Intermittent Fasting

June 20, 2023

I’m sure you’ve all heard of it, maybe even tried it, but is it right for you? Let’s break down the ‘what’, the ‘how’, and the ‘why’ - together. 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Rather than focusing on what you eat, IF is all about when you eat. You can eat during a specific time period each day, or choose to eat less meals a couple days a week. Studies have shown that there are significant benefits to IF, including increased energy levels, cellular repair, disease prevention, and many more. 

How does Intermittent Fasting Work? And How Does One Get Started? 

One approach, and probably the easiest place to start, is leaving a 12 hour break between dinner and breakfast. From there, start paying close attention to when your body is actually hungry. Are you really hungry at 7am when you have that bowl of cereal? Or can you wait a bit and stretch the fasting period to 14 or 16 hours. I started doing this about six months ago and landed on 15:9 schedule (I fast for 15 hours and eat for 9). I eat breakfast around 9am, lunch at 1, a snack at 4, and dinner at 6pm. Of course not every day is the same, but it feels like an easy enough schedule to adjust along the way. I feel pretty good with where I’m currently at, but  the goal, if you’re following IF (or better referred to as ‘time restricted eating’) is to restrict daily eating to one six- to eight-hour period each day (18:6 or 16:8). 

Another way, known as the 5:2 approach, involves eating regularly five days a week. For the other two days, you limit yourself to one 500–600 calorie meal. This one feels more restrictive and less sustainable to me so I can’t speak to it personally, but it’s another option that many people have adopted. There are other, even more aggressive forms of IF, like water fasting multiple days a week or month, but I also cannot speak to these personally. 

Ok, so now the million dollar question… Why Should You Try (or Not Try) Intermittent Fasting?

This is where I’ve found some contradictory information, and I think it’s safe to say that IF is most certainly not for everyone. Let’s talk about the pro’s first: 

  1. Hormone Function - when you don’t eat for a while Human Growth Hormone (HGH) increases dramatically, which can facilitate fat burning and muscle gain. Insulin levels drop, which also facilitates fat burn. 
  2. Cellular Maintenance - When your body isn’t working on digesting food, it can induce important cellular repair processes, like toxin eliminations, reducing oxidative stress, and more. 
  3. Reduction of Inflammation and Disease Prevention - studies have also shown beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease
  4. Brain Function - IF has been shown to improve memory function, increase growth of new neurons, and protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. Sleep Improvement - time restricted eating, and following a set eating schedule, can help reinforce your body's natural circadian rhythm

Here’s the downside: 

While IF might be beneficial for most men, we don’t know yet that it has the same effects on women. There is a lot less information out there, and from what I’ve read, it’s not as conclusive, or positive, as the data on IF for males. In fact, there’s reason to believe that a dramatic shift in calorie intake, or a fast, can actually cause reproductive issues, hair loss, irregular sleep, and more. IF can also have a negative effect on people that suffer from thyroid issues, and may trigger someone that has suffered from an eating disorder. 

My takeaway from a deep educational dive on the topic, and from experimenting with IF on my own, is that some form of IF is probably beneficial for most people, but not all. I highly recommend working with a functional medicine doctor and/or nutritionist to figure out what is best for you

Since this is such a vast subject, we’ve partnered up with holistic nutritionist, and wellness coach, Daniela Kende, to further discuss, and answer your questions, on IG Live! Go to: @movement_co_ to find out when the next IG Live with Daniela is! 

*Please consult with a healthcare practitioner before attempting Intermittent Fasting