I did a quick Instagram question and answer series on intermittent fasting. As you know I have an Intermittent Fasting Mini Guide which breaks down e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g from the all the benefits to full day of eating samples with meal timing and even a transition schedule to get into IF. I wanted to answer your follow up questions in a blog post so you could refer back to it.
Before I jump into the commonly asked follow up questions, I want to just make a few quick points.
1. IF = THE BEST WAY TO EAT
Just because you’re following IF, doesn’t mean you’re “better” or “have an edge.” It’s simply a nutrition tool you can use. I’ve seen my very best results not following IF and I’ve seen just as great results following IF. For some, it may be a great lifestyle choice. For others, it may totally not be your thing. Both are awesome.
2. IF IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO EAT JUNK
Believe me, I tried haha. The first time I tried IF, I used it as a way to eat more treats and I GAINED WEIGHT. With IF, food source, quality and macro combinations are still very important, so I highly suggest keeping my Meal Plan in mind during the eating window. I explain all of this in the Mini Guide.
Q: WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING
A: Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a stye of eating in which you fast (don’t eat) and then eat. We basically all follow a form of IF because you’re “fasting” when you’re sleeping at night and your eating window is during the daytime when you’re eating. The idea behind IF is that allowing for periods of eating and fasting/non-eating can significantly help fat loss as our body switches from glycogen (carb) stores to fat stores. If you’re interested, definitely check out my IF Mini Guide
Q: DO YOU WORKOUT DURING THE FASTING OR EATING INTERVAL?
You can workout anytime you’d like. It doesn’t matter if it’s during your fast or during your eating window. Personally, I workout in the AM and then have a few hours left of my fast. As long as you’re eating enough during your eating window and weight training, you don’t have to worry about muscle loss. In fact, muscle gain and increased definition is something I’ve noticed from this.
Q: I HAVE HEARD SOME PEOPLE GET HEADACHES WHILE FASTING?
A: Headaches can happen when transitioning to IF. I find this is remedied by slowly adjusting to the traditional IF timing. I outline this schedule in my mini guide. I also wanted to quote a reader, Christina who shared: “some people complain of feeling light headed or foggy when fasting and think it’s low blood sugar, this is usually a sign of low electrolytes. During IF I have been starting my days with electrolyte water- huge help!” It’s also very important to stay hydrated while fasting. Honestly, I haven’t a headache since I transitioned to IF.
Q: CAN I SWITH MY FASTING TIMES AROUND DAY TO DAY?
A: yes, but I wouldn’t say this is ideal. When you switch the timing on back to back days, you’ll either have to shorten or lengthen the fast. However, it is an option!
Q: CAN I HAVE A PRE-WORKOUT OR BCAAS DURING MY FAST?
A: it would depend on the exact products as well of which school of thought you choose. There are studies that show anything under 40 calories will not break your fast; those individuals will even have coffee with a little bit of cream during their fast (I follow this!). There are studies that show any calories/changes in blood sugar break your fast; these individual don’t believe in pre-workouts, BCAAs, coffee or any calories during the fasting window (my husband follows this idea).
I enjoy a pre-workout and/or coffee during my fast but stay away from BCAAs.
Q: CAN I ADD MILK OR CREAM TO MY COFFEE DURING MY FAST?
A: Like I mentioned, studies have shown that you can have 40 calories or less without breaking your fast. This would mean a splash of milk or creamer is a go. This is highly debated in the IF space, so I always encourage women to do their own research and do what they choose is best for them.
Q: WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF BREAKING YOUR FAST? WHAT CAN YOU DRINK SO YOU DON’T BREAK IT?
A: Great question! Breaking your fast would mean eating or drinking anything with calories. Again, note the 2 schools of thoughts on 40 calories or less.
WHAT I DRINK WHILE FASTING
- lemon water
- black coffee
- you can add spices like cinnamon
- apple cider vinegar
- I mix 1-2 tsp into water
Diet sodas, sugar free drinks and energy drinks are items that are technically free of calories but the may inhibit the positive effect of fasting. Their use of artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame can create an insulin response, so you may want to stay away from those while fasting.
Q: CAN YOU FAST FOR JUST 1 DAY/WEEK? IS THIS A LONG TERM THING?
A: Intermittent fasting isn’t a quick fix or short term solution. It’s not going to get you “miracle” results in a week… you know what I mean? A lot of people talk about how helpful it has been in their weight and fat loss journey but just like with anything, it requires consistency. You can certainly fast just 1 day/week or use some of the modifications I suggest in the IF Mini Guide but I see IF as more of a lifestyle
Q: CAN YOU DO IF WHILE NURSING/PREGNANT? DID YOU?
A: First off, I don’t encourage *anything* to *any* woman while pregnant or nursing. I think this precious time is so personal, and recommend checking with your healthcare provider before making any change. I do feel comfortable sharing what I did.
With Leo (my first baby), I didn’t follow IF during pregnancy. I nursed/pumped for an entire year, and started following IF around 4-6 months PP. It did not affect my supply at all as long as I kept my calories up/consistent during my eating window and drank my usual amount of water.
With Beckham (my second baby), IF was such a part of my lifestyle that I naturally continued it into pregnancy. When following IF, I don’t get hungry until 10:30 AM and I know a lot of women who don’t follow IF intentionally that just aren’t hungry in the AM. That’s what I compare it to. Most days I followed IF but if I was hungry some AMs or late PMs, I would eat. I was not strict about it. When I started nursing, I was ravenous and ate around the clock. Around 2-3 months postpartum, I slowly transitioned back into a modified version of IF.
*of course, I ran everything by my OB and encourage you to do the same with any dietary changes.
Q: WHAT SHOULD I EAT AND WHAT SHOULD I NOT EAT WHILE FOLLOWING IF?
A: IF doesn’t change what you should and shouldn’t eat. The same principles about eating foods that are mostly nutritious (I follow the 80/20 rule) and properly portioned hold true. The only thing that changes is the timing of what you eat.
Q: IS IF A GOOD OPTION FOR LOSING WEIGHT? SUSTAINABLE?
A: There are many studies that show IF has an big affect on promoting fat loss. I see IF as 1 tool in the toolbox for nutrition. Sticking to portions/macros is 1 tool. Intermittent fasting is another tool. There are many ways to get to your goals and IF is just one of the many ways to assist.
Is it sustainable? Yes, to some. I know individuals who have been following IF for a decade. I have friends who have tried it and find after a few weeks, it’s not for them for various reasons even as simple as they like to eat early and snack late at night. Personally, I find IF (or a modified version) very sustainable.
Q: DO YOU DO THIS EVERY SINGLE DAY OR GO THROUGH PHASES? MONTHS ON AND OFF?
A: Totally! I’ve followed IF for 2 years straight with about 97% consistency. If there is a day that I’m invited to a breakfast with girlfriends- I’ll go and eat early or if I am out on a Friday night- I’ll eat and drink late. Recently, I stopped IF for a few months just because my schedule has been all over the place. However, I actually like that it provides some sort of structure and I find other things follow suit in a positive way.
Q: IS IT BAD TO NOT FAST ON THE WEEKENDS?
Not at all. Like I said, I’ll go to breakfast on a weekend, and not fast that Saturday. Like with everything, I believe consistency is key but I don’t worry if I miss days here and there.
MY INTERMITTENT FASTING MINI GUIDE
If you’re looking for more info on IF, I would highly suggest this mini guide. It’s one of the many amazing components of my meal plan + cookbook. It’s the only way to get the guide and I can’t recommend all of the resources enough.