First and foremost, do not freak out about the word “fasting.” Second, you’re not going to be starving yourself. I promise.
I want you to ask yourself if you’re truly hungry when you wake up. Like physically hungry and need to eat to survive? Or are you “Team Breakfast” because you’ve heard “it’s the most important meal of the day?”
Don’t get me wrong, bacon and eggs are my fave. I just eat them in the afternoon and evening now. In the morning, I workout and get shi* done. And guess what, I’m not hungry!
If you’ve been struggling with your weight loss or have hit a plateau, intermittent fasting can help. Let’s call it IF from here on out. And let’s also replace the meaning of IF with the words “eating window” and not fasting.
IF is not a diet and it’s not restrictive. It only means that you eat and consume your calories during a specific timed window of the day and are consciously choosing not to eat food for the the larger window of time. And that larger window actually involves sleep!
About 4 years, I dove deeper into this subject after a Master Trainer boot camp. Three super strong and fit trainers would chose to skip eating our FREE breakfast before camp. They would huddle around the coffee machine and scoop out some coconut oil from their cute Tupperware. I was super intrigued. I mean, breakfast was free and we were going to be training all day! Their energy during camp was amazing and then I watched them eat lunch with the rest of the team. Meanwhile, myself and majority made sure to eat both breakfast and lunch. Hey, it was there for us. Why not right?
My 4 hour plane ride from LA back to Pittsburgh, had me listening to podcasts and doing a little research on this odd behavior. I find it’s not so odd and actually a thing! From podcasts, I found a website called LeanGains that was specifically build around fasted training. LEAN and GAINS!? Sign me up!
I began following the 16:8 protocol. I would fast for 16 hours and then eat within a defined 8 hour window. My body craves structure so I would schedule “EAT” into my day. No more mindless snacking. I started with an 11:00am to 7:00pm eating schedule. I later shifted that back to noon to 8. Now, with my evening classes, some days I’m more like 3p-9p. OMG, 18:6! 18 hours without food! No, I’m not crazy. Fasting has been around forever! 24 hour, 3 day, and 5 day fasts are a thing. Dr. Fung is a great resource for these longer fasts. For now, let’s focus on the 16:8 eating window.
First, pick your window. And make it work for you. What time do you get up? And what time do you go to sleep? I’m a night owl so I like my window shifted later. If you’re a morning person, you may shift the opposite way in eat earlier.
Examples: If you start eating at 9am, stop eating and start your fast at 5pm. If you can wait til 11am, then stop at 7pm. Noon to 8pm. 2pm to 10pm. You get it! Pick your window and try to stick to it for a week. The first 2 days are the hardest. Once your body adapts, it will be much easier and actually effortless.
I like to geek out and understand WHY I’m doing what I’m doing. Our body is quite amazing and I want you to understand the science behind IF. During your 16 hours of fasting, your body is more likely to tap into stored fat as its energy source. Fat burning is the goal. And this can be enhanced with fasted workouts. If you workout early in the am without a meal, your body may not have the glucose and glycogen available (it has been depleted as your slept), so your body will adjust and use the available source of energy of fat from your cells. Winning!
I could dig deeper into insulin sensitivity and human growth hormone, and I actually suggest you take the time to do that. For now, just know that IF can help retrain your body to use the food it consumes during a certain eating period more efficiently. Your body can convert into a fat burner when you plan your eating schedule and don’t have glucose readily available.
For me, IF is one of the first layers I added to my lifestyle to help my goals of building a lean and strong physique. Eating on this kind of pattern has simplified and provided structure to my chaotic and crazy busy days. It has saved me money on meals and habitual eating, and it has helped me improve my productivity in the morning with more mental clarity and less brain fog. In my opinion, it was step 1 in the process of converting my body into becoming an efficient fat burner. Stay tuned for step 2.