Intermittent Fasting: is it good for you?

It is April of 2020 and we began a 6-week Challenge we call #QuaranTeam3XT Transformation Challenge. Three out of Four Americans are Quarantined at home due to COVID-19, hence the name of the challenge.

We can't go to them gym.

We can't eat out.

We can't go to the grocery store as often as before.

We can't have physical interaction with anyone under 6 ft.

How can we thrive during this time?

This Challenge focuses on ways to stay healthy and fit during this Quarantine times and beyond! Lifestyle means sustainable. Healthier living now and always.

"What can I do better in my life right now?" Self-discovery is the answer. This time is the perfect time to reset.

This is Week 1 and we asked the community to focus on two Nutritional Challenges: Water intake and Intermittent Fasting.

This reading is about Intermittent Fasting.

The concept behind intermittent fasting is going longer periods of time without eating while eating larger meals during meal time. This gives the body a change to "take a break". Every time you eat, a ton of chemical reactions take place in your body. It all begins with the brain "remembering" food or a stomach growl. Your mouth begins to salivate, hormones are released, enzymes begin the digestion process, food is broken down, nutrients and its carriers travel to your cells, and on and on. When you don't eat, your body has time to reset itself. Its priority is no longer to break down and process what's incoming, but level out what's already in. The longer the break, the more time your body has to reset itself. We recommend starting with intermittent fasting with a 12/12 interval- eat for 12 hours, don't eat for 12 hours. This is the easiest one to sustain for most people. Another very successful interval to try is the 8/16- eat for 8 hours, don't eat for 16 hours. It all depends on your lifestyle, your energy demand, your work hours, etc.

With either interval model, it's totally normal to feel hungry, especially if this intermittent fasting concept is new to you. FEELING HUNGRY IS NOT A BAD THING! Depending on how you grew up and what your relationship to food is, you might think that the first growl your stomach makes is a direct order to run to the kitchen and care for that "crying stomach". I know I certainly grew up that way. Food tends to control me, if I allow it. 

This is why I personally wanted to give IF a try.

I wanted to see if it gave me results and if I could sustain it. The goal here was to develop a healthy relationship to food. I like to remind myself that 2,000 years ago, when humans didn't have groceries stores and refrigerators (no immediate food available) they managed to be ok. Maybe it was a good time to check on my relationship with food. Food controlled my day, and I was SO over it!

On the Left, I was on tour with Tina Turner. I barely ate but I didn't understand HOW to reward my body properly (we will talk about this in a bit).

On the right I was on Tour with Beyoncé. This is when I started to try out IF for myself.

You can definitely see the difference. But the difference wasn't just in the way I looked, but also in the way I felt. I felt MUCH MORE energized on the right then I did on the left. I remember on the Tina Turner Tour sometimes crying before I went on stage, wondering if I was going to have enough energy to finish the show.

Your hunger levels might be out of whack right now. Mine certainly were.


In simple terms... Your stomach growls. It sends signals to your brain. Your brain tells you (or yells at you) "HUNGRY!!!" You (now) respond "WAIT, I got this!" When YOU decide it's your meal time, your reward your body with nutritious, good quality meal. Your body begins to trust you since it begins learning you will meet its needs to survive. The body will tone down on the nagging, annoying your brain less. Your brain stops releasing as much stress hormones and other hormones associated with hunger. You then begin to be able to focus on other things, other than food. This is basically what happens when YOU start being in control of your meals and when to eat them. Notice I put the words REWARD and NUTRITIOUS, GOOD QUALITY MEAL. You MUST give your body good quality, nutritious foods. If not, the nagging will not subside. I challenge you to begin consciously choosing your meals as a way to reward your body. I grew up in a family that said "Eat that chocolate cake, rewards yourself! LIVE A LITTLE." MOM AND DAD, you do not reward your body with refined sugar. You are doing quite the opposite, actually. Guys, it would be equivalent to rewarding yourself with MORE BILLS TO PAY, rather than a RAISE IN SALARY.

What if I came to you and said "I want to reward you today! Here are some more bills to pay and overwhelm yourself. Enjoy! Live a little." Can you imagine? Giving your body foods that will help your body feel good, energized and relieved is equivalent to a raise in salary. You are THRIVING. Giving your body foods it cannot (or does not know how to) fully process, causing it to feel overwhelmed, is equivalent to more and more bills. You are SURVIVING. I hope this makes sense!

From the Article "Intermittent fasting: Surprising update" by Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Harvard Health Publishing:

"Intermittent fasting can help weight loss. IF makes intuitive sense. 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 is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat...

We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as diabetes."

The earlier our meals are, the more in sync we are with this primal rhythm. Will the hunger completely go away? Of course not. Hunger is part of being a human. It's your body's way of telling you it's time to eat. But that system can be broken by the (poor) choices we make. Giving your body time to balance itself and find its natural rhythm once again is a great thing to do. Hormones will balance out, hunger cues will decrease and not be so ferocious. In fact, you will start to not mind it as much.

Take away:

  • IF is a great way to PRACTICE managing hunger. (This is essential for people who are trying to loose weight and/or body fat.)

  • IF can help you to be in sync with day/night cycle, potentially increasing your energy during the day, and improving sleep at night.

  • IF can work but it might not be for everyone. It is one of the many approaches you can take when trying to improve you health, performance, and body composition.

  • IF is a personal choice. Try it, then look at your lifestyle and see if it's something you can sustain (sustain means you can do it 85-100% of the time).

When I don't apply IF to my lifestyle, I immediately feel and see the difference. I usually come off it when I travel a lot (experiencing different time changes), or when I am going through a lot of stress. So for me, Ferly, I know IF works and serves me really well for many reasons.

Your genes, how you were brought up, your nutrition history, all have had an influence on how your body operates and how it thrives. Fasting is a helpful tool. A TOOL. Remember that. It's not a rule or law. And it's certainly no the end-all, be-all of nutrition and fitness.

There are many ways to accomplish your health and fitness goals. This is just one tool, one we hope you give it a try to find out if it's for you and supports your goals.

Drop a like or a comment if you enjoyed this blog post. Share with a friend or loved one.

Happy and Healthy Living!


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