Categories

Archives

Back to Blog

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Intermittent Fasting?
  3. Popular Ways to Fast
  4. How Does Growth Hormone Work?
  5. Where Did Intermittent Fasting Come From?
  6. Can Anybody Fast?
  7. Fasting’s Effect on Insulin
  8. Pitfalls of Fasting to Avoid

Introduction

PLEASE NOTE: Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It is a way for a person to choose when to eat based on scientific or religious reasoning.

You can use intermittent fasting during a low-carb diet, a low-fat diet, a paleo diet or any other type of diet.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. Even in countries where the culture was recognized for their amazing feats of health (like in Okinawa, Japan), there have been significant increases in the number of obese people.

The addiction to junk food and processed edibles is the widely-accepted suspect behind the increase in obesity.

When all this junk food causes a spike in your blood sugar level, your body will store excess calories in your fat stores. If this becomes a chronic event, insulin sensitivity will decrease and the problem gets worse.

On top of the poor eating habits of the general population, the majority of people live a very sedentary lifestyle. Long hours of sitting at school, even longer hours sitting at work and often, when you get home from either of those, you’re going to sit down for most of your time at home.

Even when people are given the opportunity to walk, they will choose to drive.

These habits will lead to weight gain.

Have you taken your Health Test?
Have you taken the Health Test to find out where you may need to focus your nutritional attention? You’ll need to log in, or if you aren’t a member yet you’ll have to sign-up. Don’t worry though, it’s completely free!

Price Is a Factor

What makes it worse in the North American continent is the difference in the price of processed food (aka junk food) versus whole foods (aka healthy foods).

This means that families living with low-income can afford more of the junk food than the healthy food so, of course, they will often reach for the junk food. This is why obesity is more prevalent in low-income areas.

What if it didn’t have to be like that?

What if you could afford to eat healthily and lose weight no matter your income?

Intermittent fasting allows you to do just that.

 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting, or IF, places a stronger emphasis on the timing of your meals instead of only focusing on what you’re eating.

The general idea is to cycle periods of fasting with periods of eating. There are numerous ways to plan an IF protocol but any way you use it will offer incredible benefits.

Here is the main element of intermittent fasting:

There are two “windows” of time available:

One is called a Fasting Window and the other is an Eating Window.

Just to state the obvious, so we don’t leave anyone behind:

Fasting Window – you do not eat anything during this time. You only consume water.

Eating Window – you can consume all the food and drink you have planned for this time.

The reason many people struggle to lose weight is that they never decrease their glycogen stores enough (from a lack of activity).

When you eat food, you’re giving your body a source of energy. If it has access to this energy all day, every day, your body will never begin to use your fat-stores as an energy source.

That’s why, even with exercise, many do not drop any amount of weight.

If you want to hear us explain it, our Inspired Nourishment episode on fasting is available for you to watch!

 

But Won’t My Body Go Into Starvation Mode?

This seems to a popular belief, but it is a fallacy.

Celebrities often have busy schedules so intermittent fasting has been an excellent way of reaching physique goals while staying healthy and on-point. Do you believe their trainers and coaches would allow them to do something that would have a negative effect?

Which celebrities, I hear you asking? Here are a few names that come to mind:

  • Hugh Jackman
  • Liv Tyler
  • Ben Affleck
  • Christy Turlington
  • Miranda Kerr

Starvation mode usually requires more than 48 hours of little-to-no calorie consumption or little-to-no micronutrient consumption (vitamins and minerals).

With intermittent fasting, your fasting window is usually between 10 and 20 hours. Some may perform intermittent fasting on a larger scale, for example; fast for two days and then eat normally for the rest of the week. We don’t suggest this method here, but will explain these different strategies further down!

You’re still consuming your target number of calories. You’re just eating them in a shorter period of time! 

 

Intermittent Fasting: Breaking it Down

3 Popular Types of Fasting

As we’ve discussed, fasting is an easy to use tool to help you with either your weight loss goals or to improve your overall health.  It’s also a way of quickly getting your body into ketosis (burning fat for fuel) and can be very easy to do depending on your lifestyle and energy needs.  When fasting, what most of us already know, is that you stop eating for a specific amount of time. Is this the only way? What about drinking water?

There are actually a few different ways to fast.  Let’s review.

Wet Fast

A wet fast is a fast where the person fasting eats no food but drinks water only.  Fasting allows the body the time to heal. A study done at the University of California discovered that a three day wet fast actually resets your immune system by activating stem cells which enable you to perform at optimal levels.

How does it work?

When you intake plenty of water without food, this helps the body flush out toxins at a more rapid rate.  In addition, if your water is filtered, you are no longer intaking toxins through food and drink. This allows your body to use 100% of its metabolic energy to cleanse.  

Our digestive system works without any rest, day in and day out. A water fast will give your entire digestive system some time to repair and heal itself which will, in turn, allow your body to naturally release toxins. A thick white coating on the tongue may be a sign that the toxins are being eliminated.

How does it benefit the body?

Generally, during a wet fast, your health and vitality improve. You feel more energetic after the fast. When you start fasting, the body triggers your pituitary gland to release HGH (human growth hormone). This hormonal surge causes your body to use more fat for energy, instead of breaking down muscle. Long-term fasting is known to alleviate many conditions like eczema and other skin problems, migraine, sinusitis, chronic body aches, asthma, allergies, arthritis, etc.

Fasting can also reverse the aging process and boost immunity as it tends to give a clearer skin and better sleep. This also helps to clear the mind and make you feel lighter and more energetic.

A three-day or more water fast can be taken up by those who are experienced with 24-hour fasts. Longer (3-21 day) fasts are, at times, recommended for therapeutic health benefits. However, this should only be done with professional supervision. If you have a serious illness, consult your physician first, before you attempt fasting.  You should not be fasting if you are pregnant or nursing.

Dry Fast

A dry fast is, just as it sounds, a fast where you do not eat NOR do you drink any water.  In fact, there are some dry fasts, called hard dry fasts, that encourage participants to avoid all contact with water.  No brushing your teeth, no washing your hands and no bathing. The theory behind this type of intense fast is that the pores of your skin develop a greater capacity to absorb water through the skin and in a good clean environment will even absorb moisture from the air. Animals commonly use dry fasting for healing. When wounded or very sick, they retreat for rest and refuse to take in food or water until they get better. Maybe you’ve seen this happen in your own family pet.  Humans used to have the same instinct.

You may have heard somewhere the common belief that humans can only survive about three days without water.  This isn’t actually true. It might surprise you to learn that therapeutic dry fasts can last as long as five, seven, nine, or even eleven days. In fact, The Guinness Book of Records mentions 18 days as a record for a person surviving without any food or water.

Dry fasting should NOT be carried if you are a beginner to fasting.

How does it work?

During a dry fast, the body survives on endogenous or metabolic water, produced internally as a result of metabolizing fat tissue. Unlike the water we drink, this metabolic water is of superb quality, produced by the hard work of our own cells. It literally erases any negative information imprint which the body had before the fast, allowing cells to experience a kind of a rebirth. The skin, a detoxifying organ, changes its role.  Rather than being an organ that expels toxins, it begins to take in any available water from the air and supplying it to healthy cells. Besides water, the skin will absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and nitrogen to manufacture its own amino acids. Since there is no water to flush out the endogenous toxins, they are eliminated by each cell individually. In effect, they become like mini furnaces that burn up their own waste.

How does it benefit the body?

Inflammation cannot exist without water. Microorganisms need water to survive. These facts taken together make dry fasting a highly effective tool to address acute health issues and degenerative conditions. A dry fast stimulates the immune system, activates the body’s anti-inflammatory mechanisms, purifies the blood and clears the blood vessels, as well as cleanses the GI tract and renews its mucosal lining.

Dry fasting also eliminates parasites and promotes regeneration of healthy tissues. Every cell of the body literally cleans house. Only the strongest and healthiest of cells survive in such extreme conditions, while cysts and benign tumors dissolve as a result of autolysis, a process by which the body sacrifices its sickest cells for its own survival.

Fat Fast

There seems to be mixed applications of a fat fast.  But, as the term implies, a fat fast is fasting while only consuming fat.  The general rule would be to eat 80-90% of your calories from fat while keeping your calorie intake low, up to 1000-1200 calories per day. This fast should be followed for no more than 3-5 days.  

Some practitioners believe that this type of fasting is ideal for those whose bodies are already adapted to a ketogenic lifestyle but have reached a weight loss plateau.  Others believe that fat fasting can be a way for you to get “used to” fasting. Using a fat fast as a way to more easily transition from a conventional diet to a wet fast.

How does it work?

The idea behind a fat fast is to eat a lot of fatty foods to help your body reach fat burning mode faster and without some of the other side effects of wet or dry fasting, such as headaches and hunger pangs.  To be honest, there isn’t a lot of reliable data around the benefits of doing a fat fast. However, it seems to be a tool that people can use to help them either adapt to fasting or shock their bodies during a plateau.  Fat fasts are recommended if:

  • You are coming off a high carb diet
  • You experience extreme hunger and carb cravings
  • You find traditional fasting too stressful

The key, here, is to have your body in ketosis.  This means, your body will be burning fat for fuel.  Not only the fat that you’re ingesting but the fat within your own body.  As your body becomes used to burning fat as fuel, a person doing a fat fast may notice that they are less hungry and do not feel the need to eat, as they did before.  Cravings are gone and their appetite is suppressed, making the transition to a traditional fast easier. During a fat fast, you can not eat dairy or nuts.

Bone Broth Fast

A bone broth fast is a fast that is generally done from 2-4 days where the practitioner will drink about 2-4L of bone broth daily and avoid solid foods.  The idea is to reset the body while giving it a ton of nutrition through the consumption of bone broth. Maybe you’ve already hopped on the bone broth train.  If not, you may want to take some time to learn all about the benefits of drinking bone broth.  

How does it work?

Bone broth has become one of the well-known foods to eat to improve your gut health and autoimmune conditions.  As a natural source of collagen, gelatin, minerals, and amino acids, bone broth drinkers often feel an increase of energy, better digestion, weight loss, a faster metabolism, clearer, and brighter looking skin and a more restful sleep.  Of course, drinking bone broth at any time will offer all of these benefits but it is believed that when you are fasting and only consuming bone broth, your body will be better able to digest and absorb the nutrients more efficiently.

How does it benefit the body?

One of the key benefits of a bone broth fast is that it allows you to consistently intake plenty of nutrients, electrolytes, and protein during your fast.  Unlike a dry fast, or even a wet fast, where your daily nutrient intake is minimal. With bone broth, your energy levels stay up while the protein from the broth keeps you satiated; making this type of fast easier to do.

Most people find it best fasting between a period of three to four days, during this time consuming several liters of bone broth daily and eliminating problematic foods.  This way of fasting gives the body an optimal amount of collagen, a type of protein needed to create healthy tissues, to heal the lining of the digestive tract and strengthen the joints, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage of the body.  Collagen is also responsible for improving the skin, in all its functions; helping to keep it hydrated, preventing signs of aging, and even reducing the appearance of cellulite.

When collagen breaks down, gelatin is formed.  This is known to help people with food sensitivities or allergies.  Gelatin also has certain amino acids which have a certain “anti-aging” effect.  

Because most fasts (other than fat fasts) are void of nutrients, bone broth fasts keep your mineral intake high, providing necessary calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfate, and fluoride.  This can help prevent electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, fatigue, brain fog, moodiness and muscle spasms or weakness. The amino acids found in bone broth also support the chemicals in the brain that help us think clearly, stay motivated, remember information and make decisions.

Here’s an example of timing your fasts:

You choose to perform IF with a 16 hour fast and an 8-hour eating window.

Now, if you’re like most, you’ll have your last meal of the eating window in the evening before bed.

When you go to sleep, your body goes through some changes on a chemical level. But your body cannot enter a truly advantageous state until it’s done digesting the last bit of food you ate.

Once that process is complete, your sleep will deepen and your pituitary gland will secrete growth hormone.

Growth hormone is a peptide that stimulates growth in all major tissues of the body (like muscle, bone, and organ). This is why sleep and rest is the most prescribed course of action for people who are sick or injured. Tissues that need repairing, whether it’s from an inflammatory response or from an external injury, require growth hormone as a catalyst. 

But there’s one benefit of growth hormone that many don’t know about. Fat loss.

How Does Growth Hormone Work?

Growth hormone plays a big role in fat mobilization¹, the process required for using fat for fuel!

The problem with the standard Western habit of waking up and eating breakfast is that the subsequent presence of glucose and insulin will curb the effect of growth hormone.

Now, imagine you begin your day by continuing to fast? You’ve already been fasting while sleeping for 8 hours, your body has experienced the benefit of your fasted chemical-state for approximately 5 hours (-3 hours for digestion of your last meal). What if we could continue this benefit?

Skipping breakfast means there is no insulin spike, there is no influx of calories ready for the body to use. Now your body is taking full advantage of the large-scale fat mobilization happening within.²

Every task you complete for the next 8 hours no matter how big or small will cost your body energy!

That energy has to come from somewhere, and since the fat is already mobilized, your body will continue to use it instead of using any stored glycogen.

Fast-forward to the end of your 16-hour fast and you begin to enjoy your 8-hour eating window.

Your body will have used up the majority of your stored glycogen and some of your stored fat. The growth hormone effect had stopped a few hours ago and you’re looking forward to your meals.

There are a few ways you can do this.

  1. Eating two big meals, one at the start of your eating window and the second in the middle of it.
  2. Go for your usual 3 meals split up evenly over the 8 hours.
  3. Or eat 4 to 6 meals split up every 75 minutes to 2 hours.

If you can start your fast a decent amount of time before going to bed, your body will secrete the growth hormone that little bit sooner.

It’s rinse and repeat. So, you can just wake up and do the same thing again the following day!

 

Where Did Intermittent Fasting Come From?

Fasting has been used as a tool by multiple different cultures for many centuries. It has also been used inadvertently since the dawn of human existence.

Before the days of supermarkets, bakeries and intercontinental travel, humans had to eat what could be found within a reasonable distance. Unfortunately, this meant only having the option of several food-types. It also meant that there were frequent periods of limited food. Humans would often only eat properly one or two times (perhaps snacking on seeds and berries) but their energy expenditure from physical activity was close to 1,200 calories each day.³

To give us some context, the average office worker sitting at their desk for a combined 6 hours (39 calories per hour) and 1 hour of combined walking/moving (178 calories per hour) will equate to 412 calories.⁴

Even if we take into account the difference in our evolved efficiency of human metabolism, we are still grossly inactive. Even in those that undereat, the food being consumed is often of poor nutritious value.

It’s clear that if we are not going to adapt our activity level to match our eating habits, we need to adapt our eating habits to match our activity level!

This is where intermittent fasting is seen as the holy grail. When it first began trending in fitness groups and in nutrition forums, it was often referred to as a “fad diet” but the scientific evidence is now piling up, supporting it as a tool in increasing health and longevity in humans.

¹https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC293181/pdf/jcinvest00329-0044.pdf

²https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/

³https://paleotraining.com/wp-content/uploads/An-evolutionary-perspective-on-human-physical-activity.pdf

http://calorielab.com/burned/

Can Anybody fast?

If we’re being completely honest, not everybody will see positive results. For most, intermittent fasting is an excellent way to improve your health and physique. Many studies have shown increased use of fat stores and an overall increase in metabolic rate but nothing works for every person on the planet. Some people’s internal chemistry may require a different set of habits to perform optimally.

Safety Notice: Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

Below there are three different types of intermittent fasting plans.

Billy is inexperienced in fasting and wanted to try it out so he is trying out version A.

Janet is somewhat experienced in fasting and wants to try something a little more intense. She uses version B.

Ashley is highly experienced in fasting and exercise. She uses version C.

So, let’s take a look at what they’re doing.

Version A

As a beginner, Billy’s fasting window and eating window are both 12 hours.

As Billy is fasting for approximately 4-5 hours while awake and 7-8 hours while sleeping, he doesn’t consume anything except water during this time.

Billy had two options when approaching this plan:

  1. He could have begun his fast 4 to 5 hours before sleeping (depending on how much sleep he gets):
    1. This gives Billy the benefit of growth hormone release early in his sleep pattern. His body will feel rejuvenated when he wakes up but he’ll likely be hungry and ready for breakfast!
    2. Once he wakes up, he eats several small meals or a couple of big meals over the next 12 hours – e.g. 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., or 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    3. This method is best for building muscle if Billy works out in the morning.
    4. Or if Billy wants to lose weight, he will work out in the evening.
  2. The second option was for him to begin his fast from the moment of sleep until he woke up and continued until he’d had a full 12 hours of no ingested calories:
    1. This extends the benefit of growth hormone release into wakefulness and will decrease Billy’s natural insulin response in the morning (increasing insulin sensitivity).
    2. If Billy wakes up at 6 a.m. and had 8 hours of sleep, he’ll continue to fast for another 4 hours. His eating window will begin at 10 a.m.
    3. If Billy wants to lose weight, he exercises in the morning.
    4. If he wants to build some muscle, he exercises in the evening.

Version B

This is going to be the most commonly occurring protocol among intermittent fasters.

Janet’s fasting window is 16 hours (including sleep) and her eating window is 8 hours.

This has been used by many cultures as a standard lifestyle but it was made popular in the mainstream fitness world by Martin Berkhan. Although, he decided to give women a 14 hour fast and kept men on the 16-hour fast.

Janet has decided to break up the timing to make it easier for her lifestyle.

Janet sleeps 8 hours, so her routine looks like this:

  • 6 a.m. – Janet wakes up and continues fasting for 6 hours
  • 12 p.m. (noon) – She breaks her fast and has her first meal
  • 8 p.m. – Now she stops eating and only drinks water
  • 10 p.m. – Janet goes to bed to get some sleep
  • 6 a.m. – She wakes up now and continues fasting for 6 hours
  • Repeat

This offers the most benefit from the timing of her body’s hormones and limiting the fasting period after waking.

There’s Another Way

Janet could simply start her fast just before she goes to sleep and then wake up and fast for another 8 hours. For many people, however, it simply isn’t sustainable. If they’re in an office or workplace surrounded by people eating delicious smelling food!

Janet’s method is better suited to people looking to stay lean or lose weight rather than build muscle. Unless she is dedicated enough to supply her body with a constant influx of balanced nutrients during her eating window, Janet probably won’t be consuming enough of a surplus of macro and micronutrients to support muscle hypertrophy.

Janet’s body should have enough nutrients to repair tissue that’s been damaged and stressed in the gym, so she won’t lose muscle. But to feed the growth of muscle tissue beyond repair-only will require far more dedication to food choice and preparation.

Janet works out either in the middle of her eating window or toward the end, this ensures she gets the most performance out of her gym session.

It can take a couple of weeks to get used to exercising in a fasted state and Janet didn’t want to injure herself or pass out in the gym, so she did NOT schedule her workouts before her eating window starts.

Safety Tip: If you start to feel dizzy during a workout, stop immediately and try to eat something with some sugar in it. Your health should never take a backseat to your gym performance!

 

Version C

Ashley’s version requires dedication and discipline as she’s teasing herself during the day with a certain amount of calories from high-fat sources.

It seems Ashley was inspired by Ori Hofmekeler and his Warrior Diet.

In the Warrior Diet, the basic premise is to under-eat throughout the day, for 20 hours, snacking on only fresh fruit, raw veggies, and even fruit juice. He also suggests a couple servings of protein!

In Ashley’s intermittent fasting plan, however, the 24-hour period seems to be broken up into stages.

Here is an example of her day:

[based on sleeping for 8 hours and waking up at 6 a.m.]
  • Stage 1 – Ashley starts fasting (13 hours)
    • She begins the fast at 8 p.m.
    • Goes to sleep at 10 p.m.
    • Sleeps until 6 a.m.
    • Wakes up and continues to fast, consuming only water for the next 3 hours
  • Stage 2 – She takes a “Fast-break” (5 hours)
    • Ashley breaks the fast at 9 a.m. by drinking a Bulletproof Coffee
    • At 12 p.m. (noon) she eats a handful of either pecans or hazelnuts
  • Stage 3 – Ashley’s Main Eating Window (6 hours)
    • At 2 p.m. Ashley eats a protein-rich meal with a little more fat – e.g. egg salad
    • Every 2 hours following, she eats a meal rich in protein with moderate carbs
    • At 8 p.m. she stops eating

The truth is, it’s easier to “not eat” than it is to stick to a strict eating routine with highly specific foods. Ashley needs to plan and prepare ahead of time so she can maintain a healthy balance of nutrients.

Ashley is following an exercise program. With this plan, she can train at any time during her Fast-break or Main Eating Window.

It may provide her with significantly more nutrients than Janet’s version, so if Ashley was looking to increase lean muscle mass then this would be a better option.

The increased fat mobilization that will be happening in Ashley’s body during the fasting period and encouraged by dietary fat consumption during the Fast-break, will undoubtedly lead to an increase in fat loss.

Fasting: The Effect on Insulin

Generally, when we eat, our digestive system breaks down the food we ingest into necessary components for the body; mainly amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose.  Glucose is our body’s preferred energy source. So, as the glucose is released into the bloodstream, the pancreas must secrete insulin to attach to the glucose molecule and bring it into the cell where it will be used for energy.  Once the cells are “full”, the insulin then takes the glucose back to the liver where it can be either stored as glycogen (in the liver or muscles) or stored in the fat cells for future use.

Sounds pretty simple, right? For the most part, it is.  If you look back to the 1960s, people didn’t exercise and were relatively slim and healthy.  So what has changed? Our food supply has changed. The food we’re eating, the amount we’re eating and how often we’re eating has impacted our metabolism and insulin levels, causing us to become overweight.

Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy.  With intermittent fasting, we are giving our body the opportunity to use up its glycogen and then “unlock” the energy in the fat cells to fuel the body.  For this to happen, insulin levels need to drop. And the only way they can drop is if there is no food source coming in to be metabolized. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.

The University of Alabama did an interesting study to see if the impact of IF on blood markers was actually due to the fast or due to the weight loss that participants were experiencing with IF.  They studied a small group of obese men that were prediabetic. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day (7 am to 3 pm), or spread out over 12 hours (between 7 am and 7 pm). They ensured that both groups would be taking in enough calories during their feeding time to maintain their current weight.  After five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, lower oxidative stress, better cell response, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. Their body had adapted to this circadian way of eating. Studies have also shown that even a single fasting interval, can reduce many metabolic biomarkers associated with chronic diseases, such as insulin and glucose.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Here are some important points to remember when using any fasting protocol:

  • Always consult your physician before changing your diet, eating habits or exercise habits in a significant way.
  • People who haven’t fasted on a frequent basis before, and plan on being active in a fasted state, should increase the intensity of that activity gradually.
  • The history of fasting is quite interesting. If you wish to read up more on how different cultures have used fasting then check out this article on different religious fasting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting#Religious_views) events.

Pitfalls of Fasting

As you can see, there are many different ways to incorporate fasting into your dietary routine.  Some people fast daily for a period of 16-20 hrs. Some people will fast for a full 24-48 hrs every week. The point is, you need to find what works for you. The last thing you want is to fall into the trap of making some of these mistakes:

Quitting Too Soon – Intermittent fasting takes a lot of discipline.  It’s normal to find it a bit of a struggle when you’re starting out.  Make the decision to give it a good two weeks before you throw in the towel.  If you must, alter your fasting routine but don’t quit too soon.

Eating Junk – Some people tend to think that the small feeding window is a good excuse to eat whatever you want.  Rather than focusing on nutrient dense foods, they use their eating window more like a “cheat day” and fill up their tummies with less-than-ideal foods.  After being in a nutrient-deficiency (fasting) the most important thing you can do is fill up on, you guessed it, nutrient-dense foods.

Binge Eating – You finally get to your meal time and you eat everything in sight.  You are so hungry that you just stuff an entire day’s worth of calories in your first meal.  Here’s the problem – IF is meant to get you more in tune with your body. It’s meant to normalize your hormone levels and give you very clear cues on when you are hungry and how much to eat.  If you down as much food as possible in the first hour of your feeding window, you won’t be listening to your body’s cues. This will cause an imbalance in the very biochemical layers of the body that you are trying to regulate with fasting.

Not Eating Enough – On the flip side, some people are so focused on losing weight that they restrict calories during the feeding window.  Again, this defeats the purpose of intermittent fasting. Your body needs a base level of calories to perform its cellular work.  If you’re not sure what that is for you, try our Basal Metabolic Rate calculator.   Ideally, you will be eating at least this amount of calories during your feeding window.  Also, as we mentioned, IF is meant to get you in-tune with your physical hunger cues and satiety.  When you level out your hormones (insulin, ghrelin, leptin) your body should be very good at determining when to eat and how much to eat.  Don’t focus on restricting calories but rather, focus on eating according to your body’s needs.

Obsessing Over Your Timing Window – Rather than learning to listen to your body’s hunger cues, you’re only focusing on the next time you get to eat.  You end up obsessing on passing the 16 or 20 hour mark rather than tuning in to your body. Your body should tell you when to eat, not the clock.

Not Drinking Enough Water – If you are doing a wet fast, it’s super important to drink a lot of water.  More water than you would normally drink when you are eating food. There are two main reasons: Firstly, during a fast your body is detoxifying.  You need copious amounts of water to help the body flush out the toxins accumulating during your fast. Secondly, you normally obtain a certain amount of water from the food you eat, not just the liquids you drink.  Without food coming in, you’re even more in need of water. Aim to drink three or more litres of water during your fasting window.

Forcing It – Here’s the most important thing we want to drive home to you: If it sucks, don’t do it.  Of course, we hope you give yourself enough time to try to adapt to IF. However, if you feel miserable, it’s okay to reevaluate whether intermittent fasting is the right plan for you.  If you dread your fasting window, if you’re hangry all of the time, if you feel stress around this type of eating routine, then it’s probably not going to be sustainable. We want you to feel GREAT in your body and in your life.  Focus on a positive quality of life and don’t force what isn’t working.

Have you taken your Health Test?
Have you taken the Health Test to find out where you may need to focus your nutritional attention? You’ll need to log in, or if you aren’t a member yet you’ll have to sign-up. Don’t worry though, it’s completely free!

 

¹ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413118302535

² https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed

Other Resources:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002234769970418X

 


This website contains general information about medical conditions, nutrition, health and diets.

To view our disclaimers click here.