Fat Loss and Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is a technique that has been all over the health and wellness platforms and websites lately. You may not hear much about intermittent fasting from many mainstream outlets, as there is not much money to be made by those who promote its implementation — companies have a hard time making money off of potential customers not eating. So, if you haven’t heard of intermittent fasting yet, please let me be the first to break it down for you.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is when you fast…. intermittently. So you restrict your food intake for a certain amount of time, usually 12 or more hours at a time. You still drink water, ya just don’t eat. Pretty simple, yeah?
There are a lot of different ways you can reap the benefits of fasting (which I will get into here in a second) and it totally depends on your schedule and circumstances.
But first let’s address something — things gets controversial because as soon as you say “restrict” people get trigger happy. “You should have no rules when it comes to food! Restriction causes disordered eating!” I understand and it can cause that! Trust me, as someone who has struggled with binge and purge habits and has obsessed over calorie restriction and clean eating… I know first hand that too many rules surrounding diet can wreckkkk your mental health.
HOWEVER, people sometimes take this “Eat whatever you like, no rules! That way you’re happier and don’t have disordered eating!” too far. I disagree that you should completely disregard any kind of discipline when it comes to how you feed and take care of your body just to avoid stress or discomfort.
Discipline is important, bottom line. That’s how things get done.
You need to look at discipline as nourishment instead of as punishment.
Eating processed crap and mindlessly munching on whatever your little heart desires is ALSO disordered eating. Eating poorly is disordered eating, in my opinion. That will bring you so much pain and sickness and complications later in life.
Very few people these days DON’T struggle with a little bit of disordered eating. It’s okay to evaluate where you’re at with your physical health and realize that you might be doing something harmful to your body. It’s okay to struggle with it until you figure out what works best for you.
There was a time in my life where I ate processed foods and A LOT of it and I didn’t exercise at all… and there were times when I was meticulously counting my calories and restricting the types of foods I ate. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I felt like I had to go through both of those times… equally as hard but just in different ways… in order to find a middle ground that was healthy and ACTUALLY WORKED for me.
I tried IF when I was in the depths of my disordered eating habits and when I was in the worst place mentally. It caused problems so I stopped.
Fast forward 2 years and I have been doing IF for almost 6 months and it has been the best thing ever for my mental and physical health! I have maintained my healthiest weight for over a year with little to no fluctuation (besides when I am menstruating 😝) and I have more energy, my mind is clear, and I am more aware of the quality of my food.
So if you feel healthy without this, that is perfectly fine! No one NEEDS to do this, it’s just another tool that can be used for your benefit! Everyone is different and needs different things, so do you.
Let’s jump into some benefits.
1.) Fasting gives your body the opportunity and time it needs to heal itself.
Our bodies were made with a built-in ability to heal themselves. They are amazing and complex machines. Fasting aids in the process of cell repair called autophagy. This process is basically a cellular “waste removal” in the body. It reduces free radical cell damage, facilitates new cell formation, and makes cells more resilient. This is also a plus for your skin! Fasting can cause your skin to look tighter and brighter!
2.) It boosts your energy and increases fat loss.
Your body switches from burning glucose to burning fat after 12 -14 hours of fasting so you will start to see that stubborn fat fall off.
IF enhances hormone function to help you facilitate weight loss as well. Your insulin levels drop significantly and human growth hormones are increased. Additionally, epinephrine (AKA adrenaline) is dumped into your blood stream. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, muscle strength, and sugar metabolism. (This is similar to your body’s response to exercise.) Now your metabolic rate is increased by about 3.6-14%, which sets you up to burn even more calories.
3.) It helps balance caloric intake.
Generally, you will eat fewer meals. I tend to eat 2 big meals and one small one when I am intermittent fasting. Usually my first meal is at 11 or noon and then I eat a little something at 3, then I finish with a bigger meal around 6 or 7pm. Personally, this has made me even more motivated to eat clean. When you aren’t constantly feeling full, you can really start to listen to what your body needs. You don’t have time to fill your stomach with nutrient-less, empty snacks… You have to make every little bit count! My meals are healthier because I want to make sure I can fill my body with greens, healthy proteins, quality carbs, and clean fats. You get more bang for your buck!
It’s also a plus because you don’t have to waste so much time eating! The times that I’ve done a 24 hour fast… I realize how much time I waste everyday eating or figuring out what to eat. Not that that is bad by any means on a regular day, but the time you save skipping one big meal each day can add up quick!
When I intermittent fast I may eat fewer meals but I still get my fair share of calories in. I don’t go crazy counting my calories because I know I’m not going to be thousands of calories over with just 2 big meals. I never feel restricted because I know I can eat as much as I want in my eating window.
It has created a balance for me. I love to eat, a lot and IF has given me freedom to have seconds or even thirds if I want, without feeling bloated or lethargic all day. It just gives my body time to actually utilize all the good nutrients I put in it.
If you want to try it out, I suggest starting with the 16:8 method. Fasting for 16 hours, eating for 8. For example, if you start eating at 10am, you stop eating at 6pm. Then you fast for those 16 hours in between. You can even do 14:10, just make sure you are fasting for 14 hours to really let your body go into ketosis so you can really reap the benefits!
There is also the option to do a 24-hour fast once a week. This sounds hard but it really isn’t bad. When I do a 24-hour fast, I start fasting at 6pm and begin eating the next day at 6pm and it flies by, if you keep busy!
I suggest doing your own research and really considering if this is something that interests you! As you start, record how you feel in a journal or on your phone. Write down what feels good, what feels bad. Give it about a week or two, it might be hard or uncomfortable at first, but it gets pretty easy! You get so used to it, it becomes the norm.
IF has become more and more popular in the last couple years because study after study document and promote the incredible things it can do. I already feel like this post has gone on for too long, but if you have tried IF leave a comment and let me know your experience!