• Giselle

What's the Deal with Intermittent Fasting

By now you've probably heard about intermittent fasting. It's become a hot topic in the health and fitness world lately. It's something that I recently explored myself and have gotten a TON of questions about what it is as well as my experience with it. So this will be a two part series on IF starting with today's post on some basics about intermittent fasting.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

IF or Intermittent Fasting, is a form of short term restriction from food. Different from fasting where you don't eat for a prolonged period of time, IF you restrict eating for an extended time during the day, or over a few days then extend your fasting window.

A few types of IF practiced are:

16:8 - probably the most popular form of intermittent fasting where you fast for 16 hours then eat during an 8 hour window.

5:2 - A bit more restricted from where you fast for 2 days a week then eat for 5 days. On your fasted days you are allotted 500 calories for women, 600 calories for men, then the rest of the days you eat within your target calorie range.

24 hour fast - this method incorporates a 24 hour fast once a week where you fast for a full 24 hours. Typically ending your eating window with dinner (let's say around 7:00pm) then not eating again until dinner the next day (around 7:00pm).

Alternate day fasting - This more advanced method means fasting every other day which for many is very challenging. On fasted days some eat 500 calories while others keep it under 50 calories. Again, a more advanced method.

12:12, 13:11 14:10 - Studies show that you can get many of the benefits from intermittent fasting in as little as 10 hours fasted. Many people find that a 12:12 hour fasting window is the easiest to follow and provides the same benefits as a longer fasting window. Ultimately it's best to do what works for you!

What are the benefits of IF?

  • There are a plethora of benefits from IF. Some of which include:

  • reduced inflammation

  • better sleep

  • more energy

  • better digestion

  • increased focus and concentration

  • increased fat burn

  • increased insulin sensitivity

  • simplifies your day

  • Promotes cellular repair and autophagy (when your body consumes defective tissue in order to produce new parts)and much more!

Is Intermittent Fasting for everyone?

Intermittent fasting can be a great tool to incorporate into your daily routine for many people. However, it is also NOT a something that is for everyone. If any of the following relates to you, IF shouldn't be something you try to implement.

  • you have an eating disorder or a recent history with one

  • you are chronically stressed

  • you work a high stress job

  • you don't sleep well

  • you have hormonal issues

  • you are new to diet and exercise

  • you are pregnant

If you meet any of the following criteria you might be okay with IF but you might really consider if it's a good fit for your lifestyle and should definitely proceed with caution.

  • you have children and live a very busy lifestyle

  • you compete in sports or higher impact fitness activities such as crossfit

  • you are a woman (due to hormones, women seem to struggle more with IF than men do and can have hormonal issues while fasting)

Tips for beginning to practice IF

  • First and foremost, check with your healthcare practitioner - ALWAYS a good idea before beginning any new diet or exercise plan!

  • Evaluate if it's a good fit with your lifestyle - check the criteria listed above to see if you should or shouldn't begin experimenting with fasting

  • Clean up your diet - having a balanced, whole foods diet is important whether you are fasting or not. However it will be even more important during IF and will help make the transition into fasting smoother.

  • Decide which plan is the best fit for you - while 16:8 is the most popular, maybe a 12:12 is a better fit for your lifestyle or works best for your hormones. Maybe it's easier for you to do the stricter 5:2 plan. Either way, decide up front which you feel will work best for you, but know that you can always change!

  • Start off slow - Start by increasing your fasting window and decreasing your eating window gradually each day. Maybe you start with a 10:14 plan then after a few days, move to a 12:12. Starting slowly will allow your body to adjust gradually to IF.

  • Hire a coach - It can be challenging to start implementing any new diet or exercise program especially one that requires you to have a decent amount of willpower like IF. Hiring a nutritionist, dietitian, health or accountability coach can help you to navigate this new lifestyle and assist you with sticking to your plan. If you're interested in trying IF and having a little support, I'd love to help you! Feel free to email me at giselle@gisellesfitness.com with any questions or inquiries.

*** Stay tuned for my follow up post with my own personal experience with fasting!

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