What is Intermittent Fasting (aka IF)?
You’ve probably heard the term Intermittent Fasting over the last few years. You may know exactly what it means or maybe you don’t and you’re interested in learning more. One important point of differentiation is that Intermittent Fasting -- or IF -- is not a type of diet, but a dieting tool that can be used in conjunction with Whole 30, Paleo, vegetarianism or any other type of eating plan. IF is essentially an eating schedule that allows you to eat larger meals because you are shortening the window of time when you consume calories. However, your overall calories remain the same. (This isn’t a license to eat everything in sight!) The most common fasting schedule is 16:8, 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of eating.
How It Works
During the fasting portion, you typically only have black coffee, tea, or water. The easiest way to do this is to skip breakfast, fasting 16 hours from 8pm to noon. Once you hit lunchtime, you can eat for 8 hours. For example: if you eat lunch at noon, then you would eat your daily calorie allotment between 12 PM and 8 PM. To lose weight using this method, your calories would still need to be restricted, but having an 8-hour eating window vs. a 12-hour window enables you to have larger meals and possibly feel more satisfied.
Besides losing weight, there are several benefits to using Intermittent Fasting. For many people, this timed eating provides some “guard rails.” It’s easier to say no to mindless eating and unnecessary grazing if you have a strict plan to not eat food until a certain time. It also helps prevent night-time snacking for the same reason. Having a designated start and stop time gives some structure to your eating habits which may allow you to lose weight, sleep better, have more energy, etc.
There are a few studies that suggest Intermittent Fasting prolongs your body’s natural cleansing process which occurs during the night when we are sleeping and fasting. This cleansing process helps decrease inflammation and inflammation related illnesses making it more appealing from a health perspective as well. If you are someone who likes rules and needs a schedule this method may work very well for you, it also works well for those who snack mindlessly, or need an all-or-nothing approach to dieting.
One of the downsides to Intermittent Fasting is the sustainability. With any “diet” you need to know that it may not be something you can do long term. If you have a hard time concentrating on anything else during your fasting periods, then it’s probably best for you to look at options that allow you to eat small meals more often so you aren’t distracted.
As a whole you need to understand that being in a constant caloric deficit can damage your metabolism. Intermittent Fasting is no different. While eating all of your calories in 8 hours is not an issue, it’s important to make sure you are eating enough to maintain your health and give yourself days of higher calories, sometimes called “re-fuel” or “high carb” days. These are the days that help keep your metabolism in check. Adding these higher calorie days into your week from time to time will help you avoid metabolic fatigue.
If you need some help creating a sustainable eating regimen that WORKS, let’s talk about how I can help you achieve your goals. If you aren’t ready for that just yet, check out my private Facebook Group where I give lots of tips, tricks, and healthy recipes for you to use.