Disclaimer: This information is based upon personal experience. As always, do your own research and speak to a medical professional (a holistic professional, if possible) before making any major changes to your diet or lifestyle. This is especially important if you have chronic health issues.
WHAT IS IF?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating where you consume your daily calories within a specific window of hours each day. Each style and timeframe of IF varies from person to person and changes as the body changes. While fasting, you give your body a break from digestion (one of the body’s most energy-sucking activities), which can help promote:
- Cell regeneration
- Better digestion
- Regulated energy levels
- Improved skin
- Lower glucose and insulin levels
- Lower risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease
- Lower risk of diabetes
Though it may seem that IF is a trend, it’s not. People have been fasting for centuries for cultural, religious, and health reasons. IF is not new by any means, but in recent years it’s become a hot topic of debate. This is partly due to some big guys in Silicon Valley swearing by IF to help power through long days and keep their brains in tip-top shape and from (I think) the Bulletproof culture that has brought a high fat diet into the mainstream.
When practicing IF correctly, you are not hungry. Your blood sugar levels are stable, thus giving you energy. In short, this happens because when you fast you are giving your body a break from digestion (one of the most physically demanding things for your pancreas, liver, and gallbladder).
There are many different ways of practicing IF, some do it for hours, days, or weeks. Everyone has a different eating schedule and amount of food they eat. Some people include ingredients (supplements, collagen, spices) while fasting and others do not. I used to fast with teas, MCT oil, coconut butter but now I just do Kangen water. It’s all up to you, and we are all different.
HOW I FAST:
It’s important to note that I now practice Clean Intermittent Fasting. Clean IF is stricter and allows for nothing but water during fasting periods to really intensify the ketosis period. No collagen, spices, supplements, or even cinnamon is allowed during Clean IF. Clean IF came naturally for me after consuming only fats in the morning for two years (through tasty teas infused with coconut butter and MCT Oil (intermittently fasting a la Bulletproof) I found a fasting pattern that works for me, and I will share that below, but I urge you to do your own research, experiment, and play around to see what feels best for you and your body! My fasting schedule differs a little day to day and is dependent upon my schedule, but here is generally how I do it:
Here’s how my routines goes down:
- I drink Kangen water with the juice of ½ lemon and 1 TBS of Apple Cider Vinegar each day upon waking up every day
- I keep drinking Kangen water and I work out while fasted
- Post-workout, I drink more water while I get ready for work because my body is thirsty, not hungry.
- I eat breakfast (ie. a very rich smoothie loaded with fats, protein, and fiber around 11:00am, lunch around 2:00pm, and dinner around 8:00pm)
- I don’t skip a meal, I just eat my three meals during a set period of time
- My eating window is 8 hours, with a around a 14-16 hour fasting period
- When traveling, out of my routine, or on days that I am hungrier, I am much more relaxed with my routine, but I naturally practice 12 hour fasting window.
HOW I STARTED FASTING:
I started slow.
I was first introduced to the concept of IF in 2015 when a friend of mine told me about Bulletproof coffee and then a Cafe opened up near my place in Santa Monica so I read and researched all about the Bulletproof lifestyle, the “12 hour window”, which means you leave a 12 hour window of consuming no food for 12 hours each night (with the exception of water and herbal teas). If you eat dinner at 8pm, you eat breakfast at 8am, or anytime after that.
Before experimenting with IF, I was eating around five times a day. I was constantly thinking about how to eat healthy food on-the-go, at work, while traveling, and so on and so forth. Imagine how much mental energy this took? I thought about how to nourish myself way too much.
Once I got accustomed to the 12 hour window, I was astonished how much sustained energy and how much better my digestion was. I continued following the 12 hour window for a year until January 2018 when I was able to extend my fasting window to 15-17 hours a day with just Kangen water.
WHY I IF:
SUSTAINED ENERGY LEVELS
Since IF-ing, I’ve noticed an increase in my overall energy level and focus. I have also noticed that my taste buds for sugar are very hyper sensitive. IF helps me keep my blood sugar levels stable and I don’t crave sweets, unless I walk into a Mexican bakery, J/K kind of! 🙂 But really, fruit has become a treat dessert and I’ll have dark chocolate occasionally but I don’t crave it.
I am giving my body a break from digestion, I am sleeping deeper, thinking clearer, and aware about the amounts of sugar spikes (that I no longer have). I don’t depend on caffeine, ever. I focus on sustained energy, always. I feel so energized running on fats and protein until I eat lunch.
IF has helped me become a more intuitive eater. I eat when I get hungry and I stop when I am full. I don’t self-soothe with food as much when I am practicing IF because I feel better emotionally, physically, and mentally. Better mood and energy levels = happier Aranzasú. I hardly snack either which is a big change from 5 years ago.
Throughout the day, I’m less bloated and when I eat something that doesn’t sit well on my body, I can jump back the next day and feel back to normal quickly. I experience little issues with getting up and going within the first 30-60 minutes of waking up and my system cleanses fairly quickly if I put any toxins in my body.
I don’t stress about what I’m eating first thing in the AM because…well, I’m not eating first thing. I’m simply not that hungry, when I am I drink a more water and I spend that time doing other things: meditating, journaling, heading to the gym and to work. My morning hours are precious to me, and I get all my most important stuff done in the mornings. This aligns well with Tim Ferris’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, in which he recommends doing all of your important tasks before you even check emails. I know not all people can do that but I prioritize mornings and wake up really early.
WHO SHOULDN’T FAST?
While I have found benefits from IF, it’s important to note that IF is not recommended for everyone. Some types of people that are not recommended to practice IF include (but are not limited to):
- Pregnant women should not fast as it adds extra stress to the body, which is already doing a remarkable thing (growing a baby).
- Anyone going through an extra stressful period or adjustment stage (e.g. moving to a new city, starting a new job, a crunch time at work, or a long-term illness). Intermittent fasting IS a stressor. If you are not in a good place in your life, fasting may not be the best idea, as it can increase your cortisol and add to the stress and pressure you are already under.
- Those who are currently in, recovering from, or recently recovered from an eating disorder. How long after you are in a better place should you try IF? I can’t answer that for you…all I have to say is that you need to be VERY honest with yourself. If you aren’t being honest with yourself, it’s all too easy to let IF transport you back into destructive habits and become a replacement for your ED.
If you suffer from a chronic illness, It is especially important to speak to your doctor first. I recommend reading this article about who should and shouldn’t fast. https://www.marksdailyapple.com/who-should-and-shouldnt-try-fasting/
After my breakfast, I love having a big salad like this for lunch! Yummm…
Q + A
DOES BLACK TEA/BLACK COFFEE BREAK THE FAST?
DOES ALMOND MILK OR OTHER NUT MILKS BREAK THE FAST?
DOES ADDING A SCOOP OF COCONUT BUTTER BREAK THE FAST?
HOW OFTEN DO YOU FAST?
I fast for 12-14 on a typical day with Kangen Water. Like I said before, I used to make a matcha, macaccino, or turmeric drinks with coconut butter and MCT oil early but now I just drink water and complete a CLEAN full cycle of IF with Kangen Water. I stop eating around 9pm, workout hard in the morning, keep drinking water and I have a smoothie with fats and protein around eleven. Last week, I fasted for 16 hours just with Kangen water so I was not consuming anything until 1pm and but I didn’t do any aggressive exercising in the morning. I don’t want to lose weight. I just fasted longer to detox.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO BREAK THE FAST?
I know when to break the fast after a designated amount of hours (normal days 12-14). For extended clean IF, typically I break the fast at 15-16 hr. mark. I noticed that my energy gets foggy and it’s time to refuel to keep my mental clarity going through work.
WHAT CAN YOU BREAK THE FAST WITH?
Something healthy! Eat a nourishing, healthy meal, as you normally would- whether it’s sweet or savory, listen to your body and what it wants to eat. For me, a balance of healthy carbs, protein, fats, and tons of leafy greens is the best way to keep my body going and feelin’ good and to reap the benefits of IF.
Here’s another great IF article I really enjoyed!!
Keep your CURIOSITY alive and let’s continue to best the students of our bodies.
Please let me know how you’re doing!
In Love and Health,
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