I went to dinner with a few gal pals last night and the conversation came up about Intermittent Fasting (IF). I haven’t talked about Intermittent Fasting for a while, but I’ve been doing it since 2012. It’s become such a normal part of my daily routine that I actually forget I do it sometimes. When the topic comes up I find myself getting a little uncomfortable explaining the concept, partly because most people have never heard of it before so they ask a lot of questions, and partly because when I first introduced the concept to friends and family years ago, I was met with a lot of criticism. Some people get the misconception that I’m starving myself, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I used to try to convince people that IF was the way to go, but then I realized that many people aren’t receptive to experimenting with a new way of doing things and that this method of eating may not work for everyone. Lately, I’ve been seeing people develop more of an interest in IF, so I will share my two cents.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF) and what does it mean to me?
Let me start by saying that Intermittent Fasting is not a diet, it’s just a different pattern of eating. With Intermittent Fasting, a person has a condensed window of time when they consume their calories and a fasted window of time when they stop eating and allow their food time to metabolize. I consume all my calories within an 8 hour window every day (sometimes a shorter time frame if I’m really trying to lean out) and I spend the other 16 hours in a fasted state. For example, if I break my fast by eating my first meal of the day around noon then by 8:00 PM I’m done eating for the day. In this example, my eating window is for 8 hours and my fasted window is 16 hours, but you could choose whatever window of time works best with your schedule. I don’t restrict my caloric intake, unless I’m trying to lose weight, of course, I’m just limiting the amount of time in which I consume my calories throughout the day. Another way to Intermittent Fast is to go on a 24 hour fast 1-2 days per week, but I’ve never tried this method. Some people buy into the concept of eating 6 small meals every 2-3 hours and there’s nothing wrong with this ideology because I know it works. I’ve done it before but was also more inclined to overeat with that method. I’ve just found that IF works better for me so I choose this method of eating over the other. With IF I’m less likely to overeat because my eating window is so much smaller than my fasted window. Instead of eating 6 small meals a day, I eat 2 large meals and 2-3 small snacks. The picture below reveals what a typical day of eating looks like for me.
1. A 12:00 Break-fast (Instead of calling it breakfast, I separate the words to emphasize that I’m breaking my fast) consist of 3 eggs scrambled, loaded with spinach, mushrooms, onions, and salsa, 2 slices of bacon, 1/2 grapefruit, and black coffee.
2 & 3. The meal replacement shake, by AdvoCare provides lots of protein and other vital nutrients. I blend the vanilla flavor with fresh fruit, spinach, and ice to make a great tasting smoothie.
4. 2 lettuce wraps. On the inside of this green leaf lettuce is turkey deli meat, avocado, pickles, and spicy mustard.
5. The dinner here consisted of lean cut pork loin, steamed cabbage, roasted sweet potatoes, and a cornbread muffin. Yum!
6. Golden delicious apple with peanut/almond butter is my go to snack.
7. AdvoCare’s multi vitamin pack provides core nutrition and appetite control.
8. I’m drinking plenty of water throughout the day. It’s about the only thing I drink besides coffee, and the occasional cocktail 😉
Why I chose Intermittent Fasting?
In 2012 I hit a plateau with my weight loss. I started searching for a new diet because sometimes you have to switch up your routine if you want to continue to lose weight. I started researching paleo and other popular diet trends that were going on at the time and I stumbled upon some information about Intermittent Fasting. IF was different because it wasn’t a diet, it focused more on being conscious about the time I ate. I liked what I read so I decided to experiment with it. I was amazed that I had lost 10 pounds in less than 2 weeks so I decided to keep going. I loved the way it made my body feel too. I noticed that I had more energy during my morning workouts and throughout the day and that my belly fat reduced dramatically. I became leaner and stronger in a short period of time, just by changing up the time in which I consumed my meals.
Does it work?
The short answer is yes, it works for me. I’m a firm believer that there’s no one size fits all rule when it comes to eating, so people must do what works for them. If 6 small meals a day works best for you, keep it going. If you like the way your body feels by eating from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night, keep doing it. But if you’re looking for a change, try experimenting with new ways of doing things. Some people get uncomfortable with the idea of experimenting, but how will you know if something works for you if you’re not willing to give it a try?
What are the benefits?
Intermittent Fasting is not a magic solution. Of course if you want to lose weight, you still have to watch your caloric intake and eat a healthy, well balanced diet. Some of the benefits for me are:
- I spend less time worrying about food, making life a little simpler.
- It’s an easy and convenient way to reduce calories. 6 small meals a day is harder to keep up with, especially for us busy people.
- I have more energy during my workout and throughout the day.
- I lost weight and kept it off.
- I give my body more time to burn off fat.
- My stomach is flatter.
- My cholesterol is normal and my Doctor is amazed by my blood test results.
What are some of the downsides?
- For some people, breakfast is the most important meal of their day. I have my opinion on that logic, but I’ll keep it to myself. I understand that we’ve been told this concept for years and it’s ingrained in us, sometimes so much that we can’t fathom it being any other way. So for those who feel like they can’t go without having breakfast first thing in the morning, there’s a solution with Intermittent Fasting. You don’t necessarily have to wait hours before having your first meal of the day. I choose to fast for 16 hours per day, but you don’t have to go that many hours. The minimum time for IF is to be in a fasted state for 12 hours and the max time can be up to 24 hours. If you do a 12 hour fast every day, you can start eating your first meal at 8AM and eat your last meal at 8:00PM. That doesn’t sound too hard when I put it that way, right? Even if you want to try a 16 hour fast but prefer to eat breakfast, you can start eating at 9:00AM, but you’d have to stop eating at 5:00 PM.
- There’s not a lot of long term studies on Intermittent Fasting out there, but I’ve read stories from many people who have been doing it for years and experience the best health of their lives. I’ve read stories about people who have even been able to reverse their health issues through Intermittent Fasting, but I would encourage people with health issues to consult with their Doctor before changing their diet.
- It’s not the most popular method of losing weight (right now). But most people that have done it consistently have had amazing results and encourage others to try it as well. I’m not a “jump on the bandwagon” kind of girl so doing what’s popular has little appeal to me, I’d rather do what works, and for me IF works. I usually begin new things before they become mainstream, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Intermittent Fasting became a big movement for health and weight loss in the near future.
- People are worried about starving themselves and slowing down their metabolism. Contrary to popular belief, it takes longer than a day for your body to go into starvation mode. There is such a big misconception about what starvation mode is. Do some research on Adaptive thermogenesis and you’ll learn that you would have to significantly reduce your caloric intake for an extended period of time (3-7 days) before your body really goes into “starvation mode”. As far as slowing down your metabolism, Intermittent Fasting actually increases your metabolic rate, not slow it down. An extensive study done by the University of Alabama shows that your metabolism goes back to normal levels with sustained weight loss, so please don’t believe the myth.
Will it work for you?
This could work for you. Click here if you’re interested in a more personalized plan. This method takes a little discipline starting out, but it’s certainly doable. I’ve never been a big breakfast eater to begin with so it wasn’t a hard transition for me. It’s been working for me for the past 3 years. I’ve encouraged some of my clients to try it as well and those that have given it a fair try responded with positive feedback, but some have admitted that it’s not for them. I encourage you to do some research on your own about Intermittent Fasting and to keep an open mind. There’s more than one way to go about doing things so you have to experiment if you want to know what works best for you. The best advice I can give is to learn how to listen to your body and it will tell you if something is working. Is your current eating habits working for you? Feel free to explain why or why not in the comment section below.by