Intermittent fasting seems to be a hot topic right now, especially in the fitness industry. I usually don't do things before they're “cool”, but I've been practicing intermittent fasting since January 2016 (and didn't tell anyone). While I had a few reasons to try intermittent fasting, the main one was adherence to diet. It became an easy way for me to stick to my macros and never feel like I was dieting even when I was in a caloric deficit. In this blog post I'll share 3 easy steps to get started with intermittent fasting for women…something I wish I had when I started!
P.S. The Food Freedom Project is now open, and we go into detail about Intermittent Fasting as well as a slew of other topics such as how to deal with emotional eating and how to track your macros. Join here before we close registration on October 5th!
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Intermittent Fasting for Women Step #1: Decide if it's for YOU
When a new diet fad comes out so many people flock to it thinking it'll be THE THING that's going to solve all their problems when it comes to weight and staying motivated to be consistent with their fitness and nutrition. The first thing I want to say about intermittent fasting is that it is NOT a diet. You aren't told what to eat or how much to eat. It is simply a way of eating.
Simply put, intermittent fasting is a dieting protocol in which you eat within a condensed time period and don't eat outside of that pre-determined time period.
The reason I think Step #1 HAS to be to decide if it's for you, is because it won't be for everyone. Just because people are having success with one form of diet or exercise does not mean it's a complete solution for everyone else.
When I first heard the term intermittent fasting, I immediately dismissed it. I heard the word “fasting” and thought, “Well…that can't be healthy. Not eating is starving yourself and that's an eating disorder.” I didn't ‘do any research and just brushed it off. Then I kept hearing people talking about it, and once I heard a few very reputable people that I respected go into detail about it (one being Dr. Sara Solomon-you can find her YouTube channel HERE) I decided to actually sit down and read some research on it. Turns out…I was 100% wrong.
As stated in the definitions above, intermittent fasting isn't a starvation diet. It is not a prescribed meal plan. It is simply a time frame in which you are eating and not eating.
In my opinion (and from research) these are the the women who would BENEFIT from Intermittent Fasting:
*BUSY women who have a crazy work schedule or home life
*Women who LOVE big meals and feeling full (not stuffed, but satisfied)
*Women who tend to obsess over food and are always counting down the minutes till they can eat
*Women who struggle with energy
*Women who struggle with cravings
These are the the women who I DON'T recommend try Intermittent Fasting:
*Pregnant or breastfeeding women
*Women who've had a history of eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia
*Women who get full very fast and can't eat bigger portions
*Women who genuinely like eating small meals throughout the day and don't find they're obsessed with their next meal.
I'm going to dive deeper into what intermittent fasting is, who it's for, who it's not, what the different protocols are and MUCH more in future blog posts. In the meantime, HERE'S a great blog post on intermittent fasting for women if you want to dive deeper.
If you're more of a visual person, I made this video on intermittent fasting for women: who should and should not do it.
Intermittent Fasting for Women Step #2: Pick an Eating Window to try for 2 Weeks
Like ANY new habit you take on, it takes time to develop. The first few days you attempt intermittent fasting will not be easy. I remember being SO hungry by 9AM when I first tried it. I thought…”There is no way I can wait till 12, my stomach is GROWLING.” So I ate at 9AM! The next day I pushed my first meal till 10, the next till 11, and by the end of the week, I didn't eat until 12PM. I realized that my body was so conditioned to eating breakfast at 7 or 8AM, that my stomach automatically would rumble because it was used to eating then. It wasn't because I was STARVING, but simply because I had an internal timer go off every day at that hour. Once I got used to eating at 12PM, I didn't get hungry until 12PM.
There are different “protocols” to intermittent fasting, meaning different time spans you can use. I'll go into more detail on this topic in another blog post, but for now, I highly recommend you start with the 16/8 protocol. This means that you eat all of your food within an 8 hour period (so say from 12PM-8PM) and then you don't eat for the next 16 hours (so from 8PM-12PM the next day). This is the one I stick to (normally) and recommend you try out first. But like I said above, I eased my way into it. Give yourself grace and don't try to go till 12PM your first day unless you find it really easy.
For your reference here are all the Intermittent Fasting Protocol Options:
As you can see, there are some extreme ones. I don't recommend trying out a 20 hour fast or a 24 hour fast your first day out of the gate. I personally am not a fan of those altogether, let alone as a beginner. In the beginning stick to 16 and 8, and even more importantly, ease your way into it. Your first day doing a 12 hour fast and 12 hour eating window is a great step. Like I said above, you can add an hour to your fast everyday so it becomes easier and easier.
Intermittent Fasting for Women Step #3: Evaluate your Success
The key to intermittent fasting, like ANYTHING is TIME. It takes time to see success, no matter what your goal is. I didn't see results overnight with intermittent fasting. I didn't wake up one day, fast for 16 hours, and the next day look shredded. If you try it out for a week and you feel better, you have more energy, you are way more focused, and you feel a little leaner, that is a win. But the KEY is that you actually ENJOYED it and felt like you could stick to it. Any type of “diet” that is torturous is NOT FOR YOU! So if you wake up and are craving breakfast right away even after a week of trying this and find it SO HARD to wait till 12 for your first meal, then this might not be for you…and THAT'S OKAY! There are plenty of very fit and healthy humans who still eat 6 meals a day.
For me, intermittent fasting was a Godsend. I stopped obsessing over food. I stopped revolving my day around every single meal I ate and I started to have way more energy and FOCUS. I got my best work done first thing in the morning during my “fasting period” and I thoroughly enjoyed my bigger meals and left feeling way more satisfied than my usual 6 meals a day in the past.
Even though at this present moment I'm in a test group that involves the smaller meals throughout the day, I strongly believe in intermittent fasting, and am 99% sure I'll go back to it once this test group is over. I respect both ways of eating and have seen women thrive in both! So the key is to find what works for you.
Be sure to take your before pictures and measurements as well as weight before you try intermittent fasting for a week or two. I also recommend taking note everyday in a journal of how you feel energy wise, focus wise, and mood wise. Track your progress and after two weeks, take new pictures, measurements, and journal entries. If you like what you see, and you're making progress and enjoying this way of eating, then keep going!
Intermittent Fasting Results:
Above are my intermittent fasting before and after pictures from January 2016 to December 2016. The only thing I changed in 2016 was my diet. I started practicing intermittent fasting and learned how to track my macros. You can read all about how to track your macros in my previous blog post HERE.
*We also go over macro tracking in my Food Freedom Project. The Wait List for the Sept 28th launch is HERE.
The whole point of ANY style of eating (whether it's intermittent fasting, 6 meals a day, vegan, paleo, etc) is that you can stick to it for the long-term. A “diet” becomes a typical diet when you feel SO restricted that you could never stick to this long term and you end up cheating on it because of that feeling. For me, intermittent fasting isn't a diet. It's a way of eating that I thoroughly enjoy and will do for a long time (until I get pregnant!).
But this just scratches the surface. In my Food Freedom Project program we go into DETAIL about how to find something that actually works for you and not feel like you're a slave to a diet. We introduce intermittent fasting, the ketogenic diet, as well as flexible dieting and how to track your macros. The next round opens on September 28th. Be sure to get on the Wait List!