There's a new diet strategy that has been gaining a lot of popularity as of late...
Intermittent Fasting, or IF, is a fairly new diet trend that has been gaining a lot of popularity as of late. It is a simple technique that allows you to take a break from eating for a certain amount of time.
I see you, with your hand raised in the air, about to tell me something I already know.
Yes - technically, sleeping would be considered fasting.
But this diet strategy has a cool name, so let's roll with it and keep discussing...
Chances are, you've probably already practiced IF at some point or another in your life.
Ever skip breakfast? That's a form of fasting.
Finish dinner and eat nothing after 7PM, until breakfast the next day?
That's fasting too.
The only difference is, with IF, you are purposely setting a time frame from when your eating window ends, to the beginning of the next "scheduled" eating time.
IF is basically breaking your day up into two sections: a fasting window and an eating window.
The fasting window is predetermined, and during this time you are allowing yourself to go without food, or consume only beverages that are zero calories.
Such as: Black coffee...water...or green tea.
People have been experimenting with this eating/dieting style to lose weight, and burn more stored fat throughout the day.
I'm sure you want to know how you would benefit from it, and if it actually will work for you.
Let's look at what some real data says about IF:
Research has shown that IF can actually extend life, regulate blood sugar, manage your weight, and actually help you gain (or at least maintain) lean body mass. It allows the body to take a break from digesting food, which can help increase insulin sensitivity while telling your body to burn more stored fat as fuel.
There are two common ways to practice IF: A 16 hour fast, and a 24 hour fast.
An example of a 16 hours fast would be, say, having your first meal at 12PM, and then eating 2-3 larger meals up until 8PM, when you will start your fasting period.
When you do fast, keep in mind you can't eat anything for the fasting period. Zero calorie drinks are allowed, however.
How to determine if you should fast, and for how long:
If you find yourself being mentally taxed with having to prepare meal after meal - and cart them around in containers from place to place - IF may be a nice break from the regular change of pace. You may no longer feel tied to the clock, glued to the idea of having to eat every three hours on the dot to keep yourself fit.
IF can be freeing, in that sense.
It's a nice feeling knowing you don't have to worry about gathering a breakfast, and storing it at work, for that day. You can spend more time prepping the later meals, or doing whatever else you may enjoy.
Now, when it comes to determining how long to fast, current research is showing that the longer fasting periods may offer you more benefits than a shorter fast.
See, your eating and fasting windows should be determined by your activity levels.
For active people - or those that are exercising consistently - you may be able to enjoy the same benefits after only 16-20 hours without food.
In my experience, I experimented with it for 6 months. I mostly did the 16 hour fast and 8 hour eating window. I would eat right after my workout finished at 13:00, then I would eat larger meals until around 21:00.
Basically I skipped breakfast.
The odd time I would go a full day without eating. A complete 24-hour fast. But that was tough to do.
I like to eat and I don't care who knows it.
In the beginning of my IF experience, I felt hungry and slightly lethargic. After a few days, my energy actually picked up, and my performance in the gym with my lifts stayed strong. I was enjoying it.
Then, at about the six-month mark, I started feeling tired and lazy again. I would get hungry and more irritable. I decided to go back to eating breakfast, and having more frequent, normal-sized meals.
Since then, I will occasionally employ this style of eating after say, a calorie-heavy weekend (let's face it, we all have those!). I don't get crazy if I skip a meal, or if I happen to not eat for a few hours.
I guess the trick is to be aware of your hunger, and not letting that skipped meal lead to an all-out binge-fest the next time you eat.
IF is a pretty simple and straightforward method, and your personal preference and lifestyle will be the indicators on how long you decide to fast.
Give it a try sometime. It may get you out of your comfort zone, in tune with your real hunger cues, and help give you a boost on a pound or two of fat loss.
Talk to you soon,