By Karlee Burmaster
Should I try intermittent fasting?
I often get this question from clients that I work with. It’s the new, latest and greatest trend! Reported benefits include weight loss, better hunger regulation, reduced inflammation, and more. By that logic, you should try it, right? Not so fast.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING
First, let’s talk about what intermittent fasting is. Intermittent fasting is a meal timing schedule where you voluntarily go between periods of fasting and eating. There are different methods of intermittent fasting which I will go over later. But why intermittent fast? Well, it is a weight loss tool and that is the most common reason people want to try it.
WHAT INTERMITTENT FASTING DOES IN OUR BODY
Intermittent fasting has a direct effect on your hormones and cells, such as growth hormone, insulin levels and cellular repair. Growth hormone increases during fasting which is great because GH helps increase muscle gain which in turn helps with fat loss. With fasting, your insulin sensitivity improves, and your insulin levels tend to drop significantly. When this happens, it makes the body fat that is stored in your body more assessable. As far as cellular repair goes, when you are fasted, your cells start to go into a cellular repair process called autophagy. Autophagy is when cells digest and remove old proteins that have built up inside cells. These are all health benefits and could also help increase your metabolic rate as a result of hormone changes.
When you are fasting, it typically helps with taking in less calories because you are shortening your eating window. During the window of time that you have to eat, you are less likely to be hungry for the whole eating period which in turn causes you to eat less. It’s important to make sure you are getting enough calories to fuel your body, but be cautious that you aren’t binge eating during your eating periods because that will defeat the purpose of the dedicated eating window. Eat as close to “normally” (reasonable, balanced meals with veggies, proteins, fats, and carbs) as possible within your window.
METHODS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
Here are a few of the most popular methods of intermittent fasting.
The 16/8 method: This method involves skipping breakfast and eating during an 8-hour window. For example: 10am – 6pm and then you fast for 16 hours between. This method is the most popular and usually the method people find the easiest to stick with.
Eat – Stop – Eat method: This is fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. For example: Not eating from lunch one day to lunch the next day.
The 5:2 diet: Here, you only consume 500-600 calories on 2 days of the week and then resume to normal eating for the rest of the 5 day in the week. This concept is also calling zig-zagging calories and keeps your weekly calorie total the same, but can speed up the metabolism by keeping it guessing on when those calories will be coming in (and how many of them).
All of these methods should result in weight loss as long as during your eating periods you aren’t overeating. We recommend always working on mindful eating — chew slowly and thoroughly, time yourself while eating a meal, and give your body time to recognize fullness — then honor those feelings.
WHO IS INTERMITTENT FASTING NOT FOR?
Skipping meals can lower your calorie intake and can be potentially dangerous for some such as those that deal with diabetes. People who also take medication for blood pressure and heart disease may also want to be careful with fasting due to electrolyte abnormalities. So, if you are considering intermittent fasting, take these precautions into consideration.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
Intermittent fasting is a personal choice. If you’ve struggled with weight your entire life, it may be something to try to see how your body reacts. When you intermittent fast, you need to stick to it. That means no cheating and eating when you aren’t “supposed” to. It would be wise to talk to your doctor about it incase you have any health issues going on that it wouldn’t be beneficial for but overall it’s a pretty safe way to diet.
As with anything, we never recommend committing to something that you can’t see yourself doing for the rest of your life because, when you eventually stop doing whatever it is (cutting out carbs, eating keto, intermittent fasting), you’ll be back at square one. So if you try intermittent fasting, give it a week. If after a week you feel like it’s adding more stress to your life or isn’t something you see yourself doing forever, stop and find something that WILL work long-term.
Have your tried intermittent fasting? Let us know in the comments below!
Learn more about intermittent fasting from these podcasts: