Updated: Aug 27, 2021
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Intermittent fasting. It's a subject that still raises many questions. In this blog I answer a number of frequently asked questions from the past period.
Q: Is fasting a good and healthy way to lose weight?
A: Intermittent fasting is a very suitable method for weight loss.
The beauty of the method (IF) is the fact that - unlike a normal crash diet - you can maintain your muscle mass, which is important because your muscles are your body's main combustion engines. Just imagine what a combination of fasting with resistance training could do! Mind you, IF is not a panacea: if you think you can eat all kinds of processed foods - the ones that led to weigh gain in the past - you will probably not benefit from fasting and your weight might even not change at all . However, when applied correctly, you can use intermittent fasting repeatedly (for example 2-3 times a year) to keep your weight within a certain bandwidth.
Q: Is it recommended to combine intermittent fasting with a keto diet?
A: In everything you do, I advise you to consider: why would you even want to do it?
I speak from experience when I say it can be a very efficient way to get lean, but the keto way of eating could be experienced as rather limiting in terms of freedom of choice, so be aware of that!
Q: Is it a problem to drink coffee or tea during your fasting period?
A: You can have 'em, as long as you drink coffee or tea without milk or sugar.
Depending on what your goal is, you can have water, coffee and tea or even diet soft drinks. I am not a fan of the latter myself, but they can help some people make it through the 'fasting' period.
Q: How many meals and how many snacks should I eat during my eating window?
A: Make sure you know what your daily requirement is first.
Stick to that as a reference for your daily intake and decide for yourself how many meals you want to divide that over. According to the method I have developed, you first have to learn what the definition of good food means for you and thus what ultimately forms the basis for your fasting protocol: proper meals!
Q: What is the best thing to eat before a 24 hour fast?
A: 24 hours of not eating is a long time. If I do a 24-hour fast myself, I prefer to do it after a decent evening meal.
That gives me just a little more buffer the hours after. However: if you fast regularly and for a longer period (for example a 24h fast on set days a week for a few months) you will learn that your body will eventually become less dependent on food and that it doesn't really matter what or how big. your last meal is.
Q: Doesn't fasting just work because you simply eat fewer calories?
A: There is some truth in that: in some cases, IF is associated with a lower energy intake. But what appears (from studies); the effects of IF are mainly due to the timing of meal intake and are therefore a consequence of prolonged non-eating.
Partly because of this, it is too short-sighted to compare IF with a diet, because unlike most diets it offers a lot of freedom, especially in making choices: different eating styles (diets, if you like) from ketogenic to vegan to gluten free and so on. In addition, the words diet and calories in the current context mainly remind me of 'losing weight', something we often associate with dieting. In this regard too, IF differs from the dieting: the effects of IF go beyond - partly as a result of the extended fasting period - beyond mere weight loss.
Image from: The Dr. Ludidi Method of Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent Fasting for Everyone
Q: Does intermittent fasting trigger a huge binge?
A: If so, it would help you to make sure you eat sufficiently and nutritious foods too, in the post-fasting period.
Binge eating can be a sign of deficiency. IF is not primarily about creating deficits, but rather about timing: when to eat. Binge eating can also be a sign of mental imbalance. A right mindset should always be at the base when you start fasting.
Fasting usually helps you reduce your hunger pangs in the long run. This is because fasting adjusts the so-called 'anticipated response' that is triggered by the the hunger hormone ghrelin. In short, this means that you will gradually become less hungry in the absence of food.
Another nice thing of intermittent fasting is that the absence of food resets your body, as it were, so that you appreciate real food again and are less dependent on convenience food or wrong, processed foods during the day. But pay attention: balance, rhythm and good quality foods should always be the foundation of your fasting journey. Also, fasting will not help you to solve underlying (mental) problems!
Q: Is it true that intermittent fasting contributes to a better hormone balance?
A: Simply put, you can say that hormones are strongly influenced by your daily routines (balance & rhythm; circadian clock).
This includes your day and night rhythm (circadian rhythm): you want that to be as constant as possible in terms of bedtime and the duration of your sleep. That's why night shifts and a lot of traveling between different time zones are so taxing: they throw your body's patterns upside down. Food also affects your hormonal state. Again, rhythm is key here. The more constant you have your meals, the better your body reacts. After all, your body recognizes not only sleep patterns but also eating patterns. In this way, IF can help you to achieve more regularity from a hormonal point of view: especially when you - after your 'break the fast meal' - eat at set times too. I strongly advise my clients who often travel abroad to make use of this principle. Your body recognizes the presence of food in the belly (the first meal after your night rest) and reacts accordingly. This also happens when, for example, you train at set times. IF, but also training can support you in overcoming your jet lag. But of course it will never completely get rid of it. In that respect, a "fixed" rhythm is always the best.
Q: I feel very sharp when I fast in the morning at the office. Is there a reason for this?
A: Nice that you noticed that. It's not that strange actually, and in my book I go into more detail about the whys and hows.
I always thought it was quite a strange thing when people said that. That was before I wrote my book. During my writing journey I learned how the increased focus while fasting worked. The theory is as follows: Traditionally, humans have been subjected to food scarcity and prolonged absences from food forced us, as it were, to become more resourceful and creative in order to obtain food. It explains why some people report being much brighter while fasting. You also see it in some animal studies: mice or rats perform certain cognitive tasks better in the absence of food (for example, finding food in a maze).
Q: Is IF recommended if you often need to eat because otherwise you will feel you will faint?
A: What you experience can be related to several factors. For example, low blood pressure, or a system that is used to running on sugars and does not get them when it feels it needs 'em
When you are fasting, you affect both, to make things even worse. To maintain your blood pressure, I recommend you to drink sufficient water during your fasting window. It helps you to increase your blood volume a bit and thus maintain your blood pressure to a certain degree. Then the sugar story. It takes your body some time to be able to switch to other energy sources than sugars. Please respect that! I advise people who are afraid to start cold turkey right away, to get started with a build-up protocol. I describe this in detail in my book. You give yourself the space mentally and physically to gradually get used to the absence of food; You also give your body time to make the necessary cellular adjustments. Of course it is recommended to also take a step back in terms of effort you put in your everyday activities. Sometimes you have to take one step back to be able to take two forward. Draw your conclusions :)
Q: IF During Pregnancy, can I do that?
A: Although food scarcity has never made an exception between children and adults, men or (pregnant) women and, over evolution, has made us who we are (modern humans), I strongly advise pregnant women not to engage in any fasting regimen!
The most common mistake people make when fasting is not eating enough during the feeding window. The pregnancy period is not the time to experiment. Make sure you feed your body well during pregnancy, including that of your child. After your pregnancy you can always use intermittent fasting to get back in shape, if you like.
Copyright Elise Borsboom: @eliseborsboomofficial
About The doc.
Dr. Ludidi (PhD) is a nutrition scientist, and bestselling author of ‘The Dr Ludidi Method of Intermittent Fasting’., who motivates and inspires people to understand their bodies and how great food can positively change their lives. He is a top nutritionist, who works with elite athletes, artists, performers and business executives from all over the world, in his special Private+ Coaching Program. Dr. Ludidi offers help via nutrition programming and lifestyle coaching for sports performance, general health & wellbeing and more.
"Because science shouldn’t be just for the scientists."
Got curious? Mail to email@example.com or visit www.drludidi.com