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Keep in mind that I don’t ever say I follow one specific diet or intermittent fasting schedule. As someone who has suffered from disordered eating habits (why I co-created The Food Freedom Project), it’s just best for me to be super duper flexible with my approach to food, which is what I am always going to recommend.
Ok so what exactly is intermittent fasting?
Essentially, intermittent fasting isn’t dieting at all, it’s just eating in a condensed window. For some people, intermittent fasting is going without food for 12-36 hours.
Think about it, we fast every day when we sleep, this is just extending the fasting period =)
Does this sound like it’s gone against EVERYTHING you’ve been told you’re supposed to do to lose weight? Like you’re supposed to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism revved up? I hear you!
A lot of people think of fasting as a form of deprivation or starving–but let me tell you that that is not true!! Our ancestors did not have food available 24/7! If you’re overweight…do you eat during most of your waking hours?
It’s pretty normal in our society today…EVERYTHING is centered around FOOD! Parties, dates, birthdays, any special occasion, watching TV, etc., etc., etc!! So don’t think of intermittent fasting as depriving yourself, rather becoming more in tuned to your body!
Why eat this way? There are actually quite a few benefits to intermittent fasting!
- May increase the body’s responsiveness to insulin, which regulates blood sugar. This can help to control feelings of hunger and food cravings!
- Increase energy
- Improve memory
- Improve immunity, lower risk of diabetes, and improve heart health
- Increase production of neurotrophic growth factor, a protein that promotes neuron growth and protection, which makes us more resilient to neurological stress, thereby staving off neurodegenerative diseases.
- Burn more fat! Science shows that it takes your body about 6-8 hours to metabolize stored carbohydrates…then after that happens, your body starts to use your stored fat for fuel. If you are eating every 8 hours or sooner, you make it more difficult for your body to use your fat stores as fuel.
- Detoxification. When your body isn’t spending resources on digesting food, it has more capacity to rid the body of toxins, repair and rebuild tissues.
- Hormone regulation. Fasting increases human growth hormones (HGH), which results in faster muscle repair and growth, as well as slowing down the aging process.
- Leptin, the hormone that regulates fat storage and hunger signals, and ghrelin, a hormone that tells your brain the body is hungry, are normalized by routine fasting.
One way is to fast for 12-16 hours each day and then feed for the remaining 8-12 hours. During the fasting period, you consume water, black coffee or tea. Since I typically workout fasted in the mornings, I also have BCAAs before, during, and after my workout.
What’s an easy way of fasting?
I like to fast from 6pm-10am most days. So after dinner no nibbling on anything, and I eat a breakfast later than normal.
When I used to eat a higher carb diet, this was HARD. I woke up STARVING. I needed to eat all the darn time and fasting felt like torture. Now that I eat high fat low carb, I can easily go 19 hours without eating. This is CRAZY to me lol!
Intermittent Fasting for Women:
The research on if women should practice intermittent fasting is mixed. Some women who fast end up with irregular periods, sleeplessness, anxiety, and hormone dysregulation.
Why can this happen? Low-calorie diets and restriction send signals to the female body that it’s in a famine and can’t reproduce. Is this a reflection of intermittent fasting itself, or is it the fact that women end up lowering calories while fasting? The research is mixed. If you decide to give fasting a try, make sure that you still consume adequate calories for your goals during your eating window. Don’t go less than 1200 calories/day, and many women need more than this. 1200 is the MINIMUM. I eat between 1700-2200 calories/day!
How can you get started with intermittent fasting?
I don’t suggest you jump in and start fasting 16 hours each day I would start by cutting back on carbs and increasing fats in your diet so your body can switch to being a fat burner instead of a sugar burner. Learn more about that here.
Then, you can start by eating dinner before 7, then eat breakfast at 7 the next day. Ease your body into it, and don’t force yourself to fast if you’re hungry. Some days I wake up hungry, so I eat! As fasting starts to feel more natural, gradually increase your fasting window, so you’re fasting 16 hours each day and eating in an 8-hour window. Your eating window can be whatever is convenient for YOU! 12pm-8pm, 10am-6pm, whatever fits your schedule!
If you feel great eating in a 12-hour window, awesome. Don’t feel like you have to eat in a condensed window if it doesn’t feel right for YOU. We are all different!! Like I said, some days I eat in a 12-hour window, some days a 6-hour window. It depends on how I feel that day!
Note that this way of eating will NOT work if you continue to fuel your body with junk (sorry). You MUST eat clean! So think of the food our ancestors ate…veggies, meats, nuts and seeds. There weren’t any twinkles, chips or soda back then…our bodies weren’t made to process those kinds of foods!
Please keep in mind that fasting isn’t for everyone!!! Some people can do this naturally (like my hubby) while other people (especially you breastfeeding mamas) get dizzy or light headed without frequent feedings. So, as anything, do what is right for YOU! Don’t try intermittent fasting if you are pregnant or have a history of disordered eating.
Some great resources on fasting that I recommend are:
The Scientific Approach to Intermittent Fasting by Dr. Michael VanDerschelden
The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Jason Fung
Want more? Check out this post on intermittent fasting schedules!
What do you think? Could you try intermittent fasting?
Sources: Draxe.com, bulletproofdiet.com
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” Tony Robbins
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