Intermittent Fasting 101

Intermittent fasting has become a hugely popular way of eating and living for health, fat burn, longevity, and even brain clarity. It’s not so much considered a “diet” as it is a lifestyle and eating pattern. In recent months, it’s become a huge topic in many of my circles and groups, and it’s often one of the first topics my perspective clients want to discuss when we begin our health relationship. So, this week, while searching for the perfect topic for a blog post, IF-intermittent fasting just seemed like the perfect choice!

This way of eating doesn’t so much involve “what you eat”, but “when you eat”, so the restrictions as to food choices are not as critical as most eating plans. Pairing intermittent fasting with a healthy balanced diet can result in not only weight loss, but many other really incredible health benefits as well.

There have proven to be many benefits to living the IF lifestyle. When it comes to weight loss or maintaining weight, IF works! Eating within specific time frames leads to lower calorie intake without the dreaded focus on food choices or food restrictions. During periods of fasting, human growth hormones increase quickly, leading to stored fat loss and muscle retention, and insulin levels appear to drop quickly, which makes fat loss easier. And, incredibly enough, “autophagy” occurs after a short period of fasting-this is when our cells begin to digest and get rid of old and dysfunctional cells, replacing them with new cells. There are also changes to hormone levels and genes during this process that affect longevity, aging, and help protect against disease.

While people using IF usually find that making the adjustment to this lifestyle a little challenging, they soon come to realize that it becomes a rather easy lifestyle change, and are pleased to see rapid, visible results that keep them motivated to continue on. They find that weight loss is quicker, easier, and more convenient, report a decrease in inflammation in the body, find better brain clarity and mood balance, and find that their metabolism increases, and their sleep is better. Many people even report that they feel as though they have cleansed or detoxed their entire body systems!

The WHAT and the HOW

There are several ways of doing IF, and it can easily be structured to fit your particular lifestyle and habits.

16/8 is the most popular method of this lifestyle, in which you fast for 16 hours, and eat within an 8 hour period 7 days a week. For many, this may mean stopping food intake at 8pm, and not eating another meal until noon the next day.

2/24 in another way of doing IF. With this method, fasting is done for a full 24 hours twice a week, and a regular schedule of eating exists for the remaining 5 days. Low calorie beverages are allowed during this type of fasting, and some people even incorporate drinking bone broth into their fasting phases for added gut health benefits.

5:2 is yet another way of doing IF, and this method has one eating less than 500 calories 2 days a week, and eating regularly on the remaining days. This method does have the added responsibility of counting and monitoring calories and/or marcos on the two days of restricted eating, so keep that in mind when making your plans. This form of IF only works if you are NOT using the other 5 days to eat very large amounts of food.

*All of these methods work with reducing caloric intake when a healthy, somewhat moderated approach is taken during “eating times”. Some healthy regard for fueling your body and monitoring your intake is necessary as with any healthy lifestyle choice.

In my own personal experience with intermittent fasting, I have found that it works wonderfully. I have done IF in many ways over the last several months, generally using a 17/7 schedule as a regular routine. On occasion, I fast for 2-4 days every few months to balance my gut and detox my body and soul. You can read about my longer fasts here if you are interested. My routine 17/7 eating pattern has proven to improve my sleep, and given me more mental clarity and focus. It has also helped remove my nightly cravings for carbs, which is a huge win! I have also noticed that when my fasting period is up, I am NOT as likely to want to eat large meals-my stomach seems to feel full much quicker, and I stay full for longer periods of time.

Many people doing IF use apps to track their fasts and inspire or challenge them. I have found that using an app to track my fasts does two things-inspires and motivates me to complete my fast, and, there’s something about hitting the “start fast” button each night that adds some form of “closure” to my day. It’s kind of like telling my brain and stomach “We are DONE!” It’s all about MINDSET!

Fast Habit is the first app I used, and it was a free version. It simply alerted me to start fasting each night at the time I had set, and alerted me the next day when my fast was over. Simple, basic, free. Highly recommended for the beginner.

Fastic is the app I currently use. I have the paid version for the bells and whistles. This app also sends me alerts-including one an hour before my fasting time starts in case I need to take advantage of getting in my last meal. The paid version also offers daily lessons on nutrition, mindset, diet biology, motivation, and other interesting facts. I’ve learned a lot using this app, and it’s also highly recommended. Apps, of course, are not needed, you can simply add your start and finish times to a reminder on your phone calendar.

The “WHO” in Intermittent Fasting

While many studies show that Intermittent Fasting is a safe form of eating for most adults, there are some people that should not follow this lifestyle. If you are underweight, pregnant, trying to conceive, breastfeeding, or suffer from any eating disorder, this lifestyle is not recommended.

One should seek guidance from a medical professional before attempting Intermittent Fasting if they have diabetes, low blood sugar, are on medications, have low blood pressure, or have a serious illness.

Side Effects Possibly Experienced During IF

For most healthy individuals, side effects are very mild and, as the body adjusts and adapts, temporary. Hunger pains, food cravings, low energy, disrupted sleep, irritability, bad breath, and dehydration can occur in the early stages of IF.

Many of these side effects can be due to dehydration; people tend to drink less fluids when not eating meals and snacks throughout the course of a day. To alleviate this issue, be sure to consume fluids regularly throughout the day. 64oz of water should be the goal, and tea and coffee are allowed. (keeping in mind that caffeine will dehydrate you, make sure the bulk of fluids is water!)

I hope that you’ve learned a few things about this “all the rage” healthy lifestyle choice and perhaps have decided to try this out for yourself. If you’d like to learn more about intermittent fasting as a lifestyle, or are looking to make other healthy lifestyle changes to improve your life, I encourage you to reach out to me for a free and fun conversation about finding the steps, information, and motivation to live your absolute BEST life!

Please visit my professional site BeeWell.com for more info, freebies and tips!