The pros and cons of intermittent fasting (also called IF) will either win you over or make you realize this way of eating isn’t for you.
I’ve been intermittent fasting on and off since 2017. I only stopped because I wanted to get pregnant and my unprofessional opinion (and lots of googling) is that IF could have been part of the reason why it wasn’t happening. I’ll go into that more later, of course. I absolutely loved how my body responded to IF along with sticking to my macros. For the first time in my 30ish years, I had abs, felt energized and intune with my body. There are many pros and cons to intermittent fasting to help decide whether this is the right lifestyle for you!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is when you restrict your meals to a smaller window and fast for the remainder of time. For example, I normally eat all my meals between 12PM and 8PM. I fast from 8PM at night until Noon the next day. This is roughly a 16 hour fast, give or take when my kids actually give me the opportunity to sit down and eat.
How does IF help you lose weight?
Reducing your eating availability, you SHOULD eat less calories during this time. Fasting will also cause your insulin to drop, which will allow your body fat to burn more easily.
What does a day of eating look like?
I normally follow the 16:8 rule. I fast for 16 hours starting overnight and then eat during an 8 hour period. I normally go to the gym in the morning and come home and break my fast a protein packed meal. I normally end up eating two meals and two small snacks during the day. Each day is different and sometimes I eat more and sometimes less. I believe it’s important to listen to our bodies and also eat intuitively through IF.
What rules are there to follow during the fast?
Obviously you should not eat food during the fast and only water and black coffee are recommended to consume during the fasting period.
What are the Pros of Intermittent Fasting?
IF tricks your body into burning more fat
IF often allows your body to burn fat while retaining muscle
There is no strict “diet” to follow
You have full control of the hours you fast/eat.
Decrease in Inflammation
Decrease in brain fog
Animals studies show IF has helped animals prevent cancer
Studies have shown less muscle loss while IF as long as you are working out and protein intake is still high.
What are the Cons of Intermittent Fasting?
IF is not recommended for diabetics.
IF is not for women who are trying to conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding. The eating pattern could cause issues with trying to conceive as well as be harmful to baby or hurt your milk supply if breastfeeding.
Hunger – especially if you’re not busy in the mornings or have something to take your mind off of your stomach.
How Can You Be Successful Intermittent Fasting?
Drink a full glass of water as soon as you wake up to ward off hunger. Drinking black coffee is also allowed before you break your fast. I always drink a cup in the morning to suppress hunger and give me (much needed) energy.
Eat high protein meals to keep you fuller longer. I especially recommend a high protein meal/snack to begin and end your day. I like to start my day with a protein smoothie bowl and end my night with a post-dinner snack of celery and almond butter.
Stay busy to keep you mind off of food! I like to workout in the mornings and I can’t eat before I workout, so I use this time to break my fast. My workouts keep my mind off of food (because who wants to think about eating while doing burpees anyways) and my body is ready for a refuel by the time I’m home from the gym.
Use the MyFitnessPal app to track your meals! Tracking my meals has been an eye opening experience for me. The first time I tracked my meals (that I previously thought were high in protein) I realized my body was seriously lacking the protein it needs. When I’m able to see the nutrients I’ve eaten throughout the day, I’m able to see where I need to pickup and what I need to cut back on. This also helps me choose foods that will keep me fuller longer!