It’s not a diet.
Intermittent fasting is about food timing, not food choices. It’s about when you eat, not what you eat.
Want a fun food fact?
Mealtimes are when our bodies are MOST exposed to toxins, bacteria and all kinds of other stuff our bodies can’t use and doesn’t need. Eating actually causes an inflammatory response in our gut to manage all this stuff.
The bigger the meal; the more fat, sugar and salt in that meal; and the more chemical additives like artificial colors and flavors in that meal, the harder our body has to work to keep us healthy.
It doesn’t help that we eat a whole lot of exactly that stuff. Sausage, egg and cheese on a roll with a caramel latte, anyone? And that’s just breakfast.
OUR AMAZING BODY
Luckily our bodies are extremely well equipped at filtering and detoxification. Our gut system, liver and kidneys are each designed to take this on and do it well.
But this process of digestion and cleaning takes work, time and energy. Once the process of digestion starts, almost everything else is put on pause to make sure that gets done right. Eat a couple of donuts and your body has to work a whole lot harder than if you ate an apple. The more pressure you put on your body to do this, the less time and energy it has to focus on other things.
INTERMITTENT FASTING BASICS
Intermittent fasting gives your body the down time it needs to rest and recover between eating.
When done even for a short time, fasting gives our bodies the chance to do other things, apart from the immense work of digestion. And once this starts to happen, all kinds of amazing health benefits kick into place.
Weight loss, reduced inflammation, improved gut flora and better digestion, healthier cholesterol levels, more stable blood sugar and blood pressure outcomes are just a few of the proven outcomes of intermittent fasting.
First off let’s be clear about something. Being healthy is ALWAYS about picking healthy foods over unhealthy foods.
If you eat a totally unhealthy, junk food stuffed, salt + sugar + sat fat filled diet while you’re not fasting, the likelihood of improved health markers while you are fasting is slim to none.
Intermittent fasting isn’t magic. Nothing will ever be able to make fried food healthy.
One of the reasons intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss is there’s less opportunity to take in calories than you previously had.
If you still cram in 24 hours of junk food into eight hours, you’re not going to lose any weight. You’re also likely not going to see better overall health outcomes.
The calories that go into you are just as important as the calories you’re skipping while fasting.
Getting enough fruits and vegetables, fiber, protein and healthy fats (unsaturated ones top this list) is key to making this way of eating work.
Stick to the basic 80-20 rule (80% healthy plants, lean proteins and unsaturated fat with 20% less healthy treats), and the better off you’ll be.
If you need a little help filling a few fruit and vegetable gaps, something like Balance the Superfood Shot is a perfect way to get half a day’s worth of the nutrients found in some of the most nutrient dense foods out there. Two sips, and you’ll help balance out the rest of the food you eat (or don’t eat) for the day.
HOW TO DO IT
There are a few great ways to do intermittent fasting. Choose a plan that works best for your lifestyle, so you’re not starving (and then cheating) during the fasting times.
Also, think a bit about the food you’ll be eating that will keep you full through your fasting moments. Carbs are our primary source of energy, so don’t skip them or else you’ll be dragging through the last few hours of your day. Fill up on fiber heavy foods like fruits and vegetables, and make sure you’re fitting a solid protein in every time you eat. Both of those will help you stay satisfied during the day.
Non-caloric foods are passable, so you don’t have to be guzzling water for the rest of the day. Coffee or tea (minus the sugar and milk), seltzers and waters are going to be your best picks.
Stay away from artificial sweetened foods like diet soda or sugar substitutes, since they mimic food and do cause other digestive responses you’re looking to avoid.
THE GOLD STANDARD
There are a few ways to go about intermittent fasting. Each can be successful, especially when done right.
The intermittent fasting GOLD STANDARD is considered the 16/8 plan. It’s got the most research attached to it, and science has backed up the health results with pretty uniform agreement.
16/8: Assign yourself any 8 hours of consecutive time to eat. The following 16hr are your fasting hours and are food-free. Be careful about your meal start time because having a last meal at 4p can be pretty rough.
This plan is great for people with fairly stable schedules, or who are able to orient their days around their meal times.
OTHER GREAT OPTIONS
5:2: Stick to only 500 calories during 2 non-consecutive days. Eat normal, healthy diet for the other 5 days of the week, eating until you’re satiated. This plan is great for people with busy social or work lives, and schedules that never seem stick to a pre-designed time.
Eat-Stop-Eat: A more advanced version of the 5:2. Here you’ll fully fast for 24hrs on either one or two non-consecutive days a week. This means after dinner one night you won’t eat again until dinner at the same time the following night.
Fast and Feast / Warrior Diet: During the day, you’re eating fresh fruit with (preferably) raw or lightly cooked vegetables, without the extras. That means no ranch, hummus or peanut butter dips to go along with your carrot sticks. Your big meal is at night and will focus on getting a good serving of protein and healthy fats. This diet tends to be closely aligned with Paleo diets but can work really well for people who like to graze all day.
WORDS TO THE WISE
When you start, be ready to be hungry for at least the first week or two. Your body has to adjust to the new system. But once you’ve gotten into the rhythm, you’ll probably start feeling pretty amazing, pretty quickly.
Unlike most every other meal plan out there, you’ll be able to stay true to your food preferences and eating style.
If you’re a morning person and never skip breakfast, make sure you factor this into your fasting plan. If you normally have your first meal around 12pm, it can be perfectly healthy to have your last meal at 8pm and then be in bed by 11pm.
There’s no wrong answer here. Try one plan for a week and see how it fits into your lifestyle. Then try another until you find the best fit for you.
When you find one you like, keep at it. It only gets better.