Is it for you?
A quick guide to intermittent fasting
Intermittent Fasting has quickly become one of the hottest 2019 New Year's Eve Resolutions. Along with the typical lose weight, eat healthier, workout more. Reality is, intermittent fasting has been around for centuries, but why now is it one of the hottest trends in the health industry? Aside from actually having more legit studies done with training moderate healthy individuals; several celebs have been posting and boasting about "Intermittent Fasting" and attribute their weight loss and or getting toned to it. Over the last few years it has become the Hollywood trend with Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Terry Cruz, Chris Hemsworth, just to name a few, which shows the power of influencers on the rest of the world.
One of the main reasons for its popularity is because of the true results as well as the execution process of being so easy. When I first started fasting (for my 2019 NYE resolution),... I thought starving my body for long periods of time was not going to be fun. Took my body a couple weeks to adjust, but now it is more of just a lifestyle, rather than "diet". The simplicity of still eating what I like, (still healthy), but with just a time constraint, makes it a win win for me!
Trust me, through my journey (for about a month now), some days have been easy, and others have been a little more difficult. In the beginning, I often didn't realize I was "messing up". But I would accidentally chew a piece of gum or eat a mint. And usually it wasn't until after the fact that I would realize I "messed up" and really couldn't do anything about it. Once you put anything into your mouth (other than black coffee, green tea, or water), you have "broken your fast". Hence the term breakfast, your body is "breaking- (its)-fast".
So what exactly is intermittent fasting? and how does it work? Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting can improve your metabolic health. It can also help you live a longer life, by helping protect you from some diseases, promotes cellular repair and autophagy (when your body consumes defective tissues in order to produce new parts), reduces insulin resistance (protecting against type 2 diabetes), lowers bad cholesterol, increases energy, improves memory and brain function, and of course attributes as an effective way to lose weight. This method is a lifestyle change, while challenging your body to adapt. And hey…. overall, a healthier new you! There are different methods of fasting. If you just starting out try fasting for 14 hours, then slowly bump your way up to 16 hours. 16 hours is the average most people will stick to, either a couple days a week or Monday through Friday. But hey if this works for you, and you are a fan, you can always bump up to 18, 20, 22, so on. As you increase your hours, you will need to decrease the amount of days you fast for your own body's safety. There have been studies that show, fasting for longer periods of time and less frequent, could have benefits to our gut microbiome, digestion, and other health longevity factors. For those that are brave enough to fast for 24 hours or more, create a bigger weekly caloric deficit, by fasting for a long period and just one day, compared to all 7 days. Ideally you give your digestive system a break. Which can help improve insulin, and blood glucose levels which helps you absorb and break down carbohydrates better, as well as the gut health benefits above.
The biggest rule to stick to during intermittent fasting is TIMING. In order to do this your body must fast for at least 16 hours. Meaning no food, and only water, black coffee, or green tea. So, I typically start my day by having lots of water and working out at 6:30 AM. Then by the time I get to work, I will every so often have black coffee. I NEVER thought I'd be okay with black coffee, because I love my cream and sugar, but eventually my taste buds got there. Black coffee still isn't my favorite, but I am used to it by now. My first meal of the day is at 1:00 PM, which isn't terrible, I typically always take a late lunch anyways, although by this time I-AM-HUNGRY! My eating hours are from 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM, with no solids before or after that time frame. But you can make your eating hours whatever works for your schedule. Typically your body is trying to fast for 16 hours, with an 8 hour eating window. I try to stick to a 7 hour window, but that is up to you and what works for your schedule. If I happen to eat slightly after 8:00 PM, say 8:30, I'll just add on a 30 mins of fasting into the next day, meaning I wouldn't eat until 1:30 PM.
Here are some of the more often questions I receive, along with a quick simple tips to start:
What can I eat for breakfast?
No solid foods. Just black coffee, green tea, and plenty of water! Water is extremely important, to hydrate your body after 8 hours of sleep. The coffee/tea are optional, but it will help you kick start your metabolism.
What are you supposed to eat?
Sticking to a good healthy plan is always key! I eat fairly healthy, and every once in a while, I won't care, but this isn't a food restricted "diet". Even though it is not food restricted, when you go to the grocery store be sure to eliminate processed foods. Basically anything in a box, read the food labels, you'd be surprised! Stick to your balanced diet... protein, carbs, and veggies.
How long of a time frame (hours) are you fasting for?
Typically your body is fasting for 16 hours. There are also other types of fasting, where some people will fast for 24 hours. But not every day of the week. As I mentioned above if you are going to go above 16 hours of fasting, reduce the amount of days in the week you do this for. There are benefits to both, I just choose to stick to 16 hours.
How often do you intermittent fast ?
I intermittent fast Monday through Friday for a 16 hour window. I had to leave Saturdays and Sundays open for brunch! It is my favorite meal of the day! Plus, if you mix up your fasting and eating windows, it will keep your body from settling into a rhythm, which does keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders.
Here is the break down on methods:
5/2: This method allows you to eat normally five days a week. The other 2 days are your fasting days, even though you still eat, it should just be around 500-600 calories.
Eat-stop-eat: Here you restrict all food for 24 hours, only once or twice a week.
16/8: This is the most common. You eat all of your normal calories, just in a 6-8-hour window. Leaving your body to fast for 14-16 hours. You can do this every day, 5 days a week, or only a few times.
While fasting may not be for everyone, you can't knock it until you try it. And remember it may take a couple days for your body to get use to it. But it will happen and your body will adjust. Also remember, this isn't an eat whatever you want within the 8 hour window, type of method. You still have to stick to a regular healthy diet within the eating times. So give it a try and Happy Fasting!