The Holidays are upon us and so are the big feasts and Holiday treats combined with the social pressure to enjoy them. We simply eat too much and we know this. This makes for a perfect opportunity to implement Intermittent Fasting (IF). IF can help us enjoy the off-season/Holidays without the massive weight gain while allowing us to partake in the festivities. Add to this the basic health benefits and you’ll be able to go into the New Year ready to ramp up your training!
If you google IF it is a hot topic right now - there is a plethora of information on fasting windows and feeding windows - but what is right for you? While the health & performance benefits of IF are undeniable how to actually attain them on a physiological level is another story.
I am going to give you a few key tips to making intermittent fasting work for you without the complexity of metrics and formulas. So, here’s the real deal on Intermittent Fasting:
IF should be a natural & seamless process not some metric driven ordeal. It should simply ‘happen’ as a normal course of daily life 2-3 times per week.
Fasting is dynamic. Some fasts will go longer others shorter depending upon a multitude of variables. IF consistently but avoid a single rigid fasting period or specific day(s). As you adapt and extend your fasts realize sometimes you need to go shorter.
You are an individual
Stress levels can profoundly affect fasting, especially in females.
Training Load and Life Load must be factored into the IF
All of the above determine:
When you fast
How long you fast
How often you fast
Here is an all too common scenario:
You are thinking about your approaching feeding window, looking at the clock, and you find yourself struggling against hunger to make the allotted time and salivating about what you will eat- sound familiar? -Unfortunately when this happens you have already failed physiologically! . . . in other words making the time window does NOT matter!
The reason is your body has already turned down your metabolism signalling hunger and scarcity, and, when you finally do get to eat, it will grab those calories and store them, then ask for more!
In contrast, when you fast naturally, say you skip breakfast, eating lunch late morning or early afternoon when you feel hungry but not starving - your body has not turned down your metabolism nor up-regulated the hormonal signals that store calories and gets you to eat more.
The point is when you focus on metrics alone and ignore your body’s needs and signals IF can actually work against your intended goals.
Here are a few tips to help you achieve the physiological benefits of IF:
1. Make Fasting achievable/doable
Start out with a fast that works for you, don’t go for the 36-72 hour fasts. If you are coming off a high carb diet, you will find a starting fast is shorter. For beginners who are used to a high carb diet and snacks just getting from dinner to breakfast and then to lunch and dinner without snacking is an IF WIN! Start with IF windows that are achievable for you and grow them based upon the variables discussed above.
2. Gender Count!
Naturally, a female fast will tend to be several hours shorter biologically……biologically females are ‘eating and saving for two’ so not only are the hunger triggers more sensitive and females then to put on body fat easier and hold it longer but their IF windows tend to be significantly shorter in the context of today’s world. Secondly, a female IF window will shift with her cycle and be shortest from mid-lutteal phase through the onset of menses.
Staying properly hydrated is a key way to support successful IF. Remember hydration is both water and electrolytes in the proper proportions.
In addition to a training load appropriate to the fasting window, light movement and/or exercise during work or downtime signals an increase in energy demand to the body and recruits the hormonal signalling to upregulate fat metabolism/energy levels while attenuating hormonal hunger signals to help make fasting successful.
5. Try Vespa
Vespa contains trivial calories and enhances and supports your natural body fat burning physiology and attenuates hunger when used ahead of known snacking times. We use Vespa in the Hard Reset Phase of OFM to get people off snacking and on their way to successful IF.
Intermittent Fasting is about effective fasting, NOT meeting metrics or starving yourself. Always remember YOU are an Individual so find what is best and what doable for you in the context of your life to reach your fasting potential. If you have any questions we are here to help.