Fast or Fiction || The Facts Behind Intermittent Fasting

Fasting. A word that often brings to mind deprivation and starvation. But what about Intermittent Fasting? Based on the feedback from the Facebook LIVE I did with Drew Manning last week, many of you are curious about this latest nutrition craze—it’s health benefits, long term sustainability, how it works with other diets, and about a million other questions.  So let’s break it down a bit and uncover what exactly Intermittent Fasting is and isn’t and what it does and doesn’t do for our bodies!

*Click here for this super yummy Green Chili Turkey & Cilantro Rice Bowl recipe!

Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern alternating between periods of eating and periods of fasting—it is not a diet in itself with specific foods you can and cannot eat. It is, in it’s simplest form, an eating schedule, focusing on the when rather than the what. Intermittent Fasting can be combined with just about any other diet or meal plan or not combined with any dietary restrictions at all! Intermittent Fasting is all about meal timing rather than meal content.


**Get the recipe for this amazing Strawberry Salsa Mahi Mahi here.

One of the most common misconceptions about IF is that it is some sort of starvation diet. This couldn’t be further from the truth! While adhering to an IF eating schedule, you are eating the exact same amount of calories you would eat in a typical day on a regular eating plan, but with IF your window of eating is condensed, making your meals larger and more calorie packed than if you were to spread out your caloric intake over 6 small meals. This can actually aid in decreasing binge eating tendencies as it aids in helping you feel full and satisfied with your meals. 

So how exactly does it work?! Simple. Like I said, instead of spreading out 5-6 small meals throughout an entire day, you’ll cut down to 2-3 larger meals during a period of time called your “eating window.” For example, if you choose to do a 16/8 fast, you would be fasting for 16 hours straight, then you would only eat during an 8-hour window. The flexibility of IF is amazing—you can literally choose whatever eating window works best for you whether it’s fasting all day and eating at night or vice versa! If you’re anything like me, breakfast is not a priority meal. I am so busy getting kids out the door, hopping on business calls, and sneaking in a workout, that I often forget to eat, and I rush to make up the calories I’ve missed. If that sounds like you too, you might do well on a 1 pm-9 pm eating window, leaving 9 pm – 1 pm as fasting hours.

Sounds kind of amazing, right?! By far the most incredible part of Intermittent Fasting are the health benefits. Here are some of the most important benefits of IF I’ve found: 

  • Most people eat all day long—from the moment they wake up until they go to bed. With Intermittent Fasting, you are no longer grazing all day. By only eating during your eating window, you are allowing your digestive system 12 to 16 hours of rest, which allows your body to process the nutrients you have consumed throughout the day more efficiently.
  • According to the experts, Intermittent Fasting can lower your risk of diseases like cancer, dementia, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • Intermittent Fasting can help control blood sugar levels.
  • During your fasting period, your body will start using fat stores for energy. 👍
  • Intermittent Fasting can reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
  • Reduced blood pressure can also be a benefit of Intermittent Fasting.

So…how do you know if Intermittent Fasting is for you? Chris and I are all about trying new, well-researched methods to help us achieve our goals. And you know what? We are all unique! In fact, there are 16 different digestive systems (based on our ancestry and other factors), so it’s important that we discover what works best for our particular digestive system. Some people do well on carb cycling. Others do well on Keto. Others do well on a any number of other plans. As long as you’re getting the nutrients you need to appropriately fuel your body to help you achieve your goals, I say give a new plan a try for 6 weeks and see what happens!

And here’s an interesting tidbit: If you’re following one of our carb cycling programs, you’re actually already following a form of Intermittent Fasting since there are 12 hours between meal #5 and meal #1 the next morning. 😉 If you think you’d like to give a different eating window a try, go for it! Just combine your 5 carb cycling meals into 2-3 meals during your eating window for a true Intermittent Fasting experience.

One last thing: Don’t feel like you have to take the 16-hours-straight-fasting plunge into Intermittent Fasting. Start with a 12/12 fast, and then slowly increase your fasting period and decrease your eating window until you find the combo that works best for you. Intermittent Fasting might not be for everyone, but it just might be the transformation game-changer you’ve been looking for!

One more last thing: 😉 Drew’s come out with a brand new program—21-Day JumpStart—that’s a blend of Keto, carb cycling, AND Intermittent Fasting, and it gives you the baby steps you need so you can see if any of these programs will work for you! Check it out here!

Xoxo,

Heidi

Related reading:

Modified Keto + Intermittent Fasting || 21-Day JumpStart
Macros vs Micros: the Macro Myth Busted!
Eat More, Lose More: Settling The Fresh vs. Fast Food Debate
Macro Tracking For the Win! All of Your Questions Answered
Carb Cycling 101


21 Comments

  1. Jessica L. - April 12, 2018

    I’ve been hearing some buzz about IF being good others saying no.. thanks for shedding some info in the topic! My favorite post 🍑 I’m hoping to find the right combo for my transform success.

    Love what you guys do & how you share your real self
    Jessica
    IG @jesslovett3

    • Matthew H - April 25, 2018

      There are some great tricks to succeeding with IF, such as what you CAN consume during the fast. One of my favorite recipes is tasty and yet will never cause an insulin spike to knock you out of the fasting state. Simply take 12 oz water, fresh juice of 1 lime, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, cream of tartar (1/4 tsp) and Pink Himalayan salt (3 or 4 grinds) plus stevia to sweeten. Modifying for taste is okay too. I have been losing 1 pound a day give or take using both low carb and IF together. The trick is only doing it 3-5 days per week to avoid starvation mode and keep your metabolism burning.

  2. Hillary Archuleta - April 12, 2018

    I love that you two support IF- it has been so successful for me in maintaining weight and still enjoying the foods that I love! I still try to make healthier choices, but I don’t have the excessive bloat and guilt after pizza night 😛 I preach IF to those looking to control eating habits and/or lose weight (that and carrying around a water bottle everywhere to increase intake). I definitely wanna see how y’all mixed other diets into IF!

    IG: @leahhillaryy

  3. Chelsea Miller - April 12, 2018

    This is one of my fav posts, I have read it before and it is actually one that peaked my interest in IF, I have now been on 16/8 eating schedule for 3 months now and LOVE it! I have a history of binge eating and bulemia in the past and this eating schedule really helps keep the binges to an almost never because I feel full when I eat! I really love it! It is a great tool to use to better my relationship with food!! Thanks for being AWESOME Heidi 💛
    Love Chelsea
    @chelsea_alyssa_

    • Matthew H - April 25, 2018

      There are some great tricks to succeeding with IF, such as what you CAN consume during the fast. One of my favorite recipes is tasty and yet will never cause an insulin spike to knock you out of the fasting state. Simply take 12 oz water, fresh juice of 1 lime, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, cream of tartar (1/4 tsp) and Pink Himalayan salt (3 or 4 grinds) plus stevia to sweeten. Modifying for taste is okay too. I have been losing 1 pound a day give or take using both low carb and IF together. The trick is only doing it 3-5 days per week to avoid starvation mode and keep your metabolism burning.

  4. Jayme H - April 12, 2018

    This is one of my favorite posts! I actually went back and looked this up at the beginning of this week because I’ve been hearing a lot about this (and I live what you have to say about most things regarding health). I’ve had stomach issues for awhile now and decided to try the 16/8 fasting out. Since beginning just this week I’ve already felt such a difference! My cravings for sweets have actually subsided and I generally feel so much better. Thanks for all the advice, I appreciate all that you do!!! <3

    • Matthew H - April 25, 2018

      When you combine carb cycling (HC, LC, LC, HC, LC, LC, LC) to intermittent fasting on LC days, you will burn fat more efficiently as well.

  5. Jayme Hoberg - April 12, 2018

    This is one of my favorite posts! I actually went back and looked this up at the beginning of this week because I’ve been hearing a lot about this (and I live what you have to say about most things regarding health). I’ve had stomach issues for awhile now and decided to try the 16/8 fasting out. Since beginning just this week I’ve already felt such a difference! My cravings for sweets have actually subsided and I generally feel so much better. Thanks for all the advice, I appreciate all that you do!!! <3

  6. Maggie - April 12, 2018

    This is by far my favorite blog post of yours! I have been so curious about intermittent fasting and giving it a real try again!

  7. Hannah Campbell - January 1, 2018

    I workout in the morning at 5:30 AM. Does that mean I wouldn’t eat breakfast? Everyone talks about how important a post workout meal is. Thanks in advance!

    • Team Powell - January 1, 2018

      Hi Hannah: Yes, depending on the fasting schedule people follow, they don’t eat before working out. But we suggest you do what works best for you. 🙂

    • Matthew H - April 25, 2018

      The ideal way to do this would be doing IF only on low carb days for 2 days straight, then having a normal eating routine on high carb days when you work out (2 days a week for full body lifting is the sweet spot). The purpose of IF is to eat less calories anyway which is what low carb days are also for. Plus, IF is intended to burn fat, which is only going to happen on low carb days as well, it just extends it for another 8 hours. It’s like fat burning on turbo charge.

  8. Tiffany - December 31, 2017

    I like the idea of this. I just joined transform but I am pretty nervous about the eating schedule. I am a RN and on days I work I am lucky to get a lunch break. When I do, it’s never at the same time. How can I included IF since it wouldn’t be on the same schedule everyday? Or should I try something else? I really want to do this. I need to change, my job leaves me hungry and exhausted. A combination that has shown up around the waist!

    • Team Powell - January 1, 2018

      Hi Tiffany: We recommend you eat 5 meals a day, spaced 3 hours apart, which means that there are 12 hours between your last meal of the day and breakfast. This is a kind of IF. If you’d like to follow a different IF schedule, you can do one that works best for you, but make sure that you’re still consuming the recommended macros for your app nutrition program. As far as scheduling your meals in carb cycling on a busy schedule, here’s a post that can help with that: http://heidipowell.net/10556. I hope this helps! 🙂

  9. Jenn - December 1, 2017

    Hi!
    How does IF work with transform app? Would I eat my three meals (5 meals combined into the 3) according to high and low carb days per my app including the restart day? Ty!

    • Team Powell - December 4, 2017

      Hi Jenn: In the Transform App, you already have a 12 hour fasting window between meal #5 and meal #1 the next day. If you’d like to increase that fasting window, you’ll need to adjust your eating schedule to get all of your calories into your eating window by decreasing the number of meals/combining meals. We still recommend you have 2 1/2-3 hours between meals if at all possible. I hope that helps! 🙂

  10. Susan - November 30, 2017

    I’ve never been a morning eater either but am addicted to my morning cup of coffee. I usually add a tsp of sugar and half and half so it of course has calories. Will drinking just that mess up the IF? Any tips on breaking my morning cup of coffee addiction?

    • Team Powell - December 1, 2017

      Hi Susan: Yes, it’s best to leave out the sugar and 1/2 and 1/2 if possible. Have you tried stevia or another natural 0 calorie sweetener? And as with most addictions, try and break it by baby steps over time. You got this! 🙂

    • Susan Shropshire - December 2, 2017

      Thank you so much for the reply! What about Monk Fruit Sweetners? I had been seeing and hearing about it and so I tried it and really like it. I have been using Stevia. On the package it says its mixed with Dextrose. Is that ok? I believe I have started to find that Stevia may also be mixed with Dextrose.

    • Team Powell - December 4, 2017

      Hi Susan: You can use either Monk Fruit Sweetener of Stevia if you’d like – both should be great! 🙂

  11. T - November 15, 2017

    I’ve been IF’ing my whole life (even before it was called that). Never been a “morning person” so a cup of coffee is usually about it (don’t usually eat lunch either) but have a large healthy dinner. I’m sure some people think of IF as an eating disorder, but I’m just not a “grazer” and since I have an office/sit down job, I don’t NEED to eat/graze all day since I’m not really burning it off ( If I’m starving I’ll eat) but typically getting up at 7:30 am and eating dinner at 7:00pm is just my normal eating schedule. Glad to hear this is a “normal” thing. 😉

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