I used to roll my eyes when I heard about someone doing intermittent fasting. Why? Because it’s often abused… What do I mean? When done INCORRECTLY, intermittent fasting can actually be very unhealthy!
I’ve heard of people doing intermittent fasting in ways that I didn’t agree with from a health standpoint — fasting for a few days at a time, or eating “normal” for 5 days a week and severely restricting calories for 2 days a week. And I let these stories turn me off from even doing my research on it.
I never recommend fasting for days at a time. In fact, going long periods without food (even just 24 hours) can be dangerous! And I’d also never recommend consuming less than 1200 calories per day!
So, what got me interested in intermittent fasting?
But when one of my favorite fitness trainers started talking about intermittent fasting, the science behind it, and how he has done it for years in the right way, it piqued my interest!
And then an intermittent fasting option was added to my favorite nutrition program — a meal planning program I’ve used for years!
So, I did my research, and decided I wanted to give it a shot!
Let me say this, first: Intermittent fasting might not be for everyone…
Choosing a nutrition plan depends on your lifestyle, goals, current health conditions, and what you struggle or thrive with! That’s why Beachbody currently has two VERY different nutrition programs to meet the needs of EVERYONE!
Curious about the nutrition programs I’m talking about? Check out this blog comparing the two!
When considering intermittent fasting, you need to think about things like...
- Do you prefer more structure or more independence with your meals?
- Do you think fasting for 12-16 hours per day would help you stop snacking?
- Or would it feel too restrictive to only be allowed to eat at certain times of the day?
- Do you want to weigh yourself daily or prefer to stay off the scale?
The goal is never perfection. And, for me, it’s honestly NOT about weight loss or hitting a certain number on the scale. For me, it’s about finding a plan that will be the way you eat for life — seriously. No nutrition program should be short-term. That is a diet. That is a quick fix. That is NOT sustainable.
Beachbody’s programs are created to build life-long habits that allow you the ability to live life, have freedom with your food choices, and have a healthy relationship with food and your body!
So, Intermittent Fasting... Is It For You?
Maybe, maybe not. But, personally, I’m loving it so far!
At the time of writing this, I’ve only completed 2 weeks of my intermittent fasting. I’m also still currently breastfeeding my twins (20mo old) and, if anything, my milk supply has increased over the last week!*
On my plan, I’m still eating the same amount as I was before, I’m just consuming food within my “eating window” instead of whenever I feel like throughout the day. This way, my body has 12 hours in a “fasting” state, which helps it to effectively do its job and increase my metabolism!
I’ve chosen the 12/12 method (12 hours of fasting, 12-hour eating window), but you can also choose a 16/8 (16 hours of fasting, 8-hour eating window). If you need help deciding what is best for you, please let me know! But it’s best to look at what your daily schedule looks like and what times it will allow you to eat your first and last meals of the day.
What changes have I noticed so far with intermittent fasting?
- Sleep: I have slept better than ever before! Seriously. Perhaps it’s because my eating window ends at 7pm, so I’m letting my food (or occasional glass of wine) digest before I sleep?
- Energy: I have more energy throughout the day without that mid-afternoon crash — this was typical as a busy mom of 5 littles!
- Snacking: I’m much more mindful of what I’m eating and not snacking mindlessly after my kids are down for the night!
When done properly, intermittent fasting can be an effective way to improve your overall health, make your workouts more effective, and increase your energy while simultaneously boosting your metabolism! In the window that you are fasting, your body is able to burn through the calories from your last meal and start burning fat! This has been known as “metabolic switching.”
“Is there anyone that should avoid intermittent fasting?”
- Children and teens under 18 years old
- Those who have diabetes (unless otherwise discussed with your doctor) as fasting can result in changes in blood sugar that could be harmful if you have problems related to blood sugar regulation
- Those with a history of eating disorders
“Does intermittent fasting work if you don’t exercise?”
Above, I mentioned that intermittent fasting relies on metabolic switching… but, what do you need in order for the “switch” to happen? Physical activity.
“The way metabolic switching works is very simple, but if you have a sedentary lifestyle then the switch can never be triggered, no matter how long you fast for. The period of fasting has to be paired with physical exercise or activity so that your metabolism actually switches and starts to break down the stored fats and glucose in the body.” (source)
If you’re curious about intermittent fasting, but don’t currently work out regularly, I’d be thrilled to help you figure out a simple way to start incorporating a workout routine into your daily schedule! I host monthly at-home bootcamps for all different fitness levels, paired with our AMAZING virtual support & accountability group, it’s a great way to get started!
“Can you consume anything during your fasting window?”
Kind of… if you’re hungry during your fasting window try drinking something! You can have water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee during your fasting period!
“What happens if you can’t stick to your regular schedule one day?”
It’s best if you stick to the same schedule because you’re more likely to stay on track, see results, and not give up!
But, if plans come up, like you’re invited out to dinner with friends after the time you’d normally stop eating for the day, I’ve simply shifted my eating/fasting schedule. I’m still fasting for the same amount of time, but starting/stopping at different times of the day (I’ll start eating later then next morning).
“What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?”
Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Mark Mattson, Ph.D., has studied intermittent fasting for 25 years. He says that our bodies have evolved to be able to go without food for many hours, or even several days. Think back to prehistoric times — hunters and gatherers evolved to survive, and thrive, for long periods without eating. They had to: it took a lot of time and energy to hunt game and gather nuts and berries!
Even 50 years ago, it was easier to maintain a healthy weight. Johns Hopkins dietitian Christie Williams, M.S., R.D.N., explains: “There were no computers, and TV shows turned off at 11 pm; people stopped eating because they went to bed. Portions were much smaller. More people worked and played outside and, in general, got more exercise.” (source)
Today, we often stay up late to scroll the internet or watch our current favorite series on Netflix. As a result, we often SNACK — either, out of habit or boredom. This means extra calories and less physical activity, both of which increase the risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses plaguing our society! Scientific studies are showing that intermittent fasting may help reverse these troubling health trends.
Mattson claims that apart from regulating blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, metabolic switching also suppresses inflammation, reduces resting heart rate, builds resistance to stress, and improves brain health (especially memory and cognitive function).
What other benefits might you gain from intermittent fasting?..
- Thinking and Memory: Studies discovered that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.
- Physical Performance: Young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.
- Tissue Health: In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage from surgery and improved results.
Tips on Starting an Intermittent Fasting Plan
- Start slow — gradually increase the duration and frequency that you fast. Don’t try to go from all to nothing!
- Make sure you’re adding physical activity into your daily routine — again, start slow if you’re starting from ground zero! (And if you need help adding exercise into your routine, again, I highly recommend joining one of my virtual fitness groups!)
- Choose the right plan for YOU — does a 12/12 method or 16/8 fit better with your lifestyle?
- Give it time — keep in mind that the body takes approximately 2-4 weeks to get used to this new routine and method! Commit to at least 30 days. And I’d love for you to do it with me. If you’d like a partner to keep you accountable or ask questions, fill out the form on the bottom of this page and select “Portion Fix” as the program.
- It’s 100% normal to feel hungry during your fasting window — let your body do its job. Find a good distraction if hunger strikes. A go on a walk with a friend. Grab a good book. Watch a show with your partner. Play a board game with your kiddos.
- There is a difference between hunger and boredom — so often we eat because we are bored. Or we’ve created habits. For example, always grabbing something out of the pantry when we walk by it, having a snack the second you come home from work, or eating the remnants of your kids’ lunch plate. Be mindful of whether you are actually hungry or if it’s an emotional trigger, habitual, or you’re simply bored!
- If you’re feeling hungry, grab some water — drink a full glass and I bet it makes a difference! Often thirst is mistaken as hunger… your mind can trick ya!
- If it feels too restrictive or you’re finding you are truly hungry during your fasting window and you don’t feel intermittent fasting is a good fit for you, THAT. IS. OK. Nothing should ever feel restrictive or binding. If it feels good and is working for you, great. But if the “rules” are too much, this isn’t for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that! We have other nutrition programs that might be a better fit and I’m happy to walk through those with you!
Ready to Try Intermittent Fasting?!
If you’re curious about getting started, I’d love to help you get started and make sure you’re doing it the RIGHT way and fueling your body instead of starving it! Plus, I’ll be your accountability buddy through the first 30 days and beyond — you can ask me anything, and I’ll help support you each day!
Simply fill out the questions on the form below and select “Portion Fix” as the program — this is the nutrition program with the option for intermittent fasting. And the great thing about it is that if you decide intermittent fasting isn’t for you, you can easily choose another option from this program following similar nutrition guidelines (minus the fasting period)!
I can’t wait to do this with you! And feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me directly if you have any questions!
*I always recommend that if you are breastfeeding to chat with your doctor before making any dietary changes. And, if you’re pregnant, I would NOT recommend intermittent fasting! During pregnancy, I was the type that needed food constantly and always listened to my body. I ate when I was hungry, and sometimes that meant immediately upon waking. But, we do have specific plans for pregnant mamas to ensure you’re getting plenty of good nutrition and the right macros. So, never hesitate to reach out with questions! I used Beachbody’s plans for my pregnancies including my twin pregnancy!