What is Intermittent Fasting? Should You Do It?
I was anticipating that the audience would ask questions about intermittent fasting after my wellness talk at Belle De Jour’s Women In Action event last month, and I was right. 🙂 Intermittent fasting, or IF as a lot of people call it, is one of the hottest fitness topics in Manila nowadays. But what is intermittent fasting? Should you do it?
Eat stop eat: What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a dieting pattern. It is not a diet. Intermittent fasting, or IF, is a conscious decision to skip certain meals on purpose. Nerd Fitness says it generally means that you consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time.
There are different types of IF. There’s the 16/8 protocol, where you fast for 16 hours and only eat within an 8-hour window. This time frame isn’t a strict rule, as some people even opt to just have a 4- or 6-hour eating window. There’s also the 24-hour protocol, where you take off 24 hours from eating. You can do this by eating the normal 3 or 6 meals per day, and then occasionally picking a day to skip breakfast and lunch the following day. This particular type of IF can be done once or twice a week, or whatever suits your lifestyle best. There are other types of IF, but these two variations are the most popular.
How does intermittent fasting benefit you?
IF makes you burn fat faster for sure. You see, when your body is in a fasting state, it doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it becomes more likely for your body to pull from stored fat and use that as energy since it’s the only energy source readily available.
Nerd Fitness explains things further: “Our bodies react to energy consumption with insulin production. The more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you’ll be to use the food you consume efficiently, and your body is most sensitive to insulin following a period of fasting. These changes to insulin production and sensitivity can help lead to weight loss and muscle creation.” (Boldface mine.)
In effect, IF teaches your body to use the food you consume more efficiently. It enables your body to learn to burn fat as fuel when you deprive it of new calories to utilize, which is what normally happens when you’re not skipping any meals (i.e., not fasting).
Personal notes on intermittent fasting
I asked a couple of friends who are currently doing IF how their experience are. Here are their thoughts about it:
“My practice of IF is not strict, basically. I typically adjust my eating window based on the last time I ate. The main pattern that’s changed is the number of meals I have. I now only eat twice a day, and only when I am hungry. I follow it as much as I can but when I can’t, I just try to avoid eating too much.”
“My cousin who is also into fitness was the one who introduced me to the term intermittent fasting. I was actually already doing IF prior to his mentioning the term. ‘Di ko lang alam may term pala yun, hehe (I just didn’t know there was an actual term for it, hehe).
I’m a late riser; I wake up around 9 a.m. and sleep at around 1 a.m. My IF sched is a bit different from what you’ll read online, although I still follow the 18-hour fast. My fed state is from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and my fasted state is from 3 p.m. to 9 a.m. the following day. I only eat twice a day with IF: breakfast at 9 a.m. and then dinner at 2:30 p.m.
I work out in my fasted state around 6 p.m. and for me it works like magic in losing weight. Tapos nag-fofollow din ako ng (I also follow a) low carbs and high fat & protein diet, so I guess that plus IF helped me reach my weight loss goal.
I started practicing IF last May 2016. From 155 lbs. 12 months ago, I’m now at 110 lbs. Laking tulong talaga sa akin ang IF (IF has helped me a great deal). It was extremely challenging at first because our bodies are trained to feed three times a day. Whenever I feel hungry, I’ll just drink water – loads of it! My body eventually adjusted to this feeding pattern; yung volume ng meals ko nag-adjust din (the volume of food I eat has adjusted as well). This happened around a month after I began IF.
During traveling, medyo mahirap mag-IF kasi hindi mo hawak ang schedule mo plus traveling for me is medyo draining, so I eat (It’s kinda hard to adhere to IF when traveling because you don’t control your sked, plus traveling drains me, so I eat). I’m not strict with IF when traveling. Maybe that’s what they call balance, hehe. You allow yourself a rest from the diet. Don’t allow your body to get used to the routine too. For maximum effectivity, change your diet and exercise routine every now and then.
Intermittent fasting tips and tricks
Curious to learn if you could work IF into your life? Here’s some simple and practical advice from Precision Nutrition:
- Start slowly. Start simply. Start small. – Pick one small thing to adjust, like adjusting mealtimes by an hour. Start with that small change and see how it goes.
- Don’t get bogged down with the details. – Focus on what the different IF approaches have in common.
- Stay flexible. – Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go exactly according to plan.
- Give it time. – It takes time for your body to adapt to new things.
- Focus on the process, not the outcome. – According to Precision Nutrition, IF is great for things like differentiating “head hunger” from “body hunger,” re-calibrating your body’s use of stored fuel, and respecting the process and privilege of eating. It’s not great if you fast too often too long, or if you’re also over-exercising and not getting enough sleep.
- Remember to eat right and well regardless of what diet pattern you follow. – ‘Nuff said.
- Pay attention to your body. – Are you sleeping right? Do you look refreshed? How’s your mood? Respect what your body is telling you.
So… should you do it?
So… should you do intermittent fasting? I say give it a go if you’re exploring ways to keep healthy and fit and haven’t hit on the right routine for you yet. At the end of the day, choose a health and fitness routine that fits your lifestyle, your age, and your goals. The best method is the one you feel good about and can do consistently. 🙂
At the end of the day, choose a health and fitness routine that fits your lifestyle, your age, and your goals. The best method is the one you can feel good about and can do consistently. - P. Mirasol Click To Tweet
A friendly note: Please check in with your doctor first before embarking on any new diet plan.
Have you tried IF? What are your thoughts about it?
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