By now, you've probably heard the buzz about intermittent fasting as a new way of achieving weight loss and other health benefits.
Is it all hype, or is this the answer to reaching your weight loss and health goals?
Intermittent fasting is actually not a new concept, and I've been watching it closely over many years during my career as a weight loss and fitness expert. While intermittent fasting does offer incredible health benefits, there are some considerations before you jump into this type of eating plan.
Read on and find out what intermittent fasting is, its benefits, and when it can be harmful. Then get my pro tips on how to gain all of the benefits of intermittent fasting without the dangerous drawbacks!
What Is Intermittent Fasting and What Are the Benefits?
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that alternates periods of fasting with periods of eating. Its popularity stems from its reputation for breaking through weight loss plateaus and burning fat, but there’s so much more to it!
Here are some amazing benefits from fasting:
Heals Your Brain
After my son, Grant, suffered a traumatic brain injury during a hit-and-run accident, I researched several options to help him recover from his injuries. Intermittent fasting and a ketogenic diet were powerful therapies that helped his brain heal.1,2
Caloric restriction is the most effective way known to increase lifespan, and intermittent fasting creates the perfect conditions for this to happen. Fasting allows your cells to detox, repair, and recycle, so it not only slows aging, but also heads off age-related diseases.3
Fasting has been shown to help prevent cancer and even slow or stop its progress.4 It can also kill cancer cells, and boost the immune system!5
And Much More!
In addition to the amazing benefits described above, intermittent fasting can also boost energy and mental focus, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.6
There are Several Ways to Fast
Options for intermittent fasting include fasting for 24-36 hours twice weekly or eating in an 8-hour window (for example eating from 10am-6pm, then fasting from 10pm-6am).
Strategies to avoid hunger cravings include drinking generous amounts of water or other healthy options like coffee, green tea, or bone broth. (Make it more filling by adding Extra Fiber.) Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, my good friend and author of The Bone Broth Diet, recommends drinking only bone broth – this is definitely my favorite way to fast!
It's Not for Everyone
From my experience, not everyone does well on a fasting plan. In general, women should proceed with caution because we tend to do better with a regimented eating schedule.
Pregnant women should never attempt to fast, and those who have infertility issues should also take a pass.
People who have adrenal issues, experience blood sugar imbalances, or have diabetes should also forgo intermittent fasting.
In fact, everyone should check with their doctor before getting on a fasting plan.
How to Prep Your Body for a Fast
Fasting is an advanced program, and there are some steps you can take to set yourself up for success and prevent crashing your metabolism.
It's always a good idea to dial down your stress levels, make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night, and add burst training (a.k.a. high-intensity interval training) to your weekly routine.
- Switch from being a sugar burner to a fat burner.
My New York Times best-selling book, The Sugar Impact Diet, outlines exactly how to become a fat burner. Tell-tale signs you are a sugar burner include being constantly hungry and difficulty losing weight, especially around the middle. Take this quick quiz to find out whether you’re a fat burner or a sugar burner…
- Cut out snacking.
One of the key ways you can switch to being a fat burner is by cutting out snacking between meals. Every time you eat, you spike your insulin levels, which prevents you from using stored fat for fuel and encourages your body to store fat. Find out how to build the perfect plate so you can stay satisfied until your next meal.
- Have your meals every 4-6 hours.
If you can stave off hunger for 4-6 hours between meals without much trouble, you know you're a fat burner! This is a sign that you've managed to stabilize your blood sugar and can dip into fat storage for energy.
My Pro Tips for Fasting Success
To get many of the benefits of intermittent fasting without the deprivation and starvation, try my simple 12-14 hour fast:
Follow the above steps to become a fat burner, then:
- Have breakfast within 1-2 hours after waking up.
- Eat every 4-6 hours (no snacking!)
- Make sure you stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Important note: this doesn't mean you get to stay up later! For example, you can schedule meals at 9am, 1pm, and 5pm, or 10am, 2pm, and 6pm.
This plan creates an automatic 12-14 hour fasting window – mostly while you're asleep! With practically zero willpower needed, this plan is super easy and sustainable as a way of life.
Advanced Fasting Tips
When you're ready to start a fast, set yourself up for success by choosing a low-stress day. If possible, get away from your food triggers, plan time away from home, and make sure you're sipping water, green tea, coffee, or bone broth to keep cravings to a minimum.
There you have it! By following these tips you’ll be on the fast track towards experiencing how amazing it feels to become a fat burner, plus boost your metabolism for optimal health and longevity!