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A Beginner's Guide to Intermittent Fasting


A Beginner's Guide to IF     

Liz Stephenson

     The health and wellness industry is an interesting one. Ideas and best practices are always changing and they can be pretty frustrating and confusing  And now with the rise of social media, every new health and fitness trend is shoved into our faces as if they’re gospel, only to be debunked a few weeks later! There are so many conflicting resources out there, especially when it comes to how one should eat. Some will tell you that 3 big meals a day are best but then you see a FB post by a health professional that swears by 8 little snacks a day instead! Talk about confusing.  

Its easy to get bombarded w/ poorly researched health advice on social media           

       This brings us to Intermittent Fasting, or more affectionately referred to as IF. The basic idea is that you train the body to go without food for a longer than an average period of time. Hence, “fasting”. Dieting can be hard, restricting calories and losing weight isn’t easy. With Intermittent Fasting you are able to eat less frequently but enjoy higher calorie and more filling meals. 

Let’s break it down.

            The human body is used to fasting. Think about it, we fast every night while we sleep. Breakfast = break - fast. Get it? With Intermittent Fasting all you are doing is prolonging the fast from ~8 hours of sleep to maybe 16, or however long you decide your fasting window. 

A significant rest period is key for starting IF           

     Intermittent Fasting is designed to help ease the hardship of calorie control by shortening the eating window in your day. Many people already practice IF without realizing it. How many of you skip breakfast because you simply aren’t hungry in the morning? Really why should you be?!  Did you run a marathon in your sleep? These are all common arguments that IF-ers use to back up their practice. (1)

            If Intermittent Fasting is something you want to try, start easy. If you are used to eating breakfast at 8am maybe push it to 10, the next day try 11, and so on. Just listen to what feels right for YOU. With Intermittent Fasting you are encouraged to drink water and coffee/tea to help with the fast, just make sure your beverages are zero calories for it to “count”. There are many different fasting formats that people follow. The craziest one may be the 5:2 fast where fasters don’t eat for 2 days out of the week. The most common and most recommended (so you don’t go insane) would be the 16:8 fast, where you have an 8 hour eating window. Or in more simpler terms you just eat lunch and dinner. (2)

Pushing your first meal of the day back a couple hours counts as IF!             

      So why does it work? Like most popular diets Intermittent Fasting is just practicing calorie control. It’s a lot easier to eat two large calorie dense meals then three-five small snacks throughout the day. By omitting breakfasts and snacks, fasters have more room to play with their two big meals. So hellllo pizza and ice cream? Not exactly. Remember that this is not an excuse to eat garbage. Balance Yo’self with healthy and nutritious foods. In fact when “breaking your fast” it’s not recommended to have a rich meal be the first thing to touch your stomach. TRUST ME, been there done that and never again. A juice or light snack is the best way to break your fast. Bring on the food.

            There have been studies that aim to show the vast benefits of fasting. Some studies show a link to preventing cancer, others a prolonged life!  (3)  Intermittent Fasting supports regulating blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, there are further studies that show fasting can improve blood pressure. (4) One popular belief is that fasting causes the body to synthesize stored fat while in the fasted state. Hence, greater fat loss can occur. (5) The most noticeable and quickest benefit of IF is that fasters will feel more satiated eating two calorie dense meals! Who can say no to actually feeling full after a meal? If you are dieting or trying to lose weight and finding it impossible due to how hungry you always feel, maybe it’s time to consider IF.
           

IF helps regulate calorie intake            

       In our experience it’s best to find what works best for you. Intermittent Fasting isn’t for everyone. Some people really cherish breakfast in bed, sitting down with their families before the day starts, taking advantage of hotel breakfast buffets! If you decide to practice Intermittent Fasting just remember that YOU are allowed to make the rules. Perhaps you only want to fast on weekdays when it’s easy for you. Maybe you’ll love it so much you want to try a 20 hour fast and 4 hour eating window. Listen to your body and what feels right. Intermittent Fasting isn’t for everyone but if it’s definitely a tool that you can take advantage of when you need. Happy Fasting!

Citations:

  1. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201704/intermittent-fasting-weight-loss-and-its-other-benefits)
  2. (http://jamesclear.com/the-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting)
  3. (http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/S0306-9877(06)00089-2/abstract)
  4. (https://authoritynutrition.com/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting/ ) 
  5. https://www.just-fly-sports.com/intermittent-fasting-for-athletes/

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