The Diet Industry is a billion dollar business for a reason. It doesn’t just promise to help us shed weight, it also taps into our psyche about how we can be better and more happy humans…if we can just drop a size in our waistbands.
I don’t diet.
But I do practice a pattern of eating referred to as intermittent fasting for about 14-16 hours per day (including sleep time). Two weeks ago I wrote about a New York Times article regarding a study where lab mice were forced to go on mini-fasts of at least 12 hours. I have become that mouse. Before trying intermittent fasting (IF), I was always hungry about 90 minutes after breakfast, no matter what I ate. My eating schedule was breakfast, then “second breakfast”, lunch, snack, and then dinner. It was a lot of food! Since cutting out breakfast first thing in the morning, I am not hungry until lunch time. I actually feel less preoccupied by food when I skip breakfast, and, after a bit of practice, I can easily go at least 14-16 hours between my last meal and my first.
Why and How
So why is fasting now being associated with healthy living? Well, there is a lot of hoopla on the internet about getting into your “fat loss” mode after 12 hours, and how this method will burn off more abdominal fat than any other. There’s also the supposed anti-aging benefits of the mini-fast. But for me, it’s even more simple. This strategy is an easy and effective way to eat less food, while not feeling hungry! If you’ve been thinking of trying intermittent fasting, keep reading for some tips and tricks to having a successful fast.
Intermittent Fasting is Not For Everyone
Do not try IF if you are hypoglycemic, diabetic, pregnant, or breastfeeding. This is also not a good idea if you’ve ever had an eating disorder or feel like you may be susceptible to one. Please, if food has ever been an issue for you, do not try intermittent fasting.
- If you are trying IF, please understand that you still must eat a healthy, balanced diet. Any claim that you can “eat whatever you want” is false. Conversely, you may also see a bunch of blogs from people who claim to only eat one meal every day. That’s not for me, and most likely not the best eating plan for most people. Do what feels right, and try to track your calorie intake for a few days, to make sure you are eating enough/not eating too much.
- Coffee with a little cream during the fast is actually ok. I take mine black, but a splash of half and half in your coffee (as long as it’s only up to two tablespoons) should not break your fast. You can also drink tea, chew gum, and of course, water is fine. Stay away from sugar until after your fast.
- Start slowly with this new pattern of eating. On the first day, start with 12 hours, on day two fast for 13 hours, and so on. At the end of week one, you can try for a 16 hour fast and see how you feel.
- One blogger’s advice is NOT gospel -except this one, of course 😉 When I was first researching intermittent fasting, every site claimed that at least a 16 hour fast was necessary. This approach is not for everyone! Because of differences in our hormones, some women can’t comfortably fast longer than 14 hours, and that’s fine. Martin Berkhan’s site leangains.com has been writing about IF for years and addresses both women and men on his site.
- Should you work out fasted? A lot of IF sites tout the benefits of a fasted workout, but there is no actual evidence that this is the best approach. I like to take a small amino acid shake with me and drink it either before or during my workout.
- Finally, don’t allow any IF to interfere with your life. Want to grab breakfast with a friend? Go for a long run or bike ride in the morning? By all means, eat! There are plenty of times I break my own rules of eating all the time to fit my needs and schedule.
Just remember that the best diet is the one that you can stick to. Intermittent fasting has worked for me, but in the beginning, I gave myself time to adjust to the eating schedule. I eat a balanced diet, and most importantly, I don’t allow it to stress me out. If you decide to try it and have any questions, please hit me up on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.