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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or inquiries.
*** Stay tuned for my follow up post with my own personal experience with fasting!