If you haven’t heard of it before, intermittent fasting is a diet style where you create a time window for fasting either weekly or daily. You don’t change what you eat, how you eat, or how much you eat – you’re only changing when you eat.
Let’s start with how this diet works.
Data shows that it takes your body 3 hours to digest your meal, which is why a lot of heavy lifters eat 6 meals once every 3 hours – consisting mainly of protein. This is a great plan for people who are looking to put on lots of muscle – you can read more information on this style of dieting in my post here. However, if you’re looking to lose weight, you should leave your body time to digest the fat that’s already settled in your body and not what you just consumed. Daily intermittent fasting consists of a 16 hour fast along with an 8 hour eating period. During this 16 hour fast is when your body has the chance to search for the settled calories and burn them. I know 16 hours seems like a crazy long time but if you think about it, you regularly go around 8-12 hours of not eating at night while you sleep. It may seem hard, but once you get into the pattern of it it’s very simple.
Intermittent fasting does NOT mean to starve yourself!
The purpose of the eating period is to get all of your energy for the day, just in a shorter time period. If you eat small portions or only 2 meals, you’ll likely feel fatigued and less energized throughout the day. Not to mention the low consumption of food actually slows down your metabolism, making the fasting period less effective. If you’re eating properly throughout your eating window, you’ll actually find that you feel more energized because your metabolism rate is so much higher on the regular. If you’re looking for more resources on intermittent fasting and how to do it safely, you can check out some of the links at the bottom.
Should I do it and how?
This diet is ideal for those of you who love your food too much to go on a paleo or vegan diet, or simply don’t like the idea of your diet restricting you from enjoying your days. The other great part about intermittent fasting is that you can arrange it in a way that fits your schedule best. This is one of the only diets I regularly follow simply because of it’s flexibility in my busy schedule and my constant cravings.
There are many ways you can set up daily intermittent fasting, but the two I find most appealing to my schedule and my needs are simply to “skip” one meal time. I carefully put “skip” in quotations to remind you that you should not be skipping meals – just eating them earlier! For me, I work a lot of night shifts so it’s best for me to “skip” dinner time since I’m not allowed to eat during work anyways. This means my eating window is from 8am-4pm since my shifts usually start at 5:00pm or 6:00pm. When I’m not working for a long period of time or I’m working more day shifts, I usually eat dinner with my family so I’ll be “skipping” breakfast and set my eating window from 12pm-8pm. I mainly only follow this schedule because family time is important to me and my mom makes some really good food. I prefer not to do this schedule for a few reasons: one, I think breakfast is a really important meal that gets my energy up for the whole day; two, I usually do cardio in the mornings and not being able to eat right after messes up my workout style; three, I’m always really hungry when I wake up and it’s harder to resist food; and four, I find that fasting while I’m awake in the afternoons and moving around works better as I’m still up and burning calories rather than sleeping in in the morning.
Keep up a healthy workout schedule for the best results.
Do keep in mind that this diet works best with a steady workout schedule. The extra oomph of burning calories for 30-60 minutes daily boosts your metabolism and not only burns the food you’ve been eating throughout the day, but also boosts the burning process during your fasting. I usually workout twice a day when I’m aiming to lose weight; one set of cardio in the morning on an empty stomach, post-fasting period, and another set of cardio with some strength training in the afternoon in between my meals. I set my workouts for cardio and strength to be in between my meals because I’m able to have enough energy from the first meal and get to burn that off. I also get pretty hungry after my workouts – I can replenish those calories I burned with my last meal of the day, leaving me less hungry for the rest of the afternoon/night. Should I workout after my eating window, I’ll be starving during my fasting period which is never fun and not too healthy.
Don’t go crazy with the chocolate cake.
Just because intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, you should still do your best to maintain a healthy diet. If you’re consuming 3 pieces of chocolate cake a night, the fast will be much less effective and it’ll have the same effect on your body as it would if you weren’t fasting. I find the best results come from keeping up a low-carb diet while intermittent fasting, but find the diet plan that best suits your appetite and weight loss goals.
The diet that works around you.
Like I’ve said before, the best part about this diet is the fact that you make it your diet that follows your schedule and you can still satisfy your cravings. So don’t follow what I do just because I said I do it – I came to those conclusions because I played around with the diet and figured out what best suited me and my lifestyle. For more resources on intermittent fasting, click below: