Summer Health and Fitness Series
As promised last week, today we are working through Intermittent Fasting. This is one of my favorite tools and topics. I LOVE LOVE LOVE intermittent fasting and I can't wait to tell you why. We all know what fasting is basically not eating for a period of time. Intermittent fasting is just pre-planned periods of not eating. If you are even remotely in tune to the health and fitness world, then I am quite certain you have likely heard of IF (intermittent fasting) within the last few years. It's really a thing, a darn popular thing, and it deserves all the recognition that it has been given. IF goes beyond just weight loss, and I'm excited to share those extra details with you. More importantly though, I feel IF is a huge personal discipline that you can control, and makes you feel amazingly successful. Just to quick clarify, IF, may not be for everyone, especially those with serious preexisting health complications. Like everything else, you need to use precaution.
Years ago, when I was young, it was preached to us to ALWAYS eat breakfast. "It's the most important meal of the day." I do agree that breakfast is important for our kiddos out there. I would not send the little brain and body of my 8 year old to school without having healthy foods in their tummy. As for adults, the same is not needed on a daily basis. Neither is eating 5-6 small meals a day. Our bodies have NEVER been designed to continually eat throughout the day. Just look into the physiology of our bodies, they are amazingly adaptable. This may be cliche, but our ancestors did not have access to a refrigerator full of food 24-7. They weren't breaking out the Ben & Jerry's at midnight for a little snack. They ate abundantly when food was available, then literally fasted until they hunted for their next meal. Back to my main point here, you will NOT die if you intermittent fast. You may think you are going to die from hunger the first few days, but I assure you that hunger for a few hours will not kill you.
INTERMITTENT FASTING PLANS:
*ADF (alternate day fasting)
Among the above, the Leangains is the most popular and easiest to make into a lifestyle. It is honestly not as hard as it sounds, and I speak from experience. I have been intermittent fasting for almost two years and I absolutely love it. The Leangain is also known as the 16:8, 16 hours fasting and 8 hours of refueling. This schedule is easily adapted to your daily regimen by simply skipping breakfast. (Breakfast aka "break fast") Here is a sample below for the 16:8 schedule.
Dependent upon how late you want to eat or how early you need to eat, is how you configure your own schedule. If you work until 7pm and want to go home to have a nice dinner, then your fast can start at 8pm and finish at noon the next day. If you feel you need to eat earlier then noon, you can plan to eat at 10am and be finished eating for the day at 6pm. In the above chart, the orange is your refueling (eating) window. The shaded area is easy fasting since you are asleep. The fasting conscious work goes into the hours you are awake before you break your fast, and the hours following your last meal before bed.
In all honesty, IF can be a great tool to help with weight loss, since you are cutting out those sneaking times that you would indulge in extra snacks, like before bedtime. I am not going to lie to you and say it is easy, because it is not easy at all in the initial few weeks/months. It's been almost 2 years, and I still get super hungry before I break my fast, but I actually enjoy it A LOT. I know that sounds a whee bit crazy, but I have a sense of control and discipline that I am proud of each and every day. When I get to my first meal of the day and break my fast, I am proud each and every day. What's even more helpful is the change in food choices when you are actually hungry. I can almost guarantee that most of you decide to eat whenever you feel simply hungry. IT'S OKAY TO FEEL HUNGRY! It's actually good to feel hungry, and hear me out on that...when you are truly hungry you chose to eat healthier. You are not looking to grab a piece of candy, a muffin, or a donut, because you start to crave healthy protein rich foods to fill you up and give you energy. Nothing will make you feel worse then crappy food on a truly empty stomach.
Example: We had a patient a few years ago ask us about nutrition and eating habits for losing weight. We mentioned the first meal of the day being a chicken breast and veggies, to which she/he thought was just awful. She/he said there was no way they could eat chicken as their first meal. Well guess what, when you have been fasting for 16 hours, chicken sounds darn good and tastes even better. The intermittent fasting can truly help as a tool in you arsenal to help you get fit, lose weight, stay fit, etc but it has so many other amazing benefits that we are learning about all of the time.
As I mentioned earlier, fasting is not the easiest thing in the world to do. It takes a lot of patience and even more discipline. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to at least give it a try and see how you do and feel. I challenge the discipline side of you more then anything else. Maybe start slow on the 16-8 and try it just a few days a week, then move into it on a regular basis. Like everything I have blogged about, it's easily a lifestyle that is manageable for better health. Plus, you don't have to be crazy strict about it and it's even flexible. If your significant other wants to go out for a big breakfast, GO! You can skip that day or better yet start your fast earlier in the evening.
My personal notes...I stumbled upon IF years ago while working on dropping baby weight and getting healthier. It is a useful tool for me with weight management because I truly love to eat. This keeps my snacking at bay and helps me make much better whole food choices when its time to eat and I'm REALLY hungry. I have learned that I actually enjoy feeling empty and hungry rather than bloated and full. IF forces me to keep hydrated, because that is all you are having while fasting. Lots of hydration is key to helping you through your fast. I still enjoy my coffee, tea, and mineral waters during my fast, as long as they don't have calories. Please don't consider fake artificial sweeteners friends, just write your last will and testimony instead since that crap WILL kill you. Lastly, I will continue IF because it gives me such a sense of control and pride. Like I said earlier, when you make it through to the end of your fast successfully, you feel so accomplished and proud of your discipline. The amount of other wonderful benefits to your body when fasting excites me. Our bodies are so incredibly intelligent and down right cool, keep working hard on the only body you have right now.
To Our Health
Dr. Kallie Wegmann
Dr. MJ Wegmann,