In January 2021, I decided to make a big lifestyle change…I started intermittent fasting and adding fat to my morning coffee.
Why? I wanted to give my gut a rest and burn some fat.
Little did I know that my commitment to time-restricted eating would also give me more energy and reverse my biological clock while reducing my risk of many chronic diseases related to inflammation. On top of all that, I lost weight and gained strength.
Before I made my decision, I read and researched some of the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF for short), and here’s what I found out:
TRIGGERS AUTOPHAGY: This is when your body self-cleans and repairs itself; I like to think of it as a recycling process or Spring Cleaning your body if you will. When you’re in a fasting state, the energy you would normally use to digest food is instead used for healing and repair. Turns out that when you give your gut a rest (and stop eating for 12-16 hours), it allows your body to do other important work such as cleaning up and repairing old cells. Keeping your cells in good working order can reduce inflammation and slow the aging process. Hello system upgrade, a.k.a. Liberté version 2.0!
WEIGHT LOSS: By giving yourself a shorter window of time to eat (8 hours a day if you are fasting for 16 hours), studies show you will likely eat fewer calories. Just make sure that when you do eat, you’re choosing nutrient-dense whole foods (I like to eat plant protein, lots of colorful fruits and veggies, complex carbohydrates, and good fats like avocado and MCT oil).
KETOSIS: Once you go without food for an extended period of time (12-16 hours), ketosis kicks in. That’s when your body stops burning glucose (carbohydrates) and starts burning stored fat…I’m pretty sure this is why I can see my abs again.
IMPROVES INSULIN SENSITIVITY: This can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
I’ll be honest, when I first started fasting over a year ago, it was tough. After hitting the 12-hour mark, I felt HANGRY and had no idea how I would make it to my 16-hour goal. Many days, I broke my fast early, but after about a month of sticking to my decision, IF got a lot easier. I also learned a couple of biohacks that helped curb my hunger pains (thank you Dave Asprey and his latest book, Fast This Way).
In case you don’t already know, Asprey is a renowned author and the founder of Bulletproof Coffee. Here are two biohacks I learned from his book:
COFFEE – I drink this in the morning while in a fasted state; it can help curb hunger, gives you energy, and doesn’t break your fast! I’m referring to black coffee here; no sugary coffee drinks as that will break the fast.
MCT OIL – I add MCT to my black coffee. MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride and I buy the C8 MCT oil from Bulletproof. It’s a flavorless extract of coconut oil that has the ability to suppress hunger. Even though it contains calories, it doesn’t take you out of ketosis, but it does switch off the sensation of hunger. Plus, it gives you a TON of energy. Some say it’s like jet fuel for your body and brain.
I should mention that I added a couple more days of weight training into my weekly routine and boom…I can now see my abs, biceps, and triceps and feel stronger than ever. Plus, the added muscle means I’m burning more calories (yes, muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you’re at rest).
If you’re interested in trying IF, I would recommend starting slow…maybe start at a 12-hour fast and work your way up to 13, then 14, and then, maybe 16 hours.
Also, I should mention, that fasting affects women differently (hello hormones and reproductive organs!) than men. Unfortunately, most of the available studies on the benefits of fasting have been conducted on men. The take-home: if you’re a woman, go easy and listen to your body…maybe stick to 12 or 14 hours. When I get to 14 hours, if I don’t have my coffee and MCT, I’m a little hangry and sometimes I have to break my fast before my 16-hour goal. My advice (and I’m not a doctor, I’m just a woman who has experienced the benefits of fasting): listen to your body…it’s always talking and giving you cues.