Many diets focus on what to eat, but intermittent fasting is all about when you eat.
If you’ve been hearing me talk about the 11-Day Jumpstart program I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year, then you may have heard me talk about intermittent fasting. If you aren’t familiar with this lifestyle of eating then allow me to introduce you to what it is and how it works. In a subsequent blog, I will be sharing a few of the many benefits of intermittent fasting and why it works so well with the program.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule where you only eat during a specific time period. Research shows fasting for a certain number of hours each day or eating just one meal a couple of days a week may have health benefits that help to manage your weight and prevent — or even reverse — some forms of the disease. But how do you do it? And is it safe?
How does intermittent fasting work?
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight or ten-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week.
I recently listened to a podcast episode by Dr. Mark Hyman, How to Do Intermittent Fasting for Weightloss and Better Health, and he explains that after hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat, often referred to as metabolic switching.
Intermittent fasting contrasts with the normal eating pattern for most Americans, who eat throughout their waking hours. If you are someone who eats three meals a day, plus snacks, and you’re not exercising, then every time you eat, you’re running on those calories and not burning through the fat stores.
Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.
What can I eat while intermittent fasting?
During the times when you’re not eating, water and zero-calorie beverages such as black coffee and tea are permitted (although I still use my Almond Milk creamer and I’m unapologetically not giving it up lol). After all, it takes consuming more than 50 calories to break my fast and my tbsp of creamer doesn’t put me over the threshold!
In Jumpstart, we encourage the Paleo way of eating. It is a good blueprint of what to eat, whether you’re trying intermittent fasting or not. You can hardly go wrong when you pick leafy greens, healthy fats, seeds, and nuts as well as lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. The goal is to reduce the consumption of processed foods, sugars, grains, legumes, and dairy products that can trigger inflammation in the body.
But intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone.
Before you try intermittent fasting it is wise to check in with your primary care practitioner if you have any health issues or concerns. Some people should steer clear of trying intermittent fasting:
- Children age 12 and under
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- People with type 1 diabetes who take insulin should be cautious. While an increasing number of clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting is safe in people with type 2 diabetes, there have been no studies in people with type 1 diabetes. Because those with type 1 diabetes take insulin, there is a concern that an intermittent fasting eating pattern may result in unsafe levels of hypoglycemia during the fasting period.
- Those with a history of eating disorders
Is intermittent fasting safe?
Simply put… YES, intermittent fasting is safe.
People not in the above-mentioned categories, can do intermittent fasting safely and continue the regimen indefinitely. It can be a healthy lifestyle change with many benefits.
Keep in mind that intermittent fasting may have different effects on different people. Talk to your doctor if you start experiencing unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea, or other symptoms after you start intermittent fasting, although this could also be a sign of detoxification happening in the body.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. If you've tried intermittent fasting, I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments!