Whether you’ve tried it before or not, there’s no doubt that intermittent fasting is certainly something that intrigues us all. One of the main benefits of intermittent fasting – and the reason why I, the author of Primal Cure, love it so much - is that your body begins to burn stored body fat, rather than being dependent on sugars for energy.
The beauty of intermittent fasting is that you begin to understand what hunger actually is. You see, just because your stomach is empty, it doesn’t mean that you’re hungry. Most of the time, this is our mind convincing us that we should be hungry when in fact; we can go many more hours without food.
I personally believe that our bodies are not designed to be full of food all of the time. If you think back to the caveman days, then it would have been completely unnatural for them to eat regularly throughout the day and the same applies to us. It’s only when we begin to restrict the frequency of our meals that we start to burn our body fat reserves. Once you’ve tapped into those reserves, your energy levels should increase, your hunger levels should resume to normal and most importantly, you’ll start to lose weight.
Those who have read my book, Primal Cure will already be familiar with intermittent fasting and one question you may have this Christmas is, “how can you intermittent fast over Christmas?” Well, it’s quite easy really. The way you fast will not change. The only thing that may change slightly is the type of foods you eat and how many times you fast throughout the week.
I personally love the 18-hour fast diet and it’s something that fits very well within my lifestyle. Remember, we highly suggest only following a diet that will fit within your lifestyle. If it doesn’t, then it won’t work. Simple. If you’re looking for other intermittent fasting styles, then read page 147 of Primal Cure.
The 18-hour fast diet is where you commit to only eating in a six-hour timeframe each day so that you are regularly fasting for 18 hours every day. I find that when I use this style of fasting, I never feel hungry and I never feel like I’m missing out. I’m energised, I’m focused and I’m rarely craving certain foods. So because the 18-hour fast diet has a six-hour timeframe where you’re free to eat, you’re likely to consume two meals and therefore, you’ve got the decision of whether to skip breakfast or dinner. I always find breakfast is easier to skip in the mornings because I’m busy with the school run, getting to work and keeping busy. Then, when my 18-hour timeframe is up, I’ll dig into lunch and have my dinner in the sixth hour to keep me going.
So how do we intermittent fast over the Christmas period? We simply stick to the 18-hour fast diet (or the 5:2/1:1 diet mentioned in my book) but we either eat more frequently during the six-hour timeframe or indulge a little more than we usually would. No, I don’t mean eat every hour for the next six hours! What I mean is, if you’ve made some of our homemade Primal friendly mince pies, then have one in-between your meals. We don’t believe in restriction, especially at Christmas time!
Let’s take Christmas day, for example. You probably tucked into all the delicious food, ate far too much and drank until you were merry so, the chances are that you’ll wake up on Boxing Day full from the evening before. What would I suggest? Skip breakfast. That way you’re sticking to your 18-hour fast diet timeframe – even if it is a little less Primal – but still allowing yourself to tuck into the Boxing Day feast at lunchtime!
Here are a few more tips for intermittent fasting this Christmas…
- Experiment with different IF styles. I also recommend the 5:1 and the 1:1 diet in my book but if you’re a complete newbie to IF then you may want to start with the 12-hour fast (something that we naturally do anyway). If you’d like to try something else, then try the 8-hour eating window. This way you’ll be fasting for 16 hours and it works out great for breakfast lovers.
- Plan your fasting days in advance. Take a look at your diary for the Christmas period and choose appropriate days where you know you can quite easily fast. Days when you’re travelling or shopping can usually work well as you’ll have more control over your food intake.
- Indulge with moderation. Just because you’re fasting it doesn’t mean that when you can eat, you can’t indulge a little. After all, it is Christmas. Just don’t go crazy!
- Be realistic. If you can only fast once during the Christmas period then accept it. It’s better than nothing, huh. The Christmas period only happens once a year and the point of a Primal lifestyle is to make it work with your lifestyle and yes, this includes celebrations! If you can’t/really don’t want to fast this Christmas, then don’t. Instead, focus on eating healthy and making Primal choices. But ultimately, don’t worry if you eat an extra mince pie and sip on a glass of Bailey’s.
- Don’t eat things for the sake of it. Many of us only indulge in the Christmas food because we feel like we have to – even if we don’t really fancy it! Before tucking into a second serving of Christmas pudding, ask yourself if you really want it. We recommend saving yourself for indulgences you really love, like cheese!
While IF is great, it is, after all, a time for festive, food and cheer and if intermittent fasting doesn’t quite fit into your lifestyle right now, then don’t fret. Instead, eat healthily and Primally, indulge in moderation and most importantly, keep moving.