Intermittent fasting is all the rage. It's in magazines. Tons of people are talking about it. You read about it in online articles or on social media. When you search on Google, it's a highly-researched topic.
Why is intermittent fasting such a big deal?
I can tell you from my experience with thousands of people I've put on intermittent fasting regimens: it's the real deal.
There are profound benefits to intermittent fasting.
So let me define it for anyone who isn't sure what intermittent fasting involves.
Intermittent fasting is about eating your food in a certain window of time each day. For the maximum benefits I've seen, you want to try to stretch your fasting window to about 16 hours a day. You're not eating within those 16 hours.
The eating you do, then, takes place in an eight-hour window.
If you can eventually squeeze your eating window down to six or even four hours, you'll get even greater benefits.
People who are struggling with their health, though, should really consider something even bigger. One to two days a week, try to go 24 hours without a meal. All you'll have is water during an entire day (or two, if you can make it!)
Is Intermittent Fasting For Everyone?
It might sound daunting to you. If you've got blood sugar issues, you may not be able to start at those windows. You might only be only able to do 12 hours of fasting. Do not push yourself to the point of discomfort.
If you start to feel shaky or nauseous, that's a problem and it needs to be dealt with, because it's probably at the heart of what you're dealing with, health-wise. You have to try to start small in such a case, slowly making your fasting window bigger over time.
Being able to handle that means you have a healthy metabolism. If you can't do any fasting, it's an indication of how sick you actually are, so you have to start working on it.
The typical American is consuming three, four, five, or even six meals a day. Their body never gets a break; it's constantly digesting.
So much of our energy reserves (30-40% is an estimate) is used for the digestion and assimilation of food. If you can give your gut a break, what happens is that cleansing can begin to take place.
You will begin to enter into what's called autophagy, where your body will preferentially start burning up damaged tissues, getting rid of them.
There's just a ton of health benefits that can start with this process of intermittent fasting. You always want to make sure when you're intermittent fasting, though, too, that when you are eating, you're eating a healthy diet. You can't be intermittent fasting, then run to a fast food restaurant, and start wolfing down all kinds of bad food. That won't help you any!
Here's What to Eat
When you're in your eating window, here are some quick tips to remember:
- Get rid of sugar
- Cut out breads, bagels, pasta, rice, etc. (these break down into sugar)
- Add healthy fats
- Subtract bad fats
- Get tons of vegetables in
- Moderate fruit intake (concentrate on berries and apples)
Note, however, that people with sugar sensitivity may not be able to handle any fruits at all. Fruit is high in sugar, so go easy on it if you're trying to get over cravings. As long as you get plenty of veggies, you can skip the fruit entirely.
FAQ On Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to intermittent fasting, people are full of questions. I've compiled some of the most common ones about intermittent fasting here. If you have more questions, feel free to post a comment!
Is intermittent fasting something everyone can do?
There aren't really any hard and fast rules about who can do IF vs. who cannot. I think the most important thing is that you experiment for yourself and see if you can do it. With some time, and by easing into it, intermittent fasting will work for nearly anyone. If you have any questions, doubts, or medical conditions, be sure to talk to your doctor first.
Can I have collagen peptides while intermittent fasting?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up more than one-third of your total protein.
It acts as a building block for
✅ Healthy bones
✅ Connective tissues
Getting enough protein is so vital if you’re trying to regain your health. And you'll want to get plenty of protein during your eating windows when you're intermittent fasting.
But here's the thing: consuming collagen peptides during the time when you're fasting will reduce the level of autophagy you get -- which makes sense, because it means your body is busy processing what you're putting in, instead of concentrating on healing.
Does cucumber break intermittent fasting?
They're crunchy, refreshing, and good for you -- what's not to like about cucumbers? There are a lot of benefits
to eating this food! A nice addition to salad, or on their own as a snack, cucumbers are so versatile. If you are intermittent fasting and want to know whether you can eat a cucumber, think of it this way: is it something your digestive system will have to work at? In the case of eating cucumber, it's a yes.
And you want to avoid putting anything in your body that you'll have to digest and assimilate, because it's only when your body gets that break that you can really jumpstart the process of autophagy. Eating cucumber while intermittent fasting will reduce that autophagy level. Depending on how many calories you consume, you can be knocked completely out of autophagy!
Is it okay to have cinnamon during intermittent fasting?
A lot of people love adding cinnamon to their daily eating and drinking routines. There has been quite a bit of research on the health benefits of cinnamon
, too. If you typically like to have cinnamon, here's what I'd recommend during intermittent fasting:
Don't chance it.
Why? Because like discussed above, the intake of any substance other than water can mean your body has to turn its attention there, instead of concentrating on autophagy.
Does intermittent fasting tighten skin?
I like to call fasting the ultimate anti-aging tool. Since your body kicks healing into high gear when you're not digesting and assimilating foods, it's the time when you will burn up old, damaged cells and lay down new, fresh stem cells. Does that mean it can affect your physical appearance? Well, why wouldn't it? People are always trying to separate inside health from how we look on the outside, but the truth is, our appearance is a reflection of the state of our cells inside the body. I think you'll notice that the people
Remember, intermittent fasting results in the devouring of damaged cells (autophagy), the production of new healthy stem cells, and places you in a fat burning mode. All of these can help with your skin being more taut and healthier looking.
Does oil pulling interfere with intermittent fasting?
Oil pulling is a practice of swishing coconut oil in the mouth. People use it to reduce bacteria, get rid of bad breath, and other types of oral health problems. I like oil pulling, too (pro tip: spit it out in the garbage can or outside, not in the sink where it'll clog up your pipes). It can take some time to get the effects of oil pulling, so you'll be swishing for about 15 minutes.
If you're intermittent fasting and do oil pulling, your body will sense that you have put food in your mouth and reduce your autophagy level for a short time. However, if you spit it out, you are still technically fasting. So you're good to go on oil pulling while intermittent fasting!
Is it okay to have MCT oil while intermittent fasting?
Medium chain triglycerides, or MCT oil, is commonly used by people who are active, fit, or interested in nutrition. The key to its usefulness is right in its name -- "medium chain." Because the chain is shorter, these triglycerides are metabolized differently than the longer-chain triglycerides found in other foods. And that makes them far more usable for energy than other forms! You can think of them as instant energy for your body's cells.
MCT is found in coconut oil, which contributes to the wild popularity of coconut oil in recent years.
Similar to my answers about collagen, cucumbers, and cinnamon, having MCT oil during your fasting window can knock you out of a state of autophagy. I would not recommend it if you want maximum benefits from intermittent fasting.
Can I take Metamucil while intermittent fasting?
Metamucil is a drink commonly used to help up fiber intake. You probably know that fiber is required for good digestion. But did you know that the effects of getting good fiber go far deeper than staying regular? The fiber you eat in your daily diet has a tremendous effect on your microbiome, or the environment in your gut.
And the average person gets less than HALF the fiber that they should -- no wonder that conditions like leaky gut affect nearly everyone in our society, right?
So it's no wonder people are drinking Metamucil, right?
But having Metamucil while you're intermittent fasting brings about the same issue as the others: it will absolutely reduce the level of autophagy you can reach, and may even knock you completely out of it. Proceed at your own risk!
What is the best tea for intermittent fasting?
Let's break this down a little here. There are tons of resources for intermittent fasting. They'll show you how to do intermittent fasting, what you can consume during intermittent fasting, and much, much more. These sources are pretty mixed on what you. can and can't do during your fasting window.
Some will say it's fine to have tea, whether herbal or black. Others even say coffee during intermittent fasting is fine. But here is my two cents:
Stick with water and sea salt. I tell my students in my Cellular Health Accelerator
program all the time to add a shake of sea salt to their glasses of water. I personally like the pink Himalayan sea salt. Sea salt during fasting is totally okay. I love natural sea salts because they're full of minerals that our bodies need.
Your body isn't going to have to switch over from a state of autophagy to digesting and assimilating if all you have is water and sea salt. This is the best way to maximize your healing potential.
Are there any other intermittent fasting resources you recommend?
I love this question, because it gives me a moment to brag about my son, Dr. Will Cole
. He has a book called Intuitive Fasting
that is a wealth of information about fasting, in particular intermittent fasting. It will give you a complete guide to getting started, as well as a deep dive into the "why" behind fasting.
If you want more details about what a good, healthy diet is, I've posted about it before. You can go back through my old blog posts and take a look.
When you abstain from food, though, it will start to make a difference in your life and health.