intermittent fasting: what is it and is it right for me?
Hi Everyone :)
This is my first official blog post of the New Year!! WOOT WOOT! 🎉
I'm super excited to make 2018 my BEST fitness year yet!
So to start this year off with a BANG, I want to share with you all a diet tip that I LOVE called Intermittent Fasting (IF). This is something that I practiced when I was at (what I like to call) my fitness peak during Summer 2016 (see pic here).
This diet plan is by no means necessary in order to see a change, but I truly believe it helped me achieve great progress in the past.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Put simply, IF is a diet plan in which you only eat for 8 hours of the day and fast during the remaining 16 hours (coffee and tea is fine). Okay, yes, I know it sounds crazy. I know you've heard that not eating causes you to gain weight and that this cannot be healthy in any way. But stay with me here! You are still eating; you just simply eat your normal amount of daily calories in a shorter window. It is also not as difficult as it seems, as at least half of the fasting time is spent sleeping!
So this is the most common question I get when I tell people that I do IF. The main benefit from intermittent fasting is that it increases the amount of fat your body burns on a daily basis. You're not quite in starvation mode, which is why you will not gain weight (or fat) like it is commonly assumed. Yes, not eating for an entire day or two will cause your body to hold on tighter to what you're putting in, but 16 hours will not cause the same reaction. In fact, since you are still eating a significant amount of calories (I ate about 2300), your body knows food is coming! Anyway, during the fasting window, your body is able to tap into your fat stores and use excess fat as energy. This doesn't usually happen when you're eating all throughout the day because you are providing your body with a constant source of energy through the food you eat. So when it no longer has that constant source, it's gotta get energy from somewhere, and it chooses your body fat!
So bottom line: fasting for a moderate amount of time enables your body to tap into your fat stores for energy, thus causing you to burn more fat on a daily basis.
Who Should Fast?
Barring any pre-existing medical concerns, any and everyone can fast! I highly recommend this diet plan for people who:
-have issues eating/snacking at night
-have a busy day/schedule to stick to
-have the ability to cook their own meals
-want to lose fat while preserving muscle mass
-seek a super structured diet plan
So...I Want to Try IF! Where Should I Start?
Great question! Starting IF can be tricky, so I highly recommend easing into it rather than immediately fasting for 16 hours/day. Start by fasting 10-12 hours, meaning you would be eating for 12-14 hours of the day. Then over the course of a few days, work your way down to the 8 hour eating block. By following this transition you can avoid some of the side effects (like a mild headache) that arise from switching your diet so radically.
Additionally, make sure you choose an eating time window that works best for you and your schedule. When I was doing IF, I ate from 11:00am to 7:00pm, and more importantly, I only ate 2 full meals! The way you split your meals during your time interval will vary based on the number of calories you're consuming and your schedule. Like I said earlier in this post, I was eating ~2300 calories (more about calories here), so it was easiest for me and my busy schedule to eat 2 large 1,000 calorie meals at the start of my eating window and at the very end of my eating window in addition to one ~300 calorie snack in the middle. This eating schedule worked wonders because at the end of my fast (11am) I was super hungry, and had the ability to eat a large 1,000 calorie meal! By the middle of my eating window, I was usually hungry enough for a small snack, and then by the 6:30pm, I was hungry enough for another large meal that would keep me full until I woke up the next morning!
This cycle was an incredible fit for my busy schedule while also allowing me to get the proper nutrition to gain muscle (I did a fasted lifting workout around 10:00am and used my first meal as my "post-workout meal.") I highly recommend this diet plan and I will 100% start using IF again once I am able to cook my own meals (currently living off of college dining hall food :( ).
So let me know if you have any questions about IF! And let me know if you give it a try! It's a bit extreme, but it's super effective and can help you reach your fitness goals :)
(how you feel when you break your fast)