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A Quick Intro to Intermittent Fasting

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

How? As you can imagine that’s become the most common question I’ve heard lately. How did I do it? How did I lose 100 pounds in one year? AND how did I manage to keep it off?

It’s kinda hard to give a simple answer to that question. I’ve tried it that way. It doesn’t work. I could easily say I practiced Intermittent Fasting with a little keto and calorie counting mixed with some carb cycling and end it there. Most of the time I’d just answer, Intermittent Fasting. It’s much easier to say, lol. But, technically that is what I did. However, it’s not all I did. And honestly I know that if it can possibly help others, then why not take the time to explain it. Not to beat a dead horse but I felt the basics (discipline, goals, consistency, and comfort zones) needed to be discussed before I spoke on taking action. As with many other things, weight loss and fitness takes planning. Knowing the basics of eating would help as well.  If you have not done so already I suggest you begin by reading Get Smart, Sam-I-Am, Magic Pill, and Eating101 before you read this. 

First, I want to give a disclaimer. This is how I lost over 100lbs in a year and I’ve kept 124lbs off since I started in 2017, however this not the end all be all. These are just tips that you could possibly use. I am not your medical advisor and before you begin anything you should always consult your doctor.


As promised, here’s a post on Intermittent Fasting (IF) and all its glory. But for real, it’s like the fountain of youth.


Intermittent Fasting is simply defined as cycling between periods of fasting and eating. There is no specific meal plan to follow with IF, however the cleaner you eat the better the results. It also doesn’t really require counting calories (there is one form of IF that requires it).


What the, Fasting?


We fast while we’re sleeping. Breakfast gets its name because our first meal of the day breaks that fast. So something simple as not having a snack after dinner and waiting to have breakfast a few hours later than you normally would is considered IF. 


To be more specific, the standard IF schedule, the Leangains Method, is 16/8. This means someone would fast for 16 hours and have an eating window of eight hours. I know we don’t sleep for 16 hours. If I were to finish my last meal at 8pm the count begins. Sleep by 11pm and that’s already 3 hours of fasting. If I’m up and out of the house by 8am and I’ve only had water or black coffee I’ve completed 12 hours of fasting. When lunch time rolls around at noon it’s been 16 hours and time to break my fast. Within the eight hour window of eating I’d eat my meals. If I was full before 8pm I would close my eating window and start the clock for fasting again. Sometimes I would push eating until the very last second. It would depend on how my body felt. 

Times are adjusted based off your daily schedule. You can also shorten your eating window and extend your fasting window. To see health benefits you would need to have at least a 12 hour window of fasting. For weight loss benefits at least 14 hours of fasting. 


There are several other methods of IF. Alternate day fasting is completing a 24 hour fast every other day. You may see OMAD, which is one meal a day. With weight loss I prefer the Leangains Method, adjusting my times based on how I felt and my schedule or OMAD. 

Notice that I haven’t said anything about making a purchase or any subscriptions? Because there aren’t. 


What Are the Benefits of Fasting?


The obvious is weight loss

Increased energy

Improved blood cholesterol levels

Cellular cleansing- getting rid of old accumulated cells responsible for the aging look.

Cellular repair- replacing the old accumulated cells with new cells. I would get eczema on my hands in the summer. I haven’t had a flare up since I started IF. 

It’s free Relieves acid reflux Improves regularity

But We’re Taught to Eat Six Meals and Not Starve Ourselves, Right?


Starving? Not nearly. Fasting has been a part of many cultures since the beginning of time. The eating patterns of the hunters and gatherers that I mentioned in Eating 101 included fasting in their way of life. They made their food stretch and would fast when it was scarce. Religious groups fast for spiritual purposes. 

We’re told to eat six meals so that our bodies don’t go hungry. However our bodies are constantly processing and breaking down food. Part of the processing of food requires the release of insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for storing fuel (turning our food to fat in our bodies). When we eat, our insulin levels increase, signaling to the body to store some fuel as fat. When we don’t eat, insulin levels decrease, signaling to the body to burn body fat. Six meals, six chances to produce insulin. 

Insulin is not the monster. We do need some stored fat. It helps to keep us warm and protects our organs from external threats. Insulin becomes a problem when we’re constantly calling on it to do its job of storing fat. 

One way of limiting insulin’s job is by choosing foods that don’t cause insulin to spike high and for long periods of time. Knowing a food’s glycemic index can help with controlling fat storage. The glycemic index tells you how quickly your blood sugar rises after eating a certain food. Foods that have a high glycemic index, starchy carbs and sugary foods, spike insulin levels and raise blood sugar very quickly. Two different foods can have the same carb content but have a different glycemic index. 

Another way we can easily control fat storage is to control how often insulin goes to work. If you’re limiting all of your meals to a certain time frame your body will work to process that food, the insulin will do it’s work shortly after, and then it will mellow out for the day. While insulin levels are low and your fuel is low, fat stores will be used for energy. This is Ketosis.

Pause. Let’s Review, Just in Case.


In order for our bodies to work we need calories. Calories are to the body as gasoline is to a vehicle. It’s energy. Food is our fuel. It’s OUR source of energy. Specifically, our bodies use glucose converted from carbohydrates during digestion as our primary source of energy. When the body has more of this primary source than needed to function we use what we need and store the rest in our bodies to potentially use later. If we’re consistent with having more fuel than we’re using that storage begins to show on our bodies. When we remove the primary source of fuel (multiple ways: calorie restriction and exercise, fasting, limiting foods with a high glycemic index) the body switches to burning fat.

Ketosis 


Ok, back to ketosis. Ketosis is the metabolic process of burning body fat when there isn’t enough fuel from our primary source of energy. The term ketosis sounds familiar, right? If you’ve heard of the Keto diet, this is where it gets its name. The Keto diet is a low carb-high fat diet. Because it is low carb it causes the body to enter into a state of ketosis. The high fat is because fat is becoming the body’s main source of fuel.

Carb-cycling is alternating between days of low and moderate amounts of carbs. Low being 20-50 grams a day. Moderate 70-90 grams. 


Now That I Know This, How Do I Start Intermittent Fasting?


You simply begin after you’ve finished your last meal for the day. Just set the timer or find an app (because there are a few) and get started. Have black coffee or tea near to stave off hunger. Have your meal already planned out when it’s times to break your fast. 


What Can I Eat During My Fast?


You CANNOT eat anything during your fast. Nothing. No thing. You can however, drink plenty of water, Black tea and coffee. I would occasionally add Splenda to my coffee. Some say it’s ok to do, some say it’s not. I was ok. This is why it’s important to journal or keep a log of your meals. If your progress is stalling, you’ll have an idea of what caused it. 

How Long Can I Fast?


That depends on you. I wouldn’t jump out into the ocean not knowing how to swim, though. Ease yourself into it. Make a goal out of increasing your fasting time. Be patient with yourself. 

What Can I Eat When My Fast Ends?


It is up to you. It’s designed to go with any dietary plan. I would suggest opting for a whole and nutritious diet for optimal results. Eating keto for a few days after a fast could also be beneficial with weight loss.

Concerns


I’m not necessarily a fan of doing keto on-going because I don’t think it’s easy to maintain and could cause regressive behavior. I’m not really sure of its affect on the cholesterol over time as well. I normally have my cholesterol levels checked twice a year and during my weight loss phase it was no different. I would suggest doing the same when eating a keto diet. 

Your body will have to adjust to the change in your way of eating. It will detox and may show in your skin. You may experience headaches. If you feel you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water before deciding that you are indeed hungry. You may have some constipation before your body adjusts. Drink plenty of water. Include alkaline water in your diet as well. Pregnant or breastfeeding, this is not for you. Type 1 diabetics, not for you either.

I know this was a lot. It may even be a second language right now. I assure you it’s pretty simple to follow. Should you choose to adapt any of this as a new lifestyle I would love to hear about it! Follow me on Facebook at Figurin’ it Out and on Instagram @FigurinitOutblog. Can’t wait to hear from you.

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