Benefits and Downsides to Intermittent Fasting

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Show details — Hosted by Lindsay S Nixon — Season 1: Episode 11

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Update #1 for Season 1.

Real-life experiences from meal plan users who tried Intermittent Fasting after Season 1.

PLUS your Frequently Asked Fasting Questions!!


If you enjoyed Season 1, please rate it on itunes it really helps.

Intermittent Fasting became all the rage after Season 1 and now, almost a year, later I wanted to update with a few listener experiences, good and bad.


Before I begin, please remember that Intermittent Fasting isn’t a quick fix or a magic pill.

  • You still need to eat the right types of foods.
  • You still can’t overly consume calories.
  • You still must create caloric deficit


I also can’t drive home enough that.

Whatever it takes to lose weight, is what it takes to keep it off.

Intermittent Fasting is just another tool in the tool box.

It’s not universally effective or universally helpful, as you’ll see from the testimonials.

Think of it like a screw driver. Incredibly helpful if you need to build Ikea furniture but utterly useless when trying to fix a clogged toilet.

When I asked our members to share their experience with Intermittent Fasting I found people tended to LOVE it or loathe it

For the LOVERS, most experienced the same benefits I did:

Here are the benefits:

  • Elimination of “hanger”
  • Stopped feeling ravenous
  • Stop fearing hunger
  • Learned “hunger is not an emergency”
  • Found true hunger
  • Stopped eating just because it was “mealtime”
  • More mindful eating
  • Better sleep
  • Better bowel movements
  • Stronger workouts
  • Increased muscle mass (without exercise)
  • Reduced body fat (without exercise)
  • Improved muscular strength (with exercise)
  • Less recovery time
  • Eliminated snacking
  • Curbed late night snacking

Here are a few of their testimonials.

If you’re a member of Meal Mentor, see the link at the bottom for more testimonials in our private member forums.

The selected testimonials here represent most responses.

Becky: I started IF in August. I lost six pounds in the first two weeks and by December  was down 15 pounds. I maintain my eating window religiously, even on vacation. I love it...only thing I've ever done that got rid of those pesky last few pounds!

Maureen: Since I began my acid reflux has disappeared. I was on 2 medications and now not any any for reflux. I also stopped snacking at night and I’m so proud and grateful for that! I sleep so much better!

Gabriela: I have been doing IF pretty consistently for 3 weeks and I have gained weight! Maybe I am overeating now to make up for it.

Let me pause quickly to say overeating is a common problem with IF and it can cause some people to binge. The weight gain, however, COULD be muscle, IF it’s a tiny tiny increase. Brooke’s experience helps clarify this:

Brooke: I was in a one year study looking at IF and breast cancer risk. I gained weight over the course of the year (4 lbs) but my fat mass went from 36% to 25% and my muscle mass went from 45 pounds to 52 pounds and it wasn't from exercise. I was a Plant based vegan for 5 years before the study and stayed vegan during the study.

Beth: I find my workouts are way better while in fasting mode. Higher energy which keeps going beyond my workout. I would never have thought that after being drilled about "fueling your body to fuel your workouts"

I, too, find I prefer hiking and snowboarding in the fasted state. I have more energy, can go longer, and don’t feel wiped out afterwards. I’ve also noticed my recovery time is dramatically faster and oftentimes I don’t get sore at all.

Bodybuilders who practice IF tend to life in a fasted state and then feed afterwards. It makes perfect sense—your body can better focus on the task at hand this way. It can build muscle, repair and focus on your performance if it's not trying to do that AND digest food, which is incredible taxing (see Season 1 for more info).

The one exception would be running, or anything that is a very high intensity cardio for more than 45-60 minutes. You run the risk of depleting your glycogen if you do that in a fasted state so runners beware.  

Toni: I feel more confident and in control, thereby having the strength to withstand poor food choices later in the day ;)

Lisa: IF causes me to binge at my first meal and/or snarf on my last meal- again not all the time but for someone like me who deals with emotional eating issues, I don't feel IF works.

Susan: I did IF for a couple of months. There were some benefits, like being better able to gauge true hunger, and really appreciate my meals. However, in the mornings I found myself relying on black coffee which made me jittery. It also made me think about food all the time, and I felt like I was unreasonably denying/restricting myself. I don't have any history of eating disorder, but I felt like I was going a bit far into 'excessive control' territory. For anyone with an 'all or nothing' type personality, I would suggest keeping tabs on whether IF is positive for your emotional health.

Samantha: “IF cut down my hangry pains, taught me to eat when truly hungry not just because it was "time". I've also noticed my blood sugar seems to have normalize. I no longer experience drops like I use to.

Kelly: IF was hateful. I tried it twice and I was a crazed, mad dog each time I did it. I could think of nothing else but when it was time to eat and then I pounced on my food like I'd never had it before. It was totally unpleasant for me. I couldn't see any real reason to put myself through that.

Valentina: I started last May and it changed my life. I feel amazing. The only downside is that I did not lose any weight and at the very beginning I had some trouble with bowel movements. I also have noticed that when I eat outside of my window I feel starving and my mind is really weak the next day.

Valentina brings up another good point. Several people reported that if they stopped IF, they often experienced hanger or that bottomless pit sensation where they could not get a control over their hunger. They were constantly hungry. This seems particularly true if you start eating earlier than your normal window or eat later than normally.

Anecdotal but when I was suffering from insomnia my doctor insisted I not eat more than 4 hours close to bed, so it doesn’t surprise me that if Valentina eats after 9pm she feels weak and foggy the next day.

Rachel: I was nervous about trying IF because I was nursing a baby but I'm really glad I experimented with it because I have found that it's been great for post-partum weight loss and it hasn't interfered at all with milk production. Doing slim team in combination with IF helped me get back down to my pre-baby weight.

Dash: After practicing IF for over a year, I started bingeing. I ate out of fear of not being able to make it until 10 the next morning. I think IF is a fantastic stepping stone to being more mindful.

Emily: I'd previously tried it but didn't have a good experience with IF until coupling it with the Meal Plans. Knowing I won't starve and can live eating less frequently has been huge in overcoming that deprivation mindset.

Mona: I started IF because I was at a plateau and IF quickly broke through it. I am also a fitness instructor and had bought into the "you need to eat every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism stoked" theory. Lindsay's podcasts on that topic were eye opening for me. I know some people have felt IF triggered binging. I was afraid of that happening because in the past, if I got really hungry, I would wind up eating much more than I should and still never feel like I got ahead of my hunger. But it hasn't played out that way for me.

And from another fitness expert:

Melinda: Initially I used IF to overcome some serious hedonic cycling after contest prep for figure shows. I was incapable of eating mindfully so the only solution that worked was eating in a small window. I’m not as rigid now. Having to journal food is triggering for me so the meal plan approach is better.

Lynn: My experience has been that IF adds no extra benefit to following the meal plans. It ended up being an extra layer of restrictive rules and complications to what was already working for me with the meal plans. I think IF might be an advantage to anyone who is just eating freely. With the meal plans, this is not the case. Having the meal plans frees me up from having to add in other diet disciplines. The plans have a certain amount of food. I just eat when I am hungry, and have found no difference in trying to time my meal.



YOUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Will intermittent fasting work if I only do it on some days?

Doing something is still better than doing nothing, if for no other reason than it helps you figure out the right combination while steadily building good habits, but like anything in life, the more you put into it the more you will get out of it, and putting in half the effort doesn’t always get you half the results.

Coffee—Can you have coffee in the morning part of the fast?

Yes or anytime as long as it’s black. Same for tea and herbal tea. As long as you’re not adding creamers, milks, sugars, or other calorie sources to it.

Can you drink water during intermittent fasting?

Yes, absolutely.

Is it true I can have 50 calories without breaking the fast?

50 calories would likely kick most people you out of the fasting state, especially if you are female or a shorter person.

The safest amount is less than 20 calories, but you don’t want to eat in your fasted state or start gambling or bargaining, thinking you have 20 calories.

What I’m trying to convey here is if you accidentally have a breath mint in the fasting window, you’ll probably be okay and you need not worry about the few calories in your toothpaste, nightly herbal tea, or medication.

Likewise, I don’t want you to assume because mustard has zero calories that you can now eat packets of it during the faster period or chew entire packs of gum, or eat pickles, or binge on diet sodas all night.

Thank you to all the meal plan users (Meal Mentor members) who bravely admitted they started doing these things, you are not alone and if this happens you should stop practicing IF.

Can I start my IF window at different times each day?

The top goal with IF is to have a 16-hour fast, that is that you go 16 hours from your last meal to your first meal the next day.

This 16-hour time stretch is so long that it’s difficult to shift your 8-hour feeding window, especially without a lot forethought and preparation, including planning to cut the day before’s window shorter and waiting even more hours the following (next) day to start eating.

You want your window to be as similar as you can day-to-day, not only for your personal ease but because your body becomes more efficient that way. Your body likes predictability. The more consistent you are the better your experience will be and the more success you have. Imagine how stressed you’d be in the bus or your favorite TV show was on at a slightly different time each week?

Choosing the best window?

This ultimately comes down to what your schedule looks like. When I was IF’ing regularly I preferred the 11-7 window because I could still go to lunch with my coworkers or brunch with friends on the weekend as well as eat dinner with my husband at night (he doesn’t IF). 10-6 and 12-8 are also common window choices.

How many Meal Mentor meals do you eat during your window?

I asked meal plan users who IF to share what they do and here’s what they said.

Globally, most have their breakfast at the start of their window, say 10 or 11 am, then lunch 2 hours later (12 or 1), with dinner towards the end of their window when they get home from work (about 6pm).

Maureen: My usual routine is: ONOs around 10, lunch around 2, dinner around 5:30.

Lydia: I eat lunch around 12:15, ONOs around 4-5 pm, and Supper around 7-8pm.

Laura: Overnight oats around 9, lunch around 12 and dinner around 5 when I get home from work.

Felicia: Most days I eat oatmeal at 12, a Meal Mentor meal at 3-4 and another Meal Mentor meal around 8.

Sarah: I only eat 2 meals (lunch and dinner) plus snacks.

Shelly: It varies. I don’t practice set meals or meal times. Instead I focus on staying within my calories during the 8-hour window.

Meredith: I eat 2 meals. No breakfast.

Brandy: I get up at 5am but I don’t eat until 10. I eat at 10am, 2 pm and 6:30 pm.

This was Episode 11 of Season 1.


Download your free, research-based meal plan here and leave the guesswork and science to me.

SHOW NOTES

  1. Forum Thread on IF Experiences (only members have access)

  2. Neuroscientist Shows What Fasting Does To Your Brain and Why Big Pharma Won’t Study It 

  3. Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fast