Intermittent Fasting. Could You? Should You?
Intermittent fasting is a broad description for the process of limiting food intake for anywhere from 12 hours to several days.
What are the benefits?
After years of being told to eat every 2 hours, we’re learning that creating times where the body does not have food coming in is good for our gut, our cells, our sleep, and our waistline. It’s been shown to improve how cells respond to insulin, help people lose weight, and be part of the treatment for some metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
It’s generally accepted as safe unless you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a history of eating disorders or are underweight. Those who are taking medication for diabetes, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular disease should seek guidance from their physician as medication adjustments and monitoring may be advised.
How do you do it?
During the fasting window you will consume only water, tea and black coffee (less coffee during the fasting window, may give you better results). During the eating window you consume a balanced diet.
To begin, try Time Restricted Feeding (TRF), where you go 12-18 hours consuming only water, tea and coffee, then during the other hours in the day you eat a balanced diet. For a 12 hour eating window you will also have a 12 hour fasting window, so if you eat at 7 a.m., you will not eat anything after 7 p.m.
For an 8 hour eating window/16 hour fasting window, you choose to start eating at the time that works best for you. Maybe you have breakfast at 7, a late lunch that finishes by 3 and then do something else with your evening. Other people like to wait until 11 a.m. for breakfast and be finished with dinner by 7. This second option is especially helpful for people who are faced with breakfast meetings stocked with pastries or other less ideal breakfast options. By fasting in the morning, you are automatically making the decision to not eat a pastry because that would be outside of your eating window.
For better sleep and gut health stop eating 3-4 hours before bedtime.
For a longer fasting window of 24-48 hours, increase your consumption of water and herbal tea and avoid strenuous workouts during your fast. You can continue your daily life, with gentle exercise, work, etc. Mild headaches are normal as your body switches its fuel supply. To end your fast, enjoy a healthy meal that has lots of fruits and veggies and keep drinking water or herbal tea. Tune into your bodies hunger cues and avoid the urge to reward yourself by overindulging.
Won’t I be Hangry?
The shakes, grumpiness and other symptoms people experience usually results from their blood sugar changing, but not necessarily from it getting to low. You may notice some of these symptoms a few hours into your fast, but unlike your usual day, you won’t be feeding the hangry and thereby restarting the blood sugar rollercoaster, so you may actually feel better then when you ate every two hours.
To learn more about hunger cues and tuning into your body’s signals, join us for our next nutrition talk on Mindful Eating on Wednesday, Nov. 4th from 5:30-6:15 at Old Town Hot Springs.
Author: Kathy Yeiser, Certified Nutrition Coach-Precision Nutrition, Certified Personal Trainer