Unless you've been living under a rock, you have already heard about intermittent fasting (IF). IF is the practice where you do not eat anything for an extended period of time, anywhere from 12 to 20 hours, and you consume only black coffee and water. I shared my own experience with IF in the article Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 40 . I wrote about what motivated me to try IF and how I approached it and why.
There are many benefits to intermittent fasting. Science has shown that periods of caloric restriction followed by feasting promotes health by forcing the body to use fat instead of glucose as a primary fuel. It also gives the digestive system a rest and gives cells a chance to have a natural turn over known as autophagy.
There are a number of ways we can get the benefits of fasting without actually going long periods of time without food. Prolon Fasting created by Dr. Valter Longo is a 5 day protocol of a "fasting mimicking diet" where you are shipped a predetermined amount of foods that will give your body the minimum calories necessary to achieve ketosis and at the same time supplying your body with nutrients. This can be done once or twice a year. And Dr.Valter Longo has done extensive research that proves this protocol is sufficient to get all the benefits of long term fasting in a short amount of time.
Some people, however, have taken intermittent fasting to a whole new level. When we are desperate to lose weight we will try anything to get there. This is understandable as we are bombarded everyday with misinformation on what the best diet is and what we should or should not be eating. We are told that carbs are bad, fat is good, eat one meal a day, eat intuitively, eat paleo, keto, juice fast, eat cabbage for 5 days, etc., You get the point.
Some will even go as far as combining IF with keto or IF and eat whatever you want. This is very dangerous and the long term consequences can be dire. Most people try IF and rave about how they've lost weight but end up gaining all the weight back and then some. These same people romanticize about how they should go back on the fast and lose the weight again but ignore the fact that they haven't addressed their root issues which is the food they eat.
So I want to encourage you to have a daily practice of IF for a period of 12 hours. Studies have shown that fasting for more than 12 hours, particularly for women, can be counterintuitive. I have found IF to be helpful in healing some of my gut issues but I have also experienced some hormonal imbalance, so you need to be very careful. I truly believe that long term fasts should only performed by people who have addressed their eating issues and have a healthy relationship with food. If you're fasting longer than 12 hours and your diet is not the right one for you, fasting may cause more harm than good.
I also advice to practice IF responsibly. For example, if your last meal is at 7:00 p.m. do not eat or drink (yes, that includes alcohol) anything until 8:00 a.m. the next morning. You are only allowed black coffee or black tea and water. You cannot use creamer in your coffee of any kind either because that will break your fast. Getting into a daily practice of at least 12 hours of fasting will allow your body to heal and renew and you will be burning fat as you sleep.