Intermittent Fasting: 3 Basic Mistakes Made By Beginners

Jeremy Scott
Written By: Jeremy Scott
June 3rd, 2013
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Fat Loss
153K Reads
Intermittent Fasting: 3 Basic Mistakes Made By Beginners
Don't fear the catabolic state. Hunger is not the enemy. Fitness model Jeremy Scott provides you with three basic intermittent fasting mistakes often made by beginners.

Since I've practiced intermittent fasting these past few years I no longer eat a traditional breakfast, or anything for the matter before 11am.

Over the past few years I have worked with numerous people who have wanted to attempt intermittent fasting. They practiced it in a variety of ways. Some have shared their stories, while others have inquired about the basics to see if it was for them.

When I first started intermittent fasting it was to get as lean as possible. After about a year my goal was to add some size, but also to keep the conditioning I had… going from 185 on average to 200lbs goal achieved via intermittent fasting.

You are reading that right. Getting shredded with intermittent fasting was rather simple. You can also gain lean quality muscle size with this approach as well. I am living proof.

How was I able to do this? By not making the 3 most basic mistakes I see numerous other people making when they dive into the world of intermittent fasting.

Don’t get me wrong, like anything it’s a learning process. The biggest thing for me was that I am able to live my life a little more freely due to intermittent, as opposed to my old Tupperware eating every few hours life. For anyone not super familiar with intermittent fasting already here is an original article I wrote a few years back on the basics.

Here are the 3 most basic mistakes to avoid if you wish to be successful when intermittent fasting.

Mistake # 1 – You Fear Being Hungry Even A Little Bit

Intermittent FastingWe all get hungry. That’s just a part of life. Whether you practice intermittent fasting or eat out of a Tupperware container every 2 hours like clockwork, you will be hungry from time to time.

I remember hearing the phrase years ago when trying to put on size: “if you're hungry it’s too late.” This idea was based off the concept that your body might jump into some crazy catabolic state if you start to feel a strong hunger sensation.

I am here to tell you from personal experience that being hungry for a few hours is ok. All of your muscle will not disappear. I am living proof, as are hundreds of others out there who practice intermittent fasting and carry around decent muscle size.

I am 6’2 about 200lbs on average all year round. (Or bigger) I have been eating this way for years and have done nothing but gain quality size. Typically once per week I fast a full 24 hours just to clean my system out completely. And guess what? My muscle still remains intact.

Trust me guys, all your hard work will not vanish if you take a few hours off from feeding. The reality is that your digestive system could use a break from digesting food every second of the day.

You can go 16-18-20-22-even 24 hours without food. Your body is an amazing machine that can and will adapt to various conditions. Short term fasting like this, for let’s say 16 hours, will not cause major muscle breakdown. There are numerous studies out there that show this.

I typically train fasted as well – no food pre-workout at all depending on the day and the training session/type. Sometimes I even wait a few hours post workout to have my first meal.

Although post workout I typically get nutrients in within an hour or so – the point I am trying to make is being hungry is normal and ok. Don’t fear the hunger. Think of your body as a fat burning furnace. It burns fat until you start shoving food into it. This might help cure the fear.

Mistake #2 – You Are Eating Junk Food A Majority Of The Time

Like any nutritional plan, whether it be intermittent fasting or the standard 6-8 meals a day bodybuilding routine, if you eat processed junk you will not be successful in the long run. They say you can’t build a million dollar body from the dollar menu, and this really is 100% true.

If you struggle with fat loss while using intermittent fasting, odds are you have some issues with the quality of your macros and/or the amount of them you are consuming. You can’t eat 2 bags of Oreos to break your fast and think it’s ok, since you fasted for 16 hour and are “starving”…it doesn’t work that way.

With any nutritional plan your best bet is to start small with what I call simple stupid. If it runs, swims, flies, grows from the earth, eat it. If it’s in a bag or a box leave it. This works for just about any nutritional plan and intermittent fasting is no different. I am not saying you have to jump head first into the Paleo train, but eating meats, veggies, and healthy fats typically works for me and my clients.

Intermittent fasting is not a pass to just eat shit all day because you're eating in a smaller window. With anything it’s what you put into it – fill your body clean quality whole foods you will look like Rambo, fill it with sugary processed trash and look like a large number of the current population.

I will say this again there is NO nutritional plan where you can eat a majority of junk foods and look your absolute best – organic, fresh, clean, whole foods will build you up to your full potential…but on that note a few cookies or slices of pizza won’t kill you either, in moderation of course.

Intermittent Fasting

Mistake # 3 – You Are A Clock Watcher – Waiting To Binge

Let’s say you start with the standard 16-8. Fast 16 hours eat 8 hours. If you sleep 8 hours a day and stop eating 4 hours before bed – and wait 4 hours before eating, you really are only awake 8 hours of your fast. In reality it’s not that long to go without food, and honestly that is what fasting is about in a sense: learning to “go without”.

Not to get all philosophical, but there is a lot to learn about yourself, your dedication and drive, from fasting on a regular basis or making it a way of life. However, many beginners become clock watchers just waiting, planning and thinking about their chance to eat again because they are worried they are “starving.” You're not starving. Your body can go days without food.

The reality is you are bored, or fixated on a meal. If you can see past the 16 hour window and just focus on your job, training, your family, and your life you will do much better right off the bat with intermittent fasting. If you sit and watch the clock, waiting and thinking about food, of course you will drive yourself crazy and magnify the feeling for wanting to give in.

At first it’s a hard transition from going between one meal every 2 hours after waking up to sleep to nothing for hours and hours. Trust me, after about a week you will fine. Just live your life.

Pre-occupy your time with things that matter – there is much more to live than food prep, cleaning Tupperware, and eating every 120 minutes. You will probably find you are more productive with intermittent fasting then your standard nutritional plan.

On this same note don’t feel you must fast all 16 hours each day exactly. If you make it 14 hours on day one, great that’s a start. Maybe day 2 you go the full 16 hours. Maybe you become engaged at work or on a family trip and don’t eat for 18 hours…the point is intermittent fasting is intended to make your life easier, more efficient and make you a lean, ripped, sexy beast.

It’s not meant to hold you prisoner to a clock or an eating schedule. That is the beauty of it – don’t be a clock watcher – plan your fast. Eat when it’s over. If you are hungry or extend it a few hours if that fits your lifestyle better. The point is you make intermittent fasting fit your life, not the other way around. You now have the flexibility to make those decisions and not be a clock watcher in fear of losing muscle, going catabolic or whatever other fear is instilled in your for missing a meal.

I hope if you guys decide to jump into the intermittent fasting world you will do so with full force. For me it has it taken my physique to another level, but from a health standpoint as well.

I feel like a rock star, and am the strongest, healthiest and happiest I have been my entire life. Having the flexibility to travel, attend events, train, or whatever I choose to do and not have to worry about meal prep and going “catabolic” is worth more than anything.

It’s not for everyone but it just might be for you. Give it a shot and remember start small and progress as you get more comfortable with the intermittent fasting lifestyle.

Photo Credits:

Straight 8 Custom Photography


Posted on: Tue, 09/27/2016 - 23:48

Question: Will intermittent fasting cause stomach ulcer?

Posted on: Sat, 09/17/2016 - 11:05

I've been fasting for the last week (18 /6). Is it normal to run a low grade fever as your body adjusts? I don't know if it's a coincidence that I've been feeling a little ill and running slight fever- or if I'm just sick.

Posted on: Sun, 03/15/2015 - 18:53

What exactly do you mean when you say "clean your system out" with a 24 hour fast? what do you think your system has in it that needs to be "cleaned out" and how do you think 24 hour fast will do that? just curious as to what you mean here from a physiological point of view

Posted on: Sat, 04/11/2015 - 01:15

Metabolic waste and toxins..... a 24 hour fast would clean out quite a few of both....

Samuel Harris
Posted on: Sun, 04/26/2015 - 09:39

I think the term "system clean out" is interpreted strangely. Our internal organs do that for us.. But there is a certain psychological feeling that allows you to feel "renewed". Especially when it comes to doing a 24 hour fast. Also, I believe it would allow for all of the food in your body to completely empty. Leaving your body empty and "refreshed".

John C Parson
Posted on: Tue, 03/22/2016 - 14:43

Not that takes about 3 or 4 days to completely empty out, and that with the help of a mild laxative before bed, like "smooth move" tea, then the next morning you will drink a fairly warm pint of water with a teaspoon of sea salt in it. Then hang around the bathroom for a half hour or until you get it all out. Do this for the first 3 days of a juice or lemonade fast.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 03/22/2016 - 16:04

Your body has its own internal system which is designed for filtration, it's called your kidneys and liver. If those aren't working then you've got bigger fish to fry and no "herbal cleanse" is going to solve that.

Fasting up regulates cellular apoptosis (self programmed cell death) which is one of the many reasons many intermittent fasting proponents promote it for "metabolic and cellular health benefits". On top of that, fasting also up regulates sympathetic nervous system output (i.e. cortisol, norepinephrine, etc.) which is why many feel "more energetic" during their fast. However, for some who have adrenal or HPA axis dysfunction, fasting is definitely not the right course of action.

Long story short, there's no need for a "cleanse" or "detox" protocol. Your body is a very resilient and adaptable organism. Any sort of perceived physiological benefit from a cleanse/detox (provided there is no obvious medical condition such bacterial overgrowth within the small intestine or the presence of a parasite) is merely placebo in nature.

Broderick Slaughter
Posted on: Sun, 03/15/2015 - 18:33

Is beverages ok, during the fasting period?

Posted on: Thu, 03/19/2015 - 07:27

after doing intermittent fasting for over a year and a half IMHO there's no magic. it's simply a great way to control your caloric intake, in that you can enjoy huge meals and easily stay lean. At the end of the day it's calories in vs calories out

Kris Gardiner
Posted on: Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:45

Where's the references backing the study's I'm not sayin it won't work but 16hrs no food daily an workin out daily your burnin more then puttin in you'll end up sick.

Posted on: Sun, 03/08/2015 - 23:36

This is only my opinion but I feel that the real studies come from, real people, in real life situations. You just read a real life study, in which if you research you can find countless exact stories of people who have been willing to do their own homework and are willing to give us their feedback on the"Real" studies that count. Good article!

Kris Gardiner
Posted on: Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:42

Ok I love the advice but where's the references to prove the study your goin on about 24hrs no food is a long time when you work out daily 3-4 hrs you'd make yaself sick. An daily no maybe once a week but daily I'd like references proving study an good health an fitness sites or forums have them at the end to prove the study's this has nothing to back up you clams

Posted on: Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:08

Do you have any studies to prove you will get sick? And I mean real studies not data mining. Humanity wouldn't exist if we were as frail as the fitness/health community tends to exaggerate. The simple fact that we store fat energy as fat disproves that claim.

Samuel Harris
Posted on: Sun, 04/26/2015 - 09:36

Give it a try.. I fast 20-23 hours every single day. I also workout 4 times a week for 1-3 hours a day + a 1-2 HIIT sessions a week. I ALWAYS workout fasted. So many people are scared of not eating...

Posted on: Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:29

It's sept 11 and i've lost 60 pounds since January 1st of this year. I went from 33% BF to 20% so far and the real fat loss came from my diet adjustment and when I started fasting. Your article was a good refresher on the tools I've already used to drop the weight. I'm shooting for 10 or maybe 8%. Fasting has definitely helped me achieve this goal

Posted on: Fri, 09/12/2014 - 00:48

I'm starting up on the IF diet. How do you recommend calculating how many calories to have and do you just eat 2 meals during the 8 hours?

Posted on: Mon, 03/10/2014 - 19:23

This article is on the money. I started IF almost 2.5 months ago. I went from 302 lbs to 265 lbs and counting. I feel better than I have since I was in my 20s (I'm in my mid 40s now). I can easily make this a lifetime change. It's really easy to do. I just pushed my breakfast back a few hours and ate for 8 hrs.

Hit the gym hard and you'll keep your muscles and even get stronger. I'm getting all kind of gains. I still have a little ice cream. I just keep track of it in my macros and wait till after my workouts. Not boatloads of ice cream. Just enough to keep me from falling off.

Posted on: Tue, 10/15/2013 - 14:59

I transitioned to IF a little over 2 months ago and have been slowly recompositioning. I feel like this article was spot on and very reassuring.

karthik sivadass
Posted on: Wed, 09/25/2013 - 14:42

i loved this blog was worth reading
i m super skinny with little muscles
i actually did IF once it causes me problems like weakness,headache,joint pain,and FEVER.
the thing is i go 2 days without eating problem but i couldnt sleep becuz of hunger .

Posted on: Tue, 08/27/2013 - 11:39

How do you get 2300 calories in a 8 hour window?? My biggest problem is getting the calories in that I need

Posted on: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 10:02

How do you get 2k + calories in an 8 hour window? and keep it "clean"

Posted on: Thu, 08/22/2013 - 09:45

My question is how do you get 2k + calories in an 8 hour window and keep it "clean".

Posted on: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 18:30

Hey I am currently training for a 10k race event. I run 4x a week. Is it better for you to run whilst in a fasted state? My evening runs tend to be more energetic than first thing in the morning! xx Thanks

Rene Mardis
Posted on: Tue, 08/20/2013 - 00:09

I'm new to IF, so what is the difference between IF and just drastically cutting calories? Do you still eat as many calories when you break your IF as the days you do not IF at all? Also I'm curious as to how many calories you do eat in a given day?

Jeremy Scott
Posted on: Mon, 08/19/2013 - 21:54

Santiago - just keep eating real clean foods and training hard and everything will work just fine - at the end of the day if you keep training hard and eating well in line with your goals only good things can happy it sometimes is just that easy!

Posted on: Tue, 07/23/2013 - 09:40

Hi, Jeremy; thanks for your advice, I am exactly the guy watching the clock to have a meal, suffering about the time.

What about, the sauna, steam room !!! I kinda feel loosing muscle.. These days I am trying to shower with cold water only.

What you recommed !!!


Jeremy Scott
Posted on: Thu, 06/13/2013 - 22:41

Hey guys let me try and tackle a few of these at a time....

1- When I fast the only thing I take is my supplements - mulit-vitamins, maybe a few fat burners, a shot of apple cider vin. and water - other than that just green tea or espresso until I eat -

2- when i fast for 24 hours same thing - nothing water and green tea basically

3 - most days I train fasted or will break my fast right before training with a protein shake with chia ect- pending on how late in the day it is how hungry I get ect-

4. -i have written an article on CBL - simply google Jeremy Scott Carb Back Loading and it should come up - I will write another one for M & S here in a few weeks

5. -Right now how I eat is basically a hybrid of IF and CBL - when I am trying to put in size I basically just back load a higher carb number post training - still using all the IF protocols

6- I have not heard of anyone getting an ulcer from not eating ect- for 16 hours or using IF - I will have to do some research on it

Hope that got most of the questions I wil check back in a few days thanks guys

Posted on: Wed, 06/12/2013 - 22:54

Hey Jeremy,

I'm already on IF for a month now and i've already loss some pounds already and start seeing good muscle form... just wanna ask if its ok to take fat burners while on IF. Thinking, if i could use Fat Burners before my workouts to maximize fat loss. I also have my first meal after my workout. Love this lifestyle!

Will wait for u'r reply...


Posted on: Wed, 06/12/2013 - 02:09

This awesome I have been doing for a week and lost 5lbs !

Posted on: Tue, 06/11/2013 - 23:43

Hey Jeremy,
During the 24hr fast, would taking a protein shake as bfast, lunch and dinner nullify the fast? I'm under the impression that your body will use fat in order to process the protein.
Thank you

Posted on: Tue, 06/11/2013 - 03:55

Hey Jeremy.
Since I'm up at 4AM and in the gym at 5AM, Does the fasting also include not taking my Protein Supplement Shake after training, then at 10am again and could I continue drinking my water?

Posted on: Wed, 06/12/2013 - 02:10

No you have take the protein supplement when you break the fast

Posted on: Sun, 06/09/2013 - 13:23

Hey Jeremy Ive been doing a Leangains style IF protocol for a while (actually your first article on it is how I discovered IF over a year ago) and gotten great results but lookibg to add more mass. Would you think carb back loading would be better for this? Also it would be great if you could write an article on CBL and conpare to a 16/8 IF diet.

Justin H
Posted on: Thu, 06/06/2013 - 15:50

Hey Jeremy. Say I'm trying to hit 3200cal a day to bulk currently. Once I start doing IF, am I still aiming for 3200cal a day during the 8 hour feed? Or do the macro's change when doing IF?

Posted on: Sat, 06/08/2013 - 15:46

That is a good question, I am new to IF and was wondering the same thing. Would it be a good Idea to take a muscle gaining shake during the 8 hour window of opportunity?

Posted on: Thu, 06/06/2013 - 03:44

Hello Jeremy! Great article. I find the logic of intermittent fasting here. However, it makes me worry that I might have an ulcer for not eating for extended hours. People keep saying that, even doctors. What can you say about that? Thanks!

Posted on: Wed, 06/05/2013 - 01:52

Great advice. I've been Intermittent fasting for just over a week now, and while only a short amount of time to assess a change, I feel so much better and can definitely see this as a long term change.

I always had a perception that not eating would cause muscle loss, lower metabolism, and cause a drop in energy. This is simply not the case, as I've felt more energetic than ever before, especially after the stage where I've been fasting 12 hours. Using the 16/8 schedule but may also throw in a 24 hour fast once in a while to clean my system out.

Posted on: Mon, 06/03/2013 - 21:04

Hi Jeremy. Im currently traying to get muscle (im kinda skinny fat) and need to lose some pounds from the gut and I was wondering if that kind of lifestyle can apply even when im trying to get muscle or just once I get muscle. Besides the fasting, should i do some form of cardio? Thx for all

Jeremy Scott Fitness
Posted on: Tue, 06/04/2013 - 19:05

It's a broad question - honestly the biggest thing is the eating - for cardio I do less than you would think and for sure never on a treadmill or machine junk - HITT- sprints - ropes - circuit style ect- start with the IF get your macros in order and just keep strength training and if you love the cardio keep it to HITT maybe 2 a week should be a good start