INTERMITTENT FASTING & MACROS
Why I kind of do it and how it can kind of help with fat loss
I’m a “kind of” intermittent faster. What does that mean? It means that I kind of stick to a time restricted eating window but don’t stress if it doesn’t work out when I’m traveling or go out to breakfast with someone. It means that I stick to a general eating window, not for extra magical health benefits, but because it seems to work for me. I find that, personally, intermittent fasting helps me control hunger throughout the day and prioritize my hydration - something I’m terrible at - and helps keep me in a good eating routine whether I’m tracking my macros or not.
Curious about what the heck intermittent fasting even is and if it may be a good strategy for you? Read on!
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a broad term used to describe a pattern of eating in which you restrict your food intake to a specified eating window. While many of us start the day with breakfast at 7am and end with an after-dinner snack at 8pm (a 13-hour eating window), intermittent fasting refers to cutting down that time spent eating to a shorter window.
There is some misinformation behind the idea of intermittent fasting - from some sources claiming that it is the ‘best’ way to pursue fat loss to misconceptions that it is as simple as skipping breakfast and then getting abs. The truth is that we all practice IF to some extent; when we sleep, we are fasting. This period of fasting is important for helping regulate blood lipids and blood pressure, reducing inflammation markers, and stimulating metabolism (all totally normal processes in our bodies). The claim that IF is a helpful fat loss strategy stems from these benefits, but doesn’t mean it’s the magic pill you’ve been looking for.
We know that fat loss requires a calorie deficit, or eating fewer calories than you are burning each day. For that reason,
intermittent fasting can be considered a tool for fat loss because when you eat fewer times during the day, there’s a good chance that you’re taking in fewer calories and creating a calorie deficit.
If intermittent fasting were the secret to rapid and effortless fat loss, then we’d all be doing it and there would be no need for tracking our macros or any of the million other methods used to create a calorie deficit. But as far as body composition changes go, extending our period of fasting beyond the normal period of sleep doesn’t lead to any magical fat loss powers. So, why do people still do it?
Intermittent fasting can make it easier to stick to a calorie deficit by helping you manage hunger and improve appetite control.
INTERMITTENT FASTING & MACROS
If you are already tracking your macros, intermittent fasting does not necessarily change anything about the amount you are eating. Your target macros will be the same, you will just have a shorter eating window in which to hit your macro targets. If you are cutting (in a calorie deficit with the goal of losing body fat) and have issues with hunger, adding some semblance of a restricted eating window can help you control that hunger and reach your hydration targets if you prioritize drinking water during your fasting period.
It’s not magic. It’s important to remember that meal timing is SO far down on the priority list when it comes to what you should focus on as you work towards your goals, but it may be a helpful strategy for some:
IF MIGHT BE A GOOD STRATEGY TO TRY IF || you are already feeling comfortable with tracking your macros, you are cutting (in a calorie deficit) and looking to manage your hunger, your schedule supports a time-restricted eating window
IF MAY NOT BE FOR YOU IF || you’re new to tracking macros and still getting the hang of it (no need to complicate the process further!), you don’t have any issues with hunger or hydration, you don’t like it!
Nutrition is not one size fits all, so whatever works for a friend, a family member, or a random person you saw on Instagram may not be the answer for you. There are many “official” IF protocols out there (Alternating Day, Leangains, 5:2 fasting), but giving IF a try can be as simple as just finding an eating window that works for you and your schedule.
Questions about intermittent fasting, if it may be helpful for you, or what my day of IF looks like? As away!