Intermittent Fasting 101: What it is & How to start

I decided to try Intermittent Fasting (IF) about 3 weeks ago when it was suggested that it could help me burn fat quicker and keep me on a clean eating pattern. I felt like I had a steady workout routine but I wasn’t seeing as much progress as I thought I would. Again, for me it’s about being fully aware of my body & its limits thus knowing I could push myself a bit more. I was starting to work out at least 3-5 times a week and when I told my boyfriend I wanted to step it up he suggested I try Intermittent fasting and the first thing I did was obsess over the research. One of the blogs I found helpful to educate me on what IF was and how to do it was Lean Gains. The blog goes through the different types of fasting and the actual science behind what it does to our bodies and the research that has been done. After reading his blog and a dozen other articles (this site is dedicated to IF) I was excited to begin trying it. I decided to do the 16/8 intermittent fasting which basically means 8 hour eating window (that I choose) and 16 hour fasting window.

Side note: you can have liquids (I stick to water tea & coffee only) when you’re fasting (for my coffee addicts, black coffee is allowed in the mornings – hooray!).

My 16/8 Intermittent fasting experience so far…
I am currently going on my 4th week of intermittent fasting and I must tell you all – I feel great. To say I was worried about how long I could do this fasting would be an understatement. When my boyfriend first told me about it, I read about it religiously to make sure this would be something I felt I could do and work for me. You see, I am one of those people that believed breakfast was the most important meal of the day and I NEVER skipped breakfast. It didn’t matter if I was running late or if the world was coming to an end – I’d always have breakfast within an hour of waking up.The first day I tried IF, I set my eating window from 11- 7pm so I could ease my way into “skipping” breakfast. After the first day, I felt like I could push my body to do a 12pm-8pm eating window and I would then try and get a workout in before breaking my fast. Now depending on when I work out and what my schedule allows I either do the 12-8pm or 1pm – 9pm window. In the past 3 weeks I haven’t gotten any headaches (I am prone to headaches/migraines) and I note this because I always had the misconception that if I didn’t eat soon as I woke up it would mess with my health and even give me a headache – again, it’s about awareness and being in control of your mind and thoughts.  

Suggestions that have worked for me
Life happens and if you’re like me I have a job that’s more of a 8 – 6pm and on top of that I sometimes travel for work. With that said, I had to go Austin for a couple of days and I was a little worried on how well I was going to keep up with my fasting. So of course I consulted with David to see if I should stop for a couple of days and he told me the following, “…your body is already getting used to the fasting, try to keep up with it and push your body within reason.” This was just the right push I needed because I don’t know about you but my mind is not only my biggest ally but also my biggest challenger. By doing this fasting I have seen how much power our mind has sometimes to STOP us from thinking we can push our bodies physically. In the beginning my mind was telling me, you’re going to get headaches, you’re going to be cranky, you’re so hungry just quit but I pushed through all that noise because I know why I’m doing this. I ended up continuing my fasting throughout my trip and I made sure I drank more water while I was on the plane (dehydration is real up in the clouds). Also, let’s talk about drinking (alcoholic drinks). I would be lying if I told you I don’t enjoy a drink or two or three but while doing IF I am limiting myself to red wine (2 glasses) when I feel like I want to indulge in a drink. While I was SxSw in Austin the party was sponsored by Tito’s Vodka which is actually one of the better liquors (no carb/sugar and low cal) but again you should be drinking in moderation. While I was SxSw I indulged in some vodka but I made sure to drink lots of water too (we were outside for 7 hours).

Scheduling up your week
The schedule I try to stick to is below. This is if you wanted to get an idea of how to structure your schedule. Sundays are usually the best days to see what you’re working with during the week and so you can mentally plan and prepare yourself for the week.

If I think I’m going to workout in the morning: If I think I’m going to workout at noon: If I think I’m going to workout after work:
Wake up at 7am – drink coffee and tea and lots of water

11am – workout

12pm – Meal one

530pm- meal two

730pm – meal three

Wake up at 7am – drink coffee and tea and lots of water

12pm – workout

1pm Meal one

6pm – meal two

8:15pm – meal three

 

Wake up at 7am – drink coffee and tea and lots of water

12pm – meal one

4pm – meal two (even if it’s smaller meal)

6pm – workout  

7pm – meal three

 


The IF journey
It’s important for me to remind myself to always check in with myself to see how my body is feeling and what it’s doing. I always give myself certain challenges to hit before my birthday (April 22) and I have seen the progress in doing this for 3 weeks. In the first two weeks I started noticing I was starting to shed fat around my hips (jeans were looking kinda lose this past weekend) which is all good – but again my goal is to lose fat but build muscle. That said, 4ShoFitness told me it was time to step both my workout regiment and protein intake up a notch. Right now, my focus is now to reduce my carb intake (<50g a day) and increase my protein intake. I’m trying to increase the intensity in my workouts but again always paying attention to what I’m feeding my body. My waist is slimming down but my energy levels are higher than normal. (I rarely step on a scale but for sake of my next post I might take measurements and weigh myself for actual numbers)

So, what should you eat during IF?
This is the most important part of the fasting, deciding what to put in our bodies and sometimes we make this more complicated than it should be. Honestly, I did this for so long to my personal trainer – asking the constant question – WHAT SHOULD I BE EATING? and the answer never really varied. Protein + Veggies. It’s that simple. For the first two weeks I was just trying to get used to the schedule of my eating window so I tried to eat as lean, clean and green as I could but I wasn’t focusing on my carb intake as much – again I just wanted to get my schedule and habits working. Now, as I’m going on my third week of IF I am limiting my carbs to consume at most 50g of carbs each day. Again, if I can limit eating carbs to lunch that’s ideal – but if absolutely not possible, don’t be hard on yourself and just try and plan for the next day. It’s all about honoring your body and being in tune with what your body is telling you. I try and eat 3 meals during my window and what I’ve noticed is that by eating later I have kind of curved my cravings for snacks. Usually if I’m hungry it’s just time to eat a meal and I’m ok with that.

 

How to get started
When I first decided to do it, I decided to start at 11am the first day because it was right in between 10am (that latest I usually have bfast) and 12pm (when I usually have lunch) this way I could end right around the time I got home from work and still feel good. The first day went well – felt kinda weird but it wasn’t awful. The next day I aimed for noon. Depending on when you can get your workout in, I would suggest trying to break your fast after your workout (again if your schedule allows). I feel invigorated if I get to workout before breaking my fast but sometimes my full-time job doesn’t allow me to do that and it’s ok. If I can’t workout during the day, I just workout after work and go hard.

I hope this post sparks some insight on IF and if you’re interested in joining me reach out to me! Like I said this is a journey and you’re not alone.

What are your fitness goals?
Are you interested or going to try IF, if so what time frame will you be trying?   

 

(Feel free to comment below if you’re interested in in IF and you’ll be starting this week.)
#Fit4Sho #LetsHustle

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