Intermittent Fasting is my preferred way of life! I do it almost all of the time and I’m very open about it. As a result, I am asked A LOT of questions about intermittent fasting… and I’m attempting to answer them all here.
I’m Not A Doctor!
Let’s get one thing straight before we dive in. I’m NOT a doctor. This information is not intended to be used as medical advice. I’ve been intermittent fasting for months – and have done my own research. So this is just my opinion and my experience. There is a tonne of science stuff online, so go and check it out if you want to try this way of life.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is NOT a diet. It has nothing to do with WHAT you put into your mouth. Nor the number of calories or grams of carbs that you eat.
It is just a pattern of eating and not eating. Fasting and feasting. There are loads of different formats and you can choose which one suits you best.
Why Do I Love Intermittent Fasting?
The main reason that I have stuck with Intermittent Fasting is for the stable energy levels that it gives me. And this is something I didn’t forsee! When your body has a break from digesting (which is HARD work…you’ve felt that after-lunch slump) it has more resources for the other stuff.
Like thinking! Once you adjust to intermittent fasting, you’ll love the mental clarity that comes after 12+ hours of not eating. No brain fog!
Plus, without a constant stream of biscuits, there’s no sugar crash. You’re no longer dragging yourself through every hour to reach the next snack time.
Yes, if you’re a wife or a mother you aren’t off the hook completely. I make breakfast and lunches for everyone, but they’re out of the door by 7 am and then I don’t have to think about food again, until dinner! Anything that saves time is worth trying!
When I’m busy with meetings or stuck into writing an article, I don’t need to stop for a snack. Food freedom!
No more need for food prep. 😉
Wonder why you haven’t seen adverts for intermittent fasting? Well, nobody is trying to sell it to you… because it’s free!
Side note: How much money is being spent to make you believe that you should be eating 3 meals a day along with multiple snacks?
Despite the fact that you can eat all of your day’s calories within your eating window, intermittent fasting is still linked to weight loss. Many people lose weight, I have lost LOTS of weight. It’s all to do with HORMONES. This includes increased amounts of human growth hormone (HGH) and (even more importantly) decreased insulin levels. See below.
There are many scientifically proven benefits of fasting for 12 hours +. Google to see for yourself, but here are the main points.
Human Growth Hormone is released – this is great for fat burning, building muscle, slowing down ageing and more!
Insulin is reduced – While there is insulin in your blood, your cells do not want to release lipids (fat). And guess what… it takes around 8 hours for your body to burn all of the glycogen from your last meal so that it can start burning fat. By which time, you are probably eating again! Fasting gives your body a break from insulin so that it can burn some fat.
Autophagy begins – this is where your cells go into a self-cleaning mode. This is a natural detoxing process which slows down as we age. By fasting, autophagy can be boosted up to 5 times! That means clearing out dead cells and stimulating new growth.
Reduces inflammation – connected to gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, as well as arthritis, asthma, cancer, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s and more.
Boosts lifespan – such a huge claim, I hardly dare type it. But many studies are suggesting that intermittent fasting may significantly increase longevity.
I also love intermittent fasting because I can decide what to eat during my ‘feeding window’. It works for everyone:
- low carb, high fat
- burgers and milkshakes
Seriously though, IF has nothing to do with what you eat. And it has had a positive impact on my relationship with food. I don’t overthink food – I already know I won’t be eating. And it has removed any feeling of guilt when I do eat. So once again, it has given me freedom. To eat what I like in the window that I choose.
It makes sense to me that our ancestors would have eaten in a similar manner. Food wouldn’t have been on hand as it is today. That means we would have evolved to feast and fast in cycles.
Will you feel hungry?
Yes, you probably will. Especially when you first start. I’ll talk more about starting gradually below.
Hunger comes in waves and it does pass. Most of my struggles with hunger have come from the mental side of not eating. And it’s so hard to resist when food is omnipresent in our lives!
Tips to handle hunger:
- Drink lots of water
- Add fat to meals to keep you satisfied for longer (avocado, coconut oil, nuts, etc)
- Keep busy!
Trust that it will get easier. If you currently graze all day long, you will feel hungrier at first. You might also have headaches, feel cranky and lightheaded. But it’s temporary. It will pass. Take it slowly and increase your eating window incrementally.
Will you go into starvation mode?
Fasting for a day or 2 won’t put you into starvation mode. No, your metabolism won’t pack up because you missed breakfast. No, you won’t gain weight – unless you try to eat 2 day’s worth of food in your eating window. (No joke, this is what I did at first).
Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?
This is a marketing mantra, that has been sold to us for generations so that we believe it as fact. There is no solid scientific evidence to back this up.
Skipping breakfast will actually increase your insulin sensitivity, which will reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Is the alternative eating a sugary breakfast, which will flood your bloodstream with insulin, and result in a mid morning energy crash (which sends you to the vending machine)?
Companies want you to feel hungry and eat all day!
Can you workout fasted?
Exercising in a fasted state can be great, as you will turbocharge your fat loss and benefit from the increased levels of HGH in your blood. However, see how you feel – take it easy in the early days.
What if you fall off the wagon?
If you take a break from fasting, expect the transition to be tough again. Pretty much the same physical and mental challenges as starting from scratch. I’m experiencing this as I type – I took 2 weeks off and am 19 hours fasted right now. But I’m back, because I love the energy, weight control and mental clarity.
How To Start Intermittent Fasting
1. Go at your own pace!
If your starting point is the typical Western standard of 3 meals a day, plus snacks, then realise that it might take some time to adjust. Most of us graze all day long.
We’re used to having our insulin spiked, then feeling hungry and needing to eat again after a couple of hours. It takes some time to adjust both physically and mentally to any length of fast.
The first phase would be to drop the snacks and stick to 3 meals a day.
From there you could start to push your breakfast back as far as you can – so your last meal is dinner (at say 7 pm) and then you eat again at 11 am. That is 16 hours of fasting! Not so bad?
From there you can play around and see what works best for you. I am for 18 hours of fasting a day but typically eat just one meal a day.
It took me months to feel comfortable with that. So take time the time you need to transition. Don’t push it if you are suffering from headaches and shakiness. As you continue fasting it naturally becomes easier and you will be able to fast for longer periods without any side effects.
2. What to eat during your fast
To enjoy the greatest benefits of fasting, stick to black coffee, water and green tea.
Some people have coconut oil in the coffee or milk. Some people drink diet soda. Some add lemon to the water. But for me, I don’t see the point of ‘not eating’ if I am not getting all of those benefits of fasting. And studies are still unsure of the impact of a splash of milk, or aspartame for example.
The standard agreement is to stick to stick to black coffee, water and green tea while fasting.
3. What to eat during your eating window
Whatever you like!
4. How to track your fast
There are lots of great free apps you can try. I use MyFast.
Are You Tempted To Try It?
This has pretty much covered all of the questions that people ask me. So if you are just starting out – or are considering trying intermittent fasting, let me know if this has helped – or if you have any questions that I’ve missed. I’d love to hear how you get on with it!