5 Things To Know About Intermittent Fasting
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Written By: Taylor Rao
By now, you’ve probably had a friend, colleague or family member tell you they’ve been trying out the trendy “diet” called intermittent fasting. But fasting itself isn’t a new concept --AKA, eating at particular times of the day and simply well, not eating, the rest of the time.
Today’s version of intermittent fasting is more of a lifestyle choice versus an actual diet, though it does often result in weight loss and increased energy when done right. Depending on which method you choose, you can restrict yourself from eating from anywhere from 16 hours to 48 hours at a time.
At first glance, the thought of not eating for that long of a period can seem intimidating and perhaps even impossible. But if the success stories are intriguing you and you think it might be time to give intermittent fasting a shot, consider these five things you’ll want to know before you get started.
1. There’s more than one way to do intermittent fasting
This method seems to be the most popular form of intermittent fasting today. Essentially, you eat all of your daily calories within a restricted period of 6-8 hours and fast for the rest. Most people on the 16/8 method do this every day of the week.
The 5:2 method allows you to eat as you normally would for five days of the week, and then fast for two. On the two fasting days, you can eat, so long as you restrict your calorie intake to about 500-600 for the day.
It sounds pretty self-explanatory --eat on your regular schedule, and then for one or two days a week, fast for a full 24 hours. It doesn’t matter what meal you decide to “stop” on, just start after breakfast, lunch or dinner and break your 24-hour fast with a normal-sized meal, don’t go too crazy afterwards.
2. It’s not a diet, but it is a weight loss tool
Intermittent fasting is not a diet because regardless of which fasting method you choose, there is no specific list of what to eat or what not to eat while you’re in between fasting periods. Of course, that doesn’t give you a free pass to swing by the drive-thru every day. The smarter choices you make while you are eating, the more successful your weight loss will be and the more energy you’ll have by fueling your body with only the good stuff.
While you are eating less, your body is getting acclimated to a lower calorie intake per day, and your body is actually adjusting its hormones to facilitate weight loss faster. It’s known to lower insulin levels, produce more growth hormone and in turn, increase your ability to burn fat.
3. You can (and should) still exercise while you’re fasting
It might seem like not such a good idea to go out for a run or do a high-intensity cardio workout on an empty stomach, but after you get into the habit of intermittent fasting, you’ll see an increase in energy and will have no problem exercising on the days you are fasting.
After a few months of intermittent fasting (yes, it does take a while for your body to adjust), your body becomes trained to burn fat as its primary source of energy. While you’re fasting, be sure to drink plenty of water to curb hunger and keep you hydrated to last through your next sweat sesh. Nutrition and proper eating is always going to play a big part in your fitness/wellness puzzle, but nothing can replace a consistent exercise routine that’ll make you feel accomplished mentally and physically.
4. Drinking your way through the fasting periods will help you adjust
Though we have to eat to live, a lot of us eat (or worse, overeat) simply out of boredom. And if you’re fasting for hours on end, it might seem impossible to get over the lapses in time between meals and bursts of hunger while your body is still adjusting to its new eating schedule. It’s a myth that all you can have is a tall glass of water while you’re fasting, but in reality, if you stick to low or no-calorie drinks like black coffee, green tea, and sparkling water, you will feel like you’re filling your body with flavor without having to worry about breaking your fast.
Bulletproof Coffee has actually coined their own version of intermittent fasting, where Bulletproof coffee keeps you energized and helps suppress your appetite to make it through the fasting periods. You don’t just drink coffee and fast, though, there’s a Bulletproof Diet to go along with the fasting strategy to help guarantee success when you follow the rules.
5. Intermittent fasting isn’t safe for everyone
There’s a little bit of debate over whether intermittent fasting can be as beneficial for women as it is for men, and while there are no specific studies that lean one way, there are a few conditions where intermittent fasting is not the safest lifestyle choice or weight loss option.
If one or more of the following apply to you, you should consult a health professional before starting an intermittent fasting routine:
You are underweight
You have diabetes
You have a history of eating disorders
You have low blood sugar or problems regulating blood sugar
You are pregnant, breastfeeding, or could become pregnant
And let’s say these things don’t necessarily apply to you, but you’re still unsure. See if you check off some of this criteria to see if you and your body would be a good candidate to try intermittent fasting.