Intermittent Fasting 101
Intermittent Fasting (IF) seems to be a popular concept these days. I'm seeing it splashed all over the internet and I have to admit, I was just as curious as the next gal to try it out. I'm usually game at trying most of these health tips so that I can report back and let you know how it effected me (the good, the bad and the ugly). Here's the truth of the matter--we were heading for a ski trip and my ski pants were a tad too tight! Now I know you guys can relate right? I've had these ski pants for nearly 10 years (we hardly ski). And let's face it, I'm no spring chick. I've put on a few pounds since then and I wasn't about to get new pants. No need to purchase something I'd rarely use.
So I'm checking out all the results of this IF and I'm thinking this might be a good option for me. So I started the 16:8 protocol (more on this in a bit) and the within 3 weeks the pants fit beautifully and I indeed lost weight. Now, I know what' you're thinking--"you're already thin! You didn't need to loose weight." And you'd be right! I wasn't getting enough calories in and the immediate result is weight loss. I never changed WHAT I was eating. I just changed the window of WHEN I was eating it. And because that window was only 8 hours I wasn't eating the amount of calories that I had before. That 8 hour window didn't suit my body well. I tend to graze eating smaller and more frequently. So I found a pattern that worked better for my body type and digestion--14:10. Fasting for 14 hours gives my body a long enough break that I'm reaching into the fat stores while a 10 hour eating window gives me time to graze in the time schedule that works best for me. Moral of the story--it's not a hard fast rule. YOU decide what works best for you!
With IF the first number is the time spent in a fasting state. The second number is the feeding window. The great thing about IF is that it's not a diet it's a pattern of eating. You don't have to remove anything from your current diet. However, if your goal is weight loss, it would make sense to make food choices that relate to your goal. It's simple enough for most people to follow and powerful enough to make a noticeable impact. When 2/3 of women are overweight and looking for that magic pill to try--I'd say IF is a much better first option. It's free, flexible, and simple!
Here's how it works. When you eat, insulin is secreted by the pancreas to move sugar into your cells. When we have too much sugar and it can't be stored in the liver (because it's full too) it gets stored as fat. When we are fasting, insulin levels are low and we can tap into these fat stores for energy. It takes about 12 hours to actually achieve a fasted state. IF works by reducing our calorie intake by 25-35%.
There are several protocols. I'm only going to share the most popular.
1. Daily IF: 16:8. Fasting state of 16 hours with an 8 hour feeding window. Fasting means taking in NO calories here. You should be drinking plenty of liquids--primarily water. Black tea and coffee is fine here.
2. Weekly IF: 24 hour fast one time a week. It's less likely you'll loose weight here but this one is great for after a big meal. Think about the holidays or some other celebration when you've over done it!
3. Alternate Day IF: Alternate days of 24 hour fasting. You'll most likely experience weight loss here because it's difficult to make up the calories with an every other day fast.
It's not for everyone! Those who have difficulty controlling diabetes, a history of eating disorders, children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone with a low body mass index should be extra cautious here. This protocol may not be for you!
If you decide you want to try it out, introduce yourself to the concept with a 12:12 protocol and then gradually increase your fasting time from there.
Fasting has a long religious tradition. It's nothing new but this concept of giving your body a break from digestion has huge benefits. Remember, this is really an experiment. Try out different windows of time. Which combination honors your body type, and your eating and digestion style best? I love IF best for the benefits it gives women who are struggling to keep the weight off due to hormone shifts in peri/menopause. There are options for everyone depending on your goals!