Learn the Basics of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IMF) has gotten a lot of attention recently in the wellness world. However, there seems to be a lot of conflicting messaging around what it is, how to do it and the benefits. Today I will give you my take on IMF, the science and benefits behind it, and if it right for you!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting at its core is a window of timed eating. This gives your body a longer period of time in a “fasted” state, without food or calories to perform cellular clean-up, detox and balance hormones.
A fasted state is when your body uses up glycogen stores and glucose for energy and switches to ketones or fat for energy. How quickly your body switches over depends on what you are eating, your weight and how active you are. You can mimic a fasted state by eating a higher fat diet, also known as a ketogenic diet. 70% of your total calories will come from fat and this diet has been very popular recently. I will talk more about that in an upcoming article.
What is the Best Way to IMF?
There are many different ways to IMF, all of which have their own benefits.
Alternate Day Fasting - Eating every other day. On the fasted days you want to eat nothing or only about 500-600 calories.
Eat Stop Eat - Fast for 1 or 2 days out of the week for 24 hours. Follow a regular eating schedule on the non-fasted days.
The Warrior Diet - Eating fruits and vegetables during the day and one large meal at nighttime.
16/8 - Fast for 16 hours and limit your eating window to 8 hours. Stop eating dinner at 6pm and have breakfast at 10am.
I am always looking for the easiest and most sustainable way to incorporate IMF with the best benefits. That is why I typically recommend something closer to the 16/8 method. To get started, I recommend fasting for 12 hours with a 12 hour window of eating. Ideally increasing to a 14 hour fasted window as a female or 16 hour window for a male will produce the best results. It is also important to note this is not something you should do daily, you can start with 3 days per week of fasting and increase to 5 days max. You don’t want your body to get use to the fasted state and adapt to it.
If your goal is weight loss, IMF has been shown to help decrease body fat percentage while preserving lean muscle mass, especially when following the 16/8 method of fasting.
If you want to enhance your performance while burning more fat, working out in a fasted state can help. You want to monitor your endurance levels and your intensity of workouts. If you find that your performance is suffering, you may want to try supplementing with essential amino acids prior to a workout and having a small cup of black coffee. If you are training for a competition or want to really focus in on your performance, working with a dietitian can help you get your plan of attack dialed in.
Research shows IMF can also help regulate blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity. This can help with weight loss and be beneficial for diabetes management.
Many diseases can be linked back to chronic inflammation. IMF can help bring down overall levels of inflammation.
Cellular autophagy is the process which your body cleans up dead cells and repairs damaged cells. This helps our mitochondria (where our bodies make energy) work more efficiently, a function that declines as we age.
IMF can be a healthy part of your lifestyle when followed in the right way and when it is in line with your overall nutrition goals. It is not for everyone, so it is best to work under the guidance of a dietitian to get the best results. If you are interested in learning more or have any questions, you can schedule a free call with me, here!