I have been quoted saying “I could never do intermittent fasting” and “I am WAY too hungry in the morning to not eat breakfast.” While all of these things are somewhat true, I have still been interested in this way of eating and figured it was worth some research. I needed my questions answered. Isn’t this just a fancy way of starving yourself? Isn’t the best way to lose fat to eat 6 small meals throughout the day? Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?
The topic has been particularly interesting to me since I started reading the benefits it can have on your digestion and cravings. I have been dealing with random bloating and uncomfort, even when eating “light” meals. I also noticed that my days and weeks revolved around food: my breakfast, my snacks, my lunches, eating every 2 hours because God forbid I feel hungry!!!
After lots of reading and TONS of research I’ve simplified the topic the best I can and hopefully answered all of your questions on IF.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
By definition, Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. This lifestyle doesn’t change what you are eating, but when you are eating. While this way of eating has recently gained popularity, it is actually the way our ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Food hasn’t always been readily available – no protein bars in your purse or vending machines. Our ancestors had to hunt for their food and would often go days without eating when food was scarce. I know… DAYS without food? Wouldn’t you DIE? Surprisingly not. Your body is actually built to thrive in a fasting state.
There are different intermittent fasting methods. These are the 3 most popular:
- 16/8: You eat two large meals within 6 to 8 hours and fast for the remaining 14 to 16 hours. Some people do this every day, or just a few times per week.
- 5:2: Eat as you normally would 5 days per week. The other two days are your “fasting” days, eating between 500 and 600 calories per day.
- Eat-stop-eat: This method restricts all food for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting most closely resembles the 16/8 method, but with one crucial difference: you drink a cup of Bulletproof Coffee in the morning. I personally will be trying this method out but with matcha of course (no butter coffee for me).
What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
There’s a laundry list of positive changes that occur when your body is in a fasting state. Here are some of the powerful benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Boosts weight loss
- Increases energy
- Promotes cellular repair and autophagy (when your body consumes defective tissue in order to produce new parts)
- Reduces insulin resistance and protects against type 2 diabetes
- Lowers bad cholesterol
- Promotes longevity
- Protects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Improves memory and boosts brain function
- Makes cells more resilient
What is important to note here regarding weight loss is that when it comes down to scientific research, IF has not been proven to be any more beneficial than restricting the amount of calories you eat.
What are the Potential Risks of Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is NOT for everyone!!! It might not even be for me… I’m all about listening to your body, so even if you don’t relate to any of the nonstarter items below, don’t feel the need to do anything that doesn’t make you feel GREAT!
#1 and most importantly, if you’re underweight or have a history of eating disorders, you should not fast without consulting with a health professional first. IF may also negatively affect your performance during your workout.
Some other risks that you have to consider is it could lead to binge eating. You must be cautious that your meals do not exceed 700 calories.
You should consult with a doctor before trying ANY type of diet, but most importantly if you:
- Have diabetes.
- Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
- Have low blood pressure.
- Take medications.
- Are underweight.
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Should You Try It?
Intermittent fasting is not something that anyone needs to do. You know my philosophy on being healthy: eat real food (fruits, veggies, lean protein), exercise and drink water. It’s really very simple!
At the end of the day, everybody is different and there is not one diet that will work for you all. Intermittent fasting has changed lives for some people, and has had negative effects in others. The only way to find out which group you belong to is to try it out!
I personally will be trying this out for 30 days (the month of December). My goal is to do the 16/8 method 4-5 times a week and see how I feel. I will follow up with a blog post on my journey. Who wants to join me?!