Happy, hello everyone. We have been getting some questions intermittent fasting and Joe has written a fantastic article explaining it. I don't use IF in any coaching at our office simply because the ITG Diet Plan focuses on consistent, healthy eating to increase metabolism and decrease appetite and hunger with fiber, some carbs and a small amount of sugars.
I personally tried this diet over 7 years ago and, for me, it was not a great fit. I am very hyperactive typically and I found myself extremely tired most of the time. My biggest concern was how out of whack my IBS became from my stomach being empty all the time. When I did eat, I became sick or queasy unfortunately. Now, even though IF did not work for me, I have known quite a few people who have done this type of diet, very close to the "Warrior Diet" that Joe mentioned in his article.
Enjoy his article below!
Coach Perspective: Intermittent Fasting (IF)
By Joseph Packo, ITG Coach
I’ve gotten lots of great questions about intermittent fasting lately from dieters – what it is, how it works, and if it’s a tool that can be utilized while on the ITG Diet Plan. ITG does not recommend intermittent fasting while on the program. Nutrition plans such as ITG focus on what you eat, while intermittent fasting is all about when you eat. Intermittent fasting involves limiting eating to certain days of the week (or hours of the day) depending on the fasting program selected.
Here are three common IF plans:
Alternative Day Fasting/Periodic Prolonged Fasting – eliminates eating 1 or 2 days a week
- Not eating food for an entire day or two
- 5/2 or 2/1
Reduced Meal Frequency – whole foods meal once per day
- “Warrior Diet” – only one large meal per day, or 20/4 (20 hours fasting, 4 hours to eat)
Time Restricted Fasting – fasting for a set number of hours with a short time frame for eating meals
- 16/8 (16 hours fasting, 8-hour window for eating)
- 18/6 (18 hours fasting, 6-hour window for eating)
- 20/4 (20 hours fasting, 4-hour window for eating / “Warrior Diet”)
As illustrated above, IF involves some hardcore dedication as well as the ability to combat hunger, cravings, and low energy/fatigue. Most people need around 2000 calories per day to maintain their weight, and 1500 calories or lower to lose weight. When fasting, it is extremely important to be cautious of the types of foods selected. While calories are important, the macronutrient sources of those calories make more of a difference when processed by the body. Counting calories isn’t necessary with ITG or with IF, but the quality of foods definitely does with both. Simply eating 1500 calories of anything we want does not translate into weight loss! Fasting allows the body to continue to burn through the calories consumed at a previous meal until it begins to make the metabolic switch to fat burning mode (ketosis). Going longer periods of time without eating – 24, 36, even 72 hours – can actually be dangerous and can encourage the body to start storing more fat to respond to starvation mode.
CON: Let’s start with the cons. I have experimented with fasting on the ITG Diet while in Step 1 and while I do lose weight initially, I have noticed my weight loss stalling or slowing to a crawl after a couple weeks. This is the same with every dieter I coach. While in ketosis and utilizing ITG, not eating all of the proteins and vegetables each day will cause a dieter’s progress to slow or stall completely. Typically, after the first few weeks of the program, the dieter will feel naturally satiated from breaking down fat and burning ketones more and more efficiently. I warn them of this early on as well as the importance of journaling the foods they eat each day. Why? They will begin to skip meals, or forget to eat, simply due to fewer cravings while in ketosis. This typically leads to a stall in their weight loss, and I have to tell them they need to eat more food. (What a great diet, being told by your coach to eat more!) The body tends to hold on to everything it’s got when it realizes there is no consistent food supply available.
Intermittent fasting can also lead to binge eating and nutrient deficiencies. Remember those times when your eyes were bigger than your stomach, but you cleared your plate anyway? The same can happen here. Fasting may also trigger the body and the mind to undergo stress, which releases cortisol. Cortisol stimulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism, which creates a surge of energy in the body (for fight/flight). If stress levels continue to stay elevated, that cortisol will end up causing increased appetite and cravings for sweet, fatty, and salty foods to compensate. Binging on these types of foods would completely erase any benefits obtained from IF. This also applies to ITG: not eating all the foods throughout the week will eventually lead to hunger and potential binging on poor quality, calorie dense foods.
PRO: I have utilized fasting in Step 3 for maintenance (especially after a fun-food-filled weekend) and it helps my body eliminate the excess water retention. It also helps my body burn off the last few things I ate without adding more of a caloric burden to my system. I accomplish this by following the 20/4 route the day after Reward Day, and my one whole foods meal consists of protein, vegetables, and salad only
For Steps 1 and 2 of the ITG Diet, intermittent fasting should not be incorporated. However, upon reaching a healthy target weight, fasting may be incorporated into Step 3 if desired. Again, fasting is not a one-size fits-all solution, but after some carb heavy days (such as on Reward Day) fasting can allow the body time to continue to process the sugars, fats, and salts instead of being overloaded by yet another meal.
Bottom line: Fasting should not be used in Steps 1 and 2 of the ITG Diet Plan since it can lead to a weight loss plateau and binge eating. Fasting may be used successfully in Step 3 of the program while incorporating all whole food groups again, along with exercise, as part of a healthy lifestyle. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone and is very challenging to stick with for the long term. Since there is not a one size fits all option, your dieters may need to work with a nutritionist to see what works for them if they are interested in giving it a shot. It’s all about finding that balance!
Children who are under 18, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with blood sugar issues/diabetes, or those with a history of eating disorders, should not utilize IF. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist before starting any diet or weight loss program