Intermittent fasting, which is simply a shortened eating schedule, is one of the ways to get you into fat-burning mode and can be a very powerful tool for appetite correction and resting the gut. Technically speaking, if you slept last night and didn’t wake up for a midnight snack, you fasted. Anytime you’re going without food, that’s intermittent fasting.
There are countless variations of intermittent fasting. We discuss intermittent fasting using an eating window. This means you will schedule your meals to happen within a particular window of time, such as 12-hours. Starting is simple! Begin with the time you want to have your last meal, and then count ahead 12-hours to schedule your first meal of the next day. Let’s say that you plan to finish dinner by 7 p.m. That means you’d have your first meal (breakfast) no earlier than 7 a.m. the next day.
Start with a 12-hour window for your first few days. Then, every day, delay your first meal by another hour or so, while continuing to have your last meal of the day at the same time. This means breakfast on Monday might be at 7am. On Tuesday you would delay your first meal until 8am. On Wednesday you would postpone breakfast until 9am, and so on, until such time your meals are eaten within an eight-hour window. Using our example, you would eat from 11am to 7pm, then fast from 7pm to 11am.
The way you design the timing of your meals should fit seamlessly into your lifestyle with consideration of the time of day you usually have the most robust appetite. Some may prefer an early breakfast and have dinner in the late afternoon. If you tend to be hungrier in the evening, you’ll likely have no problem pushing your first meal back to almost lunch time to accommodate a late dinner.
Let’s talk logistics…
Technically speaking, when fasting for the pure benefits of autophagy, you want to avoid consuming any calories. (You’ll learn about autophagy in your Fasting Guide, but basically, it’s programmed cell death… it’s what fights disease and keeps us young).
Water is encouraged, of course, but there’s much debate about whether bone broth, your morning coffee with MCT oil, or pre-workout supplements break the fast.
Here’s the answer: It depends. Strictly speaking, anything you eat could take you out of ketosis and, therefore, “break the fast.” However, most people have found they can eat a small amount of something high in fat—or mostly pure fat—during their fasting window and still stay in fat-burning mode. So many people during their fasting period still have coffee, coffee with coconut oil, coffee with heavy cream, lemon water, MCT oil, or bone broth to help stave off the urge to eat.
You may be able to eat a handful of nuts in the evening, or even have a pre-workout drink in the morning and not be kicked out of ketosis; others may find that this affects them negatively. It may take some time to build the metabolic flexibility needed to maintain ketosis. You have to trust how you feel during this time.
While fasting is certainly something humans have done for thousands of years, there has yet to be clinical human studies to assess the long-term effects of intermittent fasting on metabolic adaptation. For that reason, it’s best to periodically phase away from intermittent fasting to avoid adaptation. Ideally, this can be done anytime intermittent fasting isn’t convenient due to your social schedule, or just because you wake up and really feel like you need to eat. Give yourself some grace. There’s a big difference between good habits and obsessive behavior. Avoid making food or the timing of your meals something that interferes with living your life!
Some of the myths around fasting are what keep the skeptics chattering.
You’ve probably heard a few of them…
Myth #1: To have a robust, active metabolism, you need to eat every two to three hours.
When you throw down another protein bar, it’s like throwing a log on the fire; you increase the heat, or the power of the fire, by adding more fuel. Except that’s not how our metabolism works. It’s a great analogy. It’s cute and easy to remember, making it easy for us to repeat and hold on to. We have come to believe this must be true. So if you follow this very simple analogy, you can eat all day and that means you’re burning more calories all day. Personal trainers and fitness experts believe this one and feed it to anyone who will listen, but it’s simply not true.
Myth #2: If you skip a meal—like just one—your body starts eating its own muscle and your metabolism slows to a crawl.
Let’s just have common sense here… I mean, look around. We’ve been eating more often and we’re more out of shape, overweight, obese, and unhealthy, than ever before.
These myths are what we’re trying to dispel. Eating small meals around the clock isn’t working for so many people. If you try finding studies that substantiate the importance of eating every two hours to maintain weight or help people lose weight, you won’t find much of anything, other than a few studies commissioned by, yeah, you guessed it, big food companies like Kellogg. However, there’s a lot of research to support the health benefits of intermittent and short-term fasting, like fat loss and metabolic increase.
This is why it’ll be helpful for you to test this tool during Ignite. Intermittent fasting is known to decrease triglycerides, reduce blood pressure and reduce markers for inflammation, balance hormone levels, reduce oxidative stress (or the aging process on a cellular level) What does that mean exactly? It means you heal faster and look younger. Who doesn’t want faster cellular turnover? It means better hair, nails, and skin, as well as vitality.
Another reason to test it: appetite control. Research suggests that while fasting, ghrelin and leptin, your hunger hormones, are regulated. So is insulin. We fear fasting because we think we’re going to be really hungry and feel deprived, but here’s the real deal: intermittent fasting helps you control hunger, if you do it right. And doing it right means you don’t snack. Can you imagine how great you’ll feel when you gain control over your hunger? Intermittent fasting is also going to help you lower your blood glucose levels. New research also indicates that intermittent fasting boosts neurogenesis and neuronal plasticity by offering protection against neurotoxins. You may just decide to use intermittent fasting as a way to lose a little extra body fat. But I’m hoping you’ll consider it to reap rewards that go far deeper than just body fat.
There is so much exciting new research coming out of leading universities on intermittent fasting, and fasting in general. In fact, the Nobel Prize was awarded last year to a Japanese researcher for his research on fasting, and how he was able to reduce the risk of cancer using it.
Now, if you’re feeling a little skeptical about the idea of intermittent fasting, just know this, the decision is up to you. Even after endless research, it’s hard to change old thinking and old habits. You might be convinced that you’re different, that if you go more than a few hours without eating that you’ll be starving, shaky and miserable. But fasting is a lot like weight lifting. You simply gotta train it, build up to it, and use variations, if needed.
So with all of these amazing benefits, is intermittent fasting right for everyone? If you are pregnant or nursing, we do not recommend intermittent fasting. If you have a thyroid condition, Tolerance with both intermittent or extended fasting varies per person. Some people notice increased energy and thyroid improvement while others feel fatigued and moody. Everyone, especially those with thyroid conditions, will need to listen to your body and adjust as needed. As i’ve said before too, everyone, especially women, should phase intermittent fasting.