A Beginner's Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Fasting has been practiced for thousands of years and is still a part of many religions and cultures around the world today.
Recent research has shown that fasting has many health benefits including better digestion, weight loss, improving insulin resistance and cognition.
There are many different versions of intermittent fasting. I recommend my clients try different methods until they find what suits them, starting with 16/8 intermittent fasting.
I like this method of fasting as it is simple to follow and most people find it very easy to stick to once they are in the routine.
What Is 16/8 Intermittent Fasting?
16/8 intermittent fasting involves limiting consumption of foods and calorie- containing beverages to a set window of eight hours per day and abstaining from food for the remaining 16 hours. That may sound daunting, but you will be sleeping for at least some of those fasting hours.
This cycle can be repeated as frequently as you like, I recommend starting with 3 days per week and building up to 7 days.
How to Get Started
1. Find a window
Begin by picking an eight-hour window and limit your food intake to that time. You may need to change this around until you find the time that best suits your lifestyle.
Noon until 8 pm is a popular window. This means you'll only need to fast overnight and skip breakfast.
Another popular window is 9 am until 5 pm. This allows for a healthy breakfast around 9 am, a normal lunch around noon and a light early dinner or snack around 4 pm before, starting your fast.
2. Break your fast
It is essential that when you break your fast you eat a substantial, nutritious meal that contains a good amount of protein and good fats. If you break your fast with a carbohydrate rich meal your blood sugar will spike and you will be very hungry again in about 30 minutes, undoing all of your hard work.
3. Good Nutrition
Try balancing each meal with a good variety of healthy whole foods, such as:
- Veggies: Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, leafy greens, tomatoes, etc. Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocados and coconut oil
- Protein: Meat, poultry, fish, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, etc.
- A small amount of whole grains: Quinoa, rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, etc.
It is important to stay hydrated. You can drink water, unsweetened tea and black coffee while fasting. This can help control your appetite and will keep you hydrated.
What not to do
Restricting your food intake to just eight hours per day can cause some people to eat more than usual during the eating window in an attempt to make up for hours spent fasting. This is not the goal.
What to expect
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Fasting is not recommended for women who are trying to conceive or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It is also contraindicated with some medications, hormonal imbalance and adrenal fatigue.
When you first start fasting you may experience hunger, weakness and fatigue. These feelings will pass quickly once you are in a good routine. For this reason I recommend starting the fasting on a weekend.
After time you will experience a clearer mind, weight loss, improve energy and improved digestion.