By now you’ve probably heard of Intermittent Fasting. It’s become a quite popular nutrition protocol in the fitness world these days, and it isn’t without warrant.
So you might be wondering, is this something I should be doing as an Ashtangi?
Well let’s take a look, shall we?
So first of all, what is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is the simple idea that we want to increase our fasting window (aka the time that we are not shovelling food in our mouths), and decrease our eating window.
Some of the benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Increased energy
- Increased fat metabolism
- Regulation of bowel movements
- Hormone regulation
- Weight loss
- Reduced inflammation (aka improvement in recovery and injury prevention in Ashtanga)
You’ll also reduce your cravings, probably sleep better, and have a lighter practice. And that’s what we all want, right?
So how do I do intermittent fasting?
The word fasting often conjures up images of being really hungry, or feeling weak. That is not the intention here at all. If you are attempting intermittent fasting, and you are unsure, it is always best to seek the support of a qualified nutritionist, or alternative health care provider.
As with any change, when starting intermittent fasting it’s best to start slow and work your way up. Most intermittent fasting protocols call for a 14-16 hour fasting period, and an 8-10 hour eating window.
While that may seem intimidating, it’s all good. You can work your way up slowly.
Start by taking stock of when you stop eating. You probably “fast” for longer than you think.
Maybe you see that you fast (aka just don’t eat) for 12 hours a day (like 8pm to 8 am).
To begin slowly, start by increasing your fasting time by one hour per day. So instead of eating at 8 am, have your breakfast around 9 am. Then gradually build up to a 14-16 hour fast! Easy peasy!
Life Hack: If you want to eat earlier in the morning, just have a light n’ early dinner! That’s what I’ve been taking on, and it’s been working like a charm!
Can I have coffee while I fast?
Ok, so there is this misconception that you can/should have a bulletproof coffee while you’re fasting.
This is false. Bulletproof coffees are high in calories (which isn’t a bad thing) but during your fasting period, you ideally want to take in NO calories.
Some experts say you can consume under 50 calories without taking your body out of a fasting state, but to keep it kosher, my advice is don’t take in any calories at all.
But fear not! Black coffee, tea, and water don’t have any calories! YAHOO!
So you don’t need to give up your morning cuppa joe to partake in this protocol. Which I know is very, very important for Ashtangis. #nocoffeenoprana
Now, something I recommend to all my clients is that if you’re finding it hard to give up your creamy morning coffee, you can still work on fasting. Start by eliminating actual food in the morning and stick to your liquid coffee, even if it has some milk just to get your body used to not taking in any food.
Then, when you feel ready, you can try out the black coffee situation.
Tip: Having a high fat bevvie such as a bulletproof latte may be a great way to break your fast! You don’t necessarily want to rush right into eating difficult to digest food. So start with a bulletproof coffee and ease into a full meal.
Who is intermittent fasting NOT for:
While intermittent fasting is a really great way to access tons of energy, and all the above-listed benefits, it’s not for everyone.
If you are pregnant I would caution against intermittent fasting. At this point in your life, you need to honour your hunger cues and eat when you’re hungry. Breastfeeding women may want to be careful with this as well.
I am a breastfeeding mom, but only really took on intermittent fasting toward the end of the first year of my daughter’s life. There isn’t a lot of evidence-based research to suggest whether or not there is a negative impact on IF with breastfeeding mothers, but especially in the first several months, I’d stay away from it.
If you have ever struggled with disordered eating, this protocol may be more harmful than helpful. It may trigger feelings of obsession, limitation, and restriction and could potentially lead to a relapse.
I hope this was helpful Ashtangis! Have you tried out intermittent fasting? Are you interested in trying it out? Let us know in the comments below!