As If... You are probably wondering what the heck am i talking about?! I'm not talking about one of my favorite movies of all times - "Clueless" - even though it would be fun!
Today i wanted to explore another topic that has become wildly popular just like the movie - intermittent fasting.
IF (or time restricting feeding) means that you eat only during certain period of time. For example, 12 hour fast means you'd eat before 7pm and after 7am. This is not a new concept: our ancestors didn't have access to food 24/7 and naturally fasted from sun down to sun up falling into the circadian rhythms (cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock), giving their digestive track a break at night.
We've got options of the fasting/feeding periods: 12/12, 16/8, 20/4, 24h water fast, 2 days of 500–600 calories on two nonconsecutive days of the week and eating normally the other 5 days. Anything past 16h of fasting window, i'd leave to a more experienced person and do only after a consultation with your doc.
Can i eat whatever i want during the feeding window? Asking for a friend:)
You do you and yes, tracking calories or IIFYM (if it fits your macros) are not required, but if you are looking to improve your health and potentially lengthen your life span, following nourishing, balanced nutrition plan (trying to avoid the word "diet" over here) is a way to go with IF and just in general as well.
I consider IF a tool in my box for:
lowering the inflammation
improving the metabolic health
reducing the risks of chronic diseases, like diabetes and cancer
decreasing the risks of obesity and obesity-related conditions, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
positive affect on the gut bacteria
reducing mitochondrial oxidative stress
improvement in insulin sensitivity
These are all amazing pros but there are a couple of cons to consider:
some people might experience drowsiness, headaches, brain fog when they are just getting started. If this is you, try breaking the fast 15 - 45 minutes earlier than planned and see how you feel. 11.30h of giving your digestion a break is still amazing! And don’t forget to drink water - dehydration ain’t our friend.
increase sugar cravings and extreme hunger. These were THE ones for me! Since IF isn't a diet and the goal is still to have balanced, filling meals, try adding more complex carbs and healthy fats to them. AND eat that treat every once in a while within your feeding window. Also, just remember, thankfully, there will be food in the fridge tomorrow.
Watch out for the hormones! IF can mess up the thyroid function, increase cortisol and shift estrogen and progesterone production. If this is the case, monitoring them and potentially working with a functional medicine provider, would be a smart move. Not going past 16 hours of fasting could also be a consideration, especially for women, since we are more sensitive to hormonal changes.
Should everyone do IF? Nope, brand new mamas and mamas to be, children and teens, people with eating disorders (past or present), older people with the risk of weakness or falling, people with dementia, people with a trauma to the brain should not be do it and people that are on medications have to consult with their healthcare provider first.