chances are you’ve probably heard about intermittent fasting a time or two in recent months. why? because it’s everyyyyyyywhere!! and of course, we consider it our duty to report on all the latest trends in health + fitness. that’s why for this edition of been there, tried that, we sat down with fitlosophy's resident foodie + blog editor katy, who has been practicing intermittent fasting herself, to get the unedited scoop.
[ok, so give us an idea of what intermittent fasting is all about.]
first + foremost, let’s get one thing straight. intermittent fasting is not about cutting calories - at least not the way i do it. i am very much in alignment with fitbook’s fitlosophy in that i never have been + never will be a proponent of calorie-counting or extreme dieting.
intermittent fasting is about giving your body time to do its thing without the added burden of constant food digestion. this allows the body's enzyme system to focus on detoxifying and breaking down toxins in the body more quickly + efficiently, making overall maintenance much simpler.
case-in-point: think about when you’ve got a cold. your appetite dwindles because your body needs all the energy it can muster to focus on healing, on fighting off that virus. it has no time to waste on breaking down a burger.
[so there are benefits other than weight loss?]
absolutely! this is 110% not a starvation diet designed for rapid, unsustainable weight-loss. i mean, let’s be honest - weight-loss is a welcome side effect if you have a few extra pounds you want to lose, but the benefits go so far beyond that.
intermittent fasting helps your body become fat-adapted so that you’re burning stored fat as your main energy source, rather than glycogen (which comes from the carbs you consume). it also encourages optimum insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of all types of chronic illnesses.
it has been shown to reduce inflammation, lower triglyceride levels (which decreases the risk of heart disease) and of course, aid weight loss or ideal-weight maintenance. in one recent study, periodic fasting was linked to a lowered risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as slowing the effects of aging.
[why did you start practicing intermittent fasting?]
honestly, i started doing it because i was at my wit’s end. my endometriosis symptoms were at an all-time high, making my periods absolutely debilitating, and i had a sudden, inexplicable 10-pound weight-gain that i couldn’t lose no matter what i tried. i finally consulted with a naturopath, who told me most of my issues were most likely stemming from inflammation. i’d read a lot about intermittent fasting and how it can really help reduce inflammation, balance blood sugars (i also have an issue with sugar handling) and help banish sugar cravings, so i figured why not give it a shot??
[how does it work?]
there are many different kinds of intermittent fasting, but the version i practice entails limiting your eating to a 6- to 8-hour window each day, without cutting calories. i still eat just as many, if not more calories than i ever have - i simply make sure they’re the right calories. which brings me to my next point.
the most important aspect of intermittent fasting for me is that i must use my 8-hour window wisely. this means eliminating processed foods + refined carbs, focusing instead on filling my plate with veggies, quality protein like wild-caught fish, pasture-raised eggs or grass-fed beef, and healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil + raw nuts. i use the time to nourish my body, which is crucial to my health and to the success of the fast.
[so walk us through what a typical day of eating looks like for you]
i’m a super active, busy mom-of-three who works full-time from home, so personally, i need a little something in my belly to fuel my mornings, so i always do a ghee tea latte around 8 or 9am where i blend up an herbal or low-caffeine tea (8 oz) with a little grass-fed ghee + MCT oil (1 tbsp each). the fat satiates me without raising my insulin, so my body doesn’t recognize it as breaking the fast.
i have my first meal at lunchtime, typically around 1 or 2pm. i absolutely looooove breakfast foods, so i’ll often have brunch for lunch - poached eggs with avocado over sauteed veggies is a favorite, or i’ll do baked fish crusted with crushed nuts or slathered with homemade pesto, with a veggie-loaded green salad on the side.
if i’m hungry between lunch + dinner, i’ll have a low-sugar snack - something like a homemade energy ball or a grass-fed beef bar or nuts or a piece of sweet-potato avocado toast.
dinner is usually around 6:30 or 7pm, and just as with lunch, i make sure i’m loaded up with plenty of veggies, good protein and healthy fats. i do lots of veggie-heavy soups + stews, chilis (my trick is to dump riced cauliflower + broccoli in there as it cooks to add veggies + bulk to the chili), meatballs, taco salads, fish, lettuce-wrapped burgers. and of course there’s always a vegetable side or two.
more often than not, i like a little something sweet after dinner, so i’ll usually have some berries with unsweetened coconut yogurt and a drizzle of homemade nut or coconut butter, or a couple squares of high-quality, low-sugar dark chocolate. maybe a homemade fudgesicle if i'm feelin' crazy. then i stop eating by 8 or 9pm.
[wow! ok, so that’s definitely not a starvation diet!]
no, i could/would never do it otherwise! i’m sooo not about deprivation, and the cool thing about this style of eating for me is that i don’t ever feel deprived. i always feel satiated, i rarely crave bad foods like i used to, and most importantly, i feel amazing!! i also don’t beat myself up if i stray from my typical routine. if i have a morning where i’m just not feelin’ the fast, i have a healthy breakfast instead of my ghee tea. if i want to have a slice of pizza with my kids on friday nights, or go out to brunch with my girlfriends on a sunday morning, i do it! no guilt whatsoever, because i know how well i treat my body the rest of the week.
[and what has your experience been so far?]
i love it! not only have i lost a couple pounds, but my endometriosis pain has been practically nonexistent the past two months. i also have considerably less bloat, which is awesome!! best of all, i feel great and i’m much more mindful of my body and my eating habits. i listen to what my body needs more than i ever have. intermittent fasting has been a fantastic tool for me in that i don’t just mindlessly snack anymore. my favorite thing to do in the morning now is sitting down with my ghee tea and my fitspiration journal and jotting my gratitudes and my thoughts. i feel much more present. i’m a believer for sure!