Conventional fitness dogma has been telling us for years that we need to eat CONSTANTLY to be healthy and to lose weight. I think Intermittent Fasting (IF) has sprung from the unconscious social realization that we where going down a very wrong path.
However like everything else we tend to think that more is always better, and never look at the toxicity level of the actions we take.
IF is a good example of that. I thought it was absolutely ridiculous when I first heard about it, with a lot of research I learned the benefits of it, and have integrated it into my life in a way that is natural for my body, that I can do it without thinking and without the aid of apps and charts.
I’ll give you a break down of the IF protocols and a quick note on who I think they are best for.
Please note, IF is not for everyone. Consult a professional before attempting it, and pay attention to how your body feels and any adverse symptoms.
Meal Based: This one works well for people who naturally don’t like to eat a specific meal. Personally this is what I do. I have never liked eating in the morning and have always had to force myself to do so. I simply wait until I am genuinely hungry and eat.
Timed (Eating Or Fasting Window): This means you time either how long you have fasted or the window in which you are aloud to eat. I started with this approach, but it is not good for anyone who does not eat intuitively or who tend to obsess about food. (Which is me, and why I switched!)
Extended fasting (skipping entire days of eating): This is a lot more extreme of a protocol and I don’t recommend anyone do it without the help of a professional. It really only benefits people with severe metabolic damage or those with metabolic disease.
Another thing that needs to be noted is that there are a lot of people who proclaim that doing IF means you get to eat whatever you want without restrictions. Although I believe that you should not restrict the amount of food you are eating you should avoid foods that you know don’t do well in your system and that are nutritionally negligent.
Also this is not supposed to be a way to significantly reduce your calories. Eat the same amount of food you would without doing whatever protocol you have chosen.
Warning signs that IF is not for you!
- You think about food until your window is open
- You start to obsess about what time it is relative to when you are « aloud » to eat or how much longer you are « aloud » to eat
- You start to ignore your real hunger signals (these are ones that you feel physically and that you are not craving a « trigger food »
- Feelings of panic or fear around when you can eat or when you need to stop
- You feel restricted
- If you have a history of eating disorders or disordered eating
- If you have signs of hormonal imbalances (women specifically). Especially signs of high testosterone, low estrogen or progesterone imbalances.
In the end you will be the one who knows what works best for you, but take everything with a grain fo salt, especially in the fitness industry. We all have a tendency to promote the things we have found work well for us, and don’t take into account each persons individual situations. Just because you read that eating 6 meals a day is the best for weight loss doesn’t mean it’s true. But the same can be said for IF, just because you read that the more extreme the protocol the more extreme the results, doesn’t make it true either.
The only thing that is true is our bodies (and this is especially true for women) will not let go of excess fat and will not gain muscle or become fitter if they are stressed in anyway. Are bodies know nothing of what we see, or feel. They only know what their instincts tell them, and they are doing their best to keep us healthy in the only way they know how. By reading their hormone levels to predict what the situation in the outside world is like. They don’t know your job is stressful or even what a job is. Our bodies just know that cortisol is high, and that means danger could be close.