The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Women and Top Tips to Get Started
Last Updated on April 19, 2023 by Rachel
Have you heard of intermittent fasting yet?? If you have, you might have been confused at first. After all, it goes against everything that we have been “taught” about nutrition. I always thought we were supposed to eat every few hours in order to “boost” your metabolism. I am so thankful that I decided to do some research and give intermittent fasting a chance because it has been a huge game changer for me.
There a several different approaches to intermittent fasting but essentially it is eating within a certain time window (your feeding window) and the rest of the time you that you are not eating would be considered your “fasting period”. So it is not a diet but an eating schedule.
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Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
So why intermittent fasting? Some believe that the reason people follow a intermittent fasting schedule and lose fat is because they are simply eating less. That is actually not it at all. Intermittent fasting can help to train your body to use the food that you consume more efficiently. When you deny your body of new calories, your body can learn to tap into your fat stores for energy. This typically happens about 8-12 hours after your body has digests its last meal. Beyond fat loss, there are numerous health benefits associated with intermittent fasting.
These benefits include: (from Dr. Mercola)
1. Helps to increase insulin and leptin sensitivity which can reduce your risk of developing chronic disease.
2. Helps to control the levels of your “hunger hormone” ghrelin which helps with appetite control and cravings.
3. Lowers triglyceride levels.
4. Helps to reduce inflammation and fight free radical damage.
5. Boosts the production of your HGH hormone which plays a vital role in muscle growth, strength, body composition, and cellular repair.
In addition to these benefits I have noticed that intermittent fasting helps with both my energy levels and my digestion which are two things that have always been a struggle for me.
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How does it work?
There are several different methods to intermittent fasting. What I personally do is the 16/8 fast. So fasting for 16 hours and eating in a eight hour window. I have been eating from about 11 am-7 pm. You can choose what hours work best for you. These hours work great for me because it is essentially just not snacking at all after dinner and eating a later breakfast. During my fasting period I drink LOTs of water, sparkling water, and have my morning coffee. You can also have tea. There are several different schools of thought on how to have your coffee during your fasting period but I follow the “the less than 50 calorie rule”. So I put less than 50 calories worth of almond milk creamer in my coffee. I also usually have my BCAAs during fasting…especially if I am going to be working out. As long as you keep your total calorie consumption under 50 you should be good.
How to get started?
If you have never fasted before I DO not recommend jumping right into a 16/8 fast. What I did was start with 12 hours and then each day I added an extra 15 minutes or so. It worked great! I also didn’t start with fasted workouts right away and waited until my body adjusted.
I allow myself flexibility and listen to my body. If I am super hungry one morning, I will break fast early. Some days I will go a little longer than 16 hours if I am not hungry yet. Some nights I will have a glass of wine at 9 pm. This is a lifestyle for me…and with that comes flexibility so I can keep up with it long term.
Also, it is important to note that intermittent fasting is not a pass to eat whatever you want during your feeding window. If you are not fueling your body with whole and unprocessed foods (other than the occasional treat) this will not work. Sorry guys! This should be used in addition to a healthy diet, and not instead of one.
And as with any time that you are starting a new eating or nutrition regime it is always best to run it by your doctor at first.
Recommended Resources: The Scientific Approach to Intermittent Fasting and The Complete Guide to Fasting.
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