We know how this goes – another recommendation for another diet…. but, this one has been working and I actually enjoy it. So, what is this magical diet you ask? It’s called intermittent fasting and my trainer Zach has got all the details on what it is, how to do it, and who it works for. It worked for me, so I’m having him share all the details with you.
Do I Believe In It?
Intermittent fasting has been around for a while, but it’s really blown up in popularity over the last few years. Lately I’ve been getting lots of questions about what it is and if I believe in it. The answer is yes, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. To help you decide if it is for you I’m going to expand on the basic question that I get asked about IF (Intermittent Fasting). What is it? What are the benefits and drawbacks? How can you incorporate it into your lifestyle?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Put very simply, IF is a pattern of eating and fasting periods. These intermittent periods can be split up based on hours of the day or days of the week. During periods of fasting some people stick to only water. Others will have black coffee or unsweetened tea given that both are calorie-free. There is no one right way to practice intermittent fasting. It all depends on what your goals are and what works best for your lifestyle, but we’ll get into that later.
What Are the Benefits (and Drawbacks)?
The main reason most people try intermittent fasting is to lose weight. It can be hard to stick to a calorie-restricted diet while also staying satiated and having enough energy to get through the day. IF can help you keep your calories low without feeling starved, which leads to more weight loss. When you go prolonged periods of time without eating your stomach will shrink. That means that when you do go to eat again, it takes less to make you feel full.
IF can also have some great health benefits. Giving your gut a break from working and allowing your metabolism to reset can lower insulin levels as well as lower blood pressure. IF is still pretty young and while there hasn’t been any conclusive long term studies to show proven health benefits, there has been some promising data to come out recently.
One of the drawbacks is that if you’re not used to fasting, it can make you fatigued and hangry (not fun.) It can also cause people to ignore hunger cues when they are in a fasting period, then binge when they do allow themselves to eat again. IF isn’t a magical solution, it does require work and discipline, and you have to keep a close eye on what you eat during your feeding periods. But, for those that are willing to stick to it, it can produce great results.
How Can You Incorporate it Into Your Lifestyle?
Like I mentioned before, there’s no one right way to practice IF. Because we’re lacking in long term studies on what works best you kind of have to be your own guinea pig. Having said that, there are some ways that have proven to be effective and practical for lots of people.
The 16:8 Split
This is the method I’ve used to get leaner and have had Bobby incorporate recently. The 16:8 ratio refers to your fasting vs feeding periods. It basically means that you fast for 16 hours a day and eat during an 8 hour window. Technically this could be any 8 hour window, but most people prefer to start fasting after an early dinner (sleeping through as much of the fast as possible) and then eating a late breakfast. Technically your fast could start at 6pm and finish at 10am See, when you actually think about the numbers it doesn’t seem that crazy. By cutting your feeding window down to only 8 hours it allows you to keep your calories low while staying satiated for that time period. It’s still important to have quality, nutritious meals and snack when you do eat. You should also have lots of water during your fasting portions. Black coffee and unsweetened tea are also permitted during fasting. Some people also say Bulletproof coffee (containing MCT oil or butter) is fine since the pure fat doesn’t affect your metabolism the way carbs would.
Start small if you’re planning on trying this type of IF. I’ll often have clients start with 12:12, then 14:10, then finally 16:8. Easing into it allows you to train both your body and mind for those fasting periods. I also suggest sticking to the same block of time each day (except maybe on weekends). Consistency makes everything easier and keeps you from having prolonged fasting periods.
A Few Other Options…
The 5:2 Split
This involves having 2 non-consecutive days of the week where you consume less than 500 calories for females of 600 for males. Incorporating those super low-calorie days can offset your higher calorie days. For people with irregular schedules or who still want to go out and enjoy themselves a few times a week, this can help balance their calorie intake.
While some people respond really well to this style, others don’t like having days where they’re overly restrictive of what they eat. It can be hard to sustain and those low-calorie days can leave you sluggish.
24 Hour Fasts
For some, especially those seeking the health benefits, having one 24+ hour fast is ideal. It not only lowers your average daily calories by having a zero calorie intake for one day, but it can allow your body to recover and reset. Our guts work hard to process what we eat so giving it a day off can be good for gut health.
Longer fasts like this can also lower insulin levels, especially if you’re having a few too many carbs on your regular days (who hasn’t been there). Some also prefer this method because they only have one day to get through. The first 12-14 hours of a fast are usually the hardest, so once you get through that it gets easier. Some people will even go up to 36 hours, but I suggest consulting with your doctor before any prolonged fasts. It’s also important to drink lots of water and listen to your body, meaning rest or break the fast if you really need to.
I hope all of this helps you make a better, more educated decision on whether intermittent fasting is right for you! If you have any more questions or subjects you want to hear more about, drop a comment below or reach out to us on social media.