You've heard me speak about Intermittent Fast in the past. It is such an incredible facet of my life now that I've really wanted to share with you the hows and whys.
Essentially, Intermittent fasting is having a "fasting" window and a "feeding" window. You can fast for a shorter period daily or a longer period once or twice a week. I fast most days (which really means I go without breakfast).
Here's how it all started...
1. To lose weight.
I actually started Intermittent Fasting (IF) back in the fall when I had hit a plateau with losing fat. I had heard of IF but it definitely didn't sound like something I wanted to implement. Skipping food? Really??
But the more I researched it, the more the science made absolute sense. Here's how it works. When you're in a fasting state (everyone enters this state from sleeping all night) and then you maintain that state beyond waking up and eating right away, your body can continue to burn your own fat stores as energy instead of using your breakfast as energy. Your body would rather use up fat stores than glucose in your bloodstream or glycogen in your muscles. It's a win/win situation.
Surprisingly, to lose weight with IF you don't have to limit your current caloric intake. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But it's true. You can eat the exact same amount of calories and by fasting (really just skipping breakfast), lose weight. Staying in that fasting state allows your body to remain in ketosis from your night/morning of not eating and your body can burn up fat stores seamlessly even when you consume the exact same amount of food. No limiting your calories excessively. (And if you're wondering how to live without eggs and bacon--don't worry--you can still eat your favorite healthy breakfasts for lunch or dinner.)
Another phenomenon with losing weight with IF is leptin. Leptin, the hunger suppressor, is increased during IF. This is incredible to witness when I fast. Because your body has been able to work, burn, and not constantly digest, the hormone leptin becomes a constant companion when it's your "feeding window". I actually feel less hungry on the days when I've fasted all morning then on a regular day of eating all day long. I eat a big lunch, usually have a late snack, dinner, and maybe a protein shake or a few pieces of dark chocolate late evening. Yes, with tracking my calories I eat plenty in that 8 hour window (usually around 1700 calories) but I don't feel ravenous or out of control with food like I'm more likely to feel on a non-fasting day. It is pretty amazing.
And for the record IF jump kicked my metabolism back into fat burning mode, especially with the difficult last pounds I had been trying to lose.
Note: for maximum fat loss, reduce your carbohydrate intake for the fastest, best results.
2. To heal my body.
As you already know, my chronic stomach issues have gotten better since getting rid of grain and starches in my diet. My body (like many bodies) doesn't like to digest them. I still suffer from slow digestion if I fill my stomach beyond what my stomach can handle. It's frustrating but I've learned to live with it. Interestingly though, IF has actually aided my digestion quite a bit. My stomach is 100% more peaceful and calm when I can go a long duration with it empty before eating. It used to be that I hurt after eating really anything if I ate too much. Now, when I break my fast around noon with a large 700 calorie lunch, the calm my stomach enjoyed from the fasting window translates to my stomach handling food incredibly well for the remainder of the day, even with larger portions. The healing from IF means that on the occasional 1-2 days a week that I might eat breakfast in the morning with the family, my stomach is so much stronger from the many periods of healing during fasting throughout the week that it performs 10x better than it used to. It is absolutely phenomenal.
Beyond my stomach issues, IF is prescribed by many physicians because it can heal at a molecular level for many ailments.
I've read so many cases of individuals regaining their health from regular or somewhat regular IF. The genetic repair that goes on cranks up the growth hormone (which prefers fat burning and muscle sparing) to heal while burning fat.
Some of the many health benefits:
- Improvement in insulin sensitivity
- Intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress, enhances cellular repair processes and appears to be a key strategy for anti-aging and longevity. (source)
- The proteins and amino acids are utilized to repair tissue collagen which improves the functionality and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. HGH also improves skin function, reduces wrinkles & heals cuts and burns faster. (source)
- Reduces inflammation biomarkers
- Autophagy begins--where your cells begin to repair themselves and remove waste
How to Intermittent Fast:
There are traditionally two ways to IF: daily (shorter more frequent) or a few times weekly (longer) fasts.
I do a typical 16/8 fast which is fast for 16 hours and feed for 8 hours. I usually stop eating at night between 7-8pm which means I'll break my fast at lunchtime. It pretty much means you just skip breakfast but the benefits are astounding. And you can totally tailor it to your lifestyle. Some people eat two huge meals in their feeding window. Some graze throughout the feeding window. Research shows it makes no difference in affecting fat loss or healing because your body is getting everything it needs from the fasting window itself.
It's not hard. Really.
You may be imagining me starving, watching the clock go by until I can "break my fast". Not so. As long as your body can stay in a fasting state many people enjoy a nourishing drink during your fast (which should be relatively calorie free so you're still in a fasting state).
- The key is not to go above 50 calories while you're in a fasting state to still reap the benefits of the fast. Many people enjoy water, coffee, or tea with a little coconut oil (it will continue rebooting your metabolism all day and fill that hunger) in the morning. For me, I usually have my morning fasting version of hot cocoa (recipe below) or sip [amazon_link id="B0000IJYL8" target="_blank" ]my favorite beef broth[/amazon_link] with a little coconut oil. (I have to make a conscious effort to get more sodium in for my kidneys since I eat very few carbohydrates--this is a perfect and enjoyable way to do it.)
It is a great morning ritual. While the family eats breakfast or an hour or so later I make my cocoa and sip it and feel very satisfied. There is this amazing calm and quiet to my whole body the mornings I fast. Not only do I feel in control of my day, my life, and my body just from choosing to "skip breakfast", but I am way more in tune to listening to my body the whole remainder of the day. (I'm telling you--it is that Leptin that naturally supresses your appetite and keeps you mindful of what you eat all day.)
By the time I can break my fast I don't feel out of control and ravenous. I feel controlled and actually make much better choices with what I eat compared to days I don't fast. You have to try it to believe it.
In conclusion, I can see how making one big change in my routine has had such an enormous impact to my life and body. I'd say if you're curious about it to try it. If you have any ailments, health issues, weight issues, or are an obsessive eater, just try intermittent fasting and see what happens. Your body will get used to it and begin to find a very, very happy place.
Note to women:
While the 16/8 fast is most common, research shows that woman still benefit from a 14/10 fast. If you're interested in the benefits of IF but are intimidated, I'd say start off with a 14/10 fast. Think about it: you finish eating for the night say, 8pm, and can eat food again at 10am. You could look at it as a late breakfast. It's so worth it.
- IF can help you gain muscle (so no need to worry that your hard work will be in vein.). Lots of lifters and women that strength train do IF and see awesome results because, once again, your body has more time to repair and build upwards in terms of muscles. Read here about IF and gaining muscle. It has definitely worked for me!
- Exercising while in a fasted state accelerates fat loss
My IF morning cocoa recipe:
- 1 TBSP of my cinnamon cocoa mix or (1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa with a pinch of your favorite sugar-free sweetener)
-tsp of coconut oil (or 1-2 tsps of heavy cream)
-splash of vanilla
-pinch of salt
Add to mug of hot water and stir. Sip and enjoy!
OR morning broth drink:
-2 tsp of [amazon_link id="B0000IJYL8" target="_blank" ]beef bouillon with chives[/amazon_link]
-1 tsp coconut oil
Add to mug of hot water and stir.
Excellent reads on IF:
Interested in the variety of ways to fast to fit your life? Here's a great article that breaks down the different ways.
I'd love to hear your thoughts!
the sleepy time gal