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Eat Dinner Early and Breakfast Late; a beginner’s guide to Intermittent Fasting

The emerging trend of intermittent fasting advocates taking breaks from eating for up to 24 hours once or twice a week. As a personal trainer and functional nutrition coach it is a protocol I have used for myself and my clients to improve weight loss, keep blood sugar and insulin levels in a healthy range, and to maintain overall good health. There is a large body of research that support the health benefits of fasting so today I want to help you understand what Fasting is and how to do it as a beginner.

WHAT IS FASTING? According to Frank Lipman MD, author of “the new rules of aging well”; fasting is protocol of periodically waiting about 16 hours between meals, typically between your last meal ( dinner) and your first meal of the next day ( breakfast or lunch). As I introduce fasting interventions to my clients; I often suggest starting with a minimum of a 12 hour fast meaning that if you eat dinner at 7 pm then your next meal ( breakfast) should start after 7 am which is very attainable.

WHY DO IT ? Many studies have supported the health benefits of fasting. It has been shown to improve bio markers of disease, reduce oxidative stress, preserve learning and memory functioning according to Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the national Institute on aging. When done consistently fasting can help reduce high blood glucose and blood pressure. Some people use Intermittent Fasting ( or IF) as a preventive measure against heart disease, stroke, cancer, fatty liver, polycystic ovary syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease while others use it to manage type 2 diabetes, obesity, and weight loss. According to Mattson; it is not so much fasting alone that produces health benefits; it is reducing the total amount of calories consumed that has shown to slow disease such as cancer, improve sleep quality , and ultimately weight loss.


HOW TO DO IT IF YOU ARE A BEGINNER? As I mentioned earlier, some people can fast up to 24 hours once or twice a week. It can be a little overwhelming if you are new to fasting so I would recommend these starting protocols:

  1. 12 hours between your last meal and your next first meal

  2. 14 hours between your last meal at 6 pm and your next first meal at 8 am

  3. 16 hours between your last meal at 5 pm and your next first meal at 9 am

  4. 18 hours between your last meal at 4 pm and your next first meal at 10 am

As you become more and more comfortable with your new eating window then you can increase your fasting time between each meal. Drinking water, unsweetened tea, or unsweetened black coffee in the morning is acceptable as it will not take you out of your fasting state; however eating any kind of food and especially sugar will.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU FAST? According to Franck Lipman MD, One to two days per week for preventative measure, and if it feels too extreme always focus on that 12 hour window between dinner and breakfast which is the golden rule for healthy digestion. Doing so will allow your body to direct energy towards healing and detoxifying each night.


My top 5 intermittent fasting tips:

The first few times will feel uncomfortable so give it multiple tries. You may experience headaches, constipation, stomach cramps, cravings. It takes time for the body to get used to fasting. Sit in the discomfort and let it pass.

Go to bed early or stay in your bedroom. Trips to the kitchen might tempt you to grab something to eat as we are so often conditioned to snack. One of the best rewards of fasting is better Sleep quality. I often remind myself that a great night sleep is waiting for me when I fast.

Drink some chamomile tea, find a relaxing book to read in the evening.


You will most likely feel hungry, hearing your stomach cramp


but do not worry! It’s your hunger hormone talking ( ghrelin) which comes in waves. Hunger will fade.

Stay busy; I find that keeping busy ( working, exercising, cleaning…) especially in the morning helps pass the time and before you know it you will have reached the end of your fast!

Want to improve your health and learn to fast but need some accountability and coaching? My clients have successfully lost weight through my nutrition coaching and fasting was a major part of their success. Join my FREE fasting challenge which will run Monday July 18th through Sunday July 24th! You will receive a free 30 minute consultation on Zoom and a daily email to check in and support you in your journey.


References:

Mattson MP, Longo VD, Harvie M. Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes. Ageing Res Rev. 2017 Oct;39:46-58. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.10.005. Epub 2016 Oct 31. PMID: 27810402; PMCID: PMC5411330. The New Rules of Aging Well: A Simple Program for Immune Resilience, Strength, and Vitality https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08518XDMM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_MXH8QASRCXD6X69QXB3E


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