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!


Keep Track While You are On the Track

Which running app is the best?

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

I was talking to a friend recently, who just picked up running. She wanted to lose 60 lbs. She had been running for a couple of months, but she was already bored. She, knowing that I had done a number of races, wanted my advice on how to get more excited about it. My advice: get a running app for your phone.

I was not being flippant or dismissing her, but was telling the truth. Running apps are super useful for recording your running metrics like distance, time, and pace. Running apps can sync to your playlists and heart rate monitors, FitBits, or Apple Watches. And of course, you can share comments and photos about your workout. After our conversation, I began to look at the different running apps and these are the ones that stick out to me:

Map My Run by Under Armour

I'm going to be honest. I was already partial to Map My Run because it logged all of my routes, but it has been a while since I used it. I also loved that it was a great journal for all of your workouts. Since I was regular on it, some great improvements have been made.

  1. Different activities- Change your activity from just a regular run to a treadmill run, group run, gym workout, or swim.
  2. Voice feedback -Keeps you informed of your distance and time.
  3. Mile Tracker- Keep track of the total miles run on the same pair of shoes. This lets you know when it is time to change.
  4. You could also choose to upgrade to get live tracking for safety, training plans, guided running, heart rate analysis, and predictive guided running.

Strava

Starva is more for marathoners, bikers, and triathletes. They use Strava to connect with their friends all over the world and compete. Because they are geared towards setting big goals, they do not offer a lot of perks. Only the basics are free. If you want perks, you have to do the upgrade. Here are some unique points about Strava:

  1. Easy notes- keep notes on each run through virtual "sheets" that automatically come up for each workout.
  2. Challenges- choose from many challenges and virtual races.
  3. Run Clubs- Connect with run clubs in your area and not just virtual

RunKeeper

After checking RunKeeper out, it looks like the one that is best for my friend. It seems like it is great for novice runners. It is oriented towards fitness goals with some competition. In fact, it seems experience based. Here is why I would say that:

  1. Voice Feedback- You have more choices with the vocal feedback. You can choose the accent, which stats, and how often you receive feedback.
  2. Easy to understand- Modules are step-by-step and with large print. This seems simple, but it means a lot to new runners.
  3. There are not a lot of perks unless you upgrade.

Nike Run Club

Nike Run Club is geared towards that in-between runner. They are kept motivated by challenges that they can join. They also are given awards and achievements for their milestones. These are milestones like your longest run to your fastest 5K. Other perks are:

  1. Mileage status- You can achieve a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum status.
  2. Buy shoes- You can purchase new shoes from the app.
If you are a new runner or are thinking about getting into running, I hope you can use this information. As for me, I look forward to giving each one of these apps a try.

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