Is Intermittent Fasting right for you? I don’t know, you will be the only one to discover that. And with this guide I hope it will lead you the right answer for YOU.
I’m going to share with you WHY Intermittent Fasting is my go to. Then I’m going to give you some points on the overall benefits of Intermittent Fasting. And lastly, I will give you some tips on how to get started to see if Intermittent Fasting might be right for you.
First of all, I’m not a doctor.
I’m a certified personal trainer and health coach with over a decade of experience. I’m a cancer survivor who is currently in the midst of menopause hell at just 40 years old. I’ve studied specific fat loss protocols for over 8 years. I don’t have all the answers but what I DO have is personal experience of my own as well as that of my clients.
Not everyone is created the same. Our cells are not just black and white and a one size fits all. We have to look at how our bodies have evolved over time. How did our ancestors eat? How does the daily cycle of our circadian rhythm affect this?
WHY is Intermittent Fasting my go to?
Honestly, because it’s easy for me. I don’t want to have to feel like I need to make a macro appropriate breakfast every morning to help me reach my goals. I’m busy just like every single one of you and adding one more thing to my day just doesn’t interest me.
Intermittent Fasting is simple.
I don’t fast for 24 hours or anything like that, I typically stick with the 16:8 protocol…16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of an eating window. I prefer to focus on that eating window and not the fasting hours 😉 MOST days, I have my coffee in the morning and then will workout mid-morning. I ’ll typically have my first meal around 11:00am. That first meal is usually more water based with protein and clean carbs which is ideal for the digestion system’s first meal.
With Covid-19 and the whole stay at home thing, my intermittent fasting schedule has been a bit different. I will have my coffee around 7:00am, help kids with their schoolwork, drink more coffee, and then do my live workout at 12:00pm. Therefore, I’m not really breaking my fast until closer to 1:00pm. Funny thing is, I’ve actually LOST weight during this and the fasting window hasn’t seemed to bother me. Not to mention, I’m having more wine in my window than ever before…don’t judge! Just a mom trying to survive over here, lol!
I don’t have to be perfect with Intermittent Fasting. It gives me the leniency to roll with it when I need to. Some nights I will be eating later than others, which is fine! I ’ll just eat my first meal later the next day. I don’t feel attached to a clock or a schedule and feel like Intermittent Fasting gives me the nutrition freedom I crave.
Intermittent Fasting helps me to have control over something within my body.
There are so many things that I have not been able to have control over the last few years. I can’t control the fact that my body is in menopause. I can’t control the fact that cancer overtook my body. I can’t control the fact that I lost all of my hair. I can’t control the fact that my life was flipped upside down. But guess what I CAN control? The hours that I eat within…Intermittent Fasting! I’m able to be the boss over something within my body and from a mental standpoint, it’s helpful.
WHAT are the benefits to Intermittent Fasting?
I could go on and on with this, but I’ll TRY to keep it short and sweet so that you don’t run off too quickly.
Reducing inflammation is a huge benefit to Intermittent Fasting.
By fasting, the inflammation in your body can be drastically reduced. Inflammation isn’t an actual diagnosis but it’s a precursor and symptom that there’s something else going on in your body. Intermittent fasting reduces the number of monocytes in the blood…monocytes are the cells that cause inflammation. There has also been evidence that Intermittent Fasting reduces oxidative stress in cells which also decreases inflammation.
Cellular rejuvenation takes place as you look into the longer intermittent fasting protocols.
Cells naturally recycle themselves. The weak cells basically die off and it allows the good cells in your body to flourish. That’s one reason that Intermittent Fasting is a great option to optimize overall health. If the body is put into a state where it has to heal itself, a lot of time it actually will. Adding less to the body can be a huge benefit
An additional benefit to Intermittent Fasting is increased energy.
Digestion uses a lot of energy from our bodies! When we are eating non-stop during the day, our bodies waste so much energy on digestion. We used to eat 3 meals a day. Then we went into 3 meals and 2 snacks each day. We keep adding the amount of food and the timing of food instead of working backwards. There’s so much going into our bodies that we have to keep compensating. You’ve heard of elimination diets, right? In this, you take away foods and then start adding back in so that you can get to the bottom of what actually affects you. Think of the same thing with Intermittent Fasting. Instead of eating more often, start taking away the hours. You can add back in if it doesn’t feel right, but it’s a great way to start.
Our bodies can become more fat adaptive and use fat for fuel with Intermittent Fasting.
I’m not saying this is THE way to start losing fat, but I do believe that there are ways that our bodies eventually start being more adaptive to burning fat for fuel when we do fasting intermittently. There have actually been some studies that show the body can hold onto muscle while burning fat during the weight loss process. The more muscle we can hold onto, the higher our metabolism will ignite and fat will burn off. Also, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) actually increases during periods of fasting. A huge benefit to our body’s natural HGH is that it aids in burning fat, so if this hormone is increased in our body during Intermittent Fasting, then it will naturally relate to increased fat loss.
HOW can you get started to see if Intermittent Fasting is for you?
Before you even decide if you are going to start experimenting, you have to commit to seeing it through. Trying Intermittent Fasting for one or two days will not give you the right indication on if this is going to work for you or not. Commit to seeing it through for at least two weeks.
Also, commit to keeping a journal. This can just be in the notes section on your phone or on actual paper. But you want to be able to track a few things. You want to be able to pin point when your LAST meal of the day and when your FIRST meal of the next day are. You want to note how you feel…how is your hunger? Energy? Cravings? Mental clarity? Look, I don’t believe in tracking every morsel that you consume…more on that later. BUT to get an idea of how you are doing, I DO believe you have to know where you are starting.
If you are willing to commit to those things, then go for it!
The first step would be to go 12 hours without eating. When I first started with Intermittent Fasting, I went with the 12 hour rule…if my last meal was at 7:00pm, my first meal the next day would be after 7:00am. Try that for a few days and see how you feel. If that seems managable, cut your eating window from 12 hours down to 10. So if your last meal is at 7:00pm, your first meal the next day would be at 9:00am. If you survive that for a few days, cut that eating window down to 8 hours. If your last meal is at 7:00pm, your first meal the next day would be at 11:00am. You see where I ’m going with this 😉 Continue until you find your sweet spot!
With Intermittent Fasting, you should not feel like you are starving.
You are NOT starving, trust me. But you should not be miserable. So let your body adjust. You want your blood sugar roller coaster to even out by reducing the insulin spikes. Your body’s insulin elevates every time you eat. If you can cut back on the amount of time that your insulin is raised, you will start to feel and see the benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
During your eating window, you want to be conscious of what TYPE of calories you are eating.
It should be inevitable that you will consume fewer calories than you would if you were eating all day, BUT you want to be aware of the types of calories. The foods in your eating window during Intermittent Fasting should be higher quality to support your digestion system. Anytime we fast, we automatically cause some weakness in our digestion (which is not all bad if you refer back to the benefit of cellular rejuvenation) so you want to be aware of that. Your body will naturally start to pull fat stores in order to get energy, so don’t try to go on a low fat diet. Eat high quality veggies first and foremost. Then keep your protein moderate. Lastly make sure you consume healthy fats to support your system. By doing all of this, you will stay satiated longer, feel better and even start to lose some body fat.
What you break your fast with is pretty important. If you scarf down a pile of donuts as your first meal of the day, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Remember how I mentioned that the digestive system is a bit weakened by doing Intermittent Fasting? It’s best to ease that system into it and to conserve the energy that your body needs to break down the nutrients. For this reason, I almost always break my fast with a smoothie. I make sure to have high quality vegan protein, clean carbohydrates, and powerful micronutrients to start the cycle. You can find my personal favorite for the last 10 years HERE, but rest assured there are plenty out there to choose from!
Don’t take on too much at once.
So many people want to count every macro and weight every ounce and go with carb cycling and do keto and do Intermittent Fasting. Y’all…keep it simple!!!! The simplest solutions are what will give you long term results. I won’t say it’s going to be easy but it should be SIMPLE.
YOU are your body’s best advocate and also worst enemy. Treat your body with care and realize the amazing temple that it actually is. Fuel your machine with high quality items, love on it with giving it a break from constantly having to digest, and give yourself grace to not be perfect.