By Lauren May
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a health trend that has been gaining popularity in recent years. According to many sources, IF can help people lose weight, improve overall health and simplify healthy eating habits. Below, we’ll dive a little deeper to see if IF is a fit for you!
But first, two reminders-
- This is a brief overview. There are several great resources I can share if you find your interest piqued and want to learn more.
- As with any “diet” program, consult your doctor before starting.
Okay folks- let’s learn!
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
“Intermittent Fasting is a pattern of eating that cycles between periods of eating and fasting”. – Authority Nutrition
It is not a diet in the sense that is provides a meal plan or food list. It is based on timing of eating. So it doesn’t change what you eat, just when you eat it.
Some of the popular styles of IF are:
- The 16/8 Method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, for example from 1 pm to 9 pm. Then you “fast” for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 Diet: On two non-consecutive days of the week, only eat 500-600 calories. Eat normally the other 5 days.
Pros & Cons?
Diets are easy in the contemplation, difficult in the execution. Intermittent fasting is just the opposite — it’s difficult in the contemplation but easy in the execution.
— Dr. Michael Eades
There are several benefits given for following an IF protocol.
- A break for your Digestive System. IF provides a much needed break for you digestive system to recover from the standard diet of eating every 3-4 hours.
- Allow your body reach into its fat stores. Every time we eat, we spike our insulin levels and potentially store fat. Planning food for specific periods of time encourages the body to use fat as fuel instead.
I love this benefit from JJ Virgin. It may be a little “woo woo” for some of you, but emotions play a big role in what and how we eat.
- A different relationship with food. We are a nation that constantly eats, beginning with a low-fat muffin (aka dessert) with our morning dark roast to that spoonful of Ben & Jerrys before bedtime. IF allows you to stand back and observe your relationship with food. When you no longer gravitate to comfort foods, for instance, you may need to confront emotional eating and determine what leads you to do that so often. We are also afraid of being hungry, and really being with that feeling when you do IF can create a new mental and even spiritual clarity about your relationship with eating. In other words, IF can reveal some deeper truths about yourself that you might be avoiding by self-medicating with food. And though they may initially be painful, doing so can greatly benefit you in the long run.
What challenges, drawbacks or problems may arise following an IF program?
- Calorie Restriction. When people restrict calories, especially over a long period of time, it can lead to- slower metabolism, malnutrition, disordered eating, and a relapse to gain weight that was lost. To be clear, Intermittent Fasting DOES NOT promote calorie restriction; however, some may use it as an excuse to do so.
- Disordered Eating. There is a large component of mindset involved in changing your eating. IF can lead to an “all or nothing” attitude and cause binging.
- Not recommended for those with particular health concerns. If you are underweight, taking certain medications, trying to conceive or have problems with blood sugar regulation, this may not be the program for you. As mentioned earlier, it’s best to consult a doctor before making sweeping dietary changes.
Safe Ways to Start IF
For the time being, I’ve chosen to follow the 16/8 method. Why? It fits well with my schedule/lifestyle and…I really like food! Like…a lot! So my 30 day “trial” will follow that protocol. Although part of this experiment, as with any program, will be listening to my body’s ques and determining specifically what I need. It’s also recommended that people start with this method and adjust, if needed, as their body adapts.
Yes, my eating time will change, however, my plan will stay the same:
- A Mediterranean Diet
- Protein supplement
What should you keep in mind when following a this or any program?
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods
- Be Mindful of what and how you eat
- Find Joy in your health journey
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you have any questions regarding IF or any other nutrition questions please send us an email at [email protected]