One of the most popular buzzwords I’ve seen circling around the internet over the last few years is intermittent fasting, or also called time restricted feeding. It sounds much more intimidating than it actually is, but honestly, you’re probably already doing it to a certain extent without realizing it.
First off, what does intermittent fasting even mean? I’m sure you’ve heard some health guru tell you that you need to eat 6-8 small meals throughout the day to be healthy. This is the opposite of that, and there are actually many health benefits that come from NOT eating all day long. Intermittent fasting basically boils down to limiting the amount of time you eat food during the day. This is referred to as the “eating/feeding window”. During this time, you can consume food like normal, although it’s usually suggested to stick to minimally processed, Kaufman approved meals instead of continuously snacking. So, you’ll have a “feeding window” and a “fasting window” throughout the day. During your fasting window, you don’t eat. That’s it.
How you choose to implement intermittent fasting into your life is up to you, and there are lots of options. I typically stick to a 16:8 window, which means I’m fasting for 16 hours, and can eat during the other 8 hours. For example, I’ll have coffee and water in the morning, eat my first meal around 11am, then, finish eating my last meal around 7pm. Some days I’ll switch it up and do 18:6, or 20:4. It really just depends on how I’m feeling that day, how busy I’ll be in the mornings, or if I know I’m doing something with friends late at night where food will most likely be involved. It doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule; I just know that I want to give my body at least 12 hours of not having to digest anything. Humans were designed to hold on to energy (ie: fat stores) so that we don’t have to eat something every 4 hours. Otherwise, we never would have made it past the hunter/gatherer stage.
You’re probably asking yourself, “what’s the point of intermittent fasting anyways?”. Well, there are lots of documented benefits of intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding, including helping with digestion, lowering insulin levels, weight loss, better sleep (if not eating right before bed), improving blood pressure, improved cholesterol, improved brain health (increases production of BDNF, protein that activates brain stem cells), helps reduce inflammation, and it’s FREE! There really is no reason NOT to start intermittent fasting. It can take some getting used to, but since intermittent fasting is so flexible, you can work up to it. You don’t have to jump into it right away.
When I started about a year ago, I started on a 12:12 schedule. This turned out to be pretty easy, because I was sleeping for 8 of the 12 fasting hours anyways, so I bumped it up to 14:10. I did that for a few weeks, then on to 16:8. I’ve played around with 20:4 and just one meal a day (OMAD), but I would tend to over eat during my feeding window, so I went back to the schedule that worked best for me. Another benefit that I have personally experienced is what I call “Food Freedom”. I know that if I’m in a situation where I can’t find anything healthy to eat, I can wait for a while and I’ll be fine. My blood sugar doesn’t bottom out like it used to, and I can chug some water or get a coffee and be good for another couple of hours. One thing that I have found, is that by making sure I follow the Kaufman diet, and focus on getting enough protein, I can fast for much longer periods without any issues.
The point to all of this is that intermittent fasting is a tool you can use to improve your health and longevity. It’s simple, it’s free, and you can incorporate it into your life.
You should also talk to your doctor about any medications you may be taking and if intermittent fasting will have any effect on them.