Intermittent Fasting Guide
If you are like me the thought of fasting, intermittent or not, has you reaching for the closest cupcake. So what is the #IFhype all about anyway?
Intermittent fasting, or IF, is simply eating on a schedule. Popular fasting plans are 16/8 and 5/2, but they aren't the only way to go about it. Most people begin with the 16/8 because in the "16" portion (which is fasting) you are asleep for 8 hours- win!- and you can usually maintain a pretty normal lifestyle with the other 8 hours by simply skipping breakfast or eating an early dinner. The second option- 5/2 is a bit more complicated but still mostly acceptable with 5 days a week as normal as usual, but for 2 days you drastically cut back total calories.
This is where the RD in me wants to start spewing disclaimers, warnings, and scary cautions, however as I have always admitted- I'm human too and I want to know if this s#@! works! Newsflash, it does. As a matter of fact, it is sort of like mindful eating in that you want to hone those hunger signals and learn to slow down eating when you are bored, angry, stressed, or socializing.
The science is still new on this, but what we do know is that insulin stores fat, insulin is secreted when there is an influx of carbs, and chronic insulin secretion leads to systemic inflammation, weight gain, insulin resistance, and even increased estrogen. So in English all that means is that if the goal is to reduce insulin production, then clearly not eating so much seems logical, not eating all the time- also logical. Coming from the school of reformed grazers, it takes some shifting in thinking.
The bottom line is that: 1- with help and guidance, intermittent fasting can be beneficial, 2- it is not a traditional "fast", and 3- intermittent fasting is not an excuse to binge 8 hours a day on foods that you know aren't serving you- duh.
So how do you do this crazy thing and stay mindful? Well, by being mindful. During the selected fasting period you find other ways to satisfy boredom, anxiety, and mindless snacking. Pay attention to how you might have set yourself up- did you nosh on high calorie goodies all day and then wake up at 1:30am completely hangry? Or did you eat a balanced complex carb, healthy fat, lean protein dinner and sleep right through hubby's snores for the 1st time this month?
During your feeding hours make choices that serve you- whether it's a food you really crave today or a choice based on the 5 miles you plan to run after work. Use your food journal to help you tease out the mindful eating cues and triggers and use them the next time. Be flexible and know that practice is more a gauge of success than perfection, and with time this too will be routine.
So if this IF is such a good plan why isn't everyone doing it? Because it isn't for everyone, and it isn't for all the time. Not everyone should be fasting, intermittently or not- training for a marathon for example. not a good time. People struggling with eating disorders should work with their therapists, and of course preggo's and nursing mamas should steer clear.
However, if you are rolling down that hill towards peri-menopause or menopause and want to put the brakes on the belly bulge- this might be for you. If you have tried every diet on the planet and still have that last 10 pounds to lose- also might work for you. If you are a dedicated mindful eater and want to step up your game- it's worth a try.