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To Eat or Not To Eat

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Intermittent fasting is a hot topic in CrossFit circles these days. What is it? Should I try it? Why is it beneficial? How do I do it?

Let’s start with the basics. Intermittent fasting is the practice of occasionally going without eating for extended periods of time. Maybe you go 12 hours. It might be 16. It could be as long as 24…or even longer. Sometimes you eat, and sometimes you don’t.

Pretty simple, right?

Most of us are already doing some form of IF simply by sleeping through the night. If you eat dinner at 7 pm, and don’t eat breakfast until 7 am (or later) the next morning, congratulations! You’re already practicing IF. And you’re already enjoying some of the benefits.

However, these benefits intensify when you extend your fast beyond that typical 12 hour period. Think of it like a turbo boost for your health and fitness. The results can be powerful!

Giving your body a break from digesting food allows it time to really focus on the important things it needs to do to repair, recover, and re-calibrate.  Things like inflammation, blood pressure, and your cancer risk go down. And other things like fat burning, cellular repair and regeneration, growth-hormone release, and metabolic rate go up.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

So how do I go about trying this? The first thing is to understand that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to practicing IF. The practice is highly individual and needs to relate to your lifestyle and goals.

The most common practice is a 16/8 fast. This means you are fasting for 16 hours, breaking your fast around noon and eating during the following 8 hour window. This is the most popular version of IF and definitely can enhance both your physique and your performance in the gym.  It will also usually jump start weight loss.

Another very flexible and super simple version is committing to a 24 hour fast every other week, or even once a week. If you can manage the whole day, this can also be very physique and performance-friendly. The most extreme version is where you simply eat every other day. This is not a great option for anyone who likes to workout regularly and wants to be strong, muscular and lean.

Bottom line, you’ll need to experiment to see what version of IF works best for you.

P.S. Practicing IF does not excuse you from eating good, nutritious whole foods! The old rule of garbage in/ garbage out still applies. I’m looking at you, hot Cheetos!

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