As science evolves, so does my thinking. Case in point: Intermittent fasting.
I never used to be a fan of skipping breakfast, or even of intermittent fasting for women. But emerging research over the last few years changed my perspective.
Turns out, meal timing and creating space between meals is critical to support the metabolic magic of weight loss, gut healing, and blood sugar balance.
Don’t get me wrong. I still believe that breakfast is super important. And with fasting, you can keep breakfast… simply by pushing it back a little later in the morning to, say, 9 or 10 a.m.
By closing the kitchen after dinner and pushing breakfast forwarded a bit the next morning, you’ve created a near-effortless 12 – 14 hour fasting window.
Because you’ll eat a healthy, filling dinner and then be sleeping for 8 or 9 of those hours, you should be able to breeze through that fast.
Bedtime or early morning hunger pangs? Make sure you did dinner correctly, and have a glass of water if you’re still hungry.
One study at the University of Washington showed that everyone who drank just 8 ounces of water before bed curbed their hunger completely.
Eventually, you’ll create bigger fat-burning benefits by extending that fasting window to 16 or even 18 hours daily.
And that’s when trouble spots can appear.
If doing longer fasts feels like a monumental challenge – you’re nearly constantly hungry, tired, irritable, or drooling over whatever your coworker is eating nearby – then you may be making one or more of these 3 fasting mistakes.
Mistake #1: You Haven't Balanced Your Blood Sugar Levels
I’ve seen a few intermittent fasting plans that subtly or not-so-subtly claim that you can eat anything you want during your eating hours and lose weight.
What these plans neglect is that when you eat something sugary that spikes and crashes your blood sugar levels, you get hungry a few hours later. And not for stuff like salmon and Brussels sprouts, either.
Blood sugar spikes and crashes leave you hungry (again), irritable. and craving more sugar. As a result, creating space between meals becomes a challenge.
If you struggle to go 4 – 6 hours between meals, that’s a sure sign that your blood sugar levels are not balanced.
Before you start intermittent fasting, you’ll want to steady your blood sugar.
How do you do that? By starting your day with a loaded smoothie, and then eating by the Plate every 4 – 6 hours.
Load your smoothies and meals with lean clean protein, healthy fats, and tons of fiber-rich non-starchy veggies. This keeps your blood sugar levels nice and steady, so intermittent fasting becomes much, much easier.
Break your fast every morning with a fast, filling loaded smoothie. Need some yummy ideas? I’ve got over 50 recipes in this guide. It’s FREE… and guaranteed to be a game changer for fat loss and overall health. Claim yours here.
Mistake #2: You’re A Sugar Burner
If your fasting hours feel like a never-ending root canal, you likely haven’t gotten off the sugar rollercoaster and trained your body to be a fat burner.
Out-of-balance blood sugar levels make you a sugar burner. Some signs that you’re a sugar burner include:
You rarely feel completely full and satisfied after a meal.
You snack regularly.
You often get “hangry.”
You crave carbs and sugar.
You struggle with belly fat.
The solution? Shift from being a sugar burner to a fat burner.
You become a fat burner by using the same strategies I mentioned above. Break your fast with a loaded smoothie and eat by the Plate every 4 – 6 hours.
Ultimately, you want to create metabolic flexibility, where your body can utilize glucose (sugar) or fat whenever it needs either one, just like a hybrid car.
When you’re metabolically flexible, intermittent fasting feels so much more manageable.
Our ancestors were metabolically flexible, meaning that they could shift between being a fat and sugar burner according to the body's needs.
Learn more about metabolic flexibility here.
Short-term fasting – I’m talking about 12-16 hours daily – can also flip your metabolic switch from using glucose as fuel to using fatty acids instead. And eating by the Plate every 4 – 6 hours keeps that metabolic switch activated.
Mistake #3: You’re Stagnating with Your Routine
If you went to the gym a few times a week and did the exact same routine, it wouldn’t be long before your results come to a grinding halt.
Just like you cross-train your fitness routine, you want to mix up your fasting routine.
I’ve had readers tell me they stick to the same fasting window every single day. Eventually, their body adapts to that routine… and their results slow down.
Break a stagnant routine by mixing things up. Here are 3 ways to do that.
- Extend your fasting window. If you’re currently doing a 12 – 14 hour overnight fast, try pushing that window a little wider – say, 16 or even 18 hours – a few times every week.
- Mix things up. If you’re keeping an exact fasting regiment every day – let’s say you’re eating from 10 a.m. till 7 p.m. – try varying your timing a bit. I still want you to break your fast by 9 or 10 a.m., but play around with your overall timing.
- Do OMAD. Want to dial up that intensity even more? Try one-meal-a-day (OMAD) once a week. OMAD isn’t for the faint of heart: You eat one substantial meal and fast the other 23 hours a day.
Are you beginning to see how blood sugar balance is critical for fasting? If you try OMAD and your blood sugar levels aren’t balanced, you’re going to be irritable, hangry, and miserable.
Conversely, once you’ve got your blood sugar levels balanced and you’re metabolically flexible, sticking to a consistent fasting routine will be a breeze.
No matter what your personal goals are, the end destination is always the same: To feel better than you ever have. My Ultimate Health Roadmap provides short, actionable steps you can take RIGHT NOW to be the best version of you. The guide is FREE, and you can only get it here.
The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.