Intermittent fasting has become a popular trend over the last few years, but do you know what it truly is? Let us look at the general idea and its key components. Intermittent fasting simply means that you are going an extended period of time without eating (or drinking caloric beverages). This timeframe could be 12-hours, 24-hours, or even longer, but most traditionally intermittent fasting falls somewhere between the 14-hours to 24-hours without eating. The key is to consume the same number of calories as you typically would, but in a shorter timeframe. For example, if you typically hold yourself to a 2,000 calorie diet, your eating may look like this: 7 am you eat scrambled eggs with vegetables and a piece of toast, 9 am you eat an apple with peanut butter, lunch is a chipotle burrito bowl at noon, 2 pm your afternoon snack consists of veggies and hummus, and for dinner at 7 pm you eat pizza with a side salad and a scoop of ice cream for dessert. With intermittent fasting, the focus isn’t on what you are eating (although it is still important) but rather when. To continue the example, with intermittent fasting 7 pm to 9 am, your day may look more like the following: at 7 am you grab a cup of black coffee, at 9 am enjoy your egg breakfast, apple snack is at 11 am, lunch is at 1 pm, afternoon snack is at 3 pm and dinner is 6 pm. You are done consuming calories by 7 pm to begin your fast. Remember, while fasting, you can still enjoy freshly brewed tea, water, seltzer, or black coffee. So, if at 9 pm you are feeling bored or antsy about fasting, drink some hot tea and wind down before bed.
Why has intermittent fasting become so popular? Not to get too specific, but there are several health benefits associated with it. These benefits include blood sugar regulation improvement which can aid with certain diabetes situations, improved memory function, blood pressure, resting heart rate, and many more. From a physiological and fitness aspect, there is an increased amount of testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) that is released into the body with intermittent fasting which can lead to improved results when paired with resistance training. Research also shows that the hormone, Ghrelin, which is released when your body is ‘hungry’, decreases with intermittent fasting.
It is important to realize that not everyone is going to respond the same way to intermittent fasting. You may see good benefits with intermittent fasting, or you may not realize any changes. The way we should view intermittent fasting, in my opinion, is that it is meant to break our normal cycle and make us more conscious of our dietary decisions. It gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you think: “Am I eating because it is time to eat?” “Am I eating because I am bored?” “Do I really need to eat right now?”
Are you now wondering how do you get started? Select a day in which you would like to try the intermittent fasting and start with a 12-14 hour fast. Now, this may sound intimidating, but if you eat dinner at 7 pm then you only need to make it until 7 am the following day to accomplish a 12-hour fast, or 9 am to make a 14-hour fast. Once you have accomplished this a few times, then you can start to expand your timeframe from 12-14 hours to 16 hours and eventually 24 hours or longer.