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Every Saturday morning, before we went out on our errands, I had to make myself a spinach and strawberry smoothie to bring with us. Not only did it take time and dishes, but if I didn’t have something to snack on, I’d get the shakes! You know: when you get so hangry that your hands shake and all you can think about is food, now! And that’s even after eating a full breakfast. Thanks to intermittent fasting, I don’t get that annoying shakiness anymore!
What is intermittent fasting and why should I do it?
I know you’ve heard the advice: eat many small meals a day, so your metabolism is revved up and you never get hungry. Sorry, that just doesn’t work for me! Have you tried that, and found yourself never satisfied, and out of will power by lunch? Me too!
Worst of all, this way of eating just doesn’t hold up under the research. It doesn’t make your metabolism go faster. People who ate six meals a day felt hungrier and less satisfied than people who ate three meals in one study, even though both at the same amount of calories. Have you heard that eating breakfast within an hour of waking jumpstarts your metabolism? Turns out that’s not true either.
Intermittent fasting is simply eating over a smaller window of time. By eating all of your calories in a shorter amount of time, you can get fuller, eat bigger meals, and have fewer choices to make. This is great if you have shallow reserves of self-disciple (like me!), or if you’re busy and preparing so many meals is a time drain. It has also been shown to help in retaining muscle mass while losing a similar amount of weight to typical dieting.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are two main types of intermittent fasting: daily and weekly. With daily IF, you have an eating window of 8 (LeanGains) or 4 (Warrior Diet) hours, meaning you eat all your daily calories in that time frame. The rest of the day is spent fasting, drinking calorie-free beverages (and some plans allow for small snacks). The fasting hours include the time that you’re asleep! If you had an 8-hour eating window, you might eat only from 11am-7pm. Not too drastic! Of course, people adjust their eating window to what feels good for them.
With weekly IF, you fast for a day or two each week (Eat Stop Eat). Most people fast from dinner to dinner, so sleeping hours are included. You might eat a substantial snack on Sunday night, skipping dinner, and not eat again until Monday’s dinner. Again, you can drink calorie-free beverages, and some plans let you have low-calorie snacks like fruit. By splitting your fasting time up between two days, you’ll never have to go a whole day without eating.
An important note: intermittent fasting is not a way to binge out-of-control every night or weekend and still lose weight. All of these plans encourage eating healthy, whole foods – not eating a fast food combo every night! Also, if you have a health condition or are pregnant, IF may not be safe for you. Just a reminder that I’m not a medical professional (here’s my disclosure policy)!
How I Use Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting came about pretty naturally for me. Since my gallbladder removal, I’ve had some trouble eating eggs. Which are the best part of breakfast! Just having coffee was less work and dishes, so I put off eating until lunch, since I wasn’t that hungry anyway.
Since then I’ve extended my fasting window. I have some fruit around lunch time, but I don’t eat a real meal until after my second cup of coffee around 3pm. I’ll bring a smoothie with me if I need to go out, so I can avoid the drive-thru, but I end up giving it to Emma most of the time. Having one smaller meal and a few pieces of fruit throughout the day leaves me most of my calories for dinner, which I love! I can have a ‘non-diet’ home cooked dinner in a controlled portion. That leaves me full, satisfied, and not having to make myself a different dinner from my husband’s.
Making healthy choices can be tough. Often, by the time the dinner dishes are clean up and Emma is in bed, I’m exhausted and I want nothing more than a big bag of chocolate. But since I’ve started intermittent fasting, I get to eat a bigger, more filling dinner. And most days I just don’t have room for those cravings! I’ll call that a win!
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How do you feel about skipping breakfast? Let me know in the comments!
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