Woman eating

With summer right around the corner, becoming leaner, stronger, and healthier is at the forefront of most of our minds. 

And understandably so! 

Between trips to the lake, family get-togethers, and all of the fun outdoor activities that are available to us during these warmer months we want to make sure that we’re looking and feeling good so that we can enjoy ourselves without worrying about being self-conscious, lethargic, or in a brain fog.

So what can you do to release some of those stubborn pounds that have crept up on you over the last few months (or years) while simultaneously improving your energy levels, focus, digestion, and sleep?

The first thing that I recommend that my patients try is intermittent fasting. 

What is Intermittent Fasting? 

Simply put, intermittent fasting is narrowing the window of time that you consume your food every day.

Here are 3 of the most common styles of intermittent fasting:

1. 16:8 Method: In this method, you consume all of your meals within in 8 hour window and then fast from all food for the remaining 16 hours of the day. 

So for example, you could eat in between the hours of 11am-7pm and then fast from all food and caloric beverages from 7pm-11am. 

This is perhaps the most common style of intermittent fasting, and quite simple to maintain! It’s important to choose what eating/fasting hours work best for you and your schedule. 

When doing this style, you could eat a hearty lunch at the start of your eating window, followed by a light snack a few hours later, and then a wholesome dinner right towards the end of your eating window. 

2. Eat.Stop.Eat Method: In this method, you will fast for 24hrs two nonconsecutive days of the week. For example, you could fast on Tuesdays and Fridays and then eat as you normally do on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

During your fasting days it’s especially important to make sure that you’re staying extremely well hydrated with noncaloric beverages such as water and herbal teas. 

3. The 5/2 Method: In this method, you will reduce the amount of calories that you consume to 500 calories or less two nonconsecutive days per week and then eat as you normally would the other five days of the week. Once again, be sure to make sure that you are staying well hydrated!

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting 

The benefits of intermittent fasting are numerous and enough to convince even the most skeptical person to try it out.

Here are some of the top benefits of intermittent fasting:

  • Weight Loss
  • Improves Focus and Memory 
  • May Help Prevent Some Types of Cancer
  • Lowers the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease 
  • Lowers Resting Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
  • May Help Lengthen Your Lifespan 
  • Improves Insulin Sensitivity 
  • Improves Cellular Turnover
  • Reduces Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Another added benefit of intermittent fasting is that it frees up a lot of your time! Since you will likely be skipping breakfast, you will have more time in the morning to tackle your long to-do list. On days that you are partaking in a caloric deficit of 500 calories or less or fasting completely from food you will have even more time to put your focus on other things! 

Tips for Success at Intermittent Fasting 

  • Start slow – if the idea of any of these styles of fasting is too intimidating for you, no worries! You can start by avoiding all food 2-3 hours before bed so that your body can focus on healing and repairing instead of digesting food while you sleep.
  • If a 16 hour fast seems too daunting, start by fasting for 12 hours and slowly working your way up! 
  • Release the notion that you “have” to eat breakfast to be healthy. Most of the breakfasts that people eat are packed with refined sugar (think pastries, donuts, flavored coffee drinks, cold cereal, and even many store bought yogurts) and can actually do more harm to your body than good. Many people do well skipping breakfast altogether and then enjoying a delicious, nutrient-dense lunch at the start of their eating window.
  • You don’t have to change what you eat to practice intermittent fasting, but if you start eliminating processed foods and incorporating more whole foods into your diet you will likely experience positive results much faster – weight loss, reduced cravings, more energy, better sleep, and improved focus! 

Cautions of Intermittent Fasting

When you’re first getting started, you may notice a dip in your energy levels, nausea, headaches, and moodiness. This is all perfectly normal, as your body is adjusting from eating continuously throughout the day to consuming calories in a designated period of time. These symptoms will likely all disappear in a week or two and you will likely start to feel much more energetic, focused, and balanced once your body adjusts. 

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, or having an eating disorder then intermittent fasting is not for you at this time. 

Conclusion 

Remember to start slow and keep it simple as you get started with your intermittent fasting journey! Be sure to create an eating and fasting schedule that works well for you and your schedule, and if you want to experience even more benefits, then challenge yourself to eliminate processed foods and enjoy whole foods during your eating window.