Intermittent fasting… lets clear this up!

Intermittent fasting is in diet fashion right now. There are many books that have been written on the topic in the past year alone, problem is they all say different things. Lets clear up some basics.

There are 2 reasons to fast:

1. to restrict calories to lose weight
2. to give the digestive system a rest

Fasting has been used all over the world for thousands of years… its nothing new. Either as part of a health ritual, religious reasons or just total lack of food. Its only recently that it has been picked up by the body conscious crowd. I have read lots of different ways to do it from 16/8 hour fast/eating windows, 2 days per week limiting calories or fasting, Skipping breakfast or replacing it with coffee.

Okay firstly just skipping breakfast or eating it a little later on is not intermittent fasting. You need to go at least 16 hours until your stomach fully stops digesting. At this point you are technically fasting, people have been known to go a full 2 weeks on only water.

Secondly if you consume anything during the fasting window other than water you are in a state of under eating not fasting. Even if you drink black coffee this stimulates the body to release insulin into the blood which in turn breaks the fast.

Now I’m not saying that skipping breakfast is a bad idea as this is something I practice myself often, or at least I might eat 3-5 hours after waking depending on how I’m feeling and my client schedule. I just want everyone to understand what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Women and men also react differently to fasting due to different hormonal profiles, Men generally can go longer without eating without and negative effects but women generally do better on a shorter fast or more of an under eating phase lasting not much longer than 8 hours, but this will very much depend on you as a person and the breakdown of carbs and fats you eat. Self experimentation is the only true way to know if its working for you.

I could go on all day about this topic but to keep things short here are my basic suggestions:

If weight loss is your main goal then overall calorie intake is going to be your concern, if you are someone that struggles with snacking then using the undereating protocol could be best for you so you restrict your eating window each day, for instance you eat your first meal at 12pm and your last at 8pm. You may find it easier to control calories this way but if you find you are too hungry to function until 12 then this doesn’t work for you.

If your concern is health then fasting could be for you. Your immune system is located in your gut and if you take a break from feeding it you give your body a chance to heal itself. This could be the prevention of disease or just trying to recover from a cold. I would suggest trying a single day water fast at first to see how you get on. Some will do this once a month some once a week, as I said earlier you need to experiment but do so with the guidance of an experienced nutrition coach or doctor.

I hope this simple post clears up a little of the confusion and if you would like to learn more of the science then get in contact.

Adam