Intermittent Fasting – What is it and should you do it?
9 Questions About Intermittent Fasting with Paul Kriegler
Have you ever tried intermittent fasting? Or maybe you’ve only heard about intermittent fasting and have wondered if it is something you should try… well, good news! I have answers for you! I recently sat down with Paul Kriegler, Registered Dietician and Program Manager of Nutritional Products at Life Time to discuss intermittent fasting, the benefits and how to get started.
1) What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is defined as a structured eating plan. We all fast to some level. Fasting has become extra popular in the last couple years. Water fasting, even the ketogenic diet is a form of fasting. The most popular fasting method is a time restricted eating plan, for example, consuming food only during an eight hour period.
Keep in mind, it is not necessarily a bad thing to consume food throughout the entire day, unless it’s causing a problem such as weight gain. Now days, people are using fasting mostly for aesthetic reasons such as weight loss. Another reason is for longevity and cellular health. Fasting gives the body time to break down damaged cells and clean them out.
2) What foods are best to eat while intermittent fasting?
Technically, you can eat whatever you want as long as it is within the right timeframe. However this can be misleading because it gives people free reign to eat anything and everything regardless of how healthy it is. We believe wholesome, organic, unprocessed foods are best.
3) Is it ok to consume caffeine while intermittent fasting ?
Yes, you can also have tea or coffee as long as it is unsweetened (not even with artificial sweeteners). Caffeine is fine but remember to drink plenty of water. The therapeutic benefit of fasting is the reduction of insulin to a level so low that you tap into fat stores for energy … this process turns on mechanisms to clean your system.
4) Should I try intermittent fasting? Is it right for me?
The main reasons people try a fast is because they don’t feel good with what they’re currently doing. They’re not happy with their progress, so they want to do something drastic. Often it’s not necessarily a fast someone needs but maybe they are just not eating the right foods for their body or they are eating too much sugar or other foods that cause inflammation.
Those who will respond best to intermittent fasting are those who need to lose weight. If a person has inflamed gut health, they also may respond well because it gives the gut a chance to rest and heal.
Fasting is not for everyone. For example, if someone has low thyroid health, they will feel worse during an intermittent fast. If someone has compromised adrenal health such as adrenal fatigue, they will not respond well either.
5) What is the best way to start fasting?
The best way to start is by trying a one day fast and see how you feel. I like to recommend that for your first fast, you start by having a late lunch on a Friday as your last meal. Then sleep in as long as you can on Saturday morning and see how long you can go without eating. With any diet, it’s important to gauge and monitor how you’re feeling.
6) Do you advise using a certain program/kit (i.e. Prolon) or do you recommend a simple approach where one monitors their diet and doesn’t eat for certain periods of time?
The ‘right’ fasting method is a highly individual decision, based on several factors such as your health and wellness goals, status of your current health, stress levels, weight, etc. There are several fasting programs out there which target different goals.
One example is Prolon, which is a 5 day fast. This particular fast is good for a heart reset, and certain types of cancer. It’s basically a prolonged intermittent fasting.
One of the more common methods is a daily intermittent fasting. This is where one eats only during an eight hour window each day and then no food consumption for the remaining 16 hours of the day. This method is best for insulin resistance or for someone who is on the road to type two diabetes as a reset and preventative measure. This particular fast will also help the body to be more metabolically efficient.
Another fasting method is having a 12 hour window of fasting each day and a 24 hour fast each week. Over time, this can have similar benefits to something like Prolon. Research has shown that all of these different fasting methods are more beneficial than having calorie deficit over time. Our weight-loss industry promotes more of a calorie deficit diet. However there is more cognitive, physical fitness, and longevity benefits to fasting. During the fast you are teaching your body to burn fat more effectively and to operate at peak capacity when fully fueled. It is the best of both worlds.
7) How often should I do an intermittent fast?
I recommend a 24-36 hour fast 4 times per year (at a maximum). Intermittent fasting can be a great seasonal reset to get your system in tune.
Its most important to get a better understanding of how your metabolism works via lab testing to best design a nutritional plan for your individual needs. It’s also good to change your plan a couple times a year based on season and the type of activities you are doing.
8) Are there any side effects or drawbacks to watch out for during an intermittent fast?
Yes, sometimes people can experience headache, fatigue, crabbiness, and a weakened immune system. For people who exercise regularly, it could really affect your sleep.
9) Do you have any tips to distract the mind if one starts to feel hungry during a fast?
Sleep as much as possible, meditate, take walks, find healthy distractions, journal gratitude, conduct acts of service, learn new skills, get a massage.
If you have additional questions about intermittent fasting you can leave a comment below, message me directly or find Paul on Instagram @life_time_coach_paul.