First off, what the heck is intermittent fating (or IF)?
It’s simply manipulating the time of your meals so that you are sticking to a specific “fasting window” and “feeding window” each day. The most common is 16/8; someone might have their first meal at noon and finish eating by 8 PM. Or from 10 AM or 6 PM.
Some studies have found that women do better with a slightly longer feeding window and so I would recommend starting with 14/10 and see how your body feels with that before increasing.
I think the best opportunity to use intermittent fasting is when you are in a calorie deficit. Say you normally eat 2,000 calories and eat from 7 AM to 7 PM. If you decrease your calories to lose weight to 1,700 calories it might be difficult to stay full from 7 AM to 7 PM. So pushing back breakfast until 10 or 11 AM and finishing eating at 7 PM could help it feel like you don’t have to stretch fewer calories out among the same amount of time.
In my coaching experience, some people just respond better to fasting than others. (I would hypothesize stress level and dieting history impacts this.) If you don’t respond well to fasting, there is absolutely no need to do it.
So, you decide you want to try IF. I don’t recommend just jumping into the 16/8 window. I recommend slowly pushing your breakfast back and/or bringing dinner forward to give your body time to adjust. Your body is used to getting meals at the times you normally eat, so give your body about 2 weeks to adjust and you’ll notice that your hunger cues can get trained to this new meal timing.
Cool science fact: If you were to fast for 24 hours, your body would still secrete it’s hunger hormones and enzymes at the times of your normal meals — even when you’re not eating! It wants to be prepared for digesting your food, so it’s trained to do this. If you always eat at 7 AM, your body expects food at 7 AM. So the first time you push back breakfast to 8:30 or 9 AM, you’ll be a little hungry but you’ll survive.
Drinking water and coffee while you’re adjusting to a later breakfast can really help make the transition easier.
“BUT WAIT!! What about starvation mode? Won’t my metabolism slow down if I don’t eat every few hours?” Definitely not. Our body doesn’t enter “starvation mode” (slow it’s metabolism) until about 48-72 hours without food. So as long as you are not waiting that long for your next meal, it will be totally fine.
Did I answer all your questions about IF? If not, drop them in the comments below!