I’m not one to encourage my clients to follow the latest weight-loss trends. It can be quite daunting to be told, “Eat this, not that, low-carb, high-fat, low-fat, low-calorie…how about don’t eat anything at all?” Gasp! A few years ago, it was a diet no-no to skip a meal because it was thought that our bodies need consistent food intake to keep our metabolism humming. Periods of not eating are now becoming the center of an ever-popular weight loss approach that just so happens to be backed up by research (my favorite kind) called intermittent fasting.

Basically, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern (not really a diet at all) that rotates between periods of fasting and eating. People around the world are using this eating pattern to lose weight, improve overall health and even simplify a healthier lifestyle. Many studies show that in addition to weight loss, intermittent fasting can have incredible effects on your body, brain, and even your lifespan.

Need more convincing? Follow my How To Rock Intermittent Fasting Guide below and give it a try today – if anything, your digestive system will surely thank you for the much-needed break.

Karina Heinrich_Intermittent Fasting Peas 2018.jpg

What’s Behind Door Number 2?

The great thing about intermittent fasting is that you get to choose what pattern works best for you. Several different patterns are very popular. All of them involve splitting the week or even the day into eating/fasting periods. During a fasting period, you will eat very little or maybe even nothing at all. You will continue to hydrate. During the eating periods, it’s important to not go overboard on food intake.

Here are the most popular of the patterns:  

*The 5:2 Eating Pattern: For two non-consecutive days of the week eat only 500-600 calories. Eat normally the other 5 days.

*The 16/8 Eating Pattern: Skip breakfast and restrict your daily eating to an 8-hour period and then fast for 16-hours in between. For example, eat only between 11 am - 7 pm.

*The Eat-Stop-Eat Eating Pattern: Fast for 24 hours, one to two times per week. For example, do not eat dinner one day until dinner the next day.

Again, all of these patterns may help you lose weight as long as you don't overcompensate by eating more than you normally would during the eating periods. The most popular of the patterns is the 16/8 eating pattern because it’s the simplest and easiest to stick to long term.

Did I Mention This Is An Amazing Weight Loss Tool?

Weight loss is the main reason that most people try intermittent fasting. Short-term intermittent fasting can lead to many important changes in the body that can aid in fat burning. These include increased growth hormone (growth hormone can increase fat loss and muscle gain), reduced insulin (lower levels of insulin support fat burning) and giving your body a small boost in metabolism.

Intermittent fasting may also help your body hold on to muscle while losing body fat. It’s pretty rare for our bodies to be able to do this - standard calorie reduction diets tend to burn both muscle and fat. Huge plus!

Um, Why Didn’t I Try This Sooner?

In addition to weight loss, intermittent fasting may provide additional benefits for both your body and your brain. It may also protect against type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. It may possibly extend life span. Yes, please.

*Heart Health: Intermittent fasting may reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance, cholesterol, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.

*Brain Health: Intermittent fasting may protect against Alzheimer's disease and also can possibly increase a brain hormone called BDNF and support the growth of new nerve cells.

*Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting has shown that it can extend the lifespan in rats by as much as 36-83%. That’s a long time.

*Inflammation: Intermittent fasting can possibly reduce markers of inflammation - a core root of many chronic diseases.

*Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance - lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and possibly protect against type 2 diabetes.

Ready, Set, Fast!

Okay, you’re convinced and ready to give this whole fasting thing a go. Where do you start? There’s a good chance that most of us have unintentionally fasted during our lives. A 16+ hour fast is the easiest way to ease into a fasting and/or new eating pattern. After dinner, don’t eat again until around lunch the next day. There you go – you’ve just experienced the 16/8 fasting pattern. This pattern is simple, you feel great during the fast and it’s easy to do again.     

If you find the 16-hour fast pretty easy, then you can try moving on to a little more advanced fasts such as the 5:2 pattern (only eating 500-600 calories 1-2 days per week) or the Eat-Stop-Eat pattern (24-hour fasts 1-2 times per week)

Or you can do a few mini-fasts when it works for you - skip meals from time to time when you're just plain not hungry. Experiment and see what patterns fit your lifestyle.

Call The HelpLine

Here are a few things you should know:

*Intermittent Fasting: Metabolism: Intermittent fasting will not slow down your metabolism. Fasts under 3 days can actually boost metabolism.

*Intermittent Fasting: Exercise: Yes, workouts are great! Remember to always listen to your body, especially when first trying to exercise during a fast. Stay hydrated.

*Intermittent Fasting: Muscle loss: You can actually lose less muscle while fasting than when on other traditional diets. Keep lifting weights and make sure to eat your proteins during times of non-fasting.

*Intermittent Fasting: Liquids: Yes, be sure to drink plenty of water and/or electrolytes even during your fasting periods. Plain coffee and tea are fine, too. The key is to stay well hydrated.

*Intermittent Fasting: Children: Children should never, ever fast. (Duh!)

*Intermittent Fasting: Pregnant: Pregnant women should never fast – you have a baby growing inside of you who needs more calories, not fewer.

*Intermittent Fasting: Safety first: If you have a medical condition, then please be smart and ask your doctor before trying intermittent fasting (especially if you are underweight, take medications, have low blood pressure, diabetes, history with eating disorders – common sense here, people!)

Intermittent fasting is great for some people, but not so great for many others. Give it a try to see what you think. I happen to love it and include it in my lifestyle when it makes sense. Okay, I’m off to eat breakfast…or maybe not?

Karina HeinrichComment