A Mini Guide to Intermittent Fasting

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Learn how to safely join in on this ever-growing fitness trend.

Intermittent fasting is the latest fitness and health trend that has people buzzing. For those that have yet to research the topic or explore the conversation online, it can feel a bit intimidating when all you know is that people stop eating for extended periods at a time. Thankfully, we’ve put together the perfect set of questions and answers to help you learn more and join the trend that has everyone looking and feeling their best.

What exactly is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting (or IF as it’s usually referred to online) is an eating pattern that challenges you to go through cycles of eating and fasting. It’s often confused as a diet, but since it doesn’t follow the terms of a diet in a traditional sense it’s best to look at it as an eating pattern. We get into the benefits of practicing IF later on, but for now, let’s breakdown the three most common ways to begin your routine.

5:2: This method will allow you to eat normally for five days a week. The other two days you are technically fasting but are allowed to eat in between 500 and 600 calories.

Eat-Stop-Eat: It’s one of the more challenging methods as you choose to fast 1-2 times a week for 24 hours.

16/8: The most popular option requires you to eat normally for 8 hours and fast for the remaining 16. You can do this every day or a few times week according to your preferred schedule.

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What are the benefits?

The benefits of IF tend to change depending on your specific body type and lifestyle. The most common benefits include lowering blood pressure, weight loss, insulin resistance, along with improved heart and brain health. Some studies even suggest that IF can help slow down the ageing process but there’s no real scientific proof of that yet. Outside of the amazing health benefits, practising IF teaches mental strength and discipline, which can contribute to your overall confidence and personal motivation.

Can it fit into any lifestyle?

The great thing about IF is that you choose how to make it work for you. The first way you can control your IF practice is by deciding which method is best for your everyday routine and behaviours. You may also consider tweaking the hours within the 16/8 method if you are an average gym-goer or often deal with a hectic schedule. It is suggested, however, that you find a schedule that works for you and stick to it versus flip-flopping back and forth. This will allow your body to adjust and your mind to focus on a routine that helps keep you on track. This is especially true if you’re working out while fasting as you will need to schedule your exercise regimes to allow you to eat immediately afterwards.

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What should you eat when you’re not fasting?

This is a common question that comes up and for good reason! If you are going to spend all of that time fasting you will need to be thoughtful with what you put in your body when you’re finally ready to eat. When you break the fast it’s important to stick to foods that won’t spike your blood sugar and insulin levels. One of the overall goals of IF is to lower insulin levels, which means you should avoid binging on sweets, processed food, and junk food. Carbs and certain kinds of dairy will also have an impact on your insulin levels so be mindful. Of course, IF is meant to be a flexible form of dieting so it’s important to pepper in some of these foods, but don’t indulge too hard.

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Does it impact women differently than men?

Some health professionals have suggested that IF may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men. In some cases, women can experience the loss of their period while participating in IF, and not see it return until they have stopped fasting. It’s been suggested that women should ease into the process and stop immediately if your body rejects what’s happening in any serious way, like missing your period. As with any major body transformative practice, consulting a healthcare professional or your family doctor is the best way to learn if intermittent fasting is right for you.