Our Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has been a hot topic in the wellness community recently, offering a multitude of benefits according to recent studies — but, what exactly is it?
We’ll start with what intermittent fasting is NOT — intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather an eating pattern where you eat during a specified time period + fast for the rest of the time. Intermittent fasting also does not equate with starving yourself. During your fasting hours, you are letting your digestive system rest + hormones regulate ++ simply eating your normal amount of calories in a shorter time period.
Fasting has been used as a tool for centuries + is often observed in some religious practices. Interested in the science behind the benefits of this popular eating style? Keep reading below —
WHY SHOULD I INTERMITTENT FAST?
During your fasting period [which should be between 16-24 hours — we’ll get to that later], your body’s metabolic rate increases due to changes in hormone levels, specifically insulin + human growth hormone [HGH]. Insulin [which controls levels of glucose in the blood] decreases when food is not entering the body, allowing your body to access energy stored in fat cells. In contrast, human growth hormone [which controls body composition, metabolism, + muscle growth] increases. With these two hormones working in opposition, utilizing a fasting period can lead to natural weight loss.
Digestion requires a lot of energy, so a fasting period also allows your body ample time for cellular repair + recomposition. Giving your body a rest from digestion has provided decreased inflammation in intermittent fasters, as well. If you struggle with gut health, intermittent fasting could aid in reducing symptoms [of course, we recommend checking in with a doctor first, too].
HOW DO I START?
There are three different recognized plans for intermittent fasting — 5:2, 16/8, + eat-stop-eat. Let’s break those down:
5:2 — The 5:2 is a pattern in which you eat normally for 5 days a week + eat between 500-600 calories for the other 2 days.
16/8 — The 16/8 is the most popular plan because it’s typically the most sustainable. In the 16/8 pattern, you’re eating all of your calories in an 8 hour time span + fasting the other 16 hours of the day. This plan is safe to modify to an 18/6 plan + can be done from a few days per week to every single day.
Eat-stop-eat — This plan is the most drastic + typically the most difficult to sustain. In the eat-stop-eat pattern, you do not consume any calories for a 24 hour time span 1-2 days a week. For example, if you ate dinner at 6pm on a Tuesday, you would not consume any calories until 6pm on Wednesday.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A PLAN?
All of the plans mentioned above achieve the same goals, so whichever you choose depends on personal preference + lifestyle. The most sustainable is the 16/8, but if you get hungry in the morning or are worried about skipping breakfast [me too, girl], incorporate bulletproof coffee into your fasting period to keep the hunger pangs away. Bulletproof coffee is essentially coffee infused with butter — it’s full of healthy fats + keeps you full longer. Most recipes utilize ghee to bring out a creamy, latte-like texture. Check out our favorite DIY bulletproof coffee recipe here!
Your fasting plan can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, with most users seeing results at the 2 week mark, but everyone’s bodies react differently! It’s important to incorporate quality foods into your eating period to maximize results, as well.
Intermittent fasting can be a great tool for regulating hormone levels, assisting in gut health, + overall, simplifying your life. Have you discovered any other great benefits of intermittent fasting in your life? Let us know in the comments!