New Eating Habits | What is Intermittent Fasting?

As you may (or may not know, depending on ho many of my blog posts you actually read) I have been having stomach issues for the longest time, as in I've lost count of how many bad days I ave had. I've tried so many things, eliminating dairy, eliminating wheat, trying a low FODMAP diet, you name it, I have probably tried it and I still seem to just not feel right. The past few months have been the better of the last year but I'm still certain that there is room for improvement. So instead of changing my diet per-say- I've decided to give intermittent fasting a go and instead change when I eat, rather than what I eat, because I eat relatively healthy as it is.

While I was researching I constantly saw the phrase "this is not a diet, it is an eating habit" which is what compelled me to give this a go a little bit more. As with anything, you should be educated before trying it out- hence why I am doing this post. This will be posted and once I have completed a one week diary of what I did during intermittent fasting/ what I ate/ how I felt I will post that also. In this post you will find all the information that I used when decided if intermittent fasting was going to work for me or not.

What is intermittent fasting? 
Basically, you fast for a certain amount of time and then you have a period where you can eat your meals. I am choosing to do the 16:8 method- so that is I have sixteen hours a day of fasting (including when I am asleep) and an eight hour feeding window. During this feeding window you eat as you normally would, just condensed down into a certain amount of time. The longer you stay in a fasted state the more of the stored fat that will be burnt.

What should I eat during intermittent fasting?
The main goal of IF is to keep your insulin levels and blood sugar low- so you should be eating foods that don't spike either. Fasting will lower your insulin levels allowing more aft to be burnt- your body runs out of the energy provided by food and therefor has to start taking energy from your stored fat sources. When your insulin levels are elevated your body stops burning fat. Sweets, processed foods and junk food will spike your insulin levels the most while providing your body with the least nutrients. You should try not to overindulge in carbs and dairy, and try to break your fast with a large serving of vegetables. Fats will have the least impact on insulin levels.

While this is all good and well to throw at you, I know how hard it can be to go from a normal diet to a marginally stricter one. So, with that being said during my week of intermittent fasting I will be as healthy as possible, and follow these rules as much as I can, but I can't guarantee that I will not cave to the craving of something sweet every now and again. I will however, try and keep them in moderation.

Keto Intermittent Fasting- What Is that?
I read during my research that sticking to a keto diet is the best way to loose weight while intermittent fasting, I however will not be sticking to a Keto diet, but I thought I would throw it in for your information. According to the websites I looked at you have to avoid carbs, starch and sugar- including potatoes, any fruit that isn't berries, soda and juice, chocolate, bread ect. 75% of what your daily intake should be fats, 5-10% should be carbs and 15-20% should be protein.

What are the benefits of IF?

  • During your fasted period your insulin levels are going to decrease dramatically, this will allow your body to initiate a cellular repair response which changes your hormones and allows the stored body fat you may be trying to get rid of to become more accessible. When your insulin levels drop fat burning becomes facilitated.
    Human growth hormone will increase in your body during your fasted state, this will aid in the fat burning and muscle gain. 
  • IF has been shown to increase your metabolic rate by around 3.6 - 14%, this means you will be burning more calories, therefor you can loose more weight. This method will also mean that you loose less of your muscle mass than if you were to use a caloric restriction method. 
  • Lowered insulin resistance can help you out in a few ways. First off it reduces your risk of type two diabetes and secondly it lowers your blood sugar levels. 
  • Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one step towards aging and chronic diseases so anything that can reduce that stress is good for you. Inflammation in the body is a key driver in common diseases, another thing that you would want to keep at a minimum. 
  • IF has also been shown to be good for the health of your heart. Intermittent fasting may reduce some of the "bad" cholesterol in your body as well as bloody triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance- of which these are all factors of heart disease. 
Okay- so what are the concerns of IF?
A lot of articles don't mention the concerns that surround intermittent fasting and in some cases you really do have to look for them- so I found them for you!
  • Infertility. This one is less of a concern if you are sticking to the 16:8 method, there are some methods, such as the stop-eat-stop diet where you fast for up to twenty four hours or the 20:4 where its twenty hour of fasting and four of eating. If you aren't getting enough calories and nutrients in you could have issues with your reproductive system. 
  • Athletic performance. With IF you really need to find a time that works for you to get your workout in- during your fasting phase you could have very little energy and motivation, while in your eating phase you could be feeling sluggish and tired. It's all about timing with this one. 
  • Is it realistic? Many of the articles that I read told me that in the long run this lifestyle was not really sustainable. Studies have shown that many people drop out of this "eating habit" and often just begin to cut their calories over time. 
  • There is a chance that this lifestyle could push people towards an eating disorder, particularly if you have a past history. It isn't hard to see how this kind of "habit" could lead to a binge eating lifestyle. 
Is there anyone who shouldn't try IF?
As with all lifestyle changes you should speak to a professional first if you think there could be a reason for you not to undertake the change. I read that people with insulin-dependent diabetes should refrain from any radical fasting regimes. Obviously people with a past history of eating disorders should seriously consider if this lifestyle would be right for them. I also read that for athletes- both amateur and professional, who depend on their perfectly timed energy for their performance should be wary. 

What are you going to do? 
So, for the next week I am going to try the 16:8 method, I cannot guarantee that I will do it perfectly but I will try my hardest. I'm not really doing this for the whole weight loss factor, more to see if it improves how I feel. I will report back after the week with all my information!