A beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting
Recently, “grazing” took the weight-loss world by storm. This was the practice of eating 5 or 6 small meals or snacks spread evenly throughout the day. Grazing, although maybe a little inconvenient, can yield amazing results within the first few months. However, after these initial months, the weight loss stops, energy levels drop, and muscle growth comes to a halt. This is because the body adapts; it knows it is going to have a steady intake of food so it decreases its insulin sensitivity and down-regulates other metabolic systems. So how can we throw curveballs at the body to continue weight-loss, muscle growth, and overall health improvement? Intermittent fasting.
There’s no “correct” way to fast intermittently. Some people fast completely for one day each week. Others will fast every other day for a week a few times a year. One of the most common methods is the 16/8. This is where you restrict your eating to an 8 hour window. It’s important not to overeat during this time! This is the method we recommend starting with as it can help your body get used the episodic deprivation.
If you’re the type of person who can’t start their day without breakfast or suffers from occasional episodes of hangriness, intermittent fasting can be difficult to start, but well worth it in the end. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
1) Start pushing back breakfast. Maybe the first day you hold off an hour after you wake up before you eat. Maybe the next day you wait 2 hours. Your stomach may grumble at you the first few days, but this is only because it is conditioned to eat at this time and it will adapt and become much easier. You can still drink coffee, or better yet—a bulletproof coffee, during this time. Ease yourself into an 8 hour window hour by hour so your body has time to adapt.
2) Drink water. The majority of the population does not drink the recommended daily amount of water, but you will definitely want to when you start intermittent fasting! Many people misinterpret thirst as hunger. Drinking water will help you determine if you’re actually hungry. Similarly, many people eat when they’re bored. Replacing this unnecessary eating with drinking water can help you feel full and even more energetic.
3) Stop when you’re full. This may be the hardest part of intermittent fasting. When you’re eating during your 8 hour window, it can be tempting to eat more than you typically would because you know you’re about to go 16 hours without eating. Listen to your body during this time; you may be surprised by how little food can be enough to satisfy your nutrient needs.
Once your body gets used to the feel of fasting, you’ll be able to use it as a tool to maintain your healthy lifestyle. For example, if you’re out with friends and there isn’t a healthy food option, you can choose to fast instead. On the other hand, if you don’t eat so well and have a cheat meal one night, a longer fast the next day can help get you and your body back on track. Intermittent fasting helps your body not become so dependent on food to sustain blood sugar levels, mood, and physical and mental energy.