Practicing intermittent fasting (IF) is a healthy lifestyle habit that I encourage all of my clients to try. The concept is to eat only during a certain number of hours per day during a 24-hour period, and to fast (no calories are consumed) the rest of the time. Most people choose to fast for either a 12-hour or 16-hour window.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
There are multiple health benefits to intermittent fasting. A 2017 Harvard study shows that IF can help prevent cardiovascular disease, improve metabolic health, and lower cholesterol levels. Weight loss may happen simply because an individual is consuming less calories (for example, no more late-night snacks) but is more likely to occur when nutrient dense whole foods are mindfully consumed during the eating window.
New to IF? Here Are Some Intermittent Fasting Tips
I always advise my clients to start out slowly and begin by practicing a circadian rhythm fast. Eat for 12 hours and fast for a 12-hour window within a 24-hour period. For most people, this is do-able because they will be sleeping during most of the 12-hour fasting window.
The next intermittent fasting tip I offer is to incorporate one of my favorite mottos into your daily life: “The kitchen is closed after dinner.” Simply put, once dinner is done, the fasting begins. Living with this motto helps to eliminate snacking or consuming any beverages with calories after dinner.
While the concept seems simple enough – stop eating at a certain time and start eating at another time – I use, and recommend to my clients, the Zero app to track fasting. Hitting the “Start Fasting” button serves as a behavioral reminder not to snack any more. It is also an easy way to stay accountable because sometimes we’re busy and may forget when we actually stopped eating for the day!
The free version of Zero provides daily “badges” and milestone badges to mark your progress. It also has a check-in feature that asks you how you’re doing (you can rate your feelings by selecting an appropriate emoji face and adding a note about why you’re feeling that way) and a countdown to when your fast is over. These features are on the free version. The paid version offers articles, a coach, and more.
If your motivation to practice IF is to lose weight, it’s important to note that food choices will play a large role. Consuming fast food, refined sugar foods, and heavily processed foods will not be conducive to weight loss. Focus on eating unprocessed whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, nuts, and whole grains.
Note that some women with hormone concerns may encounter difficulties with longer fasts or daily fasts. Always consult your healthcare provider when starting a new lifestyle regimen and listen to your body.
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