Integrating Intermittent Fasting

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Last week I made a case for why you should consider intermittent fasting (IF).  

Check that out HERE.

In short, intermittent fasting can make you healthier, and who doesn’t want that?  

Let’s begin with defining health. According to Dr. Satchidananda Panda, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the definition of health changes throughout the day.

In the morning, health can be defined as waking up, feeling rested, energetic and having a bowel movement. We proceed with our day, void of hunger after taking some food and feeling productive. In the evening, we move our bodies, feeling sleepy and tired. Ready for bed, with a feeling of lightness in our stomach. We all deserve to feel healthy, and IF is a tool that can help you achieve your best.

So where to start?  I want to begin by saying that these guidelines are intended for otherwise healthy individuals looking to optimize their well-being. As always, consult your physician if there are any concerns.

When beginning this process, we aim to go without food for a 10-12 hour window. Take your last meal of the day 2-3 hours before bedtime. This allows your digestion to complete its job with dinner.

During the digestive process, blood is flowing towards your center, however, this can interrupt sleep. By stopping your last meal 2-3 hours prior to bedtime, blood can flow to our brain and support a deep and sound sleep.

Upon waking, it is recommended that you wait 1-2 hours before taking anything other than water (yes, this includes coffee). For example, stop eating dinner at 7:00 p.m. and wait to take breakfast until 7 a.m.- 9 a.m. How simple is that?  

When implementing this 10-12 hour fasting window, you can expect to feel hunger in the evening for about 2-3 weeks. Try and choose foods that are more sustainable such as foods high in fiber, protein, and fats will help you stay satiated. After some time, IF regulates the hunger hormones, so stick with it!  

You can be flexible with the timing. You can move dinner 30 minutes to an hour later or earlier and breakfast accordingly (to keep the 10-12 hour fast). It’s important to note that you can deviate from this schedule 1-2 times during the week. This is cool because it allows you to engage in social activities on the weekends. I recommend keeping this fasting regimen during your workweek and allowing flexibility on your days off to allow for living without strict regimen.  

If you’re committed to trying this out, I recommend you use an app called MyCircadianClock, by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. It helps you understand your body’s rhythms while contributing to research. I have downloaded my app and am excited to participate!

In summary:

  • Allow yourself 10-12 hours of fasting. You are allowed to drink as much water as you like.
  • Pick a time in the evening to stop taking food and drink other than water.
  • This time should be 2-3 hours before bed.
  • Wait 1-2 hours upon waking to take food or drink (This includes coffee and tea).
  • Adhere to this schedule 5-6 days out of the week.
  • Consider using MyCircadianClock app to help you through this process and contribute to research.