The What and Why Behind the Diet Trend

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Everything you need to know about intermittent fasting before deciding if it’s right for you! The 411 on the what and why behind this fast growing diet trend as well as firsthand accounts from people who have had experience with this eating style.

I am NOT a proponent of the notion that there is one superior diet or way of eating. Everybody and every BODY is so different. So what works for one person could be detrimental to another person’s health.

However, I do like exploring different styles of eating that become popular in society and enjoy doing research on topics that are up and coming in the healthy living world. So, today we’re talking intermittent fasting. It’s been around and popular for a while now, but it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Some people see it as a controversial or extreme way of eating…and maybe that’s true. But interesting and highly debated nonetheless.

Let’s get into it…

Intermittent Fasting | Everything you need to know about intermittent fasting before deciding if it's right for you! The 411 on the what and why behind this fast growing diet trend as well as firsthand accounts from people who have had experience with this eating style.

What is intermittent fasting?

The basic definition of intermittent fasting is that it’s a cyclical eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. It’s not technically about WHICH foods you consume during your chosen ‘eating window’, but rather WHEN you choose to eat them. So it’s not a conventional or typical “diet”. I would call it more of a new “eating pattern” that is gaining popularity in the health and fitness community. Based on people I’ve asked and had discussions about the topic with, common intermittent fasting practices vary from daily 16 hour fasts to 24 hour fasts for one to two days a week. It all depends on the person and their lifestyle overall.

Why do people choose to do it?

From what I’ve read and researched, it seems to be completely individual based on people’s lifestyles! Some people use it to lose weight, for some it just works with their schedule, and for others they like the health promoting benefits that come with it.

Any benefits?

If done properly, intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently and effectively. Your body can learn to burn fat as fuel when you deprive it of new calories to constantly pull from (basically if you eat ‘normally’…as in all day long or every few hours).

Here are some additional benefits that have been recorded…

  • reduces insulin resistance and can decrease your risk for Type 2 Diabetes
  • reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
  • induces cellular repair processes more quickly
  • has beneficial effects on metabolism
  • increases growth of nerve cells in the brain
  • increases fat burning and cell turn over
  • improved appetite and blood sugar control
  • can improve effectiveness of chemotherapy
  • offers protection against neurotoxins

Sources 1, 2 

What are people saying about it?

I reached out to my community and asked what other people’s experiences with this dietary lifestyle are. Here’s what they said…

For me, waiting to eat breakfast until 11-12 works best for my schedule. It lets me work out, do chores and even go to my morning college classes without having to worry about food until later. I also enjoy eating fewer, bigger meals instead of snacking throughout the day, and doing fasted workouts in the morning seems to work best with my body. I don’t think intermittent fasting is the way everyone should eat, and I don’t follow the traditional intermittent fasting “rules” to a T. However, it works for me and I think that’s what is most important – finding the diet that works for you and your lifestyle. | Casey the College Celiac

I do it for about 13 hours…not as extreme as others, but it works for me. I usually start after dinner till the morning! So if I’m done eating dinner at 7:15, I will wait until 8:15 the next day to eat breakfast. Sometimes longer, depending on how I feel. It helps me stop snacking after dinner and the biggest benefit I have seen is I don’t get up to pee in the middle of the night anymore! I was suggested it try it from someone so I figured why not. | Kelly from Eat the Gains

I’m actually doing it for the first time these past few weeks. I’m not eating after 8 pm till 12 pm. I only did a little research on it. I’m doing it more as a way to set aside time to pray (my church is doing a 21 Day Fast). So far it’s going well but I have noticed that doing my late morning afternoon workout I don’t have as much energy | Mikki from The Not So Perfect Housewife

I typically fast 16 hours and eat between 11 am-12 pm to 7-8 pm, but I am typically less strict with it on the weekends. I feel less bloated throughout the day, and still eat a normal day’s worth of calories. It’s satisfying to me to eat a lot of food in a shorter period of time. I have tried a 24 hour fast once, where I stopped eating at 2 pm on Sunday and didn’t eat again until 2 pm on Monday. It wasn’t as hard as it seemed! I’d like to start incorporating this every 1-2 weeks. | Alysia from Slim Sanity

When I did intermittent fasting earlier this year, I started eating at 12 and stopped at 8! So I guess I had a big window of eating? I’m sure others are much more extreme. I did it to burn fat fuels more for running, but then I needed to learn how to train my stomach how to run and exercise with food in it and that’s why I stopped. I now like eating before I workout because it gives me a mental boost that I have energy to use. | PJ

So I’m weird when it comes to intermittent fasting. Whereas most people skip breakfast and have a late dinner, I have to get up really early. So I eat my first meal around 8 then have my last meal between 4 and 5. 6 at the latest. My normal window is 8-4 or 8-5 and 8-6 for social situations. I didn’t really decide to start, I just naturally was hungry at those times because I always had early morning practice/exercise sessions. Then I’m hungry for my last big meal by 4 or 5 and I go to bed early.

After doing this for a while, I read the research and that made me stick with it, and now my husband does it with me. So we are 8-10 hours of eating and 14-16 hours fasting.

Basically, exercise/scheduling of hunger made me start and reading research made me stick with it even if I don’t have an early morning exercise session. | Kelly

So now the question on everyone’s mind: Do I myself practice intermittent fasting? 

Well…sort of. I say sort of because I DON’T DO LABELS. As I’ve said in the past, my diet has no label and that’s because it’s always changing and evolving as I change and evolve as a person. I also don’t believe in restrictions. I eat a (mostly) plant-based diet, but I would never call myself vegan and don’t rigidly follow intermittent fasting. I focus on eating whole foods as often as possible and adjust my eating schedule depending on hunger and what my daily routine entails (example: vacation vs. a regular work day).

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Another reason I say sort of? I didn’t consciously choose to start intermittent fasting. It kind of just happened over the years. I’ve never been a huge breakfast person (love breakfast foods, just not hungry in the morning), so waiting until I am actually hungry (usually in the afternoon) just frees me from having to cook/think about/make food for the first half of my day. This allows me to wake up, workout, and get tons of work/productive things done, all before having to even think about food! My energy levels are still high and I feel great physically. So it’s just something that has naturally made its way into my daily life.

Like a few of the ladies mentioned above with their own intermittent fasting practices, mine are a-typical too. A few characteristics of my day of intermittent fasting…

  • just because I don’t eat first thing doesn’t mean I don’t DRINK…I stay WELL hydrated all day with lots of different beverages no matter when I start consuming food.
  • I am not on a rigid schedule…I don’t break my fast at the same time everyday and never end at the same time either (it’s different day by day depending on how I am feeling mentally and physically). Somedays I even eat breakfast because I am physically hungry. Same goes for vacation or if someone invites me out to breakfast! There are no strict rules here.
  • I still consume a proper days worth of calories in my “eating window”…despite eating for less amount of time, I am still consuming the same amount of calories as I usually do, so there’s no lack of nutrition or restriction.

This is not something I’ve done for weight loss, to be trendy, or because I think it’s a cure-all for health ailments. Like I said, I sort of just fell into it unexpectedly and have continued with it because it currently works for my life. That doesn’t mean I’ll do it forever or that my eating pattern won’t continue to change. I am flexible and open to new ideas as they come about.

As you can tell, so far this way of eating is really working for me. With that said, this post is NO WAY intended as medical advice or to influence you to start intermittent fasting in your own life. I only wrote this to share my own experience and shed some light on a new trend in the healthy living world that you may or may not have heard of already. That’s it.

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So please take this post as just a personal statement on my thoughts of intermittent fasting and consult with a medical professional before making any changes to your own lifestyle.

As the saying goes, “you do you”. This way of eating is certainly NOT feasible or healthy for everyone. But if it works for you, great! Either way, thanks for letting me share my experience with it so far.

As always, Healthy Helper is a place of open discussion and differing opinions! So I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on and experiences with intermittent fasting….good or bad. Let’s just keep things respectful and tolerant of each other!

Have you heard of intermittent fasting?

Would you ever consider trying it? Why or why not?

Do you use labels for your diet/eating style?

The What and Why Behind the Diet Trend 2
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42 responses to “Intermittent Fasting: The What and Why Behind the Diet Trend”

  1. Holly says:

    Can you cite studies to support the health claims
    S, especially the chemo one? That’s fascinating.

    How many miles a week are you running? Is your speed affected by fasting?

  2. I’m really glad you highlighted this topic! I’ve been interested in intermittent fasting because I didn’t realize I was doing a certain “eating pattern” until I researched it myself. I also don’t typically eat breakfast until around 11am – 12pm every day and it works great for me.

  3. Great job including various people’s experiences! I definitely agree that “you do you” is the best choice. If intermittent fasting works for you, great. If it doesn’t, great. Just find what does! 🙂

  4. D.C. says:

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  6. Rebecca says:

    Do you “break the fast” immediately after working out? I’m just asking because I know for me personally (and many others) if I run 7+ miles, I need to eat within 30-45 minutes or I’ll feel terrible the rest of the day. It’s extremely important for recovery! Just wanted to get your opinion.

  7. Im the same way! I don’t label myself with any diet but because I’m so busy I tend to not get hungry till later in the day and end up eating my first meal pretty late. Not on purpose but it just happens.

  8. Dolly says:

    Isn’t it wise to refuel after working out to speed up muscle recovery? Especially after long workouts? I’m trying to make sense, of why a person wouldn’t eat after burning 1000 calories?

  9. Like you, I absolutely do not do labels. But I was doing intermittent fasting before it was ever called that and only because I realized it’s a way of eating that worked for me. Which, again, is what we all need to figure out….what works for us individually. But basically, after my son was born (he’s 14 now, so like I said, before this was ever a “thing”), I noticed that if I stopped eating by 7:00PM (I go to bed at 9:00 get up by 5:00), and not eat again until about 8:00, I do better and feel better. I lost the baby weight fairly easily and have stayed at a healthy weight since. So like someone in your article mentioned, I do 12-14 hour “fast”, but it’s just what works and it happens to be how my eating and exercise routine goes. So all that to say, good post and great way to present the information.

  10. Addie says:

    I use to struggle with night eating as well! I found the opposite to be true though. I was so scared to gain weight (I struggled with anorexia and exercise compulsion) that I would save my calories for the end of the day. It worked for awhile until eventually my body caught up and I started waking up and binge eating. To each their own but this eating “pattern” sounds an awful lot like the rationalizing my sick brain used to make.

  11. Emily Swanson says:

    I have heard of intermittent fasting; we have good friends who do it. I love how God created us all so differently, and none of us have to follow an exact formula for eating. I can totally understand that it works really well for getting things done in the morning; I don’t do that well on fasted workouts unless I ate a good amount the night before. But … I love that you shared the benefits, because it sounds like it could be a good thing in some situations!

  12. Great post, Kaila. I have been doing IF for 4 years now but don’t talk about it because I don’t want to send the wrong signal to people. I personally find it freeing and much easier on my digestion, plus it works better for my body as well. It is funny too, because I never lost weight or wanted to, but it majorly helped me feel more at peace with myself and around food. Good testimonies in here!

    • I had NO IDEA, Heather! How cool! I’d love to hear more about your experience since you’ve been doing it for so long. What made you start??

      • Hey! So it was actually some research I read on blood sugar levels, digestion, and IF. I started by just doing 3 meals a day versus snacking all day, and I noticed huge benefits from that. That was in 2013, and now I basically do 2 meals a day. Honestly, I would never go back. My blood sugar levels are so much better, although eating plant-based has also helped a lot with that too. I also felt better digestion-wise, although I had food sensitivities to sort through as well. I love it and feel so much more in tune with my body and the foods it craves; I just don’t blog about it because it’s not something I care to promote and don’t want it to get taken out of context. I experimented with it and it worked for me personally, so I continue to do it because it feels natural to me! 🙂

  13. Like a few others have said, I’ve been doing IF long, long before it was ever a ‘thing’!

    In addition to doing 16-18 fasts each day for at least a decade (typically, I’ll finish dinner around 9pm, then not eat again until 3-ish the next afternoon), I’ve been doing 5:2 for the past two years. Generally speaking, at least once a month, I’ll fast for 24 hours too. It kind of feels like a system reset. 😉

    I drink lots of water – always have done, especially as I never have hot drinks or coffee, etc. When I work out (which isn’t nearly as often as I should), it’s always in a fasted state first thing in the morning. I did try going for a run once after having a slice of bread and peanut butter (I’d woken up famished!), and it was so difficult; I felt really nauseated afterwards too. Didn’t try that again!

    I don’t consider myself to be a health nut in any way, shape or form (I love pizza as much as the next person!) but I can honestly say that at 54, I’ve never felt better. I’m not sure whether I attribute all the good stuff to IF, my diet (vegan since 2005, veggie for a couple of decades before that), or my general attitude toward life… but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t done me any harm. I can’t imagine not ever doing IF!


  14. Hi Kaila, What I love most about this post is that you included testimonials. I think the very first thing that people need to do is realize that not every diet or trend is for EVERYONE, so I like that all of the ladies do it a bit differently. While I’ve never experienced with IF (certainly not while I’m pregnant right now), I have heard great things about that window of not eating for resetting hormones. But of course, someone would need to try it to see if it worked for them. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Thank you for sharing this interesting post at #MerryMonday We hope you will link up again next week!

  16. […] been talk of diets, green living, thyroid health, and even adult beverages around here lately. A little mix of […]

  17. Michele Morin says:

    Very thought provoking. Thanks for sharing your practices here.

  18. I’ve tried intermittent fasting but I get so hungry that it’s hard to not overeat when I break the fast.

  19. I have been doing IF for about a month now while eating Keto. I find skipping breakfast and not eating till lunch very easy. I fast from 6:30p till noon the next day.

  20. Really interesting. #brilliantblogposts

  21. […] – Kaila Proulx […]

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