Happy Fitness Friday!!
So what's this all about?
This week we’re diving into this new trend: Intermittent Fasting, or IF for short. What’s all the craze? Does it work? Who should use it and who should avoid it? How can I optimize the benefits?
Intermittent Fasting is a dieting pattern that is a cycle of a period of fasting and non-fasting. The importance of fasting is to reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as increase human growth hormones. It’s also an effective way to restrict your calories and burn that stubborn fat!
IF can be approached in a number of ways, and since we here at Nourish believe in the importance of bio-individuality, which approach you decide will be dependent on what works best for you and your body.
The 16/8 Method
First we have the 16/8 method, which consists of a 14-16 hour fasting period each day and an 8-10 hour “eating window” where you fit in your caloric intake for the day. It is recommended that men fast for 16 hours and women for 14-15 hours. This is the simplest and easiest form of IF, simply because if you fast from 8pm- 12pm the following day, then you are asleep for the majority of the time. That leaves your eating window from 12-8 at night. Essentially you stop eating after dinner and skip breakfast the following morning. During your eating window, you want to get in your 2-3 or more meals for the day.
The 5:2 Program
Second is the 5:2 Program, where you eat for 5 days of the week and then restrict your calories to 500-600 on 2 days of the week. It’s recommended that women consume 500 calories and men consume 600 calories on their fasting days. An example of an easy way to break up the week would be to eat all days except Monday and Thursdays, where you would eat two small meals (250 calories for women and 300 calories for men).
The Eat-Stop-Eat Program
The third most popular option, and quite possibly the most difficult, is the Eat-Stop-Eat method. You would do a 24 hour fast once or twice a week, but NOT on consecutive days. This is possibly the most difficult method to stick to because 24 hours is a LONG time to go without food. However, when coming off the fast, it is important not to over indulge after not eating for such a prolonged period of time. This will actually counteract the benefits of the fasting.
Why do this?
So, what’s the point?
We have always been told that it’s important to eat several small meals throughout the day to stimulate our metabolism, decrease our hunger cravings, and control our blood sugar levels.
However, the overarching concept of IF is that the body doesn’t have to spend as much time on high-energy tasks such as digestion, and can in turn, dedicate the left-over energy to tasks like ridding the body of toxins or repairing and rebuilding body tissues.
The benefits of IF include:
Detoxification: A continual process where the body replaces its worn out cells. A poor diet can impede this automatic and ongoing processes. IF is utilized to reverse these hindered processes and revitalize your cells back to their healthy conditions.
Hormone Regulation: IF has a significant impact on the secretion of our Human Growth Hormones (HGH). These hormones are responsible for the maintenance of lean mass. Loss of lean muscle is a common concern of IF, but studies have shown that it actually increases the production of HGH! Additionally, IF regulates insulin sensitivity, as well as the production of leptin and ghrelin. Leptin and ghrelin are hormones that regulate fat storage and hunger cravings. Thus, eliminating an abundance of hunger messages being sent to the brain, which will help you get through that period of fasting!
Weight Loss: When we eat, our body immediately goes through our glucose reserves as its first source of energy. Our body needs 6-8 hours to burn through glucose and then turn to burning fat. When we eat 3 square meals per day, we aren’t allowing our body enough time between meals to access those fat reserves. By prolonging the time between meals through fasting, our body will be forced to expend its stored fat!
In addition to these awesome benefits, we will also see lowered triglyceride levels and a suppression of the inflammation in our body!
Those who are hypoglycemic, diabetic, pregnant, or chronically stressed should avoid intermittent fasting.
The most important part of IF is that when you are not fasting that you stick to a diet that is high in healthy fats with moderate amounts of high quality proteins, and lots and lots of fresh veggies!
There is an abundance right now as we are in the peak of farmer’s market season!
When you are fasting, you are still able to drink water, coffee/tea (black), and other non-caloric beverages. In fact, starting your day with a black cup of coffee/tea increases your body’s fat-burning potential. Getting lots of fluids will also help keep your stomach feeling full when you are experiencing hunger cravings!
Exercising is also a great contribution to the effectiveness of IF! It can actually counteract muscle aging and enhance your fat-burning potential! So work in the exercises in last week’s post during your eating window to see optimal results.
Think it all over + see if it's right for you!
Fitness Friday Guru + NHHN Intern