When I first heard about intermittent fasting, I thought “these people are crazy”!
For as long as I could remember, the fitness community praised eating every few hours to keep your metabolism going, you needed to drink your protein shake within minutes of finishing your workout and you most certainly needed to eat breakfast.
So, when I decided to give it a try, I was less than excited and also skeptical.
But, experimenting with my diet & fitness is part of what I do. It allows me to help others in their diet and fitness journeys.
So, I jumped right in….and I failed. It was terrible.
Waking up at 4:30am and not eating until noon seemed to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. So I quit.
I’m not sure what gave me the idea to give it another try a few months later, but this time I had a better plan in place. More on that later.
Let’s take a moment to define intermittent fasting so we are all on the same page.
By now you have heard the hype surrounding Intermittent Fasting and its touted benefits, but is it right for you?
There are a wide variety of fasting protocols, but for today our focus will be on “time restricted eating” which is the simplest version and you can still have many of the benefits.
Time Restricted Eating is only eating (consuming calories) within a certain window of time. For instance fasting for 12 hours and eating for 12 hours (8pm-8am). Or shortening the eating window, therefore fasting 16 hours (8pm-noon) and eating in an 8 hour window (noon-8p) and everything in between. *there is nothing special about 8p it’s just what I use (loosely)
Many of the benefits you can get from fasting are not immediately felt or seen…..longevity comes to mind…..I will get back to you in 50 years to let you know 🙂
Improved blood lipids are also associated with fasting but might not be immediately known if you aren’t having blood work done regularly. However, if you do have concerns with your blood work, trying intermittent fasting and then being retested could be very insightful.
Autophagy is a hot new topic, this when a cell consumes the parts of itself that are damaged or malfunctioning which prevents many of the age-related degenerative diseases. Unfortunately, the research is still in its infancy and testing is limited.
Weight Loss, this of course is the reason most people look into intermittent fasting and it can absolutely help. Setting boundaries limits snacking and overeating. However it is important to note that this will only work if the foods you are consuming during your eating window are adding to your health (i.e. it’s not just all crap).
Mostly, Intermittent Fasting is associated with health benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Those who have or maybe at risk for developing an eating disorder, intermittent fasting is not recommended. If you find that it’s overly stressful, it’s interfering with your life, or that if you go outside your fast, something terrible will happen, Intermittent fasting might not be right for you.
How to know if Intermittent Fasting is right for you?
You have to experiment. Just like I did. And if at first you don’t succeed, it might be worth trying again…..
After my first failed attempt, I gave it another shot, but this time I eased into it. I started by eating my breakfast just 30 minutes later and then when that was ok, I pushed it 30 more minutes. Slowly, I built up.
What I have learned:
The disappointing news……my weight didn’t magically change, I didn’t notice being any leaner or stronger, my skin did not become flawless, and I didn’t become wealthy.
The good news….I stuck with it anyway because I noticed some noteworthy changes.
Increased energy. I used to eat right before coaching the 9am class and I always felt like I was dragging. My energy and alertness has definitely increased during those late morning hours and continues on.
I learned it’s okay to be hungry and how to manage hunger. In the past, the moment I was hungry I would eat, not thinking twice. I would often become fearful if I didn’t have snacks with me like I would spontaneously combust or something.
Being hungry is temporary. It will pass.
Is intermittent fasting right for you?
You’ll have to test it out for yourself, but it’s a simple way to play with your diet. Start slow, don’t give up if you skip a day. Keep in mind that you may not notice many differences right away and you may need some time to adjust. There is a learning curve with anything new and different. Stick with it for a few weeks before making a “final” decision.