Have you heard of Intermittent fasting but not sure if it is right for you or what it fully entails?
When most people hear the word fast- they might be thinking- why would I starve myself?
But that is a common misconception.
It is actually a very popular form of diet plan to help you focus on calorie and food intake.
What exactly is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.
It doesn’t dictate or specify what foods you should eat but rather when you should eat.
To put it simply, you would focus on a specific period of time as your food or calorie intake period. You can start out small and work your way up to a longer period of fasting. Do what you would feel comfortable with.
A popular timeline, for example, is the 16/8 method, where you would fast for 16 out of 24 hours and fit all of your meals into the remaining 8 hours.
Some people may not be able to consume their evening meal until 7 p.m. or later. But it’s best to avoid food for 2–3 hours before bed if possible..
Many choose one of the following 8-hour eating windows- much of it can depend on your life schedule and what your day entails:
- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- noon to 8 p.m. (this may need to be adjusted depending on your sleep schedule)
With this type of timeframe-people can eat their meals and snacks at convenient times and have some flexibility with their day. Some people may need to experiment to find the best eating window and mealtimes for their lifestyle.
Keep in mind that eating regularly is crucial to prevent blood sugar peaks and dips and to avoid excessive hunger.
DID YOU KNOW…
Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution.
Ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators or food available year-round like we do now. Sometimes they couldn’t find anything to eat and basically had no choice but to NOT eat at all.
Due to this- we humans have evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time.
In fact, fasting from time to time is more natural than always eating multiple meals per day.
Are you asking ‘but why would I do this’?
Why put yourself through a state of hunger? How could this benefit me?
Actually, Intermittent Fasting can have both Physical and Mental benefits.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can work to stabilize blood sugar levels, increase resistance to stress, and suppress inflammation. It has also been shown to decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve resting heart rate, improve brain health and memory.
The main reason people choose to do Intermittent fasting is for weight loss. Intermittent fasting helps you eat less food thus fewer calories- while boosting metabolism.
How To Get Started
Your last meal before a fasting period is crucial.
It’s recommended you try eating a meal high in fiber, such as nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables, and high protein foods, including meat and fish.
You should also try to include something high in fats since they will take longer to digest and allow fatty acids to leak into your system, producing ketones for energy. This will help make your fasting period a bit easier.
After eating your “last meal”, you will begin your fast. Some suggest starting with a 16hour fast, at 10pm. You would be asleep for much of this fasting period, making it more comfortable to get through this length of time. Then, break your fast at 2pm the following day. We like to use the 16-8 rule: 16 hour fast, 8 hour eating window
Once you get more comfortable, you can start working your way up to 18-20hour fasting. This would look like 18hour fast – 6hour eating window or 20hour fast – 4hour eating window. Keep in mind, the longer your fast, the more focused you will feel and the more beneficial your results will be.
If you are diabetic or pregnant- or have any health concerns- it is CRUCIAL for you to talk to your doctor before trying intermittent fasting!
Here are some helpful tips if you want to give it a try:
- Stay hydrated- try to consume water regularly throughout the day.
- Turn off the tv- when we sit and watch TV, we often feel the urge to snack- try and keep your hands and mind busy!
- Try exercising during your eating time frame- exercise can trigger hunger (which means you may want to avoid a heavy workout while fasting)
- Try some black coffee or tea throughout the day if you are hungry- it can help suppress the appetite (just be sure not to add cream or sugar)
- Don’t break your fast and immediately scarf down food! Ween into the meal- don’t flood your body with a bunch of calories or sugar at once.
- Listen to your body- remember- fasting may not be for everyone. If you ever feel dizzy or lightheaded, it may be a good idea to stop the fast and get food into you.
Remember…everyone is different
Results will vary based on the duration of your fast. If you’re looking for body composition effects, a shorter fast would be best, whereas a longer fast will result in more complex benefits such as cellular rejuvenation.
And you may try it and find that it just is not suited for you.
There is nothing wrong with that. If you try it and find it is not for you- don’t push yourself to keep trying it.
Once the fast is over…
Remember to go slow with your first meal.
Try to break it with something small first- something like a smoothie would be a great start! High protein is also recommended. But try to eat your meal slowly and not over indulge. Your body just went without food for a long time so you don’t want to overload your gut and cause digestive pain or bloating.
If you are wondering when you should work out once it is over…
Avoiding it right after a fast is recommended. When you exercise on an empty stomach, you may burn valuable energy sources and have less stamina. Low blood sugar levels may also leave you feeling lightheaded, nauseous, or shaky.
Getting some nutrition into you and re-fueling your body is recommended before getting into workout mode again after a fast.
To Fast Or Not To Fast…
If you decide to give it a try- make a schedule for yourself.
But if you have any concerns about it- don’t rush into it. Do what is best for you and go from there.
And remember- if you have a health condition of any kind- seek medical guidance first.
Stay healthy and safe!