IF Overview and Roundup

May 9, 2008 by · Comments Off on IF Overview and Roundup 

Q: What’s the difference between IF and CR

A: IF is NOT about excessively restricting your calories when you are eating. IF however has been shown to give all the benefits associated with CR (see resources for all studies) PLUS has none of the drawbacks to CR and allows you to not be hungry all the time, shown better retention of muscle mass while decreasing fat loss and does a better job to decrease insulin resistance factors (which are important to all disease prevention plans)

Q: Which is better? 15-18h hours daily fasting or 24hour fasts a few times week.

A: Honestly there are so many variables when it comes to IF such as what you are eating, macro nutrient ratios, meal timing, your activity level, your state of health (insulin resistance, inflammation and other health /hormonal factors), your long term goals, etc. BOTH can work greatly! The key to anything that is going to get you results is how effective is this long term? So you have to find the plan that works the best for your lifestyle, energy levels and goals. Both can work, and there are still many factors involved that one can change along the way. Don’t think of IF as just another diet, it’s a lifestyle choice! It has to be in order for it to really work (as we know diets don’t work longterm). 24 hour fasts may improve some disease symptoms quicker, but smaller daily fast can also. Smaller daily fasts may just seem easier to do and therefore you keep up with it longer than trying to do 24hr fasts. Again, what are you going to do consistently? So start one way, tweak as you go and pretty soon you have a lifestyle plan that works for you!

Q: When doesn’t IF work?

A: Again, there are many factors and some people may not respond well to IF. Here’s some common misconceptions that can prove to be disasterous in the long run:

  • “More is better when it comes to fasting” – Wrong!! If you fast too much/too often…you can compromise healthy thyroid/adrenal output and create an environment that may actually lead to more health issues.
  • “I can eat anything I want on IF” – While this may seem like a saving grace for some people just starting off and having alot of weight to lose, like any quick weight loss you may see at first, it will plateau off. Then it becomes a question of the quality of foods that need to be used to continue down the road of health. Quality of foods is just as important in any eating plan for real long term health and success

Q: What are the most common mistakes people do when trying IF

A: Like mentioned above, here are some of the most common mistakes:

  • Fasting too often/too long
  • Not eating enough when you are supposed to eat (remember this is not about serious calorie restriction, you will still need some calorie deficit average for weight loss but we are not starving ourselves in the process)
  • Not eating the right foods (binging on sweets and sugar will lead to more insulin resistance and other diseases down the road, like diabetes). We still have to eat right and healthy, when in doubt no sugars and whole food sources. When in doubt, sugar is bad and if it wasn’t around 1000 years ago, chances are you don’t need it!
  • Trying to eat all the calories in one serving. This is not a good idea as your body can still raise up insulin levels after big meals, therefore creating more fat storage. Smaller and more frequent (to a certain extent…don’t need 6x a day…3 works fine…see below) meals is the best way to go.

Q: What about people who say eating 6x a day is the key to weight loss and keeping the metabolism strong?

A: That is just a myth, as there is no proven research to say that eating 6x a day is any better than having 3 meals a day (one meal a day can be a negative thing though…see below). Fat loss comes down to 2 main things, daily calorie intake and insulin control. Your metabolism will not drop if you skip breakfast, that is quite ridiculous to think your metabolism and body responds so quickly like that. If you starve yourself for a couple weeks, then yes…it will drop the metabolism, but nothing will happen in the same day, never mind a week. (A trick is to use weekends to eat up, signal there is no starvation going on if your weekly calories are too low…highly recommended for everyone doing IF, of course we are talking healthy calories…but you don’t have to deprive yourself 100% either if you want to go enjoy a nice meal out with friends once a week…remember weight loss is still about calories, so don’t get too crazy).

Q: So why is IF such a great choice?

A: For me it was a personal decision after spending decades of trying different eating plans. Now I can: gain muscle and lose fat while eating less food overall. I am not obsesssed about meal timings during the day. I can eat as much as I want provided the choices are mostly healthy. I take a day off on the weekend and just eat whatever I like. I can go out with friends and not feel like I am depriving myself. I know how food effects me and how to control what I eat. I feel better all day long with more constant energy levels. I have less inflammation issues from old injuries. I rarely get sick (if I do it doesn’t last 24hours and can count the number of times from the last 5 years on one hand..that and is usually due to me not recovering properly from playing sports). I have no digestive issues. I feel fine exercising in a fasted state, and enjoy it more. I am no longer paranoid about “losing muscle” because I didn’t have a protein shake during the middle of the night or during the day every 2 hours. It’s a simple and easy way to live life as things can always change daily. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective of how the body was designed for periods of feast and famine, how the body can heal itself if you give it time, and protect itself better when exposed to small doses of stress. That and what it can do for disease prevention and longevity makes it a logical choice on how I want to live my life as I get older. But hey…that’s just my opinion. 😉

So to sum up, how do we begin to IF?

  • Start slow at first, more is not better in most all cases. (Start with 16-18hr weekday daily fasts or if you want to do 24 hr fasts try them only 1-2x a week….see how your body responds, how you feel, how your energy is and more importantly what works best in your lifestyle) Note: remember 24hr is NOT skipping a whole day, it’s stopping at say 6pm one day and eating again 6pm the next.
  • You should be able to eat enough healthy foods as you want in your eating windows (no real restrictions needed…only when sugar and processed foods come in do we need to control the portions).
  • Best results hands down for weight loss, muscle gain, reduced inflammation and increased longevity and disease prevention are seen with eating lower carb, moderate protein and higher healthy fats. That will signal all the right hormones needed for muscle growth, muscle retention, fat burning, anti-inflammation and disease prevention.
  • Eating smaller meals during your feeding window is better than 1 big meal. For starters you just won’t get enough healthy calories in that window, and most people may take it as a pass to eat anything they want….which will just lead to weight gain. So try and aim for in your eating window 2 smaller meals if you are doing 24hr IFs or 3 meals equally spaced apart if you are doing a daily IF. Break up the calories and eat as much healthy food choices as you want. If you do only fit in one…then don’t use it as a pass to jump face first into the dessert buffet…try starting off with a salad first…and then eating your main meal a little while later. Keep control of your cravings!
  • Take the weekends off from fasting schedules, keep your metabolism strong by letting your body get in enough calories (especially if you think you are not eating enough during the week)
  • Know that you can adjust as you go. Nothing is set in stone, just what you make of it. Outlined above are the ways to get great results but you have to do them consistently to make it work. So if something feels wrong, take a look back at what you are doing and then move forward with a new plan.