Intermittent fasting (IF) is having a moment right now. Fully 10% of Americans follow IF making it the country's most popular diet. If you live long enough you see many diet trends come and go (remember paleo) so what makes this one different? For starters, IF is not about what you eat, it’s about when you eat.
IF limits the amount of time you spend eating during the day. This simple change has significant health benefits.
As a follower of IF, I can add from personal experience that intentionally taking more time between eating feels like a natural counterbalance to the overabundance of modern life. I also feel darn good when I complete a fast.
There is a lot of scientific evidence to back up the health benefits of IF but most discussions over-complicate a simple concept. There is also very little time spent discussing how to properly end the fast. What should you actually eat to break for your fast? I love food so that’s what I care about. I will briefly describe IF, its benefits, and how to break your fast.
What is IF
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a daily pattern with periods of eating and periods of fasting. There are several common patterns including; 16:8 (16 hours fasted, 8-hour eating window), and 18:6 (18 hours fasted, 6-hour eating window).
The standard American lifestyle doesn’t naturally hit the optimal IF patterns of eating. Because of the abundance and availability of food, many people eat throughout the day and only pause to sleep. For most, adopting any of these common IF patterns will narrow the window of time for eating.
If 16 hours of fasting per day sounds crazy to you, consider that you’re probably already fasting for 10 hours if you include the time you spend asleep. Most people hit their 16 fast by restricting their daily eating period to 8 hours, like 1–9 p.m.
There is nothing new about fasting. Our ancestors evolved through periods of time where intermittent food deprivation was commonplace. IF is a codification of ancient eating habits with scientific evidence to support its benefits.
Benefits of IM
Weight loss: IF’s simplicity is its most powerful attribute for weight loss and the reason why people adopt the diet. Simply limiting the amount of time spent eating leads to a reduction in calorie intake. Additionally, IF positively influences hormones for weight loss.
Mental clarity: Studies show that fasting improves working memory in animals and adult humans
Repair at the cellular level: Fasting causes your cells to start a critical repair process that removes damaged proteins from the cell.
Other benefits of IM
How to break your fast
So far, we’ve talked about when to eat but haven’t talked about what to eat. Restricting your eating window places an emphasis on what you do eat in that window, particularly on the meal you to chose to break your fast.
We used to call this meal breakfast (break-fast). But those practicing IF will typically break their fast in the early afternoon so they don’t eat a “breakfast” as it’s commonly understood.
You need to be particularly careful about the food you put into your empty stomach when you break your fast. Whole foods are a must. The last thing you want is a blast of refined carbs or sugar hitting your empty stomach because the negative hormonal impact will be amplified.
I’ve been eating Brave in the afternoon to break my fast and I’ve found it to be a fantastic option. Brave is nutritionally optimized so I’m getting a complete meal and it's ready in seconds. It’s perfect for people that enjoy real food, on their schedule, especially if they’re abiding by an IF schedule.
Why I choose to break my fast with Brave
Balanced macronutrients to refuel my empty tank
Low glycemic index to avoid an insulin spike
No added sugar to avoid an insulin spike
Large enough to satisfy as a lunch
Cheaper than most lunch options