Are You Confused About Intermittent Fasting? — Plus 3 Tips to Get It Right
It is impossible to surf the web and not notice articles popping up every day on the benefits of intermittent fasting, or IF. This is still a relatively new term to most of the public and yet you can find many definitions and discussions–most of which are simply too vague to offer precise value. So what is IF and how does taking a break from eating promote health?
Using the term Intermittent Fasting is not appropriate unless the period of fasting is over 24 hours. For plans less than 24 hours, a better descriptor is time-restricted feeding (TRF) or time-restricted eating (TRE). There are a number of approaches to time-restricted feeding.
Still Confused About Intermittent Fasting? Here are 3 Tips to Do It Right
Understanding intermittent fasting (IF) and the approaches to the concept accurately will help you implement it more effectively.
- Call it By Its Name
For starters, intermittent fasting doesn’t mean what we think it does. When we talk about Leangains 16:8 protocol or the 5:2 diet as methods of intermittent fasting, the concept we’re really referring to is “time-restricted feeding” (TRF).
- Choose Your Window
Not all windows are created equally. While all time-restricted eating and intermittent fasting will certainly offer health benefits, fasting for an hour or a few hours vs fasting for 12 hours is not equivalent when you compare the health benefits that they provide.
- Understand the Benefits
Longer does not always mean better. It is important to match your fasting regimen and schedule to your health goals and to your lifestyle. What do you hope to achieve and is it realistic that you can stick to this new schedule and routine?
- Stick to Wellness
Fasting is not a red light to junk out during the feeding window. The whole point is to use food to feed and nourish your body, so be mindful of what is on your plate and how you refeed when you are not fasting. Choose healthy food, avoid junk food and don’t over-indulge and eat more than you really need to eat just because you think you can.
It is always best to consult your health practitioner to choose the fast that is ideal for you, in the meantime, here is some general guidance:
- Choose 12:12 for optimal health and wellness and to maintain
- Choose 16:8 to inspire ongoing weight loss or are resetting a relationship with food
- Choose 20:4 if you are struggling to lose weight
- Choose 24-hour fasting for periodic health reboot, to improve metabolic function and to inspire a healthy reset.
- Choose longer fasts, meaning a prolonged fast lasting 24 hours or more, to experience potential benefits of cellular repair that may slow cell aging, reduced inflammation, improved insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar levels, and boost weight loss.
- Chaix A, et al. (2014). Time-restricted feeding is a preventative and therapeutic intervention against diverse nutritional challenges.
- Kliewer KL, et al. (2015). Short-term food restriction followed by controlled refeeding promotes gorging behavior, enhances fat deposition, and diminishes insulin sensitivity in mice.
- Olsen MK, et al. (2017). Time-restricted feeding on weekdays restricts weight gain: A study using rat models of high-fat diet-induced obesity.
- Sichieri R, et al. (1991). A prospective study of hospitalization with gallstone disease among women: Role of dietary factors, fasting period, and dieting. DOI: ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2105/AJPH.81.7.880