#WTFWEDNESDAY: Intermittent Fasting
WTF IS #WTFWEDNESDAY?
If you follow me on social media (or work with me in "real life", of course!), you probably already know that one of my goals + passions as a Fitness + Food Coach is to empower my clients to make healthy not so hard. In today's age of abundant + accessible information, it's less a lack of knowledge that prevents us from reaching our goals, and more a matter of sifting through it all to figure out what is most useful, applicable, and of course, effective.
While it excites me to see so many people enthusiastically sharing their personal experiences of fitness, nutrition + health, it does concern me that some of what's shared can be confusing, conflicting, or even downright incorrect.
From this concern (and if I'm being honest, frustration), #WTFWednesday was born! Each week, I'll hop on Instagram live to discuss a currently trending topic from the health + wellness space. (I'll post on Instagram stories and on my feed the days prior to give you a heads up on timing + topic, but I'm aiming for 8/8:30pm EST when I can.) If you can't tune in live, the video will be available for 24 hours, and I'll do a follow up blog post with details + references, as well as the video*. And since we're all busy people, I'll try to keep the whole discussion to 10-15 minutes.
For my first installment, I discussed Intermittent Fasting, the current diet strategy darling for both weight loss as well as longevity + disease prevention camps, which is a hard line to straddle! *Apparently I'm not as tech savvy as I thought I was and didn't save the video last week. Whoops. However, all of my notes (and some links) from my discussion can be found below. Video for this week's #WTFWednesday - I pinky swear!
I should also clarify - as much as I love dispelling health + wellness myths, this is all about YOU! If there's a topic you'd like me to dive into, let me know!
Intermittent fasting can takes many forms: most well known + common is skipping breakfast and having your first meal later in the day (often lunchtime); also popular is to have lower calories days per week/per month; restricted feeding window of time (my personal favorite)
Potential positive health outcomes: improves immune function, lowers inflammation/ autoimmune response, boosts cognitive function + brain health, improves blood sugar regulation/insulin sensitivity (and therefore hunger), reduces risk of cancer + other chronic diseases
Can promote weight loss - not because it’s a magic bullet, but because you plausibly reduce overall calorie intake + improve metabolic functioning (stabilizing blood sugar, lowering inflammation, etc.).
Intermittent fasting is more in line with our genetics and natural circadian rhythms - we didn’t used to have food available at all times! This may have a positive biological effect on weight maintenance.
Other lifestyle benefits: reduces decision fatigue (don’t have to decide what to eat), fewer “eating opportunities”/smaller eating widow of time (less likely to make “bad” decisions or overeat - unless you binge), better digestion (not eating before bed), better sleep quality
BUT, intermittent fasting can be a stressor on the body; if the body is already under chronic stress, (or it mentally stresses you out) it might not be for you. It’s especially controversial for women given our hormonal fluctuations. You should also avoid if you have a history of disordered eating.
However, for many people, intermittent fasting can REDUCE stress: there are fewer meals to plan/less to think about; some people's personalities thrive on having rules ("I only eat between 10am-6pm"); you are likely to have better digestion/sleep (and therefore feel better/more energized)
My favorite approach to intermittent fasting: time restricted feeding. Research supports benefits from even a 10-12 hour eating window! (AKA your last meal of the day at 7pm, and you don't eat in the morning until 7-9am). This should be very manageable - overnight, you want to be resting, restoring + regenerating, not digesting!
"But do I need to drink Bulletproof Coffee?" For individuals who, for whatever reason, are trying to drastically reduce their eating window (or fast for full days), Bulletproof coffee can be a good “trick”. (Basic recipe: coffee + ghee or grass-fed butter and/or MCT oil) Consuming fat doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels like carbohydrates + protein do, and you are technically still fasting. Additionally, adding fat to coffee slows caffeine metabolism, so you don’t get jittery. (But, if you are having butter in coffee AND a full breakfast, you’re doing it wrong.)
Better approach to breaking your fast: protein + fat-focused breakfast, no or fewer carbs (and if so, make sure they are super high quality, whole, and nutrient dense, like sweet potato). Avoid breads, cereals, even oatmeal… This will help avoid carbohydrate cravings later since you are less likely to have blood sugar swings.
Bottom line: there are benefits, but it’s not for everyone. If you do well with “rules,” and it complements your schedule, it might be for you. (If you work out in the morning, however, you are going to want to refuel after.) Everyone can benefit from a restricted - and by that I mean reasonable - feeding window of 8-12 hours.
Have you dabbled with Intermittent Fasting? If so, tell me more about your experience in the comments!
Please note: The information I provide is not meant to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional before embarking on a new nutrition, fitness, or otherwise health-related protocol or regimen.