When You Eat Is As Important As What You Eat
Some of us have become accustomed to eating all day long. We eat three square meals a day, often with snacks in between. Some of us are late-night eaters, snacking right up until bedtime without ever giving it too much thought. And some of us are emotional eaters, looking to food to help us feel better. Unfortunately many of us, myself included, have learned the hard way that this has been disastrous for our health and our weight!
Intermittent Fasting To The Rescue
When people think of fasting, they sometimes imagine (with dread!) endless days of painful starvation, with only water to sustain them. But the truth is that there are many different ways to fast. Intermittent fasting (IF) is a super-important and useful tool that will help you lose weight and improve your health.
With IF, you begin by decreasing the window of time in which you eat each day. You can ease into it by starting slowly, or you may decide to dive right in and jump start the process. Regardless of which method you choose, there are a couple of “rules” (or shall we call them “strong suggestions”?) you should observe in order see the most successful.
Eating late at night should ideally be one of the first things you eliminate. When you eat too close to bedtime, your body doesn’t have enough time to completely digest your food. It also doesn’t need the energy that food provides, so all those unused calories get stored as – you guessed it – fat. So start by getting into the habit of having your last meal or snack at least three hours before bedtime.
The next thing you’ll want to do is to reduce the number of meals you eat each day from three to two, and begin compressing the window of time in which you eat them. Begin by decreasing the time frame by a little each week or every few days, whatever you feel works best for you. Your end goal should be to eat all your food within a 6-8 hour window each day.
Going for extended periods of time without food has numerous health benefits. Your blood sugar begins to stabilize; excess glucose is depleted, and your body starts producing ketones and burning fat instead (say it with me … weight loss!). Fasting allows your entire body to rest, recharge and repair itself by activating its natural cleansing processes. Contrary to popular belief, fasting will not put your body into starvation mode – in fact, it actually increases your metabolism – and you will feel less, not more hungry as your body begins to burn fat. Be sure that healthy fats make up at least 70% of your daily diet, as this will help keep you from feeling hungry.
Pay attention to what your body is telling you during this time. If you are experiencing a lot of unpleasant symptoms, it’s ok to take things a little more slowly. Remember that this is not a race. You are doing this for YOU, so you want to do everything you can to make sure the changes you’re making will become a permanent part of your life and your self-care.