Intermittent Fasting: Is It Right For You?

Intermittent Fasting: Is It Right For You?

woman eating a sandwich

It’s the health trend that everyone is talking about. From health experts like Steven Gundry, MD, to celebrities like Halle Berry, there are a lot of people enjoying the benefits of intermittent fasting. Whether you’ve looked into this practice of abstaining from food for a good gut reboot, weight loss or to improve brain function, you may have felt a little overwhelmed by the amount of information out there on this trending topic. What it intermittent fasting, really? Is it good for everyone? What are the benefits, or perhaps, the cons of intermittent fasting? Is there one specific schedule I’m supposed to follow? I thought breakfast was the most important meal of the day! I’m diving in to all of those questions below to help you determine whether or not intermittent fasting is something you’d be interested in, and if it’s the right choice for you.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting takes many forms, and is ultimately a term that can be used for many different fasting protocols. For some, it means eating all of their calories within a certain window, while for others, it may mean eating just one meal a day (more on that below). In short, intermittent fasting simply means going a period of time without eating food.

Though it’s become a recent trending topic, fasting has actually been around in many cultures for hundreds of years, some for religious reasons, while others due to lack of food supply. Think about it - Our ancestors would have to regularly go long periods of time without food due to food not being readily available or accessible the way it is now. It’s these long periods of time without eating that is said to speed up our metabolism and put our bodies into ‘repair’ mode once you hit around 12 hours without food.

Is there a Specific Schedule I Should Follow?

As I mentioned above, there is no golden rule in terms of scheduling for intermittent fasting. There are numerous techniques you can follow, and there is no one size fits all. When it comes to intermittent fasting, the most important rule to follow is simple: Follow the schedule that works best for YOU and has you feeling your best. There may even be one intermittent fasting technique that works for you on certain days, while other techniques will better suit you on others, depending on your mood or to-do list. Here are some fasting protocols to consider:

  1. 12 Hour Fast: This is a great starting point if you’re new to fasting and want to test the waters. This method is exactly what you think - Leave a 12 hour window between your last meal of the day, and your first meal the following day.

  2. 16:8 Fast: This seems to be the most popular intermittent fasting method, and is also my go-to program! The 16:8 method means you eat during an eight-hour window. For me, this usually looks like not eating after dinner, waking up to have plenty of fluids and enjoying my first meal around 11:00am-noon.

  3. Alternate-Day Fasting: You guessed it - Alternate day fasting means you eat every other day.

  4. 5:2 Fast: Keep your calories low and eat small amounts of food two days a week (500-600 calories), while eating normally the other five days a week. You may have heard of this method through The Fast Diet, which was created by Dr. Mosley, who claims to have lost 20 pounds, lowered his body fat 7% and normalized his blood sugar as a diebetic in eight weeks of following this program.

Keep in mind that some of these techniques listed above are more advanced intermittent fasting programs, and to start small or talk to your health care provider before trying these methods. Remember - Always listen to your body!

What are the Potential Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

While there is yet to be a great amount of scientific evidence on the long-term benefits of intermittent fasting, there have been a great deal of benefits enjoyed by those who have given time-restricted eating a shot. Some of the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting include:

  1. Weight loss

  2. Lower inflammation

  3. Balance blood sugar

  4. Improve cognitive function

  5. Increase energy levels

  6. Reduce brain fog

  7. Increased longevity

  8. Repair cellular damage

  9. Control cravings

  10. Gut healing

Can Intermittent Fasting Be Bad for Me? 

While intermittent fasting has provided incredibly positive results for many, there are still skeptics, and it’s important to always remember to listen to your body and not ignore and warning signs. If there is a morning when you are particularly stressed or have a lot on your plate, maybe you won’t benefit that day from skipping breakfast. If you’re feeling lightheaded or fatigued, your body might respond well to having something to eat. According to fasting experts, intermittent fasting is not for everyone, and there are certain people that should avoid it all together. Those people are:

  1. Pregnant and breastfeeding women

  2. Anyone with a history of an eating disorder

  3. Those who struggle with chronic stress, anxiety or insomnia

  4. Anyone with thyroid, adrenal or autoimmune disorders

  5. Children or teenagers

  6. Anyone with a hormonal imbalance

  7. Diabetics

The simple truth is, everyone’s body is different, and intermittent fasting is not for everyone.

Some potential intermittent fasting risks to consider include:

  1. Energy drops

  2. Irritability

  3. Brain fog

  4. Eating disorder trigger

  5. Lifestyle or health factors that require consistent eating

If you are considering intermittent fasting, remember that fuelling your body with wholesome, healthy foods remains just as important!

Meal Plan Example

Salad plate with avocado and sea salt

Here is a great meal-plan example for beginners, or those who would eat during an 8 hour window following my personal favourite 16:8 intermittent fasting method. Keep in mind that just because this method works best for me, your body might respond better to a 10 hour eating window, or a 6 hour window! Either way, this can be a great way to dip your toes in the water because you don’t have to skip any meals while allowing your body to fast. Here is what my meals might look like:

Example 1

Water and black coffee

Meal #1 12:00pm: Avocado toast on sprouted whole grain bread with arugula, sea salt and lemon juice

Meal #2 4:00pm: Burrito bowl (With whole grains, avocado, black beans, grilled veggies, salsa and tofu - Can use meat here for non plant-based option)

Meal #3 8:00pm: Stir fry over cauliflower rice (Try it with Bragg Live Food products, or try cooking your vegetables in ghee or coconut oil!)

Snack: Koukla Delights Vanilla Macaroons

Example 2

Water and green tea

Meal #1 12:00pm: Green smoothie (I use my favourite nutritional shake powder, frozen bananas and berries, fresh leafy greens, nut butter, and seeds like hemp or chia)

Meal #2 4:00pm: Big salad with leafy greens, chickpeas, avocado, roasted sweet potato and a lemon tahini dressing

Meal #3 8:00pm: Chili on brown rice

Snack: Organic Traditions Dark Chocolate Almonds with Chili

If you try intermittent fasting, let us know!

~The Vitarock Team

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