Intermittent fasting has become a hot topic over the past few years.
I get a lot of questions from my clients asking me what it is, what are all the pros/cons, who should avoid doing it, and what is the best way to start, so here is a blog post to discuss all of these questions.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting, or IF for short, is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. There are a few different ways to do IF, but the most common is called “16/8.” This means you fast for 16 hours and then eat during an 8-hour window.
Another popular way to do IF is the “5:2 diet” where you eat normally for 5 days of the week and then restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 calories on 2 days.
What are the benefits of IF?
There are definitely pros and cons to doing intermittent fasting, and it’s not right for everyone. Here are some things you should keep in mind if you’re thinking about trying it out:
- Weight loss. Research shows that people who fast intermittently tend to lose more weight than those who don’t. This is likely because when you’re fasting, your body is forced to burn stored energy (aka fat) for fuel. Plus, because you’re eating fewer calories overall, you’re likely to lose weight even if you don’t change your diet or exercise routine.
- It can help improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. This is important because both of these things are major risk factors for chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease.
- IF is great for reducing inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of many diseases and conditions, so anything we can do to reduce it is a good thing.
On the flip side, IF can be a little tough to stick to in the beginning. It’s not easy to go 16 hours without eating anything, especially if you’re used to grazing all day long. However, with a little practice and push of self-control, your body will get used to it and it will become easier.
Another thing to keep in mind is that IF may not be appropriate for everyone. Pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, those who are underweight or have low blood sugar, people who have eating disorder tendencies, and children, should avoid IF.
Can you workout while practicing IF?
Another common question is if intermittent fasting affects your ability to workout well. And the answer is – no, it doesn’t in most cases. In fact, some people find that they have more energy and perform better in the gym when they’re fasting. However, there are others that don’t feel well working out without food beforehand. If you’re someone who falls into this category but you’re still interested in fasting, then it’s best to workout at night at the start of your fasting window.
If you do decide IF is for you, what’s the best way to get started?
The best way to start IF is by gradually increasing the duration of your fasts over a period of a few weeks. If you’re not used to skipping breakfast, start by fasting for 12-14 hours instead of 16. And make sure to drink plenty of water and other during your fasting periods.
If you’re doing the 5:2 diet, try cutting your calories back a little for 2 days each week until you get to the 500-600 calorie per day mark.
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to intermittent fasting – it’s better to ease into it so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up, and it’s also good to let your body ease into something instead of shocking it. But once you’ve got the hang of it, intermittent fasting can be a great way to improve your health and lose weight.
So overall, is intermittent fasting right for you?
That depends on your goals and your lifestyle. If you’re looking for a way to lose weight and improve your health, IF may be a good fit for you. But if you’re not sure, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying something new.
If you have any health conditions or are taking medication, it’s also important to talk to your doctor before trying intermittent fasting. Some people with health conditions, like diabetes or hypoglycemia, should avoid IF altogether, and others may need to adjust their medications if they start fasting.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. You have to decide what is best for your health and what makes you feel the best.