Chances are, by now, if you haven’t partaken in some form of intermittent fasting (IF) yourself, you’ve certainly been hearing about those who have. The practice has been around for some time but, more recently, it has really begun to gain traction amongst those of us who are attempting to live healthier lifestyles.
Bolstering a wide range of benefits, from fat-reduction, improved digestion and energy levels, to reduced risks for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, IF’s recent surge in popularity is not at all surprising. What is most exciting about IF, however, is the attractive feature that it can be done—with results!—at very little cost to the diet you already have.
That’s right: no counting calories, no obsessing over the contents of your fridge, and no depriving yourself of the foods you love.
But, let’s backtrack for a moment. What exactly is IF, and how can we incorporate it into our toolkits for healthier and happier living?
Well, as you might be able tell from the name itself, the idea behind intermittent fasting is that, if we can constrain our eating habits into a certain time window, we can train our bodies to make better use of what they take in.
It’s up to you how constrained a time window you want to work with, but the benefits only really seem to kick in around the 12-hour mark (considering that you’ll be sleeping through 6 to 8 of these hours, this is not at all a difficult feat).
IF is actually an umbrella term for a variety fasting practices, though. They all share the same central idea—that our bodies make the best use of what we consume when we give them the time to do so. The case for IF is actually deeply rooted in evolutionary biology (and the science behind it is very sound). It is only in the most recent centuries that we have had food readily available around the clock. As convenient as this is, it seems that our bodies are better off—nay, programmed—to make do with less. The ice cream in our freezers is wonderful, by all means, but it’s best to leave it alone at 11 PM between episodes of your favourite Netflix show…
If weight-loss is your goal with IF, ultimately, you will be trying to reduce the number of calories you take in. Unlike most calorie-restricting diets, however, IF is really easy to stick to. As opposed to vigorously keeping track of each and every calorie you take in, all you need to do is be conscious of the times you start and stop eating. We all practice time management in our daily lives, so the learning curve is not steep at all.
When you constrain the amount of time you spend eating, you will very naturally start eating less. You might get a bit bingy at first but, over time, you’ll end up consuming less food if your window is short enough - and you can always shorten the window if you’re not getting the results you want.
If general health and well-being is your goal, IF can really do wonders for your energy levels. Going to bed hungry and not eating breakfast might sound counterintuitive at first, but our bodies adapt very quickly. Not only that, you might find that a bit of hunger makes you sharper and more alert. Instead of waking up feeling heavy and lethargic, you will feel light and energized.
And, when you do sit down to eat, having adapted to the feeling of an empty stomach, you are likely to make do with smaller portions, make better food choices, and even enjoy your food more.
It’s a victory on all fronts.
As for the disclaimer: Yes, you are going to experience some hunger pains at first. But you will soon learn to associate hunger with a sense of satisfaction for doing what’s best for your body. This is certainly a case where the pros outweigh the cons.
And, as you experiment with IF, know that Caldo can help you along the way. The general consensus around maintaining your body in a fasted state is that, if you consume any food or beverage while you're fasting, it shouldn’t amount to much more than 10-20 calories. You can consider Caldo the proverbial glass slipper here. While you’re trying to make the most of your fast, a cup of Caldo can help curb your hunger and stretch out that extra hour in the morning when your appetite is kicking in, or late at night when you might otherwise be digging through the your kitchen looking for junk food. IF has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle enhancement and, here at Caldo, we want to make this change a little easier (and tastier).
All that to say that IF is only one of many strategies you can use to find what’s best for you. Being that it’s so easy to incorporate into your day-to-day, we think it’s definitely worth some consideration. Of course, if you are at all worried about any adverse effect it may pose to your health, consult a physician – and, if doing so, maybe bring a steamy cup of Caldo with you for the waiting room.