Andrew's Take On Intermittent Fasting
If you know anything about the fitness industry you most likely know something about intermittent fasting. This fad has taken the fitness industry by storm and you most likely see it popping up all over your social media feeds with ads telling you how awesome it is.
In this brief article I wanted to discuss my take on it and give my two cents. I am someone who has practice intermittent fasting and also done a little investigating amongst friends and acquaintances who have dabbled with it as well. Not to mention the research that I have analyzed.
First, let’s talk about what exactly intermittent fasting is.
Intermittent fasting is a form of dietary restriction where one has a specific, timed period where they can “feed” or ingest food, while also have a period where they “fast” or don’t ingest food and/or calories. The most popular time distribution is a 16 hour fast, generally overnight (to help with the torture of not eating) followed by an 8 hour feed. There are other variations as far as timing, maybe one does a 12 hour fast followed by a 12 hour feeding window, it really just depends on what the person wants to do.
So now that you have an idea of what intermittent fasting is, let’s get in to my thoughts and some of the research on it.
According to the research there isn’t actually a definitive answer as to whether or not it provides any sort of health benefits as the results are inconclusive. However, there have been multiple studies that suggest there are health benefits such as weight loss, decreased risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, and improved insulin sensitivity. Again, just reiterating that these results are not conclusive, only suggestive. There has not been a lot of solid clinical research on the topic, but there have been a few good studies that were analyzed in this study here.
As far as my take on it, it is a little bit hazy and inconclusive as well. However, I am definitely not against intermittent fasting.
I have practiced intermittent fasting before with a lot of good things to say about it. I tried the 16 hours of fasting, followed by 8 hours of feeding and didn’t find it too difficult to resist eating for 16 hours especially if I was sleeping for 8 of those hours.
I did like the way that intermittent fasting forced me to not eat. I for one, have a high energy feeling when I haven’t eaten in a while and am not constantly eating food. This is due to the fact that your body isn’t in a “rest and digest” state all the time and your body isn’t constantly working to digest the food you have eaten.
So on one hand, while you’re starving yourself and it may seem like torture, it can also be helpful as far as your energy levels go. This can be pretty beneficial for someone who typically has low energy throughout the day.
The hard part about intermittent fasting is trying to consume ENOUGH calories.
I know right, how could it be hard to consume enough calories? Aren’t people typically over eating?
While this is true, for someone who is trying to accomplish a goal, let’s say like maintaining muscle mass or strength, there still has to be a certain volume of food eaten. I found that when I was restricted to an 8 hour feeding window it was hard for me to consume all of the food that I needed to! When you’re trying to hit a certain amount of protein during a day, it can be extremely difficult to stuff down 5 ounces of ground turkey or chicken 4 times within an 8 hour period (something that is already hard enough to do throughout a full day).
The other thing that I found is that the timing didn’t always work out too well for my daily schedule. Now, obviously this can be adjusted according to your daily schedule but for me, I found it extremely difficult. I found that the most optimal time to workout was early in the morning due to my work schedule, and if I was going to break the fast that early in the morning (after my workout), then I would have to stop eating VERY early in the afternoon which would also be difficult due to my work schedule.
So for me at this point in my life, it presented a few challenges.
I don’t think that intermittent fasting is superior to other diets or restrictive eating, but I do however think it can be beneficial from a health standpoint and a weight loss standpoint.
IF, and only IF, this type of eating schedule works for you and your life!
That is the most important thing when it comes to reaching your goals and seeing results from your nutrition and dieting. Find something that you can stick to and you can be compliant with!
You have to like it in order to stick with it…
With that said, it’s okay to try a diet and fail at it! Just don’t fall into the thinking that since you tried ONE diet and it didn’t work that dieting isn’t for you and your goals are far beyond your reach. Try different diets, try different styles of restrictive eating. Just be careful about falling into the cycle of doing the same diet over and over again because you just didn’t think you were “committed enough” or “it was just a bad time”.
Be okay with something not working out, as long as you can....LEARN FROM IT!!!
This whole thing called fitness and health is a learning process. Embrace it.