Intermittent fasting has a ton of benefits! Everything from improving insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, improved gut health, and weight maintenance/fat loss, can all be achieved through effectively using intermittent fasting. For those of you who who don't know what intermittent fasting is, it's fasting for a set period of time (usually a few hours) and then resuming normal eating patters during the unfasted period of time. Fasting, lower calorie diets, and consuming primarily whole foods have been associated with improved health and longevity for ages. I've written about it fasting in detail in a previous post that you can find here! But, how exactly do you start intermittent fasting in your regular life? It's actually easier than you would imagine, and today I'll be discussing two simple methods to include it in your life!
1.) The Feeding Window
Using a feeding window is simple, and one of the most popular methods when it comes to fasting. There's no set number of hours you need to fast, but there are set ups that are used more than others. The first is to fast for 16 hours, and then have an 8 hour feeding window, popularized through "Lean Gains". The second method is to fast for 20 hours, and eat during a 4 hour feeding window, popularized through "The Warrior Diet". I'm a fan of the 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour feeding window. How does it work? Simple! For example, you would have a feeding window where you can eat from 1pm-8pm, then from 8pm-1pm the next day you would fast. This includes the time when you sleep. During the fasted window you can drink water, coffee, or tea ... with very little to no cream and NO SUGAR! During the feeding window you don't stuff your face or go crazy, you simply eat when you're hungry and stop before your stuffed. Eat as much as you need to in order to achieve that feeling and all from good whole foods.
2.) Simulated Fasting
In a recent study, it was found that the participants who were fed a low calorie diet that simulated intermittent fasting, achieved all the benefits of fasting, without having to actually fast! In order to follow this simulated fasting diet you would take the amount of calories you eat per day, cut it in half, and eat that for around 5 days. Once the 5 days are up, you go back to eating your regular amount of calories for the next 25 days and repeat the reduced calorie intake at the end of those 25 days. Let's say you're eating 1800 calories per day, you would then cut your calories down to 900 calories for the day during the reduced calorie week. My suggestion for anyone follow this type of diet is to follow a whole food diet, track your calories and macros, and take additional supplements during your fasted week to make sure you're getting in enough vitamins and minerals. A green powder, multi vitamin, fish oil, and BCAA's will do just fine.
In my personal opinion, the easiest method to follow is the 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour feeding window. The week long simulated fasting is tough, but if you hate not having any food for period of time then it may work for you. If you're starting out with intermittent fasting, take it slow at first and try implementing the feeding window 1 or 2 days per week. If you're comfortable with that, then you can try booting it up to 3-4 days or trying the simulated fasting method.