Losing weight can feel like a monumental task. You might get overwhelmed thinking about what diet to follow, what workout plans to choose, or what to eat and how often. But what if there was a strategy that could take all the guesswork out of weight loss? Intermittent fasting, or avoiding calories for a period of time, is a simple way to control your weight that doesn’t require you to follow a specific diet, count calories, measure food, or follow other complicated rules. Best of all, it’s free, almost anyone can do it, and it can help you hit your target weight.

There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting for weight loss. If your New Year’s resolution is to improve your health, the following 31 daily challenges are for you. These activities are designed to gradually get you into the habit of fasting, explore different ways to do it, and choose the more appropriate for you in the long-term. Here are some of the fasting modalities you will encounter in our challenges:

Time-restricted eating: This involves consuming all of your meals within a period of 4-12 hours in a day. For example, you could choose to have your meals and calories between 8 am and 6 pm. Limiting your calorie intake to daylight hours is called “eating with the sun”. Time-restricted eating is particularly beneficial if you eat your meals before sunset. Not only does this help you eliminate bad habits like late-night snacking, but it improves your sleep and blood sugar control. Over time, time-restricted eating can lower your blood sugar levels, make you more sensitive to insulin, and reduce your blood pressure. 

See how Shannon lost 85 pounds in 10 months with time-restricted eating.

One-meal-a-day (OMAD): This involves packing all of your day’s calories in a single meal that you consume within 1-2 hours. A small study conducted by Dr. Jason Fung’s research group showed that fasting for 24 hours 3 times a week and eating only dinner on fasting days, eliminated the need for insulin in type-2 diabetic patients. This fasting approach also resulted in improved HbA1C, lower body mass index, and reduced waist circumference.

See how Martine lost 80 pounds in a year using OMAD.

Alternate-day Fasting: This involves alternating between days in which you consume no calories and days in which you eat normally.  This way of fasting increases life span in rodents by 80%, possibly by decreasing glucose levels and regulating insulin. It also reduces the incidence of cancer in lab animals genetically predisposed to it. Alternate-day fasting is the most studied method of fasting in humans, and it’s been shown to lead to weight loss and to improve heart health, as it reduces circulating levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol.

 Are you ready to give intermittent fasting a try? Let’s begin!

Keep track of your fasts with our LIFE Fasting tracker app.

Download a visual calendar of the following challenges here.

Friday, January 1st- Reflect 

Happy new year! 2020 was difficult for all of us, but today we get to start over. Today is a day to appreciate THIS day, the beginning of another year. Commit to living in the present and to appreciating the newness of each day.  Take a few minutes to reflect on your past successes and failures and decide on new goals for the year ahead. What do you want to achieve this year? What are you most looking forward to?

water from jug pouring into glass on wooden table outdoors
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during fasting.

Saturday, January 2nd- Let’s start fasting!

Let’s start fasting! If it’s your first time, reflect on your eating habits. Do you snack in between meals or after dinner? If so, try a 10-12 hour fast overnight. This means you finish dinner by 7 pm, for example, and don’t eat anything else until 7 am the next day (This is called time-restricted eating!). If you usually don’t feel the need to eat after dinner or between meals, try a 14-16 hour fast (For example, finish dinner by 6 pm and don’t eat again until 10 am the next day). If you are an experienced faster, try fasting for at least 18 hours today! Drink water to keep you both hydrated and distracted from hunger. If you need the caffeine, drink unsweetened black coffee and tea.

Sunday, January 3rd- Do a water-only fast

Today, try drinking only water during your fast. If you must have caffeine, try only drinking unsweetened black coffee or tea. Continue fasting for at least 12-16 hours overnight. 

Monday, January 4th- Eliminate snacks in between meals 

Try eliminating snacks in between meals today. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry, as you might just be stressed out, anxious, or bored. Find something to occupy your mind, or try some breathing exercises to relax. If your hunger is real, have a meal instead of a snack. Continue fasting for 12-16 hours.

Tuesday, January 5th- Fast for one hour longer than you did yesterday

Now that you are comfortable with the 12-16 hour overnight fast, try fasting for one more hour today. Journal about how you are feeling and note whether a shorter fast would work better for you, or whether you are ready to fast a bit longer. 

Wednesday, January 6th- Eat with the sun today 

“Eating with the sun” or eating earlier in the day makes you be more in tune with your internal biological clocks, which has been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce blood pressure. Try to have your last meal by sunset (or 6 or 7 pm if it gets darker earlier where you live). Try to fast until at least 7 am in the morning or later.

Assortment of products with high sugar level like candies, gummy candies, soda, donuts, chocolate, lollipop, wafers and cupcakes on rustic wooden table. Low key DSLR photo taken with Canon EOS 6D Mark II and Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L
Carbs and sugar can make you hungry faster than other food groups.

Thursday, January 7th-  Skip the added sugar tonight

Consuming foods high in carbs and added sugar during your last meal can make it harder for you to fast the next day. These foods don’t do much to fill you up and instead make you hungry faster. Try skipping anything that contains added sugar tonight. This includes desserts, soda, sweet tea, etc. Include protein, olive oil or avocado oil in your last meal to help you stay full. If you still crave something sweet, have some fruit! Continue fasting for 12-16 hours a day. 

Friday, January 8th- Try a 18-19 hour fast today

It’s time to tighten up your daily eating window, as long as you feel up for it. Try an 18-19 hour overnight fast. Always take note of how you feel and stop early if you feel dizzy or have a headache.

Saturday, January 9th- Keep yourself busy

During the last hour of your fast today, go outside for a walk, get some cleaning done, or schedule a phone call to stay occupied. You will probably be most tempted to break your fast during your last hour, so it’s a good idea to keep yourself distracted during that time until it’s finally time to eat.

Sunday, January 10th- Break your fast with a smoothie! 

Break your fast with this berry bomb smoothie created by chef Stephanie Krisman. 

Berry Bomb Smoothie

Yield: 16 oz 

1⁄3 cup frozen blueberries

1⁄3 cup diced organic strawberries 1⁄3 cup frozen raspberries

1⁄3 cup blackberries

1 whole, peeled banana

1⁄2 cup whole milk kefir

1⁄3 cup pomegranate juice

1 Tbl manuka honey

1tsp ground flax seed

1tsp ground chia seeds

*Mix all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth and creamy.

an asian chinese mid adult woman enjoying her breakfast at home in the morning on tatami mat
Eat without distractions.

Monday, January 11th- Break your fast mindfully

Before you have your first meal today, practice the following mindful eating exercise by Susan McClain, founder of the Natural Success Institute and LIFE apps’ mindfulness coach.  

  1. Close your eyes and picture your favorite meal. Notice the different colors, textures, and aromas on your plate. 
  2. Picture yourself picking a bite of food with a fork. Notice its color, texture, and aroma.
  3. Imagine that you take a bite. Pay attention to the texture and the flavors you can taste. Notice any salt, pepper, or vinegar, and any other spices.
  4. As you take more bites, stop and tune in to how your body feels. Are you satisfied? Do you feel like you need a bite of something else?

This is what mindful eating will feel like when you do it in real life. You’ll be forced to slow down and pay attention to all of your senses. Break your fast with your favorite meal or try this rotisserie chicken salad. What do you taste? Smell? See? How does it feel?

Tuesday, January 12th- Try a fasted workout

Endurance training in the fasted state increases fat burning compared to exercising after you have eaten. When you are fasting, your insulin levels become low and when you exercise your adrenaline and cortisol increase. The combination of low insulin and high adrenaline and cortisol increase fat burning significantly! Try working out while fasted today. If you are worried you’ll get dizzy, try a lighter work out until you get used to it.

Wednesday, January 13th- fast for 20 hours today! 

Drink water to keep you both hydrated and distracted from hunger. If you need the caffeine, drink unsweetened black coffee and tea.

If you’re tempted to break your fast early, do this exercise by Marisa Moon called “Declaring Value”:

  1.  With pen and paper, list the reasons you want to eat and break your fast
  2. List the reasons you “should” fast as planned
  3. How do you feel about breaking your fast now? This exercise helps most people to see the cost-benefit analysis in favor of fasting, (a.k.a declare the value of “sticking to it”)

Thursday, January 14th- Avoid looking at your social media for the last 2 hours of your fast

Social media is plagued with pictures of food, which can make it a lot harder to stick to your fast. Avoid doomscrolling for the last 2 hours of your fast today and stay as far away from the kitchen as possible to avoid temptations.

Friday, January 15th- Try MCT oil

MCT oil is a supplement made from a type of fat called medium -chain triglycerides and derived from coconut or palm kernel oil. It’s absorbed directly into your bloodstream and it’s turned into ketones. Adding this supplement while you’re fasting can help you get to fat-burning mode (ketosis) faster. Try it in your coffee, tea, or water today. 

Saturday, January 16th- Fast, even on weekends

It might be difficult to stick to fasting on weekends, but instead of stopping fasting altogether, do this: Fast for 12-14 hours overnight and incorporate some of the things you were lacking while still eating mindfully. This will make it easier to get back to your usual fasting schedule after the weekend is over.

Closeup young sporty woman fitness trainer do bodyweight squats practice squatting exercise with hands clasped bending forward keep fit in modern gym wooden floor healthy lifestyle concept copy space
Resistance training can help you preserve muscle mass and strength.

Sunday, January 17th-  Add resistance training to your exercise routine today

Intermittent fasting paired with resistance training helps you maintain your lean muscle mass at the same time that it helps you lose fat. Resistance training, including lifting weights, using resistance bands, or your own body weight, can help you preserve muscle and maintain strength while you practice fasting. Try lifting light-to-medium weight dumbbells or using resistance bands. You can also try some push ups, lunges, or squats if you’re up for it!

Monday, January 18th- Try OMAD today

OMAD (one meal a day) is a popular intermittent fasting protocol. While it is important to make sure that your calorie consumption is adequate during long-term OMAD, integrating an occasional OMAD day to change up your fasting schedule can help you get the scale moving. There are many ways to do OMAD. Some people fast for 20 hours and eat during the remainder 4 hours, while others fast for 23 hours and have their one meal in a span of 1 hour. Do whatever works for you! Try to finish your one meal by 8pm tonight!

Tuesday, January 19th- Switch it up! Try a different fasting schedule today

Switching up your fasting schedule can take many forms. Option one would be to shrink your eating window. For example, if your eating window is 8 hours, try to shrink it to 4 hours or under. If your eating window is already under 4 hours, option 2 is to try expanding it to 6-8 hours (You should be doing this 2-3 times a week to avoid undereating). Option 3 is moving your eating window. For example, If you usually eat between 12 and 6pm, try eating between 8 am and 3 pm. Once you do it, tell us! Was it easier? Harder? Not realistic for your schedule? We’d love to know.

Wednesday, January 20st- Try a keto meal today

Although following a specific diet is not required for weight loss success with intermittent fasting, a ketogenic diet (low-carb, high fat) has been shown to help diabetics control their blood sugar and lead to weight loss at least in the short term. Today, fast for 16-23 hours and break your fast with a low carb, high fat meal. These keto avocado tacos are very easy to make and only have 367 calories, 8 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein, and 30 grams of fat per serving ( ½ avocado + toppings). 

Thursday, January 21st- Exercise to distract yourself from hunger

The last 2 hours of a fast are the hardest and it’s when you’re most likely to cave. Try doing a workout 2 hours before your fast is over. Your appetite goes down when you work out and it usually doesn’t come back until the next hour. This is likely due to the effects of fasted workouts on increasing cellular recycling (autophagy) in your body. Your cells ramp up autophagy when nutrients are low, or when there is increased demand for energy—  a.k.a when you’re fasting or working out. When you fast or exercise, your body takes damaged components and turns them into things it can use. This provides your cells with sugars and other building blocks that can power you through a fast or a workout!

Selection of healthy fat sources. Rustic background.
Healthy fats are filling and don’t spike your blood sugar the way carbs do.

Friday, January 22nd- Break your fast with healthy fats!

Healthy fats don’t raise your blood sugar as much as carbs and they are great for making you feel full. Include plant-based sources such as olive and avocado oil, olives, avocados, and nuts and seeds like walnuts, macadamia nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds in your meals today. Continue fasting for 16-23 hours.

Saturday, January 23rd- Aim for 7 hours of sleep

When fasting for weight loss, don’t forget about other factors that make it more difficult for you to lose weight.  Sleeping less than 7 hours per night causes you to consume more calories, especially at night when your body is less prepared to handle sugar. The National Sleep Foundation currently recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults aged 18 to 64. Aim for 7 hours of sleep tonight. If you usually have trouble sleeping, following these sleep hygiene habits could help. 

Sunday, January 24th-  reflect 

By now, you have tried different fasting lengths and schedules. Which one adapts better to your lifestyle? Do that fast today!

Monday, January  25th- Try a 24-hour fast! 

If you are up for it, try fasting for 24 hours. Drink plenty of water, and if you need the caffeine, drink unsweetened black coffee or tea. 

Tuesday, January 26th –  fast for 14-16 hours 

After a long 24 hour fast, you deserve a break. You get to eat 3 meals today to replenish your body and prepare yourself for the remainder challenges- alternate-day fasting! Make sure your last meal today is filling and contains protein, healthy fats like nuts, olive or avocado oil, and little to no carbs or sugar. 

Wednesday, January 27th- Try a modified 36 hour fast! 

Alternate-day fasting involves fasting one day and eating normally then next. This usually means a 36-hour fast in which you don’t consume any calories for a full day and wait until the next day to eat. Most studies that use this fasting protocol allow up to 500 calories per day on fasting days. This type of modified fast can be considered a one-meal-a-day (OMAD) fast if you consume your 500 calories in a single meal, though you also have the option of  consuming them during a time-restricted eating schedule (For example, between 9am and 5pm).  To do this modified fast, focus on low carbohydrate and low protein foods that contain high dietary fiber, unsweetened teas and coffee, and water. For example, you might enjoy a 100-calorie packet of almonds, some green matcha tea, a few raw vegetable slices dipped in olive oil, kale chips, raw coconut shreds, etc. You can also try what our CEO did during a modified 5-day fast:  Mix a couple of cups of mixed greens with a tablespoon of olive oil, some salt, and a dozen almonds. This single “meal” has 250 calories. 

Pro Tip: Wait until after your workout to eat your fasting day calories, because you’ll likely be most hungry at that time anyway. If you eat before, you’ll be tempted to eat more afterwards and go over 500 calories.

Thursday, January 28th- Recover and reflect

Journal about your experience with a modified 36-hour fast. How did you feel? How difficult was it to stay under 500 calories? Would you do it again?  To recover, eat 2-3 meals today in a time-restricted schedule, for example between 10 and 6 pm. To prep for tomorrow’s challenge, make sure your last meal is filling and contains protein, healthy fats like nuts, olive or avocado oil, and little to no carbs or sugar. 

Friday, January 29th- Try a true 36-hour fast!

If you are up for it, consume no calories at all today and wait until tomorrow morning to have a meal. This will be similar to a 24-hour fast, except that you will go to sleep without having dinner and instead you would eat the next morning when you wake up. Alternatively, fast for whatever amount of time you feel comfortable with. Drink plenty of water, stay busy, do breathing exercises when the hunger pangs strike, and most importantly, listen to your body. Break your fast early if you feel dizzy or have a headache. Journal about how you feel throughout the day. Were you tempted to end your fast early? What did you do?

Saturday, January 30th- Recover and reflect 

Fasts of 36 hours and under usually don’t affect your digestive enzymes and you should be able to handle food just like any other day. To be cautious, include foods that are easy to digest in your first meal, such as yogurt, oatmeal, broth or soup. Journal about how you felt doing a 36 hour fast. What was going through your mind? Was it easier or harder compared with the modified fast? Would you do it again?

Sunday, January 31st- Celebrate! 

You did it!  What changes have you noticed in yourself? Are you feeling more energy? Is your health improving? Are your clothes fitting better? Are you losing weight and/or inches? Celebrate with a 16-hour fast and one of these delicious zucchini recipes. If you followed along with all or most of these challenges, send us an email at learn@lifeomic.com and tell us how it went and how it helped you— This is where the journaling you did throughout the month will come in handy!

The above is not medical advice. Prior to participating in any wellness challenge, you are encouraged to consult a qualified health professional.