Many times, a client, especially a middle-aged female will find themselves in my office frustrated that they have “tried everything” and they simply cannot lose weight. My first suggestion after taking a detailed history of the patient is “Let’s Try Intermittent Fasting”.
IF is a lifestyle of eating where a person alternates periods of “fasting” with periods of “fueling.” “Fasts” can range from 12 hours to 48 hours and beyond depending on your goals and your personal experience with fasting. Fueling is the period of time where you would “feed” or eat a lot of the calories and nutrients that your body requires. Calories counting is not required although healthy food choices are encouraged.
How It Works…Plain and Simple
When we eat, our body uses glucose as “fuel” first before burning off the protein and fat calories that we have consumed. Glucose is found primarily in carbohydrates such as whole grains and fruits. When we ”burn” through our glucose stores first, fat is left to remain in the body in the event that we need a reserve fuel for later. Glucose also causes fat storage and ceases fat-burning whereas fasting does the opposite. Middle-aged women also may develop a resistance to digesting carbohydrates and tweaking their eating style can certainly make a difference. (Stay tuned for my article on “Weight Loss in Middle Age”).
Instead of burning “glucose” first, IF allows your body to dig into its fat stores and utilize that as our primary source of energy. So when we fast, we burn fat first. The longer period of time you maintain your fast, the more fat stores you will incinerate!
Pick Your Fasting Fit
There are a variety of IF methods that have been scientifically proven to be effective with fat loss. The key to success is selecting one that you are comfortable with and giving it a try. Some methods work better than others for some people, so a bit of experimentation may be needed to find your “sweet spot”. If you are trying a method for a few weeks with little success, don’t give up. Try another variety. Here are a few descriptions to get you started:
12/12: This is a great starting option. One would fast for 12 hours and fuel for 12 hours. This is easiest to adjust to because if you are asleep for 8 of the 12 hours, you are only fasting for 4.
16/8 or 18/6: For many, this is the sweet spot. Fasting for 16-18 hours allows fat-burning to kick in! Fat burning starts after 14-16 hours so this style is highly effective for changes in body composition.
OMAD: Also known as One Meal A Day. Basically in this style, you fast for 20 hours and fuel for 4. An additional benefit of this style is that HGH starts to be produced at high levels.
Eat/Stop/Eat: This variety offers a great deal of flexibility. A person can eat normally on 5 of the 7 days per week and “fast” for 2 days. On the fasting days, a person must limit their calorie intake to between 600-800 calories.
Is It For Me?
Intermittent Fasting has benefits for most people who choose to follow this style of eating. If you are looking to lose weight, overcome a plateau, fight brain fog, deal with perimenopause, change body composition to lose fat, slow aging, improve your metabolism, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, colon health, hunger, and immunity this style of eating could be for you.
Please remember that all changes in eating habits and diets should be discussed with your doctor or health care professional to ensure that it is safe and healthy for you. Once you are given the green light, give it a try!