The first time I heard the term “fasting” I almost threw up in my mouth. Fasting can NOT be good for you, physically or mentally or emotionally, so why the HELL would someone even attempt it? Then I actually DID my research (HIGHLY recommend you do this as well–this blog post is a good start!) and realized fasting has TONS of great health benefits and can help you with all sorts of issues. For me, intermittent fasting is what helped repair my relationship with food, helped me become less obsessed with food, and made me feel freakin AMAZING. Read this blog post to find out how and why it was the solution for me and could be for you. BTW-This is an intermittent fasting for women perspective, but a lot of this can apply to men too!
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Intermittent Fasting for Women: How to do it Safely and Lose Fat: Know the Science and WHY to do it
The main reason you should be doing intermittent fasting, or trying it out is for the health benefits, not as an excuse to eat less to lose weight, which is a trap a LOT of women (including myself) fall into. Yes, you can lose weight and/or fat with intermittent fasting, but the health benefits are why you should attempt it. If you treat it as another “diet” and go into it with that mentality, then you’ll feel restricted like the rest of diets you’ve done in the past. So go into this blog post with an open mind, heart, and let’s freakin LEARN <3
A few physical health benefits that you could see from intermittent fasting:
1. Fat Loss –”Scientific studies have shown that intermittent fasting resulted in reduced serum glucose and insulin levels with increases in growth hormone as well as releasing norepinephrine which is a hormone responsible for fat burning. Put simply because of the hormonal benefits, intermittent fasting stokes your metabolism and puts you an energy or fat burning zone longer.”
2. Brain Health – “Intermittent fasting has been shown in scientific studies to be protect your brain by promoting antioxidant enzymes which help brain cells deal with stress and protect against disease.”
3. Insulin Sensitivity – “Research into intermittent fasting has shown improvement in people who are insulin resistant.”
4. Heart Health – “Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve cardiovascular health. Scientific studies showed that LDL cholesterol (the bad type) and triacylglycerol (also bad) decreased while good HDL cholesterol levels remained unchanged.”
A few emotional and mental benefits that you could see from intermittent fasting:
Now that I got the sciency stuff out of the way (and sourced them all, cuz I ain’t a scientist or a doctor-let’s just make that clear!), I’ll share what intermittent fasting benefits I’ve personally experienced.
Adherence to Diet
When I was doing a 6 small meals a day diet (which I now do the RIGHT way from time to time and actually have learned to love–more on that in another blog post) I ALWAYS cheated on my “diet” on the weekends. I mainly did this because I wasn’t eating enough calories so I was SO hungry when the weekend came, and would give myself a “cheat” day which turned into the entire weekend and left me feeling hopeless on Monday morning, trying to squeeze into my tight pants that barely zipped to drive to set. I felt bloated, embarrassed, and quite honestly, like a freakin FAILURE, because I couldn’t stick to what “everyone else” was doing with their eating. (Little did I know I was NOT practicing this eating style the right way–again, more on this in another blog post to come shortly!)
When I heard about and started (under the radar) implementing intermittent fasting the right way, I truly fell in LOVE with it and was able to stick to my calories and macros for the day much more easily (which were WAY higher than when I was doing 6 small meals a day with “clean eating”). I was eating about 1500-1600 calories and actually felt FULL and SATISFIED for the first time.
I’m the type of person who LOVES big meals and can freakin EAT, so when I learned that with intermittent fasting I could have BIGGER meals, I fell in love. I no longer felt restricted or like I was on a “diet” (aka eating in a caloric deficit to lose fat) for the first time in SO long, and started losing fat seamlessly (AND I was eating more than I was before!)
Cured my Obsession with Food
Have you ever counted down the minutes to your next meal with anticipation? Have you ever been SO distracted because you were SO freakin hungry that you couldn’t get any real work done?
YUP! Been there, done that, and HATED it. When I was eating too little and doing it in 6 small meals a day I became OBSESSED with food. My entire day revolved around when I could have my next meal and I was SO freakin hungry that I would start counting down the minutes for my next right after I took my last bite of my current one. (Again, since this I have done this smaller meals throughout the day style of eating, but now I consume DOUBLE the amount of food–so that’s why it can work for some people; you have to be eating the right amount of food to fuel your body!)
When I started intermittent fasting, I actually was SO full after my first huge meal (which was delicious and SO satisfying) that I didn’t count down the minutes to my next meal. I also didn’t have any rules with meal timing (Except when to stop eating altogether for the day), so if I wanted to eat an hour later or 4 hours later, I could. I truly enjoyed my meals, and wasn’t thinking about food in between meals, and because of this, I became WAY more present in my conversations and my work.
Fun Fact: My income doubled in 2016 when I introduced intermittent fasting and macro tracking into my life. More on that in another blog post too, I promise 😉
A lot of people get nervous that they’ll be counting down the minutes to their “first meal” when they practice intermittent fasting and won’t be able to focus or concentrate until they have it. I found quite the opposite happened to me. Yes, the first week or so was hard and an adjustment, but once I eased myself into it (be sure to watch my video on why I quit intermittent fasting the first time here), I found that I got my BEST work done first thing in the morning and was LASER focused. My mental clarity skyrocketed, and I wasn’t stopping my flow of concentration to eat every few hours. Again, my income doubled in 1 year when I started implementing this….coincidence? #ithinknot
Ailments intermittent fasting has been known to help with:
Decreases Cancer Risk:
Improves Learning and Memory:
Go here to read more on how intermittent fasting can help with other chronic issues.
Intermittent Fasting Schedule for Women: How to do Intermittent Fasting
This intermittent fasting eating schedule is arguably the most popular, and the one I personally use and exhibit in my Free Guide and the one I’ll be going over most in my Free 5 Day Intermittent Fasting Fat Loss Challenge. Sign up here, we start on 2/19!
The 16/8 protocol simply means that in a 24 hour time period:
*You fast (don’t eat) for 16 hours
*You eat for 8 hours
Now, MOST people naturally fast for about 7-8 hours if they’re getting adequate sleep. So you’re essentially just adding 8 more hours to the front and back end of your sleeping schedule. I usually have my eating window fall between 12-8 PM when practicing intermittent fasting.
This method is also known as the Leangains protocol, and was made popular by Martin Berkhan.
I find this the easiest to follow, because you’re essentially just skipping breakfast. It’s appropriate for MOST lifestyles, and the only one I personally follow consistently. You can see MASSIVE results from the 16/8 leangains schedule and even see benefits from doing a 12-14 hour fast (especially for women) if you can’t make it to the full 16 hours.
The Warrior Diet
This intermittent fasting eating schedule involves fasting for about 20 hours and eating in a 4 hour time period. The fasting queen (in my opinion), Dr. Sara Solomon, is a big proponent of this type of Intermittent Fasting.
This is just like the 16/8 protocol except you’re extending your fast to 20 hours and eating for only 4 hours instead of 8.
I have done this a handful of times, but never on purpose. The only times I went that long without eating was when I was super busy, focused, and preoccupied and literally didn’t realize it was 4PM and I hadn’t eaten! I went on to have a HUGE meal and honestly, it was freakin glorious. Now, again, I don’t recommend doing this often (although it does work for some people), because I personally feel TOO full doing this protocol. This is something I might do if I want to have a really huge awesome meal at a restaurant but not go over my macros for the day (hello Cheesecake factory!). Otherwise–I’ll stick to my 16/8.
Eat Stop Eat
This method was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon, and has been quite popular for a few years.
This intermittent fasting schedules involves you completely fasting (not eating at all) for a 24 hour time period. For example, stopping eating after dinner around 7PM and not eating until the next day at 7PM.
Most people who are following this fasting schedule do it once or twice a week. I did do this TWO times in my entire life, again with my friend Rachel (because I deff couldn’t do it alone) and I actually found it easier than I thought. But again, I have a VERY good relationship with food now and purely did it as an experiment (NOT to lose weight) to see how I would feel and how my hunger levels would be. HERE’S a podcast that talks about the benefits of Fasting from one of my favorite mentors, Chalene Johnson.
This protocol is VERY hard to follow for most people. You are literally NOT EATING for 24 hours.
The only reason I found it easy one of the two days I did it was because I was:
- Doing it WITH someone
- BUSY and preoccupied
The second time I did this was in January of 2017 with my husband when we had a 16 hour drive from Texas to Arizona. We got to Arizona and had a massive meal after our 24 hour fast and honestly, it was kind of fun. But again, I haven’t done it since and don’t plan to often. I get plenty of great benefits from the 16/8 protocol which is a way more MAINTAINABLE way of eating.
Alternate Day Fasting
This protocol involves fasting every other day. Some experts say having 500 calories on your “fasting days” is appropriate.
I listed this LAST for a reason…because I think it’s insane and don’t recommend it. But AGAIN–I’m giving you the FACTS so you have them all!! (But it IS my blog, so I’m also going to give you my opinion!)
Feeling hungry a few times a week like this seems INSANE to me and tortuous, and NOT sustainable. And the entire point of intermittent fasting is to give you something you can do LONG TERM with EASE…so while I am listing it here, I don’t recommend or promote it at all.
At the end of the day, intermittent fasting might not be for you, or it could be the method that helps repair your relationship with food, like it was for me. Either way, it’s definitely worth a shot, and I’d love to help you get started with it.
I’m running a Free 5 Day Intermittent Fasting Fat Loss Challenge from 2/19-2/23. Join here and see if this method of eating is right for you. You’ve literally got nothing to lose!
Tell me about you! Do you struggle with finding a style of eating that works for you? Which of these tips will you implement?
Megan Yelaney | Online Mindset + Lifestyle Coach, Author, Entrepreneur
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