Intermittent fasting is a term that has gained popularity, but not everyone understands why intermittent fasting can be beneficial for weight loss. Intermittent fasting is a time in which we do not eat any food with calories. Time restricted eating on the other hand, is a shortened eating window throughout the day. A popular protocol is fasting (not eating) for 16 hours out of a 24-hour day and engaging in time restricted eating (eating window) for 8 hours out of that day.
Intermittent fasting is a great tool for weight loss when combined with a diet low in sugar and processed, simple carbs (think bread, cookies, crackers, bars, cereal, chips, pasta). Insulin is a fat storage hormone, and it signals our body to store any unused calories or energy as fat. Every time we eat, insulin levels rise with simple carbs and sugars raising levels faster and higher than other foods. This is why it is important to avoid constant insulin spikes with snacking all day. Intermittent fasting can correct high insulin states and promote weight loss. If we have weight to lose, that means we have fat stores that can be used effectively for energy. We must retrain our bodies to tap into these fat stores for energy and weight loss. People who become accustomed to fasting report higher energy levels and less brain fog.
The 16/8 protocol is the simplest way to begin a fasting journey. Fast for 16 hours of the day and eat normally during an 8-hour window. This would include two satisfying meals full of healthy fats, protein, lots of vegetables (limited corn and potatoes), with a small amount of fruit (berries are best!). Limit snacking in between.
Things you can have during a fast: water, apple cider vinegar, lemon-water, black coffee, bone broth. An example of a typical eating window: Eat your first meal at 11 am and last meal at 6 pm. One high fat snack such as almonds in between if needed. No eating within 2-3 hours of bed.
Other benefits of intermittent fasting beyond weight loss include reduced inflammation, improved cellular repair, possible protection from Alzheimer’s and overall increased longevity. Although calories in vs calories out is an important concept that cannot be overlooked when attempting to achieve weight loss, many other factors influence the ability to lose weight including high insulin levels, high stress levels, and reduced hormone levels as we age. Overall, intermittent fasting is a wonderful tool for weight loss when combined with other healthy practices such as low carb eating, exercise, and restorative sleep.