When I started my journey into health transformation and nutrition management there was so much information out there that I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t want to be a calorie counter or to have to completely ditch my love of carbohydrates. I wanted to find a manageable balanced diet that included eating healthy food that I also enjoyed. I started with the basics; my daily super-food shake, healthy weekly meal plans, easy recipes, a healthy eating schedule, and portion control. This came easy and there were numerous meal planning ideas that I was able to bounce off my fellow coaches. I started to see the weight fall off quickly, but then I wanted to get more ‘toned’. I started an 80-day program that included nutrient timing, an eating schedule, intermittent fasting, timed eating. I had heard about intermittent fasting (IF) benefits, but I just thought it was a buzz going around or a fad like anything else. The 80-day program taught me the benefits of fasting for the whole body.
Can anyone do intermittent fasting?
I’ll admit, when I started my nutrition journey I never saw myself as someone who would try timed nutrition or intermittent fasting. WHY??? I love food, why would I ever NOT eat, I’m just an ordinary girl trying to lose a few pounds, I’m not a bodybuilder or fitness competitor and these are some of the things that were going through my mind. Once again my simple at-home fitness programs and nutrition plans made it super easy to tackle my mind and allow myself to try something new that would greatly increase my weight loss, benefit my health, and my digestive system. As always, when thinking about changing your diet or introducing any kind of fasting, it is important to consult a physician. If you’ve read my previous blogs or anything I have posted on my Instagram or Facebook, you know I am a proponent of getting maximum absorption from the foods we put in our body. Timed nutrition and intermittent fasting allows for the maximum burn of what we do not need to hold on to but need for fuel, absorption of what we do need to build healthy muscles, and rest for our digestive system. Intermittent fasting has been extremely beneficial to folks with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is something I have seen in my clients and family members but feel free to Google to fact check my findings. I am a healthy, young woman with no serious medical issues, so for me, intermittent fasting was more a mind over matter thing than anything else and once I had the proper tools and guidance it was just another tool to use in my transformation journey.
How does intermittent fasting work?
As I said, it was an 80-day challenge that helped me to learn about and integrate intermittent fasting and timed nutrition into my life. The fasting isn’t an all-day thing. When I started, it was with a minimum of twelve hours. For example, I would eat regularly throughout the day, and if I stopped eating at 7:00 PM I made sure to not eat again until 7:00 AM the next morning. This initially helped me to cut down on the calories from night time snacks and beverages. The longer I did the intermittent fasting, the easier it became. I also integrated a “fasted” cardio workout in the morning. So, my routine was waking up and then having a black coffee or my pre-workout, which technically if you’re being very strict in your fasting would break the fast. Adding the workout and the caffeine in the morning made it much easier to start stretching the fasting to fourteen and then sixteen hours. Once the “re-feed” window began, I would then have a super-food smoothie to re-feed and then would eat about every two hours according to my easy portion system whether it was a snack or a full meal. That is the schedule I began to use, but why?
According to Harvard Medical School, “The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains (think white flours and rice), are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells don’t use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there. Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF (Intermittent Fasting) is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.” So in a nutshell properly timing and fueling your body with food throughout the day allows us to have the energy we need and IF allows us to let the digestive system and body rest so we can burn versus store fat.
Integrating Timed Nutrition and Intermittent Fasting.
If you’re anything like me, I am sure timed nutrition, just like intermittent fasting can sound a little daunting. It is really not that complicated and here is how one of my favorite trainer’s, Autumn Calabrese, breaks it down:
“Timed-nutrition is simply eating the right foods (especially protein and carbs) at the right times to help you fuel your workouts, build muscle, and recover from workouts while keeping your metabolism and energy levels high. Over the course of the day, our bodies fluctuate between breaking down muscle and building it back up. Timing your nutrition can help ensure your muscles have the protein they need during those building-up phases.”
Sounds pretty simple right? Are you getting the picture yet that I don’t like to do things the hard way? The 80-day program I used to get started on timed nutrition and intermittent fasting had a super easy sample schedule that I often use or modify for my clients’ goals. Many clients are concerned about fitting timed nutrition into a busy work or parenting schedule. I am a full-time social worker, yoga teacher, and health and fitness coached and have managed to make it work! The timed nutrition has sample schedules that can accommodate morning, midday, and evening workouts making it easy for varying types of folks with varying schedules. The schedule paired with the simple and easy color coated portion control containers I use make losing weight and KEEPING IT OFF a no brainer!
Do I use Intermittent Fasting all the time?
My body got used to IF and I was very much in a routine when I was in my 80-day challenge, however, it is not something I strictly use all the time. I do stick to the principle of not eating in the evenings which has allowed me to maintain my weight-loss and a healthy diet. When I start to notice that I am having low energy, or that I’ve gained more weight than feels comfortable for me, or have a special event to “shred” for, Intermittent Fasting is something I always come back to that never fails. I think the thing I love most about intermittent fasting that I am still able to eat all the foods that I love, just in a more managed, healthy way.
Do Intermittent Fasting and Timed Nutrition have to be used together?
These two methods of weight-loss and healthy nutrition management absolutely do not have to be used together, but they are optimal when they are! I started with the intermittent fasting and drinking “bulletproof” coffee (a coffee often made with coconut oil, and organic grass-fed butter to increase metabolism) in the morning to see how my body would respond, I started losing weight pretty quickly, but when I added in the timed nutrition I started to see the definition in my muscles, I would look in the mirror and think, “Damn, I have abs!” That is something that no matter how often I drank my super-foods or worked out I wasn’t able to say. I am so looking forward to starting the 80-day program again this summer and feeling extra healthy and fit because truly on this plan is when I have felt at the peak of my fitness.
I share all of this to remind you, again, I am no one special, and I truly believe if I can follow simple directions and get the results I’ve been searching for for years, you can too! So if you’re thinking of trying any of these methods, consult your doctor and know there are a whole community of people out there willing to support you and doing it with you!
“Sarah Savino is my recommended Wellness and Nutrition Coach who resides in Colorado but has a community of clients she guides and manages nationally. She has her frequent retreats that her clients are encouraged but not required to attend and someone who knows first hand how it is to be overworked and overweight. She is a living truth that once within the right community and with the right guide, everything is possible. Check out her bio. under ‘Meet Our Team’, available on the website here.”- Dr. Shakib