What is intermittent fasting? I’ll admit, it sounds like some crazy fad diet. It actually sounds a little scary and potentially unhealthy.
However, intermittent fasting (I.F.) is far less restrictive than it sounds. I.F. is a diet strategy that restricts the time of day you eat instead of the type of food you eat.
I have done different versions of intermittent fasting, and I actually love it!
Time-restricted eating has been shown to help individuals lose weight, improve body composition, increase muscle mass, and decrease cravings.
But still, what is intermittent fasting? Here is how it works…
During I.F. you can technically eat whatever you want. You just have to eat within a certain block of time. In a typical I.F. diet, you will fast for 14-18 hours and eat during the remaining 6-10 hours of the day.
For example, you may have your first meal at noon and then stop eating at 8pm. The rest of the day, you can only consume water, tea or coffee.
Because I.F. does not restrict food type, it is hard to consider it a diet. It is truly just a way of eating and a strategy you can use to schedule meals.
You can follow any food or calorie-restricting diet while intermittent fasting if you wish. You can go vegan, count your macros or follow a ketogenic diet while practicing I.F. Just make sure you eat when you are supposed to eat and fast when you are supposed to fast.
If I.F. is something you are interested in trying, I recommend starting with shorter fasting periods to ease your body into this new way of eating.
Here are my personal experiences with intermittent fasting.
I eat from 2pm – 8pm most days. This six-hour eating window works perfectly with my schedule. On a normal day, I am busy running around training clients from 5am – 2pm. My afternoons are spent at home working on this website and emailing online clients. During my busy mornings, I do not feel hungry. So, it is not hard for me to wait until I am settled at home to eat my first meal.
Like many people, I tend to overeat when I am at home where food is readily available. So it makes sense that I would allow myself to eat a bulk of my calories when I am stuck at home with all of the temptations instead of eating on the go when I am not really hungry.
Eating this way has helped me control my calorie intake. I.F. limits the amount of time I am actually able to put food in my mouth, so as a result, I eat less.
I.F. has also helped with my horrible bloating issues. When you eat all day, your digestive system becomes overworked, especially if you eat every couple hours. Fasting for 18 hours gives my digestive system ample time to rest before I need it again. That rest time is exactly what my stomach needed. And this is why I have stuck with I.F. for nearly a year.
I only follow I.F. 75% of the time, and I would recommend you do the same with any “diet” you follow.
If I have plans to go out for drinks, eat a late dinner, or go to brunch… I eat out of my six-hour window. It is not a big deal. “Intermittent” literally means not consistent. So, I intermittently follow intermittent fasting.
I.F. clearly works for me, but it may not be right for you. If you enjoy eating at standard breakfast, lunch and dinner times, keep doing that. If you prefer to eat many small meals throughout the day, do that. Every body is different, so choose a way of eat that works for your body. However, keep an open mind to trying new things.