October 28, 2017

Intermittent fasting is a growing topic in the health and weight loss communities, but why? Simply put – it works. Many people are discovering the long list of benefits to this form of fasting, and not just those looking to lose weight. While that is definitely one of the top advantages, you will find many other health benefits as well.

It is a Simpler Way to Lose Weight

Yo-yo dieting is not only not conducive to successful weight loss, but it can actually be harmful for your body. Too many changes in short periods of time can lead to many issue with digestion, weight gain, and abdominal pain, so you want to stick one method and keep with it. The reason why so many people are having success with intermittent fasting is because how simple it is. You just have to pick one method of intermittent fasting and stick with it, eating healthy and moderately during the eating periods, and fasting during the other hours of the day. It really doesn’t get much easier than that.

It Can Help With Blood Sugar Control

Moving beyond helping you to lose weight or burn fat, intermittent fasting it also efficient at controlling your blood sugar levels. When you do intermittent fasting over a prolonged period of time, and do it the right way, you can start increasing your insulin resistance and lowering your blood glucose levels naturally. When you do this, you just might help to treat your type 2 diabetes, or avoid diabetes if you were in the high-risk category.

You Can Increase Cognitive Function

There have been animal studies on intermittent fasting and how it can have a positive effect on your cognitive health, which helps to promote brain and memory health. You can actually reduce your risk for brain-related illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease with both a healthy diet, and diets like intermittent fasting. Studies were performed at the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute of Aging on this very subject.

It Promotes Healthy Eating

Since intermittent fasting takes away overeating and requires you to really be conscious when you do eat, it can help tremendously with your overall health. Nutritious foods provide so many amazing health benefits, for your weight, heart health, cholesterol, even your bones. With intermittent fasting, you try to have nutrient-dense foods during eating phases, so it can help you to learn to eat better overall.

Tips for Starting an Intermittent Fasting Protocol

By now, you have probably read about intermittent fasting and all of its health benefits, but now it is time to start planning. You should not just jump into it without getting all the pertinent information, and definitely not without planning ahead of time. Here are some tips for starting an intermittent fasting protocol.

Plan Ahead of Time

One of the most integral parts of starting an intermittent fasting protocol is planning properly. You need enough time to plan ahead, including choosing your protocol, and knowing when and how to eat. Don’t just spend 20 minutes reading about IF, then assume you can start tonight. It takes time to learn about different methods and what will work with your schedule. Take the time to write down what times of the day you will eat, workout, and fast, so that you know what to expect.

Don’t Follow the Common Mistakes

There are some mistakes that people tend to make when they begin with intermittent fasting. By planning ahead, you are already avoiding one of the common pitfalls. In addition, try not to obsess too much about the eating and fasting windows. This is where many people go wrong. Just eat at the same time for each eating window, and it should be fairly easy. You can also set timers or put it on your calendar if that is simpler for you. Over time, you will become accustomed to how long you go without eating.

You also want to avoid these common mistakes:

Don’t binge eat when it’s time to eat after a fast
Avoid excessive cardio when you are fasting
Don’t use this as an excuse to eat what you want

Eat as Healthy as You Can

When you first start with a new intermittent fasting protocol, make sure when you eat, you are eating healthy food, but don’t be too strict. There is a delicate balance here between nourishing your body and providing essential fuel that gets you through the next fasting stage, but not depriving yourself so much of what you want, that you can’t stick with intermittent fasting. It is okay to eat how you normally would with intermittent fasting, unless you have some type of strict diet regimen you need to stick to, from low-carb to being gluten-free. It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about what to eat even while doing intermittent fasting.

Tips for Transitioning into Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can benefit you in many ways, particularly with burning more fat and losing weight, but you shouldn’t just jump in with both feet. Many people struggle to start right away, and do better with a slower transition. Take a look at these tips for getting into intermittent fasting at a slower pace for long-term success.

Don’t Start it During a New Diet

This is really important, because it can make or break your intermittent fasting transition. If you are doing IF along with a new way of eating, like Keto or a low-calorie diet, you need to try the diet first. Your body needs time to adjust to new foods and meals, whether you are cutting out meat on a vegetarian diet or you are reducing your carbs dramatically. Try to stick to your new diet for 1-2 weeks, then add in intermittent fasting. This will make the transition go much more smoothly.

Transition Slowly

Another tip that can help you transition into intermittent fasting is by not doing it every day. This mostly applies to fasting protocols like the 16:8 split, where you eat for 8 hours, fast for 16 hours, then repeat the following day. You can still gain benefits from this type of fasting protocol if you start with just a couple days a week, take a break from it, then start it again. Every week, try to add on another day until you are able to stick with it mostly every day. Other fasting protocols, like 5:2 or Warrior require you to go a full 24 hours while fasting, but you can try just 18 hours or 20 hours, then start increasing it as you become more comfortable with the fasting window.

Take Your Schedule Into Consideration

This is helpful when you are still in the planning stage and trying to figure out which intermittent fasting protocol is right for you. You shouldn’t choose an IF protocol just because your friends are doing it, or you want to try the most extreme. You really need to think long and hard about it, looking at your current schedule. If there is no way you can have all your meals in just 8 hours because of an erratic schedule, then the LeanGains 16:8 protocol is not for you. On the other hand, if you know you can’t do 24 hours with no eating, then it might be right for you. Think about your preferences, schedule, and whether or not it will affect others you live with when deciding which one is going to be the best fit. This makes that transition much easier to handle.

Intermittent Fasting for Women

Intermittent fasting in general is safe for everyone to do, as long as they are an adult and don’t have major health complications. However, if you are a woman, you might want to think before you try it. While many women experience no negative side effects, there are some things to consider first. Here is what you should know about intermittent fasting as a woman.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

First of all, it helps to know the benefits of intermittent fast, not just for women but for everyone. There are many reasons people try IF for health and weight loss. It can help increase your body’s fat burning potential, since the food you eat is burned rather quickly during your fasted state, after which you start burning fat. Because of this, it can also help to increase your energy and cognitive function. Some people notice a reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as more balanced blood sugar levels.

Hormonal Changes

While there are a few different side effects of doing intermittent fasting, the hormonal changes women sometimes experience tend to be the most worrisome. Many women can do IF and not have any issues, but those who do show signs of hormonal changes, might need to consult their doctor and possibly switch protocols or stop intermittent fasting altogether.

The hormonal imbalance is often from not doing intermittent fasting correctly, which is good news. It means as long as you follow your protocol, there is a good chance you won’t have these problems. If your body senses starvation by going too long without food, your hormones may increase, thus creating an imbalance. This is why it is important to only stick to the number of hours you are meant to fast, and not go over it by too much.

Signs of a Hormonal Imbalance

Make sure you are paying close attention to your body when you do intermittent fasting, so that you know if and when you have hormonal changes. Some signs of having a hormonal imbalance include bloating, irregular periods or bleeding in the middle of your cycle, fatigue, and even depression.  If this is happening to you, talk to a doctor and let them know you have started intermittent fasting. They might recommend either stopping it completely, or switching up your protocol or diet. Your health should be top priority, so don’t ignore those hormonal balance symptoms.

Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting

While intermittent fasting can be a great tool to help you lose weight, control your eating, and learn healthier patterns with food and workouts, there are some side effects to consider. Intermittent fasting won’t work for everyone, just like any other healthy eating method you try. Here are some potential side effects to keep in mind.

Becoming Too Full for Eating

One of the potential drawbacks to intermittent fasting has to do with the shorter eating window. You might be used to spreading your meals out a bit, eating smaller meals but more often throughout the day. With intermittent fasting, you eat more at a time, and in a shorter phase during the day. What might happen is that you become too full after these bigger meals, to where you feel uncomfortable. The trick here is to eat as many nutrient-dense foods as you can, so that you are getting adequate nutrition without feeling ill.

Constantly Thinking About the Eating/Fasting Windows

Intermittent fasting should be a simpler way to eat healthy and train your body when you are hungry and not hungry. It is not meant to become an obsession, which is the problem with many restricting diets out there. You should develop a healthy relationship with food, understanding it is only meant to fuel your body, not to become a hobby or something to help with your emotional health. Therefore, when you first start IF, you might find that you are constantly staring at the clock and counting down the minutes until you can eat again. Try to set timers or eat at the same time each day so that you aren’t obsessing about it quite so much.

Reduced Athletic Ability

When you are fasting, you may notice that you have reduced athletic performance. It is okay to do fasted workouts, but they should not be high intensity. If you do high-intensity cardio, HIIT, or Cross Fit, you might want to do your workouts during your eating periods. Otherwise, moderate activity should be fine while you are fasting.

Hormonal Changes in Women

One of the main side effects for women is having hormonal changes or hormonal imbalances. You should pay attention to your body, and if you notice things like irregular periods, cramping, or bleeding, stop intermittent fasting and talk to your doctor. It is possible you just need a new protocol or that you were not following the IF protocol correctly.

Intermittent Fasting FAQs

If you are new to intermittent fasting, you probably have a lot of questions. But that’s okay – because we have a lot of answers for you! Here is a list of some of the more commonly asked questions about intermittent fasting and the answers, which should help you decide if and when you want to try IF.

Can my child do intermittent fasting?

This is not recommended for children or youths, including teenagers. Unless your doctor has a reason to suggest intermittent fasting for a child, it is not usually a good idea. Children should not have any strict diets, but instead follow a healthy lifestyle of plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. If you want your entire family to be on the same schedule, talk to your doctor first.

Are there any side effects?

While most adults can handle intermittent fasting without any bad side effects, there are some effects for certain individuals. For example, if you are used to eating every 2-3 hours, it can be hard to switching to a 24-hour fasting protocol like Warrior or the Eat-Stop-Eat plan. You may notice some side effects for the first few days like shaking or lightheadedness. Women who do intermittent fasting also have a risk for hormonal changes, so it is important to know the signs of them and stop IF if it persists.

Will I go into starvation mode?

This is a very common question people ask when they look into intermittent fasting. There is this thought that if you don’t eat enough, your body can go into starvation mode. This is not necessarily a myth, it just doesn’t work how people think it does. If you consistently don’t eat enough, eating below 1,000 calories a day every day of the week, then yes, your body can eventually go into starvation mode. However, that is not what intermittent fasting is. The eating periods you still eat enough calories for your body, and get lots of nutrients. Your fasting windows are just a little bit longer.

Can I follow another diet while fasting?

You can still follow another diet on your eating days when you are doing intermittent fasting, but it is not advised to start both at the same time. That is a lot of stress to put on your body all at once. It is best to switch to the new diet for a few weeks, then when you get adapted to it, add in intermittent fasting.