What I Know About Intermittent Fasting
Living a Healthier Life
Lately I've been talking a lot about getting healthier. If you haven't seen, make sure you're reading my Instagram captions. Not only am I getting healthier, but I want to promote this for all of you too! This also doesn't mean just working out (because I have been doing that) but making additional changes here and there to make my results more effective.
This past weekend, I stayed at the JW Desert Ridge in Phoenix to partake in an incredible retreat with Nora Tobin. She is the wellness ambassador for JW Marriott and she is so well-versed in fitness, food and positive mindset. Being healthy is not just about eating well. It's not about spending a million hours in the gym either. It's a process and it really is a lifestyle. Food, fitness and mentality.
Over the past few weeks, I have mentioned here and there that I have been doing some intermittent fasting. A few have asked me about my knowledge of intermittent fasting, but more importantly what I do for it. Consult your doctor, and take note that I am not a doctor. I am simply sharing my own experience with fasting so please do not take this as the end all be all and ensure you do your own research before making this lifestyle change. Understandably so, it's not for everyone!
Photos were taken by Julia O Test.
Breakfast is not the most important meal
We have been lied to most of our lives. For the past 50 years, I feel like we've had such a push in regards to breakfast being the most important meal of the day. I grew up feeling so guilty and thinking I was the most unhealthy person in the world because I didn't eat breakfast. Turns out that's all a load of hooey anyway. Breakfast literally means breaking the fast. If we think about our ancestors, they didn't eat in the morning as soon as they woke up. They needed to spend hours hunting before they got their hands on the food of the day. Since it's a lot easier to get food now, we don't have this difficulty (especially in privileged countries) it is significantly easier to make breakfast. In addition, we were told getting our metabolism going as soon as we wake up, is the best way to live.
The food industry created a mad rush for breakfast to increase sales and ensure people ate 3 gigantic meals each day.
You don't need breakfast
*Insert the gasps. Everyone still believes it is the most important meal of the day, but once you get past this lie, it's all smooth sailing. Keeping your body in a fasting state until noon is actually better for your body, which means you don't need breakfast. You can go right into lunch as your first meal and avoid the 1,000+ calories in breakfast. Fasting helps your body burn fat because your body will feed off itself while it is in the fasting state. Since our bodies are accustomed to getting through 8 hours of sleep without eating, we are okay throughout the night. However as soon as we wake up, we feel that slight hunger pang. This is because the body is not used to going through another 8 before being fed. Thanks America for making us dependent on 3,000+ calorie diets which are so detrimental to our health!
The 8 hour eating window
My fiancé and I have been doing this for the past 2 months, and even when you're not eating the greatest food or working out consistently, you are losing weight when you only eat in an 8 hour window each day. We have opted to do noon-8 PM because that incorporates lunch & dinner. We eat all of our calories in these 8 hours. Keep in mind this does not mean we eat 100% organic and healthy. We have cheat days, and I like to eat that entire steak for dinner but the idea is that your body is fasting for 16 hours which recharges your body's battery AND also helps your body burn through the fat.
I feel better
Every day around 2 or 3 PM, I would get lethargic. I wanted to take a nap. Whether I was in the office, mid-flight or outdoors, it always hit me. Once I started fasting, that 2 and 3 PM lull never hit me again. I haven't experienced that lethargy since I started this fasting. Given I don't have my first coffee until noon, my body is in full metabolism mode by 3 PM, and no longer wanting to just fall asleep. It's completely changed my afternoons.
The other big difference I've noticed is my belly. Belly fat is so annoying and hard to manage for women. Due to hormones, we require more work in the abdomen area than a male. We really have to work hard for it, and after just a few weeks of intermittent fasting, I was significantly less bloated and my belly shrunk in size. Huge win for me!
Honestly I thought no matter what I ate or did, I would have a belly. Even with OrangeTheory, pilates and healthy eating, I could not find the balance. I even drastically decreased my alcohol intake so I was doing all the right things and not seeing a difference in my belly. Fasting made the difference.
This is a no-brainer, but fasting for 16 hours is going to lead to some weight loss. You are not magically going to wake up 15 pounds lighter in a month, but the amount of fasting is correlated to the amount of weight loss. If you fast for 10 hours, it's less effective than 12 which is less effective than 14, etc. The longer your body is able to handle the fasting, the better off you will be if weight loss is your goal for the 8 hour eating window.
The Big Debate
A lot of the research I've read about intermittent fasting is controversial, with people on either side of various discussion points. The biggest discussion point to my knowledge is the idea of having coffee or tea in the morning versus not having it until noon.
Half think having coffee with some sugar and organic cream is not breaking the fast; the other half as you can guess believes it is breaking the rules and ruins the 16 hour fast.
After experiencing Nora Tobin's program this weekend at JW Desert Ridge, I found that she does coffee in the morning with a little Navitas Cacoa Powder. In addition to this superfood natural sweetener, she adds coconut oil to give the body a little healthy fat to hold it over until noon or 1 PM depending on the fast hours. The unique thing about the fast is that it's up to you to decide what time you want to start eating. If you want to do 10-6, you can. 12-8? Totally. 1-9? Sure. Whatever works for your schedule is the way to do it, and the best way for your mental wellbeing. You don't want to feel deprived.
Before deciding on coffee in the morning, read up on intermittent fasting and see which side of the argument makes more sense for you. If weight loss is your end goal, perhaps a 6 hour eating window and 18 hour fast is ideal. For me, I want to get more toned and not necessarily lose a ton of weight so I think an 8-10 hour eating window is ideal for me at the moment. When I started this, I wanted to shed quickly and that's what I experienced after 2 months.
Ignore that hunger pang
There are times at 9:30 in the morning, I feel that annoying rumbling in my tummy. It feels like I need to eat something right away or I'll be sick, but ignore that sensation because it will go away quickly. Your body is incredible and adapts much quicker than you can imagine. The hunger usually goes away within 15-20 minutes (this is the timeframe I experience.)
I work out before eating
Some mornings I like to get my workout on in the early hours. This is before I consume any food. I have never been someone who enjoys eating in the morning and I also do not like working out on a full stomach, so this was super easy for me. I understand that some people do not want to do a HIIT workout without some substance in their body, which is totally fine. If you want to have something the morning before a HIIT workout, that is fine and up to you. I prefer not to because then I can reward my body at noon.