As many of you know, for the past couple years I’ve integrated intermittent fasting (IF) into my healthy routine. It’s been one of the most important changes that I (and Ray) have made for our health.
Intermittent fasting is a powerful approach to eating that is becoming very popular because it can help you lose weight while reducing your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
While this approach is just now starting to catch on in the media, there’s nothing “new” about it. Our ancestors rarely had access to food 24/7 like we do today, and it’s likely that our genes are optimized for the more sporadic, intermittent meals that they ate.
Fasting has been an important part of religious traditions for centuries, while the health benefits of intermittent fasting have been appreciated since the 1940’s, although they are just now achieving more mainstream popularity.
So far, the research overwhelmingly supports this notion that ditching the “three square meals a day” approach in favor of intermittent fasting may do wonders for your health.
3 Reasons Why Intermittent Fasting is Awesome
For people who loathe the idea of dieting, intermittent fasting offers a simple alternative that doesn’t involve calorie counting or depravation. I prefer to think of intermittent fasting as a lifestyle shift, rather than a diet.
The therapeutic potential of intermittent fasting remains even when total calorie intake per day did not change, or was only slightly reduced.
It’s a way of living and eating that can help you live a longer, healthier life without feeling like you sacrificing too much. If you’re still skeptical, there are three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your body, as it extends lifespan and protects against disease, including:
- Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency – Fasting increases insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, and thereby slows aging and disease, which are typically associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy.
- Reduced oxidative stress – Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
- Increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging – Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging.
What Exactly is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a varying schedule of eating where you cycle between hours of eating and not-eating (i.e. fasting).
IF does not dictate anything about which foods to eat or a specific diet to follow, but rather when you should eat.
Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually fairly easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast. Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for a longer period of time.
There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split your day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, black coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages. Some forms of intermittent fasting allow small amounts of low-calorie foods during the fasting period or bullet-proof coffee.
Most people already “fast” every day while they sleep. A typical intermittent fasting strategy is to restrict your daily eating to a specific window of time, such as a six to eight-hour span from around 7 pm to 11 am (i.e. not eating after dinner and eating a later breakfast)
How to get Started with Intermittent Fasting
IF can be done on any day by simply extending your overnight fast a little longer. There are no hard-fast rules other than not eating during your fasting hours. But like with most things, you need a plan. Flying by the seat of your pants rarely works as a long term strategy.
The days of the week that are the most difficult for people to stick to any diet, WOE or intermittent fasting schedule is the weekends. Saturday and Sunday are the days with the highest average calorie intake of the week for most people. Whether it’s eating out or mindless grazing when the fridge is so close, for health the weekends are the worst.
Monday was Made for Fasting
Eating is fun, I admit I love to eat. And the idea of not eating is a bummer. So, why not start off on the proverbial worst day of the week?
Ugh. Monday. Right?
Let’s just get it out of the way. I mean really, Monday already sucks. So, instead of abstaining on another more fun day of the week, let’s just piggy back IF onto the already crappiest day of the week.
So, when coming back to reality after the weekend, you always know Monday you’ll be fasting.
And just like that you got a plan. A new and improved, healthier eating schedule.
By choosing to Intermittent Fast and every Monday, not only are you balancing out your possible over indulgences from the weekend and giving your body a break from digestion so that it can do it’s routine maintenance, you are also freeing yourself up to have a much more productive day!
Less eating = more time to do other things
You’ll free up several hours of time – not eating, not cooking and not cleaning up after cooking. Conservatively, you’re looking at adding a minimum of 2 hours to your day! What could you accomplish with 2 more hours today?
And by starting your week off with a day of fasting, you’ve kick started your week in a healthy way. You’ve set the stage to making healthier eating decisions all week long.
Introducing: Meal Free Monday
I’m excited to invite you to join me in my #MealFreeMonday – whether it’s every Monday or a couple Mondays a month. It’s kinda like that whole ‘Meat-Free Monday’ thing, only so much healthier and easier.
All the cool kids are doing it, don’t be left out!
Now even though you might not be ready to completely abstain from eating the whole day on your first try, that’s totally ok!!! Don’t fee pressured to jump in feet first, it’s totally ok to slowly get in the Meal Free Monday pool.
Beginner IF: Sunday start fasting after dinner (no evening snacks) until to Lunch on Monday – skipping breakfast will create 16-18 hours of fasting. You can still have coffee/tea, but no creamer or sugar, a little stevia is ok. Drink lots of water and/or lemon-water. For the rest of your meals eat as your regularly would (ideally, healthy real-food). #TwoMealMonday
Intermediate IF: Taking it a step further, you’ll be fasting from Sunday post-dinner to Monday pre-dinner, which is referred to as a ’24 hour fast’ (roughly, it’s ok if it’s a little more or little less time). You can still have coffee/tea, but no creamer or sugar, a little stevia is ok. Drink lots of water and/or lemon-water. #OneMealMonday
Advanced IF: Now you’re ready for the big leagues. you’ll be fasting from Sunday post-dinner to Tuesday at Breakfast – not eating at all on Monday. You can still have coffee/tea, but no creamer or sugar, a little stevia is ok. Drink lots of water and/or lemon-water. This is referred to as a 36 hour fast. #MealFreeMonday
Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?
While fasting isn’t for everyone, it is extremely beneficial to most people.
I’m not a doctor. I’m not an expert. I’m sharing what works for me a lots of other people. So don’t say “she told me to” because I’m telling you now that it’s your responsibility to do your due diligence. ** end the cover my ass portion of the post, what a ridiculous world we live in **
Obviously, if you are pregnant/breastfeeding you have a baby to nourish, so I don’t recommend fasting. For individuals with type 1 or 2 diabetes, or a history of hypoglycemia, start fasting very slowly and carefully monitor your blood glucose readings. I actually encourage EVERYONE to track their BG readings, not only while fasting but daily it is one of the easiest ways to monitor your metabolic state – more on that coming soon.
And likewise, if you have a history of an eating disorder I do not suggest any sort of fasting protocol.
Ready to Join the Meal Free Monday Movement??
Intermittent Fasting, is one of the easiest and simplest changes that you can make to improve your health. There’s no special pills to buy, not monthly membership plans or trips to the store.
Simply taking a break from eating on Monday’s can change your life.
Whether your an Intermittent Fasting beginner, intermediate or advanced – I’m here to guide and support you each step of the way. Please join my Meal Free Monday Facebook Group to ask questions, get support and make new healthy friends or you can simply email directly to the group at MealFreeMonday@groups.facebook.com.
And be sure to use the hashtags #MealFreeMonday #OneMealMonday #TwoMealMonday on Social Media to help share this movement and find other like minded folks.