Lately I've been talking a lot about intermittent fasting and bulletproof on my instagram and snapchat, so naturally, I'm getting a lot of questions. Today, I want to spend some time explaining what the heck intermittent fasting (IF) actually is, why it's amazing and how it's totally different than what you think it is.
I was exposed to IF about 6 years ago when I first started drinking Bulletproof Coffee. The basic idea behind IF is that you shorten the window during the day in which you eat down to about 6-8 hours. No, IF does not mean that you are starving yourself at all. It just means that you change the hours in which you eat and nosh within a shorter window of time. So, when I practice IF, I normally finish dinner around 8/830PM, go to bed and then wait to "break fast" at about 12 or 1PM the next day. This gives my body a good 14-16 hours of fasting time.
Now, why in the world would you do something like this? It sounds totally crazy right? Well actually, on a super primal level, this is how we were made to function. Basically, when you allow your body 14-18 hours of recovery with no food (when supported properly and I'll explain that later) it allows for some incredible things to happen.
1. Intermittent Fasting Prolonges Your Body's Natural Fasting State :: When you go to bed at night your body naturally enters a fasting state that promotes fat burning and overall recovery. One of the many reasons sleep is so incredibly important! When you wake up and have your very first bite of food, your body automatically begins producing insulin which is a hormone that tells your body to produce fat. So, the longer you can promote this fasted state from sleeping, the better!
2. IF Supercharges Your Body and Your Brain :: IF isn't just about helping with weight loss. I love IF because it makes me feel like superwoman. The process of digestion takes a lot of energy and attention. So, when we are grazing all day, our body has to constantly focus on digestion rather than maintenance and repair in the body. So, when you fast, you give your body the opportunity to focus on other functions in the body that need attention. This is what makes IF so incredibly healing! It helps increase HGH (human growth hormone) in the body so that you can workout harder, recover faster, think more clearly and overall perform like superwoman!
3. It Can Help Stave Off Disease :: This is a big one. In a recent study done at Yale University, scientists found that periods of IF can block a part of the immune system involved in several inflammatory disorders such as type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease. Basically, practicing IF can help fight inflammation which is associated with a lot of disease.
4. It Gives You More Controlled Energy :: Once you've practiced IF a couple of times, you'll find that your energy levels are much better! IF allows your body to use its own fat as a secondary energy source, rather than relying on glucose, and provides a much stronger and more sustained energetic feeling.
Now that you understand the basics of IF, lets go over how it actually works in your day to day life. I try to fast for 14-16 hours 3-4 days out of the week if I can. I've found that's my sweet spot and I get the most benefits out of it that way. Here's what a normal day looks like for me.
Step 1 :: Finish dinner around 8/830PM that evening.
Step 2 :: Wake up in the morning and drink lemon and water and then a big cup of Bulletproof Coffee. So, bulletproof coffee does not take you out of your fasted state because it's purely fat with no carbohydrates or protein. Carbohydrates and protein are what create an insulin response in the body, so to promote a fasted state, you want to stave off any production of insulin. Just pure, healthy fats from Bulletproof give your body the energy it needs in the morning while also promoting your fast. I make coffee in the morning and then blend it with 1 TBSP of grass fed butter and 1 TBSP of MCT oil.
Step 3 :: If I have time, I normally like to try to get in a workout before I break my fast. By now my body is feeling really energized so it's the perfect time for a quick lift or HIIT workout.
Step 4 :: Break fast around 12 or 1PM. So, after I finish my workout and depending on how hungry I feel, I break my fast about 14-16 hours after my last meal. So, since dinner finished at 830 last night, I break fast around 1230PM for a 14 hour fast. This meal is normally packed with veggies, lean protein and healthy fats.
So, just to be clear, IF does NOT mean restricting your food or your calories. All it means is rearranging the times in which you eat to take advantage of your natural fasted state. Like I mentioned above, this is our natural cycle anyways. For thousands of years, as primal beings, our bodies were made for feast and famine, as that was the way the hunting cycle worked. In today's world, we are surrounded by food all of the time so our body never gets the time to stop digesting food and simply focus on rejuvenation and repair. If you do decide to practice IF, I recommend that you really focus on plenty of healthy fats, veggies and proteins when you break your fast. If your diet consists of pizza, cookies and pasta, your body doesn't have the proper nutrition to rest and repair during IF. So, practice incorporating whole foods into your diet first, drink Bulletproof Coffee with breakfast, and then slowly begin incorporating IF into your routine. Start with a simple 12 hour fast and then work your way up from there.
If you're interested in learning more about IF then I've included some awesome articles down below. I'd also be more than happy to answer any of your questions so please ask away in the comments below! Also please remember, everyone is different and it's important to respect that. IF isn't for everyone and that's ok! Every body is different, so tune in to what your body needs specifically for peak performance. IF is just one way to take advantage of your natural healing process but it's not the only way!