Intermittent Fasting, or IF, has grown in popularity these last few years. This article will cover some of the common questions regarding IF and look at one of the most popular ways to use it - the 16:8 method.
First, Intermittent Fasting is not a diet. It`s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. IF doesn't change what you eat, it changes when you eat. It structures your diet to include periods of no food intake (fasting) followed by a shorter eating window.
Second, Intermittent Fasting is something you're already doing. The time between your last meal in the evening and when you break-your-fast in the morning is your fasting window.
There are many different ways to Intermittent Fast, based on the length and structure of the fasting window, but the 16:8 method is probably the easiest one for most people to implement.
Let's take a deeper look.
As the title suggests, this involves 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour window where you consume all of your calories. I love this approach and use it regularly. If I consume my last meal of the day around 8pm I will then fast until 12pm the following day. The best part is that most of the hard work is done while you sleep.
You may be thinking that this just sounds like skipping breakfast and you wouldn't be far wrong. But this is the fitness industry so everything has to have a jazzy name!
The fasting and feeding windows are just guides. If a 16 hour fast sounds too daunting for you, then start out with 12 hours and extend it to 13, 14, and 15 hours once you're comfortable with the process. Remember, you'll be asleep for 7-8 hours so it's not as bad as it sounds.
Be patient! As with anything related to diet or lifestyle, there is always an adjustment period. You may feel pretty hungry at times as your body adjusts to Intermittent Fasting. This is perfectly normal and will pass after a few days or weeks at the most, so please stick with it. Water and black coffee will help to suppress your appetite and keep you focused.
Keep as busy as possible when you fast. If you're doing nothing more than sitting around it's inevitable that food will occupy your mind. Most of us have work in the mornings to fill our time but if you don't, pick a task that requires some mental focus. Many people have a heightened sense of concentration and cognitive function when fasting so take advantage of this and try to be as productive as possible. Stay busy and you won't feel hungry!
Remember, this is all an experiment. Play around with it and find out what works best for your schedule.
Benefits of The 16:8 Fast
It Saves Time - Many of us are busier in the mornings. With IF, you get up, drink some water, shower, and off to work you go. No messing around in the kitchen and no extra dishes to clean. Win-win!
Larger Meals Later On - The evening is usually when we eat the most or find it harder not to snack. If you have ‘'saved'’ your calories by skipping breakfast you can enjoy more in the evening without it halting your progress. No brainer!
It's Not Too Extreme - Most of the fasting is done while you sleep so it doesn't feel too restrictive. Pushing the first meal of the day back a few hours is manageable for most people.
Managing Hunger - Learning not to be irritable, or hangry, can only be a good thing. You'll no longer be a slave to the ‘'breakfast is the most important meal of the day’' mantra. You`ll be able to survive feeling hungry for a few hours and it helps to develop your willpower and build new eating habits.
It Provides Structure - The fasting and eating windows remain fairly constant every day which provides a plan and structure that is easy to stick to. Having a system in place helps with diet adherence.
Should I Do It?
Providing you're a healthy individual there is no reason why you can't give IF a go. However, if you have low blood sugar, are pregnant, or have experienced any type of eating disorder, then please avoid fasting. As always, if you're in any doubt please check with your doctor first.
It's a Weight Loss Hack, Right?
Afraid not. Despite what you may have heard IF is not a magic fat loss shortcut. Calories are still king and if you consume too many no amount of fasting is going to help you get results.
So, Why Do It?
IF is one technique that can help to manage your intake. Pushing back your first meal of the day means you ''late-load'' your calories to allow yourself a bigger lunch and dinner. Many people find this method is pretty easy to implement and that it suits their lifestyle and schedule.
But Isn't Breakfast the Most Important Meal of The Day?
Nope! What you eat, and how much you eat, is much more important than when you eat. If you wake up and you're extremely hungry then, by all means, please eat something. But nothing bad will happen if you skip breakfast and it has no negative effects for people trying to lose weight. As previously mentioned, your calorie intake is the most important thing.
What Can I Drink During the Fast?
Water, green/black tea, coffee, herbal teas, diet drinks. Any calorie-free drinks are ok. A splash of milk in your tea or coffee is ok too.
What Happens If I Eat During the Fast?
You die. Jokes! Nothing happens. Effectively you've broken the fast but don't worry about it. There will be days when you can't manage the full fasting period. Or days when you just don't want to do it. That's cool. IF is a great tool but it's not an all-or-nothing thing. It's meant to make your life easier, not cause you extra stress. Apply it when it suits your schedule. If you hate it, don't do it.
Intermittent fasting can be a useful tool but it’s not for everyone. It’s just one approach, among many others, that may help you to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy body composition.
But why not try out IF and see how you feel? You may be surprised at how easy it is. Start with 1 or 2 days a week and build it up from there. I like to go from Monday to Saturday while I’m working then go all in on a Sunday breakfast bad boy!
The best thing is, you can implement it tomorrow and it won’t cost you a penny! You literally have nothing to lose.
It may take some getting used to at first as your body adjusts to a new eating schedule. But over the long term you may find, as I have, it’s pretty easy to sustain and it doesn't require too much effort.
Any questions, please feel free to get in touch.
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