Today’s daily life can be far too hectic for comfort. Our busier lifestyles don’t often have room for full-on meal prep three times a day, which can lead to consuming subpar food or feeling frazzled. Intermittent fasting – already something humans are wired to do – might be a perfect lifestyle change thanks to its ability to improve health and free up more time during the day.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a popular modern health and fitness trend currently sweeping the U.S. In a nutshell, intermittent fasting has you follow an eating pattern which cycles through periods of eating and fasting. It deals with when you should eat rather than what you should eat. As a result, it’s not really a diet but more of a lifestyle.
Humans have evolved to respond to intermittent fasting. Before the advent of agriculture and reliable food sources we could control, humans would often scavenge and eat whatever possible. But even the best scavengers couldn’t always find food. As a result, our bodies, are hardwired for the benefits and advantages of intermittent fasting. Let’s examine why someone would consider intermittent fasting in modern times.
Intermittent fasting allows you to spend more time on other activities besides meal prepping and eating. In fact, some of the more intense intermittent fasting schedules only allow for one hour of eating per day.
Today’s work and social environments are fast-paced and often don’t include enough time for preparing full meals, especially if you’re married or have kids. For this reason, only preparing one or two healthy meals a day, instead of three, can save you time and energy.
It’s inevitable that the less you eat, the less money you spend on food. Shopping for healthy, whole foods can become pricey over the course of the week. Preparing one less meal per day, can save you money while still eating healthy. In turn, you can focus on quality food over the quantity, which will provide your body more nutrition.
Meal prepping is no small task and can takes several hours per week to create a healthy menu. We all know that time equals money. For those of us who have long commutes for work or busy social lives on the weekend, reducing meal prep efforts can be another bonus when considering intermittent fasting. Save your energy for family trips, workout classes, or hanging with your friends.
Intermittent fasting can also be a tool to assist with your weight loss goals. When your body enters a fasted state, it becomes more efficient at burning fat, reducing insulin resistance, and boosting metabolism. In addition, you often consume fewer calories throughout the day when you incorporate time restricted eating. To get the most out of your fast, it’s highly encouraged to eat foods that optimize your macronutrients.
In prior centuries, intermittent fasting was necessary, but it was harder to get the daily amount of calories in a single meal. Today, you can have a single energy-rich meal to hit all your macronutrients, micronutrients, and energy requirements without over-consuming.
Eating too many calories can make you sluggish, especially if you eat poor foods that sink into your stomach and take a while to digest. Think back to the last time you ate a high calorie meal. There’s a good chance that it ended in a food coma. With intermittent fasting, many people see an increase in energy, especially if they’re already physically fit.
Typically, it takes 2-4 weeks for your body to adjust to a new intermittent fasting schedule. Once it begins a routine, your body will learn to burn quicker and more efficient, rather than continually digesting food throughout the whole day.
Easier Than You Think
Starting intermittent fasting can be overwhelming, but taking it one step at a time will make it more doable. Sticking to a routine and practicing time restricted eating will continue to get easier day by day.
Consume the Right Food
One of the best ways to set yourself up for a successful fast is to consume nutrient-dense food beforehand. Optimizing your nutrients with whole foods, quality protein, and delicious vegetables will ensure you have enough vitamins and minerals for proper growth and tissue repair.
Eating the right food during your eating window is critical to experience the full benefits of fasting. It’s important to remember that your body will be hungry at first. Hunger pains comes in waves throughout the day but stay strong and drink some water.
Eating the right food, and enough calories, is also important so that you can make it through your fasting cycles with enough energy. Failing to eat properly will see you become sluggish and grouchy.
Keep to a Defined Schedule
Training your body to accept this new lifestyle takes time, but it’s a lot easier if you keep to a defined eating and fasting cycle. Don’t skip random meals throughout the week; skip the same meal or keep the same fasting cycle at the same time each day. Your body will eventually become used to this new routine and your hunger will become less intense.
This is also beneficial for the purposes of food processing. Your body will have an easier time digesting your food as it becomes used to receiving it at the same time each day. In the end, humans have bodies that love routine and consistency. Use this to your advantage when practicing intermittent fasting.
There are a few fasting tools to help you maintain this new lifestyle. To track your hours during a fast, try Zero Fasting or Do Fasting. This will give you a visual countdown until your next eating window. For nutrition tracking, check out MyFitnessPal. You can optimize your macronutrients to ensure you’re eating the proper food.
Water should be a staple during your fasting window. Beginners often forget to continuously drink water and become dehydrated. This is not only bad for your health but makes it extremely difficult to maintain your fasting routine.
Drinking fluids to maintain proper hydration levels will alleviate the symptoms of hunger. Beverages like coffee or tea are great substitutes for food when you want to have flavor but aren’t yet in your eating window.
Most Popular Method
There are three leading intermittent fasting schedules that people typically follow. The first is the 16:8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and consume calories during the following 8-hour period. The second is the schedule where you fast for 23 hours and eat 1 meal per day. This is called OMAD and has become quite popular with fitness fanatics. The third most popular method is call 5:2. This lifestyle is best suited for people who have busy schedules and can’t skip any meals. You just eat normal 5 days and only 500-600 calories 2 days per week.
Out of all the options, the 16:8 method is the best for beginners and for the majority of the population. It’s as easy as ending your dinner before 8 p.m., skipping breakfast the following morning, and enjoying your first meal at 12 p.m.
We’d recommend this as the first intermittent fasting schedule for anyone pursuing a lifestyle change. It eliminates one of the most hectic meal prep periods of the day – morning time. Keeping a realistic schedule is important as it’s about the long-term.
Overall, intermittent fasting can be an excellent lifestyle change. There are many benefits including improved insulin resistance, less meal prep time, and boosted energy to name a few. We challenge you try intermittent fasting for 2 days a week while gradually adding more days every week. days. Good luck!