I have been Intermittently Fasting for about 2 months. Personally, I fast while following a Keto/Low Carb lifestyle, and it has been wonderful for my energy levels, and I have actually lost a few pounds.
My metabolism has been low for many years, due to several factors. My age, Hypothyroidism, and lack of physical activity have led to increased weight, increased fatigue, and lack of stamina. All of those things that tend to “happen” to us as we enter menopause and other age-related issues.
I have followed a very clean eating plan, mostly Keto, for about 2 years. I have ate mostly clean, about 80% organic and low carb for many, many years. Decades. I have tried every fad diet and latest scientific food plan that comes to the mainstream for many years, none of which worked their promised miracles on my body. The same is true for Keto and for Intermittent Fasting.
What is different, this time though, has less to do with the scale, although I have lost about 40 lbs, is the way I feel. Non-scale-victories. My brain fog is disappearing, my mood and sleep are improving, and little things are easier. It is easier to go up and down the stairs. I don’t need a cart to hold myself up as I shop at the big box store. I can tie my shoes without effort. I am getting a lot more done every day, using my time much more wisely. That is a difference that nothing else has accomplished. (And I take some VERY impressive supplements and Vitamins!)
Personally, I feel as if I participate in the most popular version of Intermittent Fasting, the 8/16 plan. I have an “eating window” of 8 hours, and fast for 16. It is not difficult at all. I eat from noon to 8 PM, and fast from 8 PM to noon.
I have always been a big breakfast eater. I made myself a full breakfast most mornings, fresh eggs and nitrate-free bacon; and at the very least, had some Greek yogurt with stevia and walnuts. I woke up hungry and excited about what I was going to make for breakfast each morning. I lived that way for years. You know, the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mentality.
I worried about my sugar level and hypoglycemia if I fasted in the mornings, I thought it would be difficult. It has not been difficult at all. I am not hungry at all. Some days, lunch has passed and it is 1:00 or 2:00 before I even remember to eat.
I joined an online group, The Galveston Diet, by Mary Claire Pastor Haver, MD, a gynecologist in Galveston, TX. I am in group 4B in her trials. A new trial starts October 1, 2017, if you want to check it out. www.facebook.com/galvestondiet A lot of information is shared in the group, and it is nice to be held accountable and have other people sharing in my journey. The study is for women moving into peri-menopause and menopause, so around ages 35-60.
The best tips that I can share are to drink plenty of water, fast at night, so that you are asleep for most of your fasting hours, and exercise during your eating window, so that you have the extra energy.
Some of the other touted benefits of IF are living a longer, healthier life. A decrease in caloric intake of 30-40% can increase your lifespan by up to a third! IF also controls the body’s response to insulin, which in turn controls cravings and hunger.
You don’t have to eat low carb or Keto while Intermittent Fasting, but it has been wonderful for me. Being in Ketosis keeps you from being hungry, and the fat in the Keto version keeps you full longer. Not having carbohydrates and starches in your diet lessens cravings. It is a win-win, no-brainer to me.
There are numerous other popular versions of IF (Intermittent Fasting) at the moment. I will touch on a few of those below.
Up Day Down Day (Johnson):
This version of IF requires a little more discipline, and is great for weight loss and those who are striving to meet a goal.
You eat very little one day, average 500 calories, and eat normal the next, with an extra strenuous workout. For some starting out, for the first couple of weeks, it helps to use meal replacement shakes and skip eating all together. This is only good for the first couple of weeks, and your goal should be to be eating real food, just lower calorie, as soon as possible.
You get all of the other IF benefits, (energy, brain health, etc.), and the weight loss is increased due to the consumption of 20-3% less calories than usual. Weight loss averages 2 1/2 to 3 lbs per week. It is important to remember not to binge on your “normal” eating day.
Eat Stop Eat (Piston):
This plan is perfect for those who are already healthy eaters and at their goal weights, but want the extra boost in energy and brain power.
With the Eat Stop Eat plan, you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. No food at all is allowed, but black coffee and sugar free beverages are allowed.
The main benefits touted with this plan are reduced caloric intake without changes in your actual diet. If you are trying for weight loss, regular exercise, especially weight training, will be necessary.
You can work your way up to the 24 hour fast and still get benefits, just increase the number of fasting hours each time. There are no “forbidden” foods or other restrictions. Pasta would still be allowed, etc.
In the beginning, especially on this plan, there can be headaches, fatigue, etc. as the body is adjusting to the new eating pattern. Again, remember not to binge on your regular days, or it may defeat your purpose of following the plan.
Fat Loss Forever (Romaniello/Go):
This one sounds great, right? It is perfect for those who love to work out hard and have cheat days, kind of a combo plan.
This plan is a little more detailed and complicated, but nevertheless effective. The main plan behind Fat Loss Forever, is 1 cheat day followed by a 36 hour fast. The other days are cycled throughout the week, a 7 day schedule of varying fasts.
The science behind it is that the body gets used to the schedule and works like a well-oiled machine. Important pointers are that you cannot go crazy on your “feeding” days, and it has a learning curve, as the fasting/feeding days vary daily.
Lean Gains (Berkhan):
Lean Gains is perfect for those who want to both decrease body fat and increase muscle. Perfect for those who work out on a regular basis.
In general, women fast 14 hours a day, men 16 hours a day, and “feed” the other 8-10 hours. You consume zero calories during the fast. Coffee, calories free beverages and water are allowed.
The Lean Gains plan recommends eating high carbohydrate/low fat on your work out days, and and increased fat/decreased carbohydrates on your rest days. Protein is essential throughout the plan, and is to be consumed a little higher than other plans. The goal is to increase whole/unprocessed foods, but the occasional meal-replacement shake is allowed. The food that ou eat during your eating window are not specified, you can eat freely, as long as you do not gorge yourself.
Warrior Diet (Hofmelker):
This popular plan is best for the very determined dieter who can follow the rules strictly and devote themselves to the plan. It is a 20/4 plan. You have a 4 hour eating window, and fast for 20 hours a day!
Basically, you eat one large calorie-dense meal at night, which feeds the body all of the nutrients that it needs to survive, and it works in conjunction with circadian rhythms to nourish the body properly.
The difference with this plan, is that the fast itself allows a small amount of fruit and raw vegetables during the fasting hours. Fresh juiced vegetables and fruits are also allowed during the 20 hour fasting window.
The Warrior Diet is said to promote energy, alaertness, and increase the metabolism, including fat loss. Make sure to eat a generous meal during the 4 hour window.
I have been very impressed with the differences in my body since I began IF, and recommend it fully, but which version to choose is a very personal decision.
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I am sharing my opinion and experiences here, and the results from some research I have done. I am not a Medical Doctor, nor am I trying to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.