So there’s this new dieting method that’s gaining a LOT of attention— it’s called intermittent fasting.
Wait, what? Fasting, like not eating— for long periods of time?
Sounds awful right? And counterproductive— I mean, haven’t we been told that fasting slows metabolism and leads to dietary backlash?
For years I’ve been encouraging clients to participate in a healthy breakfast first thing in the morning and to curb an unruly appetite by eating 6 small meals a day. So I was certainly skeptical. Regardless of my skepticism, intermittent fasting continued to tell her story and spread her success.
Intermittent fasting was the new it girl—
so as Health Coach I HAD to give her a chance, and girrrrrl have I got a story for you…
I’ve always had to work at my weight. Growing up I noticed that my girlfriends could get away with eating all sorts of sugar-laden, processed junk food and not gain a pound, while I was over here lifting all the things, eating all the greens and still maintaining a wider waistline. WTF?
And as I crept towards my 40’s I could have blamed genetics, hormones or stress levels for stubborn weight, but I knew very well that ALL such factors are heavily influenced by dietary decisions. So the decision was made to assume responsibility and fully commit to the keto diet.
Keto was an absolute game changer! My digestion improved, my tummy tightened and my energy skyrocketed. But I was still battling an exceptionally ravenous appetite. I tried all the tricks in the book— eating 6 small meals a day, upping my dietary fat, limiting my workouts— you name it. I just couldn’t get a handle on my appetite.
So you could imagine when I stumbled upon intermittent fasting I wasn’t so much curious as I was downright terrified.
You see, I don’t respond well to that whole let’s just not eat approach.
I mean, the whole concept seems to contradict entrenched nutritional beliefs that fasting disrupts metabolic function. The only selling point (beyond its popularity) lie in our anthropological history. Intermittent fasting is not a new dietary technique— it’s a Paleolithic way of eating. Before the time of limitless access to food supply, our ancestors ancestors relied on fat stores and ketone production for fuel during months of famine. Fasting was, at one time, as natural a part of life as breathing.
However, in today’s day and age, the concept of fasting as a primer for optimal health is a tough pill to swallow, and one that may require a bit of myth-busting.
Myth #1: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
We’ve all heard it. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Beyond the obvious energizing effects breakfast has on the body, it’s also thought to set you up for dietary success throughout the day. Over the years this sort of convoluted information had me forcing down steal-cut oats with sliced banana and fresh oj in order to “jumpstart my metabolism.”
And just for the record, the “healthy” breakfast mentioned above is equivalent to eating 4 glazed Dunkin’ Donuts. 😳
So let’s be honest— all I was really doing for myself was spiking my blood sugar and setting myself up for some serious hanger in the hours to come. Great.
So what you’re saying is, DON’T eat breakfast?
Well, not necessarily.
What kind of horseshit answer is that?
Myth #2: Eating 6 small meals per day helps boost metabolism
Metabolism encompasses millions of chemical processes that keep your body alive and well. Metabolism is related to weight because it influences the body’s energetic needs. Take in more energy than you need, and the excess will be stored as fat.
Optimal meal frequency is a widely debated topic in the fitness world. As of late we’ve been told that eating 6 small meals throughout the day may help combat cravings and boost metabolism.
Wrong-o! Research is now suggesting that eating many mini meals has absolutely no bearing on metabolism whatsoever. More important than frequency is quantity and quality of meals.
Now that we’ve finished myth-busting, let’s have a closer look at intermittent fasting.
What is intermittent fasting?
The term alone is rather intimidating, but I assure you it’s not nearly as challenging as you’re imagining (especially once your body is in a state of ketosis). Though there are various methods of intermittent fasting, I’m only going to discuss one method today. It’s likely the simplest and most common form to implement— it’s known as the 16/8 method. The 16/8 method is as as simple as it reads. It involves an 8 hour window of feasting followed by a 16 hour window of fasting.
Now don’t get all bent out of shape just yet. For most of us, 8 of those 16 hours are spent sleeping. By extending the fast a few hours before and a few hours after you’ll easily hit your 16 hour fast.
So which hours are best for fasting?
This all depends on you my friend. Your schedule. Your appetite. Your lifestyle. I would recommend selecting a time frame that works best for you. And here’s the thing— you don’t have to be militant about it. Occasionally I wake up with one hell of an appetite, so I start the feast early. Just keep in mind that if the feast starts early, so does the fast.
Here’s a quick snippet of what my window looks like.
Remember, your schedule doesn’t need to micmic mine. What’s most important is that you design a schedule to fit your specific needs. Also— and this is the MOST important piece…
Sometimes you’re gonna blow it.
Occasionally I’m out late hu-rahing around town and I have a glass of wine (or two) and a small bite past 7pm. Who cares! Enjoy your occasional indulgence and let it go. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up over falling off schedule. Sleep off the wine and get back on track the following day.
Why should I fast?
Perhaps the better question is, why shouldn’t you? Intermittent fasting is good for everything from accelerated weight loss to improved brain function. But you don’t need to take my word for it, Dr. Joseph Mercola lays out some serious fasting benefits in his latest book, Fat for Fuel. In summary, the following list contains the top 10 benefits of intermittent fasting as described by Dr. Mercola.
Badass! SO many benefits. But what about potential risk factors?
Are there any risk factors associated with intermittent fasting?
I’m glad you asked. There certainly are. I would caution all diabetics and hypoglycemics to tread lightly. In fact, the better plan of action would be to avoid any period of calorie restriction until blood sugar and insulin levels have been regulated.
Intermittent fasting is also not advisable if you’re…
- Pregnant or breast-feeding
- Suffering from adrenal fatigue
- Battling Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia
- Malnourished or Underweight
- Under 18
- Current diet is filled with processed food products
Addressing the quality of your diet is crucial before venturing into fasting.
To learn more about cleaning up your diet and regulating blood sugar levels by implementing the ketogenic diet.
What makes intermittent fasting keto’s best kept secret?
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet. Essentially the ketogenic diet involves reprogramming the body to rely on fat rather than glucose for fuel.
And because fat fuels us, protects us and perpetuates us— it has become really good at hanging onto itself— even when we’re in a state of ketosis (fat-burning).
Intermittent fasting is the secret weapon.
When paired with the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting helps prompt you into ketosis and works to keep you there. Once your body has shifted into fat-burning mode, it will be easier for you to fast for up to 18 hours and still feel satiated. And once you’re fasting with ease, your cravings for sugar will slowly dissipate and managing your weight will be MUCH easier!
I’d love to hear all about your journey with intermittent fasting. Feel free to share your story in the comments below.
xo, Coach Katie