What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is a pattern of eating bigger meals in a shorter time frame by shortening your fed state and prolonging your fasted state. Your body is in the fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. Typically, the fed state starts when you begin eating and lasts for three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the fed state, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.
After that time span, your body goes into what is known as the post–absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for you body to burn fat in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low.
Different styles of Intermittent Fasting:
- Eat for an 8 hour window during each 24 hour full day (The 16:8 method). For example, your first meal would be at 1:00 p.m. (break-fast), then you have until 9:00 p.m. to eat your remaining 2-3 meals. You would then fast from 9:00 p.m. until 1:00 the following day.
- Have a cycle of a day of caloric excess followed by a day of fasting (The Alternate Day fasting method)
- Have two calorie restricted days per week of around 500-650 calories (The 5:2 method)
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting:
- When you’re in the fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.
- Gives your digestion a break
- Helps balance hormones like improved insulin sensitivity since you are not constantly eating and constantly spiking insulin levels and allows your body to breakdown.
- Recycles old damaged cells and forces the body to utilize fat for fuel during fasting periods.
- Makes your day simpler by only having to cook and prepare 2-3 meals
Is it difficult?
Intermittent fasting is remarkably easy to implement once you get over the idea that you need to eat all the time.
If you eat a big dinner the night before, you’ll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the worries or concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every 2-3 hours.
How I started
I’ve been slowly delaying my breakfast for about 1 month. I started off delaying breakfast for 30 minutes. Then 45 minutes, then 1 hour. Now I delay until 1:00 unless I have to train early then I will have just a little something to eat or if I train right away in the morning I’ll train fasted.
I was hesitant to try intermittent fasting at first because 1. We often confuse fasting with starving, but you’re eating the same amount of calories, you’re just eating them in a shorter window, then giving your digestion a rest. 2. I’ve had episodes in the past where I tried to exercise fasted and ended up on the side of the road dry heaving and I’ve had problems with hypoglycemia my entire life, but I didn’t jump right into intermittent fasting. I slowly started delaying my breakfast and I drink LOTS of water in the morning, which is good because I wake up super dehydrated and dry mouthed.
I enjoy just having 2 or 3 big meals. It saves on cooking and prep time, I have an easier time meeting my macros in just a few BIG meals, I feel full longer and I’ve been eating a lot healthier. I am HUNGRY for my first meal, so I make it my most healthful meal filled with veggies, leafy greens, beans or lentils.
Intermittent fasting has also helped with stress eating and snacking, which I didn’t want to give up at first because I just loved eating all the time but I don’t feel the need to eat and snack all day long anymore. I feel my hormones are more balanced and I feel so full and satisfied after my meal.