You: “Wow, Sally, you are looking fly lately!”
Sally: “Thanks! I’m doing this thing called Intermittent Fasting where I only eat in a 3-hour window and then I starve myself the rest of the day. It’s really hard and by 8 pm I start hallucinating, but man, I feel great!”
Ok, I’m mostly kidding and actually, I’m a fan of intermittent fasting (IF), but just as all nutritional advice goes, different things work for different people in different seasons of their lives.
I’m here to give you the facts and help you understand whether or not this practice is right for you.
Ok grab a snack, or nothing if you’re IF’ing, and settle in.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a catch-all term for various ways of restricting the window with which you eat in order to gain health benefits.
There seem to be so many different ways to do this. What options are legit?
- Fasting for 24-hours one or two days a week.
- Time-Restricted Feeding which means you eat in a window of 8 to 12 hours every day and fast for the remainder of the time. For example, a 16/8 hour fasting cycle where the person fasts for 16 hours and then eats in an 8-hour window. Fast, eat, repeat!
- “Warrior Diet” that advocates for fasting 20 hours a day and then eating all your food in a 4-hour window.
What are the benefits?
- Burn fat
- Improve muscle mass
- Lower insulin levels
- Initiates cellular repair which means its beneficial for slowing aging
- Protects against disease
- Lowers inflammation
- Positively influence gene expression
So Intermittent fasting can increase longevity, protect your health and get you ripped. Yes, please!
Why isn’t everyone doing this?
A lot of people are doing this and seeing tremendous benefits but IF is not for everyone. Individuals with hormonal imbalance can wind up making matters worse and feeling horrible in the process.
How do I know it’s not working for me?
If intermittent fasting isn’t right for your body at the moment, you will experience symptoms like:
- Disruption in digestion
- Sleep issues
- Mood swings out of nowhere
- Plummeting immune system
- Inability to bounce back or heal as quickly
- Missed periods.
Typically we see these negative effects on women because our hormones have a very precise and timed interplay, and even minor changes to energy intake can throw that all off.
This doesn’t mean that women shouldn’t IF. I do it at least 5 days per week and I notice better sleep, more energy, and better digestion. That being said, nothing works for everyone all of the time, which is why it is much more important to feel connected to your body than it is to learn about every new health hack out there.
When should I not intermittent fast?
I recommend avoiding this practice if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a history of eating disorders or dealing with a hormonal imbalance.
If you are a data geek like myself, download the Zero app so you can track your fasts and learn more about the science.