Both Food For Fuel coaches have experimented with different forms of intermittent fasting and for the both of us, it all began with taking advantage of the benefits of what we like to call our “Brain Fuel Coffee.” This coffee blend consists of high quality brewed coffee, ~tbsp grass fed butter, and ~tbsp MCT oil (or coconut oil.) Most people have a negative reaction when we say we put butter in our coffee, but think about it, you put cream and milk in coffee, butter is just churned cream. And let us tell you, once you blend these three ingredients together, the richness of it is AMAZING! It even develops a light foam layer that mimics a latte…trust us, this is good stuff! Add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to kick up the flavor and you’ll never spend $5 on a coffee again!
Let’s talk about why we consider this concoction brain fuel:
- Coffee contains caffeine (duh!) but how does this actually work? Once it enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, it aids in increasing the mood boosting, focus increasing neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Take a few minutes to read this blog that goes into more detail on all of the amazing benefits of coffee.
- MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil is digested immediately, crosses the blood-brain barrier, and is used as instant fuel for your brain leading to mental clarity and focus. You can find MCT in a pure form, or can get it from other sources, most notably coconut oil.
- Grass fed butter is another key to the mix- not regular butter. Grass fed butter has far more health benefits than traditional butters, including more Omega-3 fatty acids. The butter slows the absorption of caffeine, therefore leaving you with a steady stream of energy without a caffeine crash.
* This combo also boosts your body’s metabolism!
We could talk about the Brain Fuel Coffee all day, but let us move on to the real topic of the day- intermittent fasting and how we used Brain Fuel Coffee as our stepping stone into a true fast.
As mentioned, both of us used this coffee as our focus booster to start the day. We began noticing that this particular combination not only helped us focus in on our morning tasks, but it helped with our satiety. Neither of us felt hungry or the extreme need to eat right away. We took this and ran with it, both starting our morning with at least 20oz of room temperature water followed by our Brain Fuel Coffee. This would hold us over for several hours before we ate our first meal. We began suggesting this method to our clients who were having a hard time sticking to their macro goals within a given day, as it is also a great way to reduce the amount of time within a day that you are actually consuming calories.
This lead us to look more into a true fast, or time restricted eating, and wow! There are a host of incredible benefits, to name just a few:
- Helps protect against obesity
- Decreases in fat mass
- Increases muscle mass
- Boosts metabolism
- Has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers
- Aids in repairing damaged cells
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Improves sleep
In an effort to work more naturally with our bodies, Dr. Rhonda Patrick suggests we practice an 8-12 hour eating period followed by a 16-12 hour fast. Our metabolism changes throughout the day; it is higher at the beginning of the day and slows as the day progresses. This is regulated by our internal circadian clock by nature (circadian clock regulates thousands and thousands of genes in our bodies.) It only makes sense that we follow this rhythm by consuming our fuel accordingly – more during the day, less at night. Any fuel consumed past sunset is less than ideal.
If you can’t decide which fasting window works best for you, here are some specific benefits to consider:
- During an 8-9 hour eating window, you can expect to notice an increase in endurance. This particular time frame can be very beneficial for any endurance athletes to test out for themselves, and then of course, report back to us!
- During a more common 9-12 hour eating window, you will likely decrease fat mass, increase lean muscle mass, reduce systemic inflammation, protect yourself from obesity, increase ketone bodies, improve sleep, and better regulate blood glucose levels. This window also depletes liver glycogens which can be beneficial for those who like to have “cheat meals” on weekends.
Obviously life gets in the way and not everyone has an ideal work schedule, so you essentially have to make your fast work for you. Here are our suggested best practices for time restricted eating:
- An 8-10 hour eating window is ideal
- This means you fast for 16-14 hours
- Anything besides plain water is breaking the fast
- Last meal should be before or at sunset. Prior to 5pm is best.
- Set an alarm one hour before your fasting window begins so you can ensure you have your last meal
You can choose your eating schedule based on your specific daily tasks, but we suggest starting your day with water and holding off on eating for an hour or two to increase your likelihood of success. As we mentioned, we used the Brain Fuel Coffee as our stepping stone into true intermittent fasting. We still drink the coffee daily, but now we just have a different time frame and are still experimenting with these windows to see what best fits our lifestyle.
Dana’s schedule: 5am wake up + water, 7am Brain Fuel Coffee, 8am first meal, 6pm last meal. This is an 11 hour eating window followed by a 13 hour fast.
Amanda’s schedule: 7am wake up + water, 8am Brain Fuel Coffee, 9-10am first meal, 7pm last meal. This is also an 11 hour eating window followed by a 13 hour fast (ironically, we didn’t plan it this way!) But as you can see, we have both manipulated our time frames to stay within the suggested windows.
If you are an athlete, and fasting for this long seems difficult, just know that you have to be in a fasted state in order for your body to repair itself. That is why most repair to muscle and cells happens while we sleep. So, if you are looking for those added gains, then this might just be the key!
Intermittent fasting can and should be practiced by everyone, unless you have a serious medical condition that dictates otherwise. We should work with our bodies, not against them, and fuel properly. Please reach out for further information on the specific benefits and we would be more than happy to go into further detail as to why they are so important for our longevity!