Molly McNamee | What is intermittent fasting and should you do it?
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What is intermittent fasting and should you do it?

I’ll admit, when you first hear the phrase “intermittent fasting” it sounds like some crazy fad diet or something people say to disguise the fact that they are starving themselves.

However, intermittent fasting (I.F.) is far less restrictive than it sounds. I.F. is a diet strategy that restricts the time of day you eat instead of the type of food you eat. And it is something I personally follow 80% of the time.

This time-restricted way of eating has been shown to help individuals lose weight, improve body composition, increase muscle mass, and decrease cravings.

Here is how it works.

During I.F. you can technically eat whatever you want. You just eat within a certain block of time. In a typical I.F. diet you will fast for 14-18 hours of the day and eat for the remaining 6-10 hours.

For example you may have your first meal at noon and then stop eating at 8pm.

Because I.F. does not restrict food type, it is hard to consider it a diet. I consider it more a way of eating. You can follow a particular food or calorie-restricting diet on top of I.F. if you wish. You can practice veganism, count your macros or follow a ketogenic diet as long as you eat when you are supposed to eat and fast when you are supposed to fast.

If I.F. is something you are interested in trying, I recommend starting with shorter fasting periods to ease your body into this new way of eating.

I actually practice intermittent fasting, and it has helped me control my calorie intake and bloating issues.

I eat from 2pm – 8pm most days. This six-hour eating window works perfectly with my schedule. On a normal day, I am busy running around town training clients from 5am – 2pm. My afternoons are spent at home working on this website and emailing online clients. During my busy mornings, I do not feel hungry, so it is not hard to wait until I am settled at home to eat my first meal.

Like many people, I tend to overeat when I am at home with food so readily available. So it makes sense that I would allow myself to eat a bulk of my calories when I am stuck at home with all of the temptations instead of eating on the go when I am not really hungry.

Personally, when I start eating… I don’t want to stop. And I like to eat big portions. So, if I eat a big breakfast at 7am, I am going to want to eat a big snack a couple hours later, and then again a couple hours after that, and so on. Now I can eat every couple hours like I prefer to, but it doesn’t result in me eating 5,000 calories a day.

Eating this way has helped me limit my calorie intake by limiting the amount of time I am actually able to put food in my mouth. And it has also helped with my horrible bloating issues. When you eat all day, your digestive system becomes overworked, especially if you eat every couple hours. Fasting for 18 hours gives my digestive system ample time to rest before I need it again. This is something my stomach needed and is why I have stuck with I.F. for nearly a year.

Just like you should do with all diets, I only follow I.F. 80% of the time. If I have plans to go out for drinks, eat a late dinner, or go to brunch… I eat out of my six-hour window. And I don’t fret about it. Intermittent literally means not consistent. So I intermittently follow intermittent fasting.

I.F. clearly works for me, but it may not be right for you. If you enjoy eating at standard breakfast, lunch and dinner times, keep doing that. If you prefer to eat many small meals throughout the day, do that. Every body responds differently to different “diets.” Find what works for you, but keep an open mind to trying new things.