When we’re fasted, insulin levels are low and we can tap into fat stores for energy. Free. Flexible. Simple.
And so, when we’re talking about intermittent fasting, it’s fairly simple. If you skip breakfast –
If you skip breakfast in the morning, you can reduce your caloric intake by 20% to 40%. And the typical timeframe that I recommend to my female patients is a 16:8. Sixteen hours a day fasted with an eight-hour feeding window. I know that seems a little overwhelming at first, but I’ll give you some strategies for how you go about doing that. So, the 20% to 40% reduction in calories means that you can fuel fat loss.
So what are some of the benefits other than fat loss – fat loss and especially visceral fat around our abdomens, around our major organs?
We know that it improves mental clarity because insulin levels are low. We know that it spikes human growth hormone, which helps us with lean muscle mass. We know that it induces something called autophagy – I will speak more about this in a second. But this is spring cleaning for the cells. It is only evoked when we are fasted.
Autophagy. We know that it lowers insulin levels, blood pressure, improves our cholesterol profile. And we know that it can reduce your risk for developing cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, which I like to call type 3 diabetes. If, for no other reason, we want to protect our brains.
As wonderful a strategy as this is, it is not for everyone. I’m going to talk briefly about the individuals that want to avoid this strategy.
First and foremost, if you are a brittle diabetic, or you have difficult-to-control diabetes; if you are a child, an adolescent or age greater than 70 – might not be the best strategy; if you are pregnant; if you have chronic heart issues, kidney or renal issues – not the best strategy.
If you have a history of a disordered relationship with food, whether it is anorexia, bulimia or binge eating – might not be the best strategy because it can invoke those tendencies.
And last but not least, if you have a low body mass index, you’re frail or you’ve recently been in the hospital like I was for 13 days. I’m not currently intermittent fasting.
Now, everyone always asks: Well, when you’re fasting, we know we’re not eating food, but you can absolutely consume things like filtered water, plain coffee or tea. They will not break your fast.
But when you’re ready to eat, what do you eat? Now, I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are foods that are going to be more advantageous for you to consume when you’re ready to break your fast. So I want you to focus on real whole foods. That’s what your body needs, wants and deserves.
So I want you to purchase the best quality protein that your budget permits. Ideally, organic or pastured meat, wild-caught fish. Healthy fats – so crucial – helpful for building healthy hormones and also really important for satiety – making sure our taste buds light up, make us happy. I’m not part of the anti-fat brigade. Really, really important.
Twenty years ago, I might have told you not to eat fat, but now we know better. So I want you to focus on things like avocados, coconut oil, grass-fed butter and nuts – really great, healthy fats. Unprocessed carbohydrates. Ladies, absolutely crucial, if you’re in perimenopause, the five to seven years before menopause, or you’re in menopause, quality and quantity are crucial.
So I want you to consume things like low-glycemic berries, green leafy vegetables, squash, quinoa, sweet potatoes as opposed to bread and pasta.
Cautionary tale: I want you to limit sugar and alcohol. By that I mean, I want you to not consume those things because they can offset all the good that you’re doing.
And lastly, keep yourself well hydrated. Now, I want to make sure that I briefly touch on some of the practical implications for how you would go about starting intermittent fasting.
Generally, I have my ladies start with 12-13 hours of fasted period. And they can slowly increase by an hour or so every day until they’ve reached that 16 hour mark. Again, you want to keep yourself really well hydrated. You can also have plain coffee or tea.
In addition to that, you want to ensure that you give it a solid 30 days before you determine if it’s the right strategy for you. And if you have chronic health conditions, I want to make sure you discuss it with your healthcare provider. Really important. And recognize it may take six to eight weeks to really see the full benefits of what you’re doing.
The biggest pain point for my female patients is weight gain. I have a fantastic strategy to help with this, but I don’t want you to buy into the next $50 container of protein powder or the hottest weight loss supplement that’s out there.
I want you to think about the fact this is a simple, flexible and free option that you can try at home, discuss with your healthcare provider if necessary. I really feel so passionately about this because it’s something that all of us should be discussing with our patients.
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