July 2020

Intermittent Fasting

Author: Becca Edwards

You have probably heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” But research shows you may also be what you eat due to when you eat. As a triathlete, I practice this concept by exercising the fundamentals of sports nutrition and eating specific macronutrients like carbohydrates and protein around my workout schedule. But once I hit the big four-oh-no, I began to learn more about intermittent fasting. Despite its growing popularity, intermittent fasting is not just a fad diet. In fact, it is not really a diet at all because it does not restrict the foods you eat. Instead, it is a food eating pattern that cycles between time spans of eating and not eating.

Leading health contributors like my guru Dr. Sara Gottfried (The Hormone Cure and Brain Body Diet) educated me on the many benefits associated with abstaining from eating breakfast 16 hours after eating dinner. (Men can wait for 14 hours because, well, men often have it easier than women when it comes to food.) Dr. Gottfried encouraged me to integrate this eating pattern into my life and, as I will explain in a bit, I have devised my own strategy to intermittent fasting.

Benefits of regular intermittent fasting include:
• Hormone balance.
• Reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation of the body.
• Better brain health and possibly the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
• Weight loss, specifically belly fat.
• Improved digestion.
• Improved sleep.
• Reduction of insulin resistance, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes.
• Improvement of numerous different risk factors, including blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels.
• The initiation of autophagy, a cellular waste removal process which involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.
• Possibly cancer prevention.

The first three benefits were what intrigued me the most. So many times, clients come to me wanting to restore hormonal balance, reduce inflammation and experience better brain function. I find this interesting for one important reason. Whereas several years ago many women may have just accepted part of aging was suffering through hormone imbalance symptoms such as disrupted sleep and hot flashes, chronic conditions like low back pain and a general lack of focus, women today are standing up and saying, “I’m not going down without a fight.” To those women, I say, “Hell, yeah. Let’s do this.”

And we can do this oftentimes without the introduction of topical creams, prescription pills and the like. I am a big fan of making small, subtle, holistic changes to affect my clients’ desired results, and I have found intermittent fasting to be an example of a simple, yet effective lifestyle tweak. And by simple, I mean you do not need to go out and buy anything or deny yourself favorite foods like pizza, but you do have to understand there might be a one-week to two-week rough patch while you adjust to your new eating schedule. Also, if you are an endurance athlete, you may opt to fast only on certain days. For example, if I am training for a triathlon, especially in the summer months, I do not fast before taking a long run, bike, swim or workout. Having said this, I do know some serious CrossFit and other competitive athletes who have managed to do it, but I bonked whenever I tried it. For those of you who maintain a more moderate training program such as walk or run two to six miles, take kick-butt exercise classes at fitness studios like CycleBar, or hit the mat at yoga studios like Jiva regularly, intermittent fasting is very doable. Just remember you are working toward optimal health, and sometimes, as the saying goes, “You’ve got to pay to play.”

My personal plan
I’m going to share with you my intermittent “cheats” and overall plan. Low-calorie drinks like black coffee and tea have been purported to reduce your appetite. I, however, seem to get hungrier after a cup of un-jazzed-up java. Also, I am not necessarily trying to stave off my hunger, but rather fast for 16 hours. Plus, I still want to fuel my body even if it is not with food. So, to bridge the time between last night’s dinner and today’s breakfast I opt for a cup of tea, such as Traditional Medicinals organic EveryDay Detox tea (lemon flavored) and one of the following:
4-ounce cup of celery juice (approximately 20 calories)
4 to 6-ounce cup of kombucha (approximately 30 calories)
1 scoop of collagen powder in my tea (approximately 20 calories)
1 serving of a no sugar added electrolyte like Nuun (approximately 10-20 calories)
1 serving of The Art of Broth Savory Chicken or Vegetable Vegan savory flavored tea bag (approximately 15 calories)

I also only fast Monday through Friday. That way, I am free to be surprised by an impromptu breakfast from my middle daughter who likes to make poached eggs infused with doTERRA’s lemon essential oil and fairy-dusted (a.k.a. nutritional yeast) avocado toast or have a late dinner with the hubby or some friends.

My last tip is, commit to a schedule. Think about when you get home from work or when your family typically likes to eat and pick a dinner time. Ideally it would be between 6 and 7 p.m. so that you are eating breakfast between 10 and 11 a.m. If you are living with someone who works late, let them know you see the value in dinnertime but you are also trying to accomplish a health goal and that perhaps there are other ways of connecting in the evening such as going for a walk with the dog.

Note: Any changes you make to your wellness program should first be discussed with your healthcare practitioner. Also, intermittent fasting may not be appropriate for people who have suffered from an eating disorder such as anorexia in the past; it is not recommended for those individuals currently struggling with an eating disorder. 

Becca Edwards is certified in several wellness modalities and is the co-owner of Female IQ Podcast.

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