While it used to be reserved for only elite bodybuilders and fitness models, Intermittent Fasting provides untapped performance and health benefits (and yes, aesthetic perks, too!) that are making it gain serious traction among mainstream athletes.
But as with any new fitness ‘trend’, Intermittent Fasting is still a hot topic of debate:
- ‘Won’t it hurt my performance?’
- ‘Don’t I need to fuel up first thing in the morning?’
- ‘Is it even…healthy?’
While the finer details are beyond the scope of this one article, let’s learn the basics, clear up the confusion, and discover if Intermittent Fasting is right for you.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Before we dive in, let’s address the elephant in the room… Intermittent Fasting has a disgustingly horrible name, for what’s really a simple concept. If I had to guess what it was, purely from the name, I’d say it sounds like starving yourself off-and-on for who knows how long.
‘Good news! Intermittent Fasting is simple: Keep your meals to an 8-hour window during the day, and you’re golden.’
This puts you in a ‘fed state’ for 8 hours and a ‘fasted state’ for 16 hours, hence the name.
For women, 10 hours in the ‘fed state’ and 14 hours in the ‘fasted state’ is ideal to begin with. From a hormonal perspective, ladies tend to see a slight increase in irritability and food cravings when they hop right to 16 hours of fasting, so starting with a 14-hour fast, and then shifting over to 16 is your best bet for a smooth transition.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING?
I won’t get too far into the weeds in this post, but the benefits include added convenience, lower blood sugar levels, increased insulin sensitivity – and did I mention, lower body fat percentages?
Eating 5-6 small meals a day is pretty much the norm amongst Crossfitters, due to claims that it’ll keep blood sugar in check, but a careful look shows that having more frequent meals actually elevates your baseline blood sugar levels ¹. Higher blood sugar levels lead to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance as well. By allowing you to eat fewer (and yes, larger) meals in a shorter time span, Intermittent Fasting keeps blood glucose, insulin intolerance, and glucose resistance all in check.
But it gets better…
Increased insulin sensitivity also means increased leptin sensitivity. Leptin is the signal that tells our brains we’re full, and our bodies to stop storing fat, so we want to be sensitive to it– the sooner our bodies hear that leptin signal, the sooner we’ll put the fork down. Increased leptin sensitivity (and thus, lower body fat levels) is yet another benefit of Intermittent Fasting.
Not to mention, eating all 3 meals in an 8-10 hour span increases your satiety, meaning it’ll be a lot easier for you to put down that extra cookie!
Now that you’ve got the basics of Intermittent Fasting down, let’s get to the good part.