program.

For a healthy, well-nourished person, intermittent fasting offers very few side effects. When a person first starts fasting, they may feel slightly physically and mentally sluggish as their body adjusts. After the adjustment, most people go back to functioning normally.

However, people with medical conditions should consult their doctor before beginning any fasting program. People particularly at risk from fasting and who may require medical supervision include:

  • women who are breastfeeding
  • women who are pregnant
  • people who are trying to conceive
  • people with diabetes
  • people who have difficulty regulating sugar
  • people with low blood pressure
  • people on medications
  • people with eating disorders
  • people who are underweight

Effects on exercise

For healthy individuals, intermittent fasting should not affect their ability to exercise except during the period when the body is adjusting to the new eating schedule. After the adjustment period, a person should not feel any ill effects from fasting on their exercise routine.

Those worried about losing muscle while fasting should be sure to consume enough protein during eating periods and participate in resistance training regularly. By keeping protein intake up, a person is less likely to lose muscle mass from fasting.


Fasting is a natural part of the human life cycle. Most people have fasted unknowingly throughout their lifetimes by eating an early dinner and skipping breakfast the next day. More structured approaches may work well for some people.

However, it is important to keep in mind that although a person does not need to exclude certain foods from their diet, they should still aim to eat a balanced diet rich in protein, fiber, and vegetables. Remember to drink plenty of fluids, too.

Finally, though the average person will likely experience no or minimal side effects, people with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications should speak to their doctor before trying a fasting plan.

April Birth Flower: Daisy

Did you know every birth month has its own flower? In fact, each of those flowers has its own dedicated meaning. It’s believed that the Romans began this tradition, and the Victorian era also brought floriography, the language of flowers. Delightful daisies are the April birth flower!

April brings spring in full swing, and daisies are one of the first flowers to appear. The daisy conveys innocence, loyalty and purity. However, in Victorian times, giving daisies between friends keeping a secret was a way to say “I’ll never tell.”

Give a Bouquet of Daisies for April Birthdays!

GiftTree’s fresh flower bouquets are never delivered in the box! Your recipient won’t have to find a vase, trim and arrange the bouquet themselves. Our expert florists are located all over the country, arranging bouquets in keepsake vases and delivering them in perfect condition.

Want to know the other months’ birth flowers and their meaning? Here’s a quick guide to glance at! Check back on GiftTree’s blog every first Monday of the month over the next year. We’ll be featuring that month’s birth flower as well as showing you our beautiful bouquets that feature the flower.

Month Flower Symbolism
January Carnation Devoted Love, True Friendship
February Violet Faithfulness, Virtue
March Daffodil Affection, Regards
April Daisy Innocence, Purity
May Lily of the Valley Hope, humility and sweetness
June Rose Love, devotion, passion, desire
July Larkspur Affection, Laughter, Lightheartedness
August Gladiolus Moral Integrity, Generosity
September Aster Daintiness, elegance, love, magic
October Calendula Gracefulness and Joy
November Chrysanthemum Cheerfulness, Friendship, Abundance
December Holly Good Wishes, Glad Tidings


Sales Tax Holidays and Their Impact on eCommerce

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jennifer Clark, Content Marketing Manager at TaxJar

Tax time

Tax-free weekends are nothing new. And over the last 10 years, they’ve become a holiday of their own that savvy shoppers plan around. Sales tax holidays offer no sales tax requirement on purchases of back-to-school items, extreme weather, and emergency preparedness have the potential to increase sales for both brick and mortar stores and online retailers alike.

This year, there are 17 states offering some form of a sales tax holiday, typically in the summer months. Discounts range from specific items like computers or generators, while other states have a discount across the board.

It’s important to know that the same states don’t always offer sales tax holidays or tax-free weekends each year. And, not all states that offer holidays have to acknowledge them. Some of these sales holidays are recurring and part of the state’s legislation, while others that are non-annual require legislation to pass each year. For a complete listing of the 2019 states with sales tax holidays, here’s a current state-by-state guide.

To step back a minute, let’s look at the history of sales tax holidays. A relatively new concept, tax-free shopping days began in New York in 1997. Designed to encourage shoppers to stay in New York to purchase their clothes, the state enacted a tax-free holiday to keep them from going to neighboring New Jersey, which had no sales tax on clothing.

To promote spending, state politicians looked at sales tax holidays as a favorable way to encourage their constituents to purchase goods from retailers in the area. Whether the states’ budgets are in surplus or shortage, tax-free days could be a win for politicians looking to save taxpayers money during popular spending seasons.

Further, back-to-school holidays can be viewed as a state’s way of assisting families in need with the ever-expanding costs of educational supplies. Holidays like Severe Weather Preparedness Day in Florida or Alabama can help people prepare for possible disasters or aid after a flood or hurricane when they need help most.   

As hopeful and positive as sales tax holidays are in their intentions to drive economic growth, there is ongoing debate over whether they actually encourage people to buy products and provide the revenue boost some economists predict.

In recent years, according to the National Retail Federation, parents went into August with 45 percent of their back-to-school shopping already completed. But in 2017, back-to-school weekend spending accounted for more than Mother’s Day, Fathers’ Day, Easter, and Valentine’s Day spending combined.

Is this a coincidence?

Some argue that sales tax holidays don’t actually encourage spending but rather just shift spending to a different time of year. And, it’s been noted that some retailers increase prices so that discounted items aren’t truly a better buy after all.

The Federal Reserve reported on the effects of sales tax holidays on consumer spending by citing an experiment in Massachusetts. The report suggested that a sales tax holiday prompted a net boost to retail spending over the whole month, rather than just a re-timing of spending within the month.

So, if it remains unseen whether tax-free holidays truly impact businesses or not, what should retailers do? Shoppers typically rejoice anytime there is a planned sale, but retailers often face added complexities around collecting sales tax when some items are or aren’t taxable. As a whole, it’s a good practice to honor the sales tax holidays in the states where you do business. With customers planning around tax-free deals and shopping the best sales, you don’t want to miss out.

Knowing that some online platforms make it difficult to pause sales tax collection could put sellers off of the idea. Amazon, for example, will honor sales tax holidays on school supplies, if your settings are configured correctly around item product tax codes. With this in mind, you’ll want to make sure your marketplace and checkout settings are configured accurately.

So, how can you prepare for these holidays?

First, figure out which states have sales tax holidays and if you have sales tax nexus in those states. If you don’t, then the sales tax holidays won’t affect you from a sales tax perspective. Just remember, even if you don’t have nexus in one state today, the laws are changing rapidly and some states will pass a sales tax holiday bill shortly before the sales tax holiday occurs. So, be sure to check back close to the actual holiday weekend.

Next, determine if the products are taxable, and at what rates. For the states where you have sales tax nexus, you’ll want to determine if your products are subject to the sales tax holidays in that state. For example, if you’re a clothing store but your state is only exempting energy-efficient appliances, then you’re probably going to be unaffected by any sales tax holidays.

Once you’re aware that what you’re selling is tax-free during a specific date range, you’ll want to make sure your shopping cart and marketplaces are set up in order to be compliant. At this time, not all shopping carts and marketplaces automatically handle tax-free holidays, so be sure to configure your systems for the right type of exemption.

Amazon, for example, won’t tax products with the product tax code “A_SCHL_SUPPLS” in states with a “Back to School Sales Tax Holiday,” if your product tax codes are set up correctly. You can read a guide to Amazon Product Tax Codes here.

Whether you decide to offer products tax-free on major sales tax holidays or not, outsourcing your sales tax to an automated solution like TaxJar will provide peace of mind around ensuring your shopping carts and product tax codes are correct and your shoppers remain satisfied customers.

jennifer taxjar

Jennifer Clark, TaxJar’s Content Marketing Manager, aims to simplify sales tax for eCommerce retailers through enjoyable, engaging content. A long-time writer, Jennifer enjoys tackling complex subjects, researching sales tax and SaaS industry news, and interacting with the digital TaxJar community through social media.