I’ve been getting a lot of questions about intermittent fasting and if I think it is a healthy or sustainable approach to fat loss. My answer: it depends. Intermittent fasting can mean a lot of things to a lot of people and none of the concepts are really wrong (or right). We all intermittently fast to one degree or another between our last meal/snack of the day and our first meal/snack of the following day. The reality is that most of us are overfed. We eat too frequently and we eat too much. That does not, however, mean that “fasting” is the right approach for everyone. In today’s episode I talk about the prevalence of overfeeding, the reality of our metabolisms and our ability to burn fat, the benefits of fasting and the risks and warnings.
The Problem: Fasting is a healthy, natural thing. We were not designed to graze all day long. Most of us are overfed. We can look in the mirror and see evidence of that (harsh, but true. I’m including myself here). However, there is no hard-and-fast “right way” to intermittently fast. There are undeniable benefits to intermittent fasting but it is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
When I say that we are mostly overfed, I’m considering the fact that there are really only 2 states in which we can be:
- Anabolic/Post-prandial (fed)
- Catabolic/Post-absorptive (fasted)
Most of us spend most or all of our day in the first state. That disallows fat burning. That is a problem when the goal is fat loss! We are so used to responding to behavioral or habitual hunger that we’re overfueling and keeping ourselves in the fed state all day long!
The Solution: Intermittent fasting may be part of the solution but it is not the only solution. First and foremost, we have to spend more time in the catabolic or fasted state. Intermittent fasting isn’t the only way to do that. We can reduce the quantity of our fuel and/or we can fuel less frequently. Intermittent fasting may be one way to fuel less frequently.
- If you are getting results doing what you’re doing and you’re feeling good: don’t change a thing!
- If you are fueling every few hours based on habit, try extending your fasted window by just 30 minutes
- If you feel ready to take on more, consider a 12 or 16 hour fast but remember that means no calories (creamer, sugar or bulletproof coffee all break the fast)
- If you try a 24-hour fast, consider doing it from 2pm-2pm or 6pm-6pm so you still eat every day. Psychologically than can be easier.
- Always consider if what you are doing is sustainable or feels good
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