Intermittent Fasting isn’t a new concept, but it’s a fast-growing trend in both the health and fitness industries. The physical results are impressive, but when you look at the health benefits, it’s no wonder everyone is getting on board with this strategy!
Fasting is an ancient practice, but it’s still an important part of many cultures and religions today—it’s used for bringing mental focus and spiritual clarity. However, fasting specifically for physical health is a relatively new concept and it’s spreading fast because the results speak for themselves.
Intermittent Fasting isn’t complicated, but many people simply aren’t sure what it is or the right way to do it. With the rising popularity of “IF” there has also come misinformation and a lack of specific training in how to follow a healthy Intermittent Fasting strategy.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It’s important to note that IF is not a fad diet. In fact, it’s not a diet at all, it’s simply an eating schedule. The body is always in one of two states: fed or fasted. In the fed state, the body’s main focus is digesting food. In the fasted state, the body is able to focus on healing and repair. Without an eating schedule (or with a poor eating schedule) our bodies will rarely go into the fasted state. For years, the health and wellness industries have promoted 5–6 small meals throughout the day (or “grazing”), but we’re learning now that doing this never gives our bodies time to focus on repair and healing.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the biology.
While in a fed state, the human body uses insulin to bring glucose into cells to manufacture energy. That energy is used for a number of crucial things. It will:
keep your organs functioning
keep your blood circulating
keep your brain at the top of its game
handle any damage caused by toxins and wear-and-tear on your internal systems.
During periods of fasting, the body's level of blood glucose significantly decreases. Once glucose isn’t available for fuel, the body will rely on its next-preferred fuel source to keep functioning and repairing. That next-preferred fuel source is fat. This is why IF is so beneficial to people who want to lose weight (or, more correctly, burn fat)!
Download my FREE guide to receive 10 science-backed answers to your Intermittent Fasting questions!
Breakfast isn’t actually the most important meal of the day… that’s just a clever marketing campaign designed to sell a lot of cereal!
And it’s been working for decades.
Learn the truth about Intermittent Fasting!
“Don’t do it—Intermittent Fasting will lower your metabolism!”
FALSE. This is our favorite myth to bust because IF actually maximizes your metabolism! Deprivation is never the goal, and this is often a dangerous part of trying IF without the right protocol and supervision. We always strongly encourage our clients to eat enough of the right macros (carbs, fats, and protein) to properly fuel their day and balance hormones. We simply eat during specific hours each day rather than all throughout the day.
There are various IF protocols that are safe and healthy. In the FASTer Way to Fat Loss, we practice the 16/8 protocol. This means you’ll fast for 16 hours out of your day and consume all your daily food during an 8-hour window. This may sound daunting, but keep in mind that you’ll be asleep for roughly half of your fast. In just a couple of weeks (or faster!), our bodies will adjust and feel the benefits of daily rest and repair versus continually digesting food.
We also recommend an occasional 24-hour fast to give the body additional time for healing and recovery, although this should be planned for and requires specific “before and after” nutrition. Remember, we want to make sure we utilize fasting as a health benefit rather than a starvation tactic.
Some people who practice IF choose a 5/2 protocol (eat normally for 5 days, fast for 2 days) or an alternating protocol (do a 24-hour fast every other day). We always recommend the 16/8 protocol above either of these because the tendency to undereat with 5/2 or alternate day is much more prevalent.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”
FALSE. There is actually no research to back this claim. You simply won’t find any scientific information that shows it’s important—or even healthy—to eat first thing in the morning. This message has been heavily propagated by breakfast food companies, which obviously have a big financial stake in the game. Skipping breakfast and consuming those calories later in the day is a great way to extend your body’s digestive rest so it can focus on repair and healing.
However, it is important to have the right foods to break your fast later in the day (break-fast), which is a main component of the FASTer Way program.
Can I eat or drink anything during a fasting window?
Do not eat during your fasting window (that will break your fast and begin the digestive process), but you may drink unsweetened, non-caloric (or very-low-calorie) drinks such as water, black coffee, and tea. These will keep your body at digestive rest, and can also help push through the last few hours of the fasting window. Hydration is important for the body to repair itself as well as flush out the toxins we bring in every day!
Note: some people use stevia to sweeten their coffee or tea during their fast, but results may vary in individuals. If you use stevia powder, watch the ingredients—it is usually blended with other sweeteners. Do NOT use sugar, honey, maple syrup, or any kind of artificial sweetener during your fast.
Also note: if you enjoy “bulletproof” coffee (coffee blended with butter and oil), save this for your eating window. The high fat content will break your fast and begin digestion.
What are the benefits?
When we talk about Intermittent Fasting in the fitness world, fat loss is the obvious benefit that has everyone so excited. But it’s doing so much more than that.
Other health-based benefits include:
Natural detoxing (drink lots of water during IF!)
Decreased insulin levels (which helps you burn fat)
Increased insulin sensitivity
Lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Improved hormone profile
Increased life expectancy
Maintenance of skeletal muscle mass
Another side benefit for anyone who travels by plane (whether regularly for work, or the occasional long flight), IF can help you reset your internal clock, and overcome jet lag faster. Eating is one of the cues (along with light) which affects our circadian rhythm, our sleep/wakefulness pattern.
Further, when you plan your fasting window to be during your travel time, you don’t have to worry about eating at the airport or on the plane! This avoids the huge hassle of packing food or trying to find something healthy to purchase at an airport restaurant.
This is convenient for more than just travel. You’ll save hours every week not worrying about planning, preparing, eating, and cleaning up breakfast. Mornings will be simplified because you’ll be eliminating a time-consuming part of your old routine!
Is it safe for everyone?
Yes, Intermittent Fasting is safe for everyone, BUT we always recommend a visit with your doctor before you start practicing IF. We don’t recommend IF for children, but people of all races, genders, ages, and backgrounds can safely practice Intermittent Fasting. We do, however, warn against trying IF on your own. Rather, find a program you can trust to teach you how to implement IF, as well as provide you with daily support and encouragement as you learn. Truthfully, it doesn’t take long to learn. For example, the FASTer Way program is six weeks long, and most people have mastered the Intermittent Fasting component by the half-way mark or before.
What if I have diabetes?
While there is some positive research about subjects with diabetes utilizing various fasting protocols, it is critical that you consult your treatment provider prior to implementing anything new. Because of the individual nature of diabetes, and the medications involved, be sure to talk to your doctor before engaging in any health program. We have worked with a number of clients with Type 2 Diabetes who have been weaned off their meds by their provider due to the health benefits.
However—please hear this—your doctor is the expert on your condition and we strongly recommend you talk to him or her about the FASTer Way to Fat Loss before trying Intermittent Fasting.
What if I have hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue?
If you are being treated for hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue, it’s important to ease into intermittent fasting. You will most likely want to use the 12/12 fasting protocol and not the 24-hour fast. If you have hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue, stick to whole foods, eliminate gluten and dairy, and be sure to consume enough complex carbohydrates. To continue improving your condition, be mindful of the balance between stress and rest, focus on sleep, and get adequate sunlight within two hours of the sun rising. In the FASTer Way to Fat Loss, “rest” is a high priority—for our digestive systems, for our minds, for our families. Rest is an important health investment.
What are some common IF mistakes?
The biggest mistake we see is people trying IF without the guidance of a trained professional. A lot of people want to try it on their own, which is understandable because it seems so easy. The problem is that without the right training and experience, you can actually cause damage (for example, if you go into starvation mode) and your body may even experience the opposite results of what you hope for! While it’s easy to learn IF, there are so many variables and factors that it’s wise to work with an expert who can answer your questions and guide you as you learn.
That being said, the two most common mistakes people tend to make when they begin practicing Intermittent Fasting on their own are:
under-eating during their feeding window
If you want to see the full benefits of IF, then you MUST properly hydrate and fuel your body.
The last thing you want to do on your health journey is damage your metabolism, exacerbate adrenal fatigue, or elevate cortisol (stress hormone) levels long-term. You can avoid these pitfalls by investing a little of your time and money in yourself by learning from an expert. After a few weeks, you’ll probably be able to do it without an expert, but we recommend starting IF with more than just an article you read online.
Should I work out during a 24-hour or “full-day” fast?
No, we recommend that you rest or engage in an “active recovery” workout during a 24-hour fast. Active recovery workouts could be a long walk, swimming, or maybe a hike. While we do work out during our intermittent fasts, we recommend regular rest for optimal recovery!
Does Intermittent Fasting negatively impact female hormones or fertility?
The honest answer to this is yes AND no—it depends on which kind of Intermittent Fasting you practice.
There are studies that have shown IF to have a negative impact on fertility rates. However, the studies we’ve read all use the “alternate day” fasting protocol (which we do NOT recommend). With an alternate day protocol, the likelihood of under-eating is significant. This type of restrictive caloric intake will undoubtedly have a negative impact on female hormone levels.
We recommend a 16/8 protocol because we eat every day, thereby reducing the risk of under-eating. We additionally encourage a 24-hour fast once a month, but that’s the longest we recommend. With these types of fasting windows, we are able to reap all of the benefits of fasting without seeing any negative hormonal changes.
Most of the research available shows IF to be both healthy and safe for women in terms of fertility. We have heard from many clients who have conceived while living the FASTer Way. In addition, it is clearly documented that IF is an effective way to help women become fat burners, and excess fat is a contributing factor in hormonal imbalance.
The FASTer Way To Fat Loss will never utilize more than a 24-hour fast once a month. Other than this monthly full-day fast, we stick to the 16/8 protocol. It’s the most sustainable and effective method with the fewest potential risks.
Are you guys experts?
After years of guiding well over 100,000 clients through the FASTer Way program, yes. We know Intermittent Fasting works if you do it the right way, and we would love to guide you to experience the incredible health benefits too! Be sure to sign up for your FREE guide so you can begin your new health journey right away!