I Tried Intermittent Fasting and Here's What Happened

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

If you haven’t heard of Intermittent Fasting (IF) I would love to come join you in whatever place you are at that diet culture has yet to contaminate. Intermittent Fasting for those of you whole aren’t familiar is a type of diet (or “style of eating”) that restricts the time frame in which you can consume your calories. Unlike most diets that tell you WHAT you can / can’t eat, IF tells you WHEN you can / can’t eat. There are a bunch of different protocols people choose to follow but the most common is a 16:8 fasting protocol. This means that for 16 hours of the day you fast, while the other 8 hours are your feeding window. Many people choose a “feeding window” from 11-7 or 12-8 pm.

16:8 Intermittent Fasting Schedule

16:8 Intermittent Fasting Schedule

Now before I go on, some of you may be wondering - but this girl preaches Intuitive Eating - what is this whole Intermittent Fasting business she’s talking about - how dare she?! And I know…part of me was hesitant to even post this BUT as a health care provider I prefer to have PERSONAL experience with a variety of different eating style so that when my clients inevitably bring them up, I can speak to them. I’m also not here to judge or tell you what to do with your life. We learn through experience and this was mine…

If you guys follow me on the gram (@FeelGoodDietitian), you guys probably know I was a highly competitive bikini bodybuilder that struggled with bulimia and had a bit of anorexia when I was in high school. Needless to say, my previous relationship with food was not the healthiest. These experiences however give me insight into how my current clients feel and allow me to relate at a personal level. So anyways, when I made the decision to give IF a shot, I promised myself I would be as intuitive as possible and approach it from a place of health (that’s what we all tell ourselves right?). I somehow STILL have H. Pylori even after rounds of antibiotics (but that rant is for another blog post) so I still get bloated. My thought behind starting IF was “well I feel pretty bloated in the morning ESPECIALLY if I eat breakfast so let me just try this whole fasting thing and see how it goes.” I should have just stopped right there….

I got myself a book all about IF, started doing more research, downloaded the Zero app to track my fasts and like always I WAS STOKED & READY TO DO THIS (that dieter’s high). As I read through articles and listened to podcasts and YouTube videos I did learn A LOT of about the research out there on the positive health benefits of fasting such as:

  1. Improved blood sugars (which I have no issues with)

  2. Autophagy (which literally means “self-eating” and is the bodies way to cleaning up old cells - basically an anti-aging process)

  3. Reduction of oxidative-stress

  4. Mental clarity

  5. Improved insulin sensitivity (again, no issues here), increase human-growth-hormone and positive effects of gene-expression

Great! I’m all for improving my health. Let’s do this!

So the first week I tried fasting, I started with 13-14 hour fasts because I read that the female reproductive system is super sensitive to famine and anything beyond 14 may cause issues. I’d start my day with water and some coffee (sometimes I’d throw in 1 tsp of coconut oil or brain octane oil - which is apparently not a true fast but relax….) then I’d eat around 11 am. The second or third day I started noticing mental clarity in the morning as well as A LOT of energy, almost comparable to the excessive caffeine jitters. I noticed I was feeling better when I would fast and then during my eating window I didn’t feel as good. So I started pushing my fasting window a bit longer, 16 hours, 17 hours, 18 hours. Apparently the “benefits of fasting” increase the longer you fast so why not right??? (As much as I continue to work on eroding that black-white thinking part of my personality, occasionally it still rears its ugly black and white head). All in all week 1 was fine. I should also mention I got engaged halfway through week 1 so the motivation level was there. As much as I told myself it was for health benefits only, that diet culture tape started playing in my head about how I would look in my wedding dress. I reassured myself however that it wasn’t about the weight loss and was only about health….mhm.

Week 2, perhaps from severe glycogen depletion or my body sensing what I was doing, was not so great. I was starting to feel super hungry all of the time but that voice in my head telling me it wasn’t time to eat yet popped up. I was starting to miss the previous weeks euphoric fasting high I had felt. Trying to align my work, fasting, eating and exercise schedule was an additional stress I did not need. Frustration and confusion came and went but I persisted on.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

By week 3, I knew this wasn’t going to work out for me. Side note: for anyone out there that has past experience with an eating disorder, restriction of any kind can be INCREDIBLY triggering. Recovering from an eating disorder is so hard to do, especially living in a culture that is basically shoving disordered eating down your throat (pun intended). Now, I’m not saying recovery from drugs or alcohol is easy but you don’t need to consume heroin or alcohol to sustain life. Recovering from an eating disorder is almost like asking an alcoholic to work or live in a bar for the rest of their life. Just like an alcoholic needs to remove him or herself from certain situations and people, as does someone recovering/recovered from an eating disorder. Not only do you need to surround yourself with supportive people that have a healthy relationship with food, but you also need to remove yourself from situations that trigger ED behavior… LIKE RESTRICTION.

By week 3 I was basically starting to freak out in my head, if I ate before the fasting goal I had set was up, I’d be bummed or felt like I couldn’t handle it. I have enough training/experience to know what to do in these moments but I knew this was not a good thing. My desire to eat was heightened, my thoughts started to revolve around foods and hours and restriction. This was when I called it quits.

Just like any other strict diet however, there are things to take away from the experience to use as information and apply to an intuitive eating practice. By no means am I saying you need to try these strict diets to learn how to eat intuitively - I’m more telling you to not beat yourself up if you tried a diet and it didn’t “work”. Learn from it - what made you feel good, what made you feel bad etc. My main takeaway was if I’m not hungry for breakfast and I skip it I tend to feel better throughout the day (Hello “Honor Your Hunger” principle). Did I need to fast for 20 hours to figure this out…..100% no.

Moral of the story; if you have an eating disorder or past history of one, I would NOT suggest intermittent fasting. If you have a history of yo-yo dieting I also do not think IF is the solution you are looking for. Would I suggest IF to most people - definitely not. I think men tend to do better physically and emotionally with an approach like this but if you feel good and your mental state is equally good while you’re doing intermittent fasting, go for it.

What I would suggest is that you start to see nutrition through an Intuitive Eating lens. Rather than labeling your eating habits as IF, or Keto, Paleo, Whole30, why not just listen to your hunger and fullness cues and eat the foods that you enjoy and improve your sleep/digestion/energy/mood. Why not just eat the foods that make you FEEL GOOD (now and later).

Hunger Fullness Scale / Intuitive Eating

Hunger Fullness Scale / Intuitive Eating

Instant Pot Bone Broth

If you guys follow me on Instagram, you know I’m ALWAYS raving about bone broth. That’s because it’s one of the best things to consume to improve joint health, boost the immune system, treat leaky gut, overcome food intolerances / allergies and improve overall health. Bone broth is high in minerals such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur. It is also high in glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate which are associated with reducing inflammation and joint pain. Bone broth is high in collagen which can also help maintain healthy skin.

Okay so great! We know it’s good for you but how the heck do you make it?! I’ve receive a ton of questions via social media on how I make my bone broth so I figured I would blog about it AND make a video. So whether you are a visual learner or prefer to just read a recipe, here you go!

Instant Pot Bone Broth

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb beef, neck & knuckle bones (can also use chicken, pork or fish bones-USE HIGH QUALITY BONES, ideally GRASS-FED, GRASS-FINISHED. I got mine from Hudson & Charles)

  • 1 tub of chopped mirepoix from Trader Joe’s (or 1/3 C of each: celery, carrots, onions)

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 2 T organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (I like Braggs)

  • 2 t pink himalayan salt

  • 1-2 t black pepper

  • 1 tsp crushed bay leaves (or 3-4 whole leaves)

  • 4-5 quarts filtered water (fill up to max fill line)

Directions:

  1. Plug in instant pot and click “soup” button. Using arrows, increase time to 230 minutes.

  2. Place bones into pot (it’s ok if the bones are frozen) and then add the mirepoix, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaves.

  3. Pour in filtered water until it reaches the max fill line. Stir.

  4. Secure the lid and let cook for 230 minutes.

  5. When the time is up, slowly and carefully shift the pressure value to the left or right to SLOWLY release some pressure. DO NOT look over the valve or put your hand over it as it could easily burn you. Be very careful and let the steam out slowly.

  6. When you no longer see or hear steam escaping, it is safe to open. Remove lid.

  7. Place a colander (with very fine holes) in large pot. Using a towel, dish rag or oven mits, pour the contents through the colander allowing all the liquid to pool in the pot.

  8. Discard the contents of the colander. (Thick beef bones can be saved to make a second batch of broth. Note: This second batch will be less flavorful and not contain nearly as many nutrients. It will likely not gel either as there will not be much collagen).

  9. Let cool for 30 minutes and divide into glass jars (You can also place a few ice cubes in the broth - it’s likely extremely concentrated so this little bit of ice shouldn’t do much to the flavor).

  10. Once the broth has cooled, transfer to fridge.

  11. Broth should keep 3-4 days in the fridge. To extend life, store in the freezer.

  12. Once cool, a layer of fat will form at the top of the jar. This fat is nutrient dense and great for cooking or baking. Skim the top and save for later use. (Fat can also be discarded).

  13. The broth will (hopefully) form a gel once it has cooled. This is a good thing! This means a lot of collagen was pulled from the bones! To consume, heat broth up on the stovetop and gel will turn into a liquid.

  14. I recommend having a cup a day! A cup a day keeps the doctor away!

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Coconut Chicken and Turmeric Cauliflower Rice

This recipe makes me so incredibly happy. Between the healthy fats (MCT) from the coconut oil, the high quality protein and anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric, this dish packs a 1,2-punch! This recipe is keto friendly, paleo friendly, gluten and dairy free, Whole30 approved AND incredibly satisfying. It’s also a great way for anyone to make chicken interesting, not to mention it is incredibly easy and straight forward. Not sure about you guys, but whenever I see a recipe that calls for more than like 10 ingredients I’m just like…nope! Or when a blogger writes 3 chapters of their life story before getting to the ingredients! GIVE ME THE RECIPE ALREADY!!! To make it easier, I’ll break these two recipes up. Lets start with the turmeric cauliflower rice.

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Turmeric Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 T organic virgin coconut oil

  • 1/2 t ground turmeric

  • 12 oz frozen riced cauliflower (Trader Joe’s has the hook up of course)

  • 1/2 t pink himalayan salt

  • 1/4 t black pepper

  • 2 T unsweetened coconut flakes

  • fresh parsley or cilantro (optional for garnishing)

Directions:

  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add coconut oil and then turmeric.

  2. Stir turmeric into coconut oil for 30 seconds to warm.

  3. Add frozen cauliflower rice and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft.

  4. Add the salt, pepper, coconut and toss until well incorporated.

  5. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust salt/pepper as desired.

  6. Top with chopped cilantro or parsley.

Coconut Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound organic, boneless, chicken breast, cut into chunks (or thighs-thighs are higher in fat, will taste more moist and is recommended for keto folks)

  • 1 T organic virgin coconut oil

  • 4 T unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs - please do not use Heinz)

  • 1/4 cup filtered water

  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 1/2 t pink himalayan salt

  • 1/2 t black pepper

  • 8 oz canned coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Add the coconut oil and diced chicken to a medium sauce pan over low-medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes

  2. Add the vinegar, water, and garlic and cooked for 3 minutes

  3. Add the salt and pepper and cook until almost all of the liquid boils down. This will probably be around 10 minutes.

  4. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes until the liquid thickens.

  5. Serve over turmeric cauliflower rice.

Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken & Sweet Potato Casserole

This dish is great for any solo cookers out there.  Being that I cook for one or two most of the time, I made a small amount of this recipe.  If you are cooking for a family, I would double the recipe.  This dish is fairly simple uses a lot of frozen ingredients (again, when you grocery shop for yourself, produce goes bad quickly).  The extra veggies (broccoli and peppers) are optional but I like my food to be colorful :)

For any lifters/gym go-ers/fitness enthusiasts, this recipe is a good post-work out meal.  It has a nice mix of high biological value** (or complete protein) protein from the chicken (for muscle repair and synthesis) and complex carbohydrates from the sweet potatoes.  You'll also get a good dose of vitamins and minerals, some of which (vitamins A, D, E, and K- fat soluble vitamins- to be exact) you will absorb better thanks to the healthy fats (monounsaturated) from the olive oil. 

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Buffalo Chicken & Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced (yes I even used frozen chicken from TJ, just defrost first)

  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced

  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced

  • 1 cup diced peppers

  • 1 cup broccoli florets

  • 3 T hot sauce

  • 3 T olive oil

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1 T garlic powder

  • salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Defrost frozen veggies in microwave, drain any water and set aside.

  3. Combine chicken, sweet potatoes and onions in a large bowl.

  4. In a small bowl, mix hot sauce, olive oil, garlic powder, paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste (be sure to taste before adding salt, most hot sauces already have a lot and you probably won't need much more).

  5. Pour mixture over chicken, sweet potatoes and onions and stir well until everything is completely coated. Spread into a casserole dish and place into preheated oven.

  6. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. With 10 minutes left (or after 30 minutes, if that helps you out) stir in defrosted veggies (these are already softer than they would be if they were fresh so they will cook fast). Cook for another 10 minutes.

  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

  8. Serve warm

Devour.  Thank me.  You're welcome.

 

Learning Lesson:

What is a high biological value protein?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  There are 22 amino acids and they are categorized as either essential or nonessential.  Nonessential  proteins can be made by the body.  Essential proteins cannot be synthesized by the body and need to come from the diet.  There are 9 essential amino acids: tryptophan, valine, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, methionine, and histidine.  When a food contains all 9 essential amino acids, it is said to be a complete or high biological value protein.

Proteins:

  • Repair tissue and build muscle

  • Make hormones

  • Help maintain electrolytes, fluid and acid-base balance

  • Provide some of the bodies energy

  • Make enzymes and antibodies

  • Promote fullness/satiety***

***Due to hormonal actions, high protein foods are more satiating (makes you feel fuller) than high carbohydrate foods (ever eat pancakes for breakfast and feel hungry an hour later?).  Ghrelin is a hormone secreted by the stomach that increases appetite.  Leptin is a satiety hormone secreted by fat cells that makes you feel full.  High protein foods cause an increase in leptin and a decrease in ghrelin....appetite down, satiety up.

Bottom line:  It's not all about calories.  Eat your protein people.