How the Alley's Eat! Part 2: Intermittent Fasting

If you are tapped into health and wellness you have probably heard a lot of buzz about Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent fasting is one of the hottest topics in the health and wellness space. Whenever something is really trendy and has tons of hype - it’s good to be skeptical (many of you have heard my thoughts on eating keto 24/7, but that’s a blog post for another day). I firmly believe that Intermittent Fasting (IF) is worth the hype! I have experienced so many benefits from fasting but I’ve also heard from so many of you who have experienced great things too. So here are the basics on IF:

1) What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is fasting from food for a set amount of time. The fasting window varies depending on your health and various factor (i.e. are you nursing?) but most believe that the health benefits kick in when you have been fasting for about 12 hours. Your digestive systems has two modes - digesting or fasting. When you’re digesting your system is constantly in motion to break down what you are eating. When you are fasting your body switches from breaking down the food you digested to now regulating your body. This is why fasting is so effective for pre-diabetics - the fasting state allows your body to balance out your sugar levels.


2) How long do you fast and what are the benefits?

I typically fast for about 14-16 hours usually based on my schedule for the day. I stop eating around 6:30 (when we eat dinner as a family) and then have my morning shake to break my fast at around 10:30 AM.

The benefits of IF are varied but for me I find that I have a lot more mental clarity, I accomplish more mornings when I am fasting versus mornings when I eat breakfast. When I eat breakfast I usually feel sluggish and lethargic versus in my fasted state I find I have more energy and better focus. Research suggests that IF also helps to regulate blood sugar, which keeps you from feeling sudden bursts of energy and prevents the “crashing” or “hitting a wall” feeling. Other benefits include weight loss as your body uses your existing fat stores for energy, easier digestion and more balanced sugar levels.

I also found that fasting gives me a overall sense of balance. Even if I indulge the night before with a few spicy margaritas or enjoy an occasional slice of pizza, I know that once I fast the next morning I will be right back on track. It gives me a healthy sense of control rather than an obsessive sense of control.

3) Are you allowed to have liquids while fasting?

YES! And you should really focus on hydrating. I usually drink water, iced green tea, and a cup of iced coffee. That being said - you shouldn’t be drinking things like Frappuccinos - yes they’re technically a drink but they exceed 100 calories which will switch your body into digestion instead of fasting.

My favorite iced coffee for fasting is Chameleon Cold Brew with some unsweetened almond milk and a little bit of 100% maple syrup.


4) How do you break your fast?

I most often break my fast with a shake. I typically combine some sort of protein powder (I currently used Shakeology’s Vegan Chocolate), water, ice, unsweetened almond milk and spinach. I’ll occasionally add some fat component - it might be MCT oil (great for mom brain) or a nut butter. I prefer volume over thickness so my shake is more of a drink - if you like a thick shake use less water or ice.

5) Can you fast while nursing?

Yes! I did - but I kept my fasting window to about 14 hours and not 16. I also asked my OBGYN and she was totally supportive. If you’ve had milk supply issues then you might want to proceed with caution. It might be a good idea to gradually increase your fasting window and see if there is an impact. Always consult with your doctor first. I would also suggest waiting until about 12-14 weeks postpartum when milk has begun to be regulated.

Above anything else always always always focus on hydration!

6) Can you fast while pregnant?

No. I am not a doctor so maybe your doctor will feel differently but from my experience its not worth the risk. Your body operates in a totally different way when pregnant and it is not worth risking the baby’s health. Even though the benefits of IF are numerous, skip fasting while you’re pregnant :)

So there you have it - the basics on IF. I hope you fall in love with IF as much as I have.



Kendra Alley