If you’ve been keeping a pulse on what’s happening in the health and fitness world, then you’ve probably heard the buzz around intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting isn’t a new thing by any means, but it is being practiced by thousands of people looking to optimize and accelerate their health and fitness goals. Intermittent fasting (sometimes referred to as “IF”) isn’t for everyone, but it definitely has many positive benefits, so it’s important you understand what it is and why people do it before jumping on the bandwagon yourself. To make it easy, I’m breaking down the details for you – including the how to properly to do it and what it can do for your body if you choose to make this part of your routine.
Intermittent fasting is an eating strategy that requires you to eat within a restricted time period. The goal is for your body to tap into your fat stores for energy during the fasting periods, when energy from food isn’t available, which ultimately can help you lose weight. It usually involves a window of about 16 hours during which you’re fasting and an 8-hour window when you’re able to eat (example: eating meals between 11am-7pm every day). Intermittent fasting is different from other “diets” because it doesn’t necessarily restrict you from eating certain foods, but rather consolidates your eating within a specific period of time.
Aside from potential weight loss, there are a number of other health benefits that come with intermittent fasting. Here are just a few:
- Can help reduce calories by limiting the time period you’re eating.
- Improved blood sugar control and reduced sugar/food cravings.
- Boosts your immune system.
- Genetic changes leading to increased longevity and protection against disease.
- Repair of cellular damage and dysfunctional cells.
- Increase in human growth hormone (helps with fat loss).
- Improved insulin sensitivity (makes stored body fat more accessible).
It’s not an easy habit to build and maintain though; following an intermittent fasting eating pattern can be challenging. You may have to try a couple different timeframes to figure out what works best for you. Ultimately, you want to feel satisfied but still able to lose weight to maintain this as a lifestyle.
If you’re interested in trying out IF consider starting with the 16-hour fasting, 8-hour eating windows two to three days a week and see how you feel. There are a few other strategies you can try, but this should give you a feel for the plan and how it will impact your everyday life. A couple other tips if you get started:
- Don’t break you fast with a heavy carb meal, which will leave you feeling bloated and sluggish. Instead, choose a more balanced meal, or a meal with a focus on protein and healthy fats.
- You can use coffee and tea to curb your appetite during fasting periods, just don’t add sugar or creamers.
If you have a history of eating disorders, are underweight, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a good fit for you. Not all women feel great on this diet so you really have to check in with yourself and see if it feels right.
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