We are excited to share this special guest post from Rebecca the Dietitian! We recognize how much the way you fuel your body influences your exercise results, and are excited to be able to bring you Rebecca’s sound eating advice to help you optimize your health, enjoy eating and get the most out of your workouts. We hope you will check out her post below and look forward to learning more from her. If you are in need of more guidance when it comes to nutrition, her comprehensive course, “Nourished & Fit” teaches you everything you need to know in order to lose weight, increase your energy, and balance your hormones (while enjoying delicious food of course)! Along with the course you will be invited to monthly group calls and a private Facebook community of amazing, supportive women. Please check out this link here to learn more (be sure to use the code ‘JSTV’ for a 30% discount).
If you follow health trends I’m sure you’ve heard about Intermittent Fasting (IF) by now. Some claim that it’s the holy grail of weight loss, but we’ve all heard that before, right?
In this article we will talk about the different types of Intermittent Fasting and three ways that it might actually help you lose weight, but first a disclaimer. Intermittent Fasting along with any other style of restrictive dieting can have a negative impact on your relationship with food. In studies where they took healthy humans and restricted their food intake they almost always ended up with more disordered eating patterns and weight struggles afterwards. If you are currently healthy and happy with how you eat and how you feel, then please carry on doing whatever you’re doing now! If you do want to lose weight or you need to alter your intake to get healthy, then we want you to find a lifestyle and way of eating that you truly enjoy. Intermittent Fasting is one option that some women have found to be a sustainable way that they can feel better and lose weight.
The various types of Intermittent Fasting (IF):
Intermittent Fasting is simply a fancy term for some time period of purposeful fasting (consuming less food than you would normally consume). There are various ways to do this and studies have shown that very different versions of IF may all result in weight loss. The goal would be to find the version that fits your lifestyle, that makes you feel your best, and one that you don’t mind sticking with long-term.
One option is to choose a window of time when you allow yourself to eat in a day. The most common one I hear about is 16: 8. This means that you fast by limiting yourself to non-caloric beverages for 16 hours and then you eat during an 8 hour window. For example, you might decide to eat from 11am to 7pm. In this case you would finish your last food before 7pm and you wouldn’t eat again until 11am.
Another option is to include one or two very low calorie days into your week. Choose 2 days where you “fast” or eat very light- think salads, egg whites, and broth based soups.
One other way to try IF is to follow a healthy but lower calorie meal plan 5 days per week (think 1600 calories per day) but then you allow for indulgences or less restrictive eating for the other 2 days- most people choose the weekend.
Want to review some of the research on IF? Here are some some interesting studies:
Intermittent fasting and weight loss
Effect of Intermittent Compared With Continuous Energy Restricted Diet on Glycemic Control in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes
Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting and Time-Restricted Feeding Compared to Continuous Energy Restriction for Weight Loss
3 Potential Benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF)
#1: You May Enjoy the Freedom of Indulging More on Your Days Off
One reason some people have success with IF is that they don’t mind following a more restrictive eating routine on some days as long as they can enjoy guilt-free indulgences on other days. Of course you won’t lose weight if your weekly calories don’t end up going down with the plan you choose, but, if you can manage to indulge mindfully on your time off this may work for you. For some, knowing that they get to indulge sporadically helps them feel happy about making healthier choices during their fasting time periods.
Just as with any ‘diet’, if this type of eating makes you feel restricted, it may also backfire and lead to binging. This also won’t work if you feel sad on your IF days because any eating plan that makes you feel sad won’t work long-term. If you hate it, you will eventually stop doing it and then you will be back where you started (and that can feel so frustrating).
#2: The 16 Hours Off and 8 Hours On Plan is Simple
Let’s be real- some of us do better with black and white rules to follow. You know who you are. Choosing a time period to eat and a time period to fast is simple. You don’t have to plan, meal prep, or cook fancy new foods. You simply have to wait to eat until your designated time and stop eating at your stop time. Of course it is still a good idea to try to eat healthy, hormone-balancing, nourishing foods during the eating periods, but many people simply lose weight by eating for fewer hours of the day. We know that it’s healthy to stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime so that your body can get the most restorative sleep. Many of us also tend to overeat or make poor food choices at night. Both of these issues will be resolved if you stick with an IF time period that stops your food intake 3 hours before bedtime.
If you do decide to play with eating in a specific time window it is still important to honor your true hunger. Mindless snacking is one thing, but let’s also make sure that if you are really hungry outside of your ‘window’ you aren’t depriving your body of fuel just because of the “rules” you made up. Ignoring true hunger is not part of a healthy plan.
#3: IF Can Help You Bust Through a Plateau
Do you feel like you eat right and exercise but you are stuck at a weight that isn’t healthy or that you’re not happy with? Choosing 1 or 2 days/week to lighten up your food is one way that you may be able to bust through a plateau. It’s an option that gives you an opportunity to focus on consuming the healthiest, lightest foods (vegetables) that will boost your health, while eating light for 1 day at a time won’t ruin your metabolism. A sample day might include an egg white and veggie scramble for breakfast. Then a big salad with vinaigrette at lunch. Then a vegetable bean soup at dinner with a grapefruit as a snack. You can eat a lot of low calorie foods to stay satisfied, but this low calorie day can lower your weekly intake while providing lots of nutrients.
I wouldn’t do this for more than one day at a time, and I wouldn’t plan a hard workout at the end of this day or the beginning of the next day. Again, this is a way of eating that may feel best when your body is asking for more nutrition, and it may be something that you can begin to do intuitively, and that doesn’t require such strict ‘rules’ around your consumption times.
I want to emphasize again that if IF makes you feel sad, deprived, obsessive, or bad in any way, please discontinue! Healthy bodies and healthy weight loss has to be about a program that you enjoy that you don’t mind sticking with long-term. It’s about finding healthy routines that you truly feel good about. Restriction can lead to binges, guilt, shame, and weight gain when it’s done for the wrong reasons.
Any food changes should be initiated because you LOVE yourself, not as a punishment.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns we can help with in future posts. Want to share your best tips? We love hearing from you, so please leave us a comment below!
MORE HELPFUL POSTS FROM REBECCA: