Over the last decade we’re hearing more and more about intermittent fasting, but is it effective?
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. If you are pregnant, have an eating disorder, or if you are in need of weight gain, then intermittent fasting is not recommended. But if you are overweight or fatigued, then intermittent fasting may help improve your health. Sleeping better, reduced inflammation, stubborn body fat loss, and a new relationship with food are some of the things you might notice after practicing intermittent fasting for several weeks or months. It can be an extremely beneficial lifestyle change to consider!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a pattern, or cycle, of eating. The only ‘rules’ are when to eat, not what to eat. Many religions employ fasting for spiritual reasons, but we are focused on the health benefits of fasting.
There are two common types of fasting for overall health and wellness. The first is abstaining or drastically cutting calories (500-600 total) from food for 24 hours, typically twice a week. The second type is only eating within a certain time window each day. Strength & Vitality Wellness recommends the latter for our clients.
How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
Making a change to eating habits is not easy! That’s why we recommend a slow start to ensure success. Days are split into windows of eating. Longer fasting time leads to greater benefits. The 16/8 method is a goal for many trying to lose weight. This entails fasting (limiting consumption to noncaloric liquids) for 16 hours and consuming food within an 8-hour window. But jumping into a 16/8 may lead to failure for people who are used to eating and/or snacking early in the morning or late in the evening.
Our team always starts clients with a 12/12 schedule which is very achievable, since fasting is only required for 12 hours at a time. First, try limiting yourself to eating only between 7 AM-7 PM or 8 AM-8 PM. Making this incremental change helps to initiate the cellular-level benefits of fasting, but also gives you time to begin managing the food you are eating each day. This is the key to long-term success.
Eat the Right Foods
Although an intermittent fasting schedule is helpful, learning how to maintain blood sugar without daily spikes or lows is one of the best strategies to maintain good health. When you eat too many or the wrong carbohydrates, your body is sent into a tailspin. This can be the source of cravings, extreme fluctuations in energy, and many other diet imbalances.
Once you understand the importance of eating healthy, with reduced carbs, we recommend working together on a specific meal plan to help you regulate your blood sugar. In less than 2-3 weeks you should begin to feel better and within 1-2 months you’ll have created a new lifestyle and way of eating.
Extending Your Fasting Time
When you get comfortable with your new eating styles, you’ll notice that you are not as hungry in the morning. And you’ll be prepared to break your fast later in the day–essentially moving breakfast back several hours. Once your diet and blood sugar are under control, a focus on timing/restricted hours of eating becomes much easier. And the benefits begin to multiply! A natural progression to a 14/10 and then a 16/8 method forces your cells to use their own stored energy, leading to weight loss, increased energy, and an all-around healthier feeling.
How Your Body Benefits from Intermittent Fasting
Your body has two different fuel systems, which receive energy from either carbohydrates or fats. Fats are stored in the cells, while carbohydrates are mostly stored in muscle and the liver. Carbohydrates are short-burning and need to be replenished often to work. For example, you see riders in the Tour de France sucking food from packets–those are filled with glucose (a carbohydrate/sugar) and quickly provide the energy riders need to maintain endurance. Since most of us are not using the energy of a professional athlete, we need to be mindful of how much sugar (in the form of carbohydrates) we take in.
With intermittent fasting, while eating within an 8-10 hour window, our cells begin to use our own stored fat as fuel. This contributes to more stable blood sugar and reduces adipose tissue, more commonly known as body fat. A process called autophagy also kicks in where the cells eat damaged cells as fuel. This leaves the body with healthier cells, reducing inflammation, and likely contributing to overall longevity. Weight loss, reduced inflammation, and consistent energy are all highly desired results from intermittent fasting.
We Can Help
We’ve gone over the basics here, but individually we can help ensure your success in implementing a new, healthy lifestyle that includes the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Practice vs. Habit
We help our clients practice new eating. Practice includes experimenting with different food, shopping, meals, and planning to find the formula for success that works for each individual. Continued practice leads to strategies that work and consistent practice leads to new habits. Once these habits become your lifestyle, intermittent fasting is easy and you continue to reap the benefits.
It takes time to get there, but you don’t have to go it alone! Start with a free consultation to begin identifying your individual needs and the strategies that are right for you.