In today’s world, we are inundated with all the latest diet and food trends no matter where we look or go. Gluten-free this, paleo that, keto friendly, the list goes on and on. But there is one hot “trend” that is actually not a trend at all. We’re talking about intermittent fasting. (You might see it as “IF” in some places.)
There are many religious people who use this in accordance to certain religious holidays, etc., but intermittent fasting has been practiced since the beginning of time. And no, cave women weren’t trying to watch their weight. They did this because that’s usually the amount of time it took them to score their next meal, and they also didn’t have refrigerators way back when.
The idea is this: it’s not so much what you eat, but more so when you eat.
Now, that’s not to say that you should go and gorge yourself on McDonald’s during your eating window. Focus on real foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals, and don’t overdo it with the carbohydrates, starchy foods, and sweets.
Here we’ll break down for you the tips and tricks to master intermittent fasting so you can reap its powerful benefits.
Okay, so this goes without saying. I discovered intermittent fasting about 6 months ago, and I’ve sworn by it ever since. Traditionally speaking, most people practice intermittent fasting two days per week. I personally do it more, but that is entirely your personal preference. But when I know that I am going to fast, I plan ahead! For myself, I have never been a breakfast eater, ever. When I eat breakfast, I will often feel sluggish and instantly tired. Which makes it hard to focus while sitting in front of a monitor typing for hours on end. When I know I am going to fast, I will be conscientious about exactly what time I’m eating dinner. For example, if I know that I am fasting until noon the next day, I will not eat a single thing past 8 PM the evening before. The 16-hour fasting window is standard, although some deviate slightly and might go just 14 hours or longer with 18 hours, though a 16-hour window is ideal for me. The standard “8-hour window of eating” recommendation for intermittent fasting is really the sweet spot. See, it’s when you eat, not what you eat.
I’ve practiced keto successfully for 4 weeks, and I will tell you that personally it’s not for me. When intermittent fasting on keto, I really felt my energy depleted due to the lack of carbohydrates in my body. I’m a mother of 3, I work out often and stay active, and living in the south, I sweat a often, so I think my body needs just a bit more carbohydrates than 20g a day. But to each their own, if it works for you, fantastic! I am only mentioning keto because many keto advocates swear by intermittent fasting. And if you’re going to do keto, that’s a WHOLE lot more planning ahead.
Do this for your intermittent fasting plan: know that you will have a meal/snack ready once your fasting window is over. I go for something with a good protein, fat (avocado usually), and some light carbs. You’ll honestly be surprised because you won’t be as hungry as you think, I promise! Remember, mind over matter goes a long way.
- The 16/8 method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this methods, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
The Many Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
One of the very first things you’ll start to notice once you’ve mastered intermittent fasting is that your stomach area seems less bloated. I’ve had three cesarean sections and have had issues with bloat ever since. When I do intermittent fasting and stick to it, I literally feel lighter and less heavy around my midsection. Not sure about you, but that’s always an awesome feeling! Another benefit I’ve noticed is that my appetite seems to be less “oh my god I’m starving” and more on balance and suppressed if anything.