When people find out I practice intermittent fasting, I typically get a lot of questions. What is intermittent fasting? Why do you fast? Can you do that on the Autoimmune Protocol? How do I do it? Isn’t it bad to skip breakfast?
Today, I’m going to attempt to answer those questions, for those of you interested in intermittent fasting. I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting regularly for about two years. I believe it’s been instrumental, in conjunction with the Autoimmune Protocol, in healing my leaky gut and saving me from a more dire diagnosis.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is when you cycle your eating between times of fasting and times of non-fasting. There are a few ways of cycling your eating. Some people follow a 24 fast, followed by a number of days of non-fasting. Others may follow more of a set number of days on a restricted calorie phase, mixed with days of regular eating. I follow the 8 hour window plan, where I only eat within an 8 hour window, every day. Experts agree, to receive any benefit, one must fast for a minimum of 16 hours.
Why do you fast?
Well, I have a few reasons. First, I have no gall bladder, and I also have some genetic anomalies in my digestive tract. Because of this, my body and other organs work very hard to digest any foods I eat. By intermittent fasting, I lessen the burden on my digestive system. Also, I have a family history riddled with cancer. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer when I was only 16 years old. Luckily for me, my surgeon was able to remove every bit of it. Many studies on intermittent fasting prove it’s effectiveness in fighting cancer. I do everything I can to avoid another cancer diagnosis. I’ve lost too many people I love to that horrible disease. Studies have also shown it to increase lifespan, promote brain health and increase energy. These are all good reasons to follow intermittent fasting in my book!
Can you fast on the Autoimmune Protocol?
Yes and no. Yes, you can, once you’re done with the elimination phase of the AIP. No, most people should not follow it on the elimination phase of the AIP. I recommend reading The Paleo Mom’s post on intermittent fasting here. You can read up on the science behind it, and why she doesn’t recommend it on the elimination phase. Now, here’s an example of “do as I say, not as I do”. I did practice intermittent fasting while on the elimination phase. But, remember, I have issues with digestion that most people do not. In all honesty, most of you are dealing with the stress of changing your diets and making the lifestyle changes during the elimination phase of the autoimmune protocol. Why add another stressor to your life? Just wait until after you have completed the elimination phase to practice intermittent fasting.
How do I do it?
First, you’re going to want to figure out which cycling plan you want to follow. My advice is to start a plan you can realistically do long-term. The two most popular plans are The Fast Diet by Dr. Michael Mosley and The 8 Hour Diet by David Zinczenko and Peter Moore. I started with the 5:2 plan, as in The Fast Diet. I followed it for a couple of months; but, it really didn’t work very well with my particular lifestyle. Then, I switched to The 8 Hour Diet, and stuck with it. This one was a perfect fit. Now, I should mention that, if you do this long-term, like me, your body will get used to this new schedule, and your benefits will decrease. To stop this from happening, every few months, I will go off the cycle. It’s really simple to do. I just stop fasting for a week. I’ll eat three smaller meals throughout the day. Then, I resume the 8 hour window cycle. It’s really easy to do, once you get the hang of it.
Isn’t it bad to skip breakfast?
Uh….no. I differ with a lot of people on this, I know. In my research on intermittent fasting, I have seen only compelling evidence that this way of eating is beneficial to my health. I have always hated eating breakfast. Because of my digestive issues, eating breakfast made me feel sluggish and bloated. My body was working so hard to digest my breakfast, it was sapping all of my energy. If you have the same feeling after eating breakfast, intermittent fasting may be for you. While I agree some people need breakfast, I don’t believe it’s as many people as think they need breakfast. You have to weigh the options for yourself to determine which cycling plan will work for you. You might do better on the 5:2 plan.
I’m happy to answer any questions you have about intermittent fasting. Many of us who practice intermittent fasting experience better healing, increased fitness performance, and faster recovery. As with everything, consult with your healthcare partner before starting intermittent fasting, especially if you’re taking medication or supplements.
Like everything else, I don’t see intermittent fasting as a magic bullet. It’s more like another tool in your healing kit. We are all in different places in our healing journey. I understand that what’s right for me, may not be right for you. But, when I discover something that has helped me, I like to at least let y’all know about it.
As always, I wish you good health….and good food, even if it’s eaten intermittently.
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