Some of you know that I moderate a fitness group on a (nameless) adult forum. When I joined the group, I was adamant that fasting was unhealthy for you. But then I did a lot of research into what fasting is. Not only for my own personal curiosity, and most definitely not to prove that I was right (well, maybe), but I wanted to make sure I was sharing information that was correct.
It turns out I was dead wrong about fasting. And I’m more than willing to admit that. Once I learned what intermittent fasting was (IF) – I sat back and had a look at my own eating schedule. And thought, holy crap. In a way, I did IF – and I didn’t even realize it!
So, let’s get right down to the basics.
What is intermittent fasting? (IF for writing purposes)
In laymen’s terms, because I am not a doctor or nurse, according to Wikipedia, IF simply means cycling your eating between voluntary fasting and non-fasting over a given period.
There is a lot of good information on youtube. So many great videos to check out if you want more information on fasting schedules. But first, let me explain how fasting works for me.
How does fasting work?
The answer for this question will vary from person to person. For example, I realized that if I didn’t eat after 8:00 pm at night until 10:00 am the next morning – then that was my fasting window.
Now that I’m off work, my schedule is a bit off in terms of sleeping. So, my eating windows now can vary. On a typical day, if I’ve slept in, this is what my schedule looks like.
- 11:00 – 1:00 pm – breakfast or lunch
- 3:00 – 4:00 pm – mid-day snack
- 6:00 – 8:00 pm – dinner which is my largest meal of the day getting in all my protein
If I’m hungry later, I might have a high fibre snack like cereal or oatmeal or a bowl of yogurt with some fruit.
I found it a little more challenging to stick to a routine when I was working. Some days if I didn’t feel good, I’d skip out on lunch all together. I seem to do better when at home or when I can be more flexible with meal times. This is why I’m hoping to find work that I can do from home in the long run.
If working, my schedule goes like this:
- 10:00-10:30 mid morning snack, no breakfast
- 11:00 – 1:00 lunch which was usually a sandwich or soup
- 6:00 – 8:00 pm dinner – and then late night snacking because I found I was always hungry
Here are some other schedules that people follow on IF:
The 16/8 method: skip breakfast every day and eat during an 8- hour feed window such as from 12 noon to 8pm (so, apparently, this is what I’m doing).
Eat-Stop-Eat: do one or two 24-hours fasts each week (I can’t do this, I need food)
The 5:2 Diet: only eat 500-600 calories on two days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days. (I don’t recommend this – but it’s better than not eating for a full day)
The trick here is not over eating on those days that you are eating normally. I think for me, this is why the 16:8 schedule works much better. I can’t go much longer than a day without getting hungry. Now, some days I might eat more than others. And some days, less. I generally aim for at least 1500 calories. Some days might be more – others might be close to 1000. You want to make sure your body is getting enough food to sustain your energy spent in a given day.
How does IF help us lose weight?
That’s a great question and the answers again will vary from person to person. Using my current schedule, I’ve dropped ten pounds since Christmas and have managed to keep it off. I’m the lowest I’ve been in weight in two years. I’m hoping the weight loss will continue. It’s been a real struggle with hormones and stress.
For me, this schedule helps me to feel like I’ve eaten more. Certainly, the types of foods I’m eating now can help with that. Filling up on things like kale, chicken, and other vegetables are also important when trying to lose weight.
Kale is a super food in itself and is quickly becoming one of my favorite snacks.
Why I’m trying IF…I’m desperate.
Simply put, nothing else has worked for me. I’ve tried dropping as low as 1200 calories but I always felt hungry at the end of the day. For the past month, I’ve switched to eating things like kale and chicken or another kind of meat for lunch – homemade soups and left over stews are also part of my daily eating. I cut back on bread. I cut back on coffee. I can still snack on granola bars and cereals. But for the most part, my diet is mostly clean or whole food.
With PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) – I have to watch what I eat. PCOS can really mess with your insulin levels which can make it easy to gain weight and make it even harder to take that weight off.
Insulin increases as we eat more. When fasting, insulin decreases which in turn lowers the levels of insulin facilitate fat burning.
When fasting becomes dangerous
There are plenty of other benefits for IF – however, only if done properly and in a safe manner.
What is unhealthy?
Not eating for more than a couple of days at a time. This is starvation and will be counter productive. But not only that, it’s just dangerous and could cause you to become very ill.
I surveyed a group of medical professionals for their opinions on what is safe fasting and what isn’t safe fasting. I’ll write that up in another article this week. But the gist of it is:
Don’t go more than a couple of days without eating food.
Think of it like this. Your body is a vehicle. Vehicles need fuel in order to get from point a to point b. Without fuel, the vehicle will shut down. The same goes for your body. Food is fuel. If you’re an active person, then you need fuel to sustain your energy levels. The more you move, the more fuel your body needs.
So, in conclusion.
Will IF work for me? We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted over the next few weeks. Today was my cheat day. We had an evening service at church which was lovely. Cake and pancakes were served. I’ve had my quota for carbs for the week.
Let me know in the comments – do you do IF or other kinds of fasting? Let me know what works for you!
Disclaimer: if you have any serious medical issues like diabetes or insulin resistance, please talk to your primary care before fasting.
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