- 60 Names for Sugar: The Myths, The Facts, and What You Should Know - February 12, 2024
- Your First 3 Months with Zero: What to Expect - January 22, 2024
- Simple Habits That Boost Weight Loss and Fat Burning During Your Eating Window - December 4, 2023
If you’re just getting started with Zero, welcome! By downloading the Zero app, you’ve just taken the first — and often the hardest — step towards burning fat, losing weight, and gaining health. You’ve committed.
That said, it can be overwhelming to think of what you want to accomplish over multiple months. To set yourself up for success, scale back to something achievable: forming a single foundational habit, fasting, in 28 days. Begin by reading the guidance in “Your First 28 Days with Zero,” and then come back here when you’re ready to keep going.
If you’ve already spent 28 days with Zero, congratulations! You hit your first major milestone and are already seeing many of the myriad benefits of consistent daily fasts. It’s time to make progress towards the next benchmark: 3 months.
Making Progress in Your First 3 Months
If You’re a Beginner
If you’re just starting out with Zero, your number-one goal is to focus on getting consistent with your fasts. Check out “Your First 28 Days with Zero” for guidance, and join Zero’s 28-Day Fasting Challenge for an extra dose of accountability.
If you’ve made it through 28 days and are still not fasting most days of the week or reaching peak Fat Burning regularly (which typically means hitting the 16–18-hour mark), try adding other habits to your routine that can make fasting feel easier. For instance, starting your Timer two hours before bed helps you begin your fast earlier and eliminate excess calories from post-dinner drinks and late-night snacks. In turn, this can improve the quality of your sleep and enhance your fasts! When you get enough high-quality sleep, your body produces less of the hunger hormone ghrelin, so your fasts will feel easier. Sufficient sleep also helps you maintain sensitivity to insulin, a good thing for fat burning as well as long-term metabolic health.
If You’re Intermediate or Advanced
After about a month of consistent fasting with Zero, you’re no longer a beginner! You may notice that fasting is now a fixture within your daily routine. When not fasting feels odd, that’s a good sign you’re ready to continue refining your health habits. (And if you want support to stay accountable along the way, join Zero’s 3-Month Fasting Challenge!)
A key health habit you can adopt to increase Fat Burning is fasted exercise. Cardio and strength training speed up the rate at which your body burns stored fuel, which gets it into peak Fat Burning quicker. Work towards getting at least 20 minutes of mixed-intensity cardio 3–5 times a week and strength training 2–3 times a week. And don’t forget to fit in zone-2 exercise when you can, since it’s the level of intensity that produces the most fat burning. While there is no bad time to work out, scheduling your movement in the morning, prior to breaking your fast, can provide additional fat-burning benefits by ramping up your fat-burning capacity both during exercise and in the hours after.
Outside of your fasting window, the most significant change you can make is to eat a low-carb meal right before your fast. (If you divided up your plate, only one third — or less — would be filled with carbohydrates.) By entering your fast with fewer dietary carbohydrates in your system, your body can get started burning through your stored carbs (i.e., liver glycogen) sooner. When those levels drop below a certain point, that’s a sign for your body to “flip the metabolic switch” and start burning a much higher proportion of fat than carbs — all of which you can make happen faster simply by eating fewer carbs (especially those that are highly processed, like prepackaged cookies, chips, or sugary drinks) at your last meal of the day.
After 3 Months with Zero…
You’ll have lost more weight (particularly fat!) and improved numerous markers of metabolic health, such as metabolic flexibility, blood-sugar fluctuations, and heart health. You might even find yourself thinking more clearly and being in a consistently better mood! That’s because you’re committed to letting your Timer run for 12–18 hours between your last meal today and your first meal tomorrow, and you’ve been doing this week after week after week.
Because the first few pounds of weight are often the easiest to lose, the rate of weight loss you initially experienced in the first 28 days with Zero may slow. This is especially true if you are getting closer to your goal weight. But don’t get discouraged! The scale often doesn’t tell the full story. The first stage of weight loss generally includes a mix of stored carbohydrates, protein, water weight, and (of course) body fat. As you hit your 90-day stride, the weight loss you are experiencing likely reflects a higher rate of fat loss — the stuff you really want to lose (which is also a great thing for your metabolic health)!
When most people say they want to lose weight, they actually mean they want to lose fat and improve body composition — and intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to do that. On average, if you stick to a fasting window of at least 12 hours, you can expect to see a 1–4% reduction in body fat within your first three months with Zero. If you can increase that fasting window beyond 12 hours, all the better; in a study comparing unrestricted eating with an 8-hour eating window (i.e., fasting for 16 hours), subjects maintained their metabolically active muscle tissue and reduced body fat percentage by 4%. What’s more, they saw an 11% reduction in visceral fat, the more sinister type of fat that surrounds your internal organs and is strongly linked to chronic disease.
Increased Metabolic Flexibility
One of the most impactful changes brought about by intermittent fasting is your body becoming metabolically flexible, i.e., learning to switch more easily between burning carbohydrates and burning fat for fuel.
Metabolic flexibility is difficult to measure outside of the research lab. However, as your body learns to burn stored body fat, rather than just glucose from your last meal, you’ll experience fewer energy swings, and fasting will become easier. Other signs that you’re becoming more metabolically flexible include: less frequent hunger pangs between meals, the ability to more easily handle 1–2 hours of moderate fasted exercise (no “slogging through” or merely “surviving”), and fewer episodes of “the hangries.”
Better Blood-Sugar Control
When you eat around the clock, your blood-glucose levels are consistently elevated, and your body responds by pumping out plenty of insulin to keep those glucose levels from becoming too high. The issue — aside from developing insulin resistance, which can lead to type-2 diabetes — is that too much insulin inhibits Fat Burning. If you want to burn more fat, you need to lower your insulin levels. Fasting 12–18 hours per day achieves this: It reduces the amount of insulin your body needs to produce, thereby leveling out your blood sugar, decreasing your tendency to store fat, and setting you up to enter Fat Burning.
Improved Cardiovascular Markers
Lower levels of circulating glucose — thanks to your daily fasts — can lead to improvements in nearly all of your body’s organs, including the heart. In a recent study of firefighters who fasted for 14 of their 24-hour work shifts, markers of cardiovascular health, including VLDL or “bad cholesterol” particle size and blood pressure, were reduced. Intermittent fasting likely improves heart health at least in part by reducing inflammation — a mechanism that can help prevent many different types of chronic diseases.
Boost in Mood and Cognitive Performance
Improvements in mental health, self-reported quality of life, and emotional well-being have all been tied to intermittent fasting. In the aforementioned firefighter study, subjects reported feeling more in control of their health. Further subjective benefits revealed in other studies include clearer thinking and less hunger, despite a spontaneous reduction in calories that is often a byproduct of intermittent fasting.
One last important note: It may sound obvious, but remember that no two people are alike. Differences in your individual physiology combined with differences in your specific approach to fasting and lifestyle factors (like sleep, stress, exercise, and food choices) mean that your results can, and will, vary. With that said, you will almost certainly see benefits after 90 days with Zero, so be sure you’re not limiting your assessment of “is it working?” to a single measure!
Beyond 3 Months: Sticking to Your New Lifestyle with Zero
So, you’ve been faithfully logging your fasts for 3 months. Way to go! But now what?
While you may have heard that it takes just 21 days to form a habit, that turns out to be a bit of a myth. More updated research suggests that it can take more than six months to turn a behavior change into a habit, but a daily nudge (like that notification from Zero to log your next fast) can increase the long-term adoption of the habit by as much as a factor of four.
As you continue on your journey, keep logging your fasts and complementary healthy habits, and don’t worry too much if you miss a day here and there. Habit research tells us that missing a day once in a while won’t ruin your chances of turning a new habit into lasting behavior change, nor will it “ruin all your progress.” Nothing about what you’re doing with Zero is “all or nothing” — that’s what makes it so sustainable.
Conclusion: Burn Fat, Lose Weight, and Craft a New, Healthy Lifestyle in 3 Months with Zero
Zero unlocks the opportunity between your last meal today and your fist meal tomorrow to burn fat faster for simple, sustainable weight loss and better health. 90 days is enough time to establish a strong foundation and make big strides towards improving your metabolic health — from weight loss to improved glucose control and even a better mood. Remember: This is only the beginning. Keep going with Zero to unlock your true health potential.