, ,

Q&A: What is Intermittent Fasting and How Can it Benefit Me?

Q: What is intermittent fasting and how can it benefit me?

A: Intermittent fasting is not a diet but rather an eating schedule. We all fast when we sleep at night. Intermittent fasting simply increases that fasting window (i.e. skipping breakfast) and allows your body to remain at digestive rest for a longer period. This encourages your body to pull from fat stores for energy.

It may seem counterintuitive to skip breakfast if you’ve been taught that it’s the most important meal of the day. It may be for some, especially someone just getting started eating healthily or someone prone to binge eat, but others can benefit from expanding their fasting window. We have to challenge “the rules” and see what works best for our own bodies! I’ve found that intermittent fasting works very well for me and many other women.

There are a few different ways to implement an intermittent fasting schedule. First, you can fast 24 hours and have one large meal each day. This is called the Warrior Diet. Secondly, and my preferred way, is to have a feeding window of 7-8 hours a day. My feeding window starts at 11 am to 12 noon and goes until around 7 pm at night.

About once per week and on a rest day, I do a 24-hour fast eating dinner one night and breaking my fast at dinner the next night. It’s not bad at all because it’s only skipping 2 meals.

A third way to fast is to complete 24-hour fasts a few times per week. This is called the Eat-Stop-Eat method and seems most popular among men. I would find this pretty difficult whereas the way I intermittent fast comes easy for me. I’m all about simplicity and making things easy!

Now, let’s get back to some of the benefits of intermittent fasting.

4 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

1. Intermittent fasting makes daily life simpler and less stressful especially when traveling. With a smaller eating window, you are eating fewer meals. This takes the pressure off to prepare and have healthy meals and snacks around constantly! Hallelujah! How convenient and what a time saver on busy days!

Be sure to watch the video below to see how Coach Amanda Tress uses intermittent fasting while on vacation.

 

2. Intermittent fasting is highly effective for fat loss and muscle gain. It increases human growth hormone while lowering insulin levels which helps with both fat loss and muscle gain! For this reason, fitness professionals have been implementing this effective strategy for many, many years.

3. After just a few days of intermittent fasting, I experienced increased energy, focus, mental clarity, and productivity while in the fasted state. It is an amazing side benefit for me as a homeschooling mom and blogger. Many other ladies that participate in FASTer Way to Fat Loss report this benefit as well!

intermittent fasting

“This is the best fitness program by far! It is the total package! The workouts are awesome, and I love how the daily meal guidelines sync with the type of exercise for that day! I now have ab and bicep muscles which is incredible!” — Katie

4. Intermittent fasting allows for #IIFYM (if it fits your macros) style eating on heavy lifting days. In the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program, you have macros to meet each day. On heavy lifting days, there is room for discretionary calories (for treats) if it fit within your macros that day! Donuts post-workout, anyone?!?

To conclude this post, I want to point out one thing. With an intermittent fasting protocol, you aren’t dealing with what to eat but when!

In the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program, you are taught when, what, and why to eat! It incorporates intermittent fasting along with carb cycling where you cycle carbs (and calories) to match your workout each day. You can read a little more about carb cycling here.

Grab your spot in the next round of the FASTer Way program. You won’t regret it!

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your program pricing does not go up, but if you register through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!

 

 

 

, , , , , ,

Q & A: What are BCAA benefits for women?

I’m a huge proponent of eating a whole foods diet and limiting supplements. However, there are a few supplements I do take personally and recommend for clients. The big 3 are protein powder, Krill oil, and BCAAs. Today, I want to share a bit with you about BCAA benefits.

I was recently asked by Emily and Debbie from Momsanity to sample their brand new BCAA powder. I happily obliged because it has all natural ingredients and perfect ratios of leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

BCAA benefits

Overview

BCAAs are branched chain amino acids. Simply speaking, they are broken down protein molecules and the building blocks for muscles.

Usually, BCAAs are purchased in powder form and added to water. They can be used for multiple purposes. Many people (including myself) use BCAAs when working out in a fasted state. The purpose for this is to provide the body with amino acids so that muscle tissue is preserved. When you workout, muscle tissue can be burned ALONG with fat. BCAAs help to preserve muscle tissue without having to eat prior to your workout.

BCAAs can also provide the body with energy similar to ingesting carbs but without the insulin response. This is another benefit to drinking them prior to working out fasted. BCAAs are also great for muscle retention and muscle gain, particularly in the post workout window. This is why most all commercial protein powders include BCAAs in them. Note that if you are eating a protein packed meal after your workout, you do not need to supplement with BCAAs at that time.

BCAA Benefits For Women:

  • Hunger and Craving Control – Given that fat loss often requires a lower carb intake than you’re used to, BCAAs can become your best friend for achieving leanness. They can help in regulating hunger and cravings by supplying the brain with the energy it needs. BCAAs can also lower cortisol. These lower cortisol levels will work to suppress your stress induced cravings. Research shows time and time again that BCAAs are fabulous for controlling cravings and managing hunger, especially for active women following a relatively low carbohydrate diet. In addition to balancing blood sugar, the BCAA leucine activates hunger controlling molecules in the brain.
  • Energy Boost –  What busy mom doesn’t need this benefit! Valine is considered the energizer. It promotes muscle endurance, blunts fatigue, helps with mental sharpness
  • Muscle Preservation – We work WAY too hard to put on muscle as ladies to lose it! As explained in the overview, BCAAs will help preserve your hard-earned muscle when you workout in a fasted state. Working out fasted is good for fat loss, but can cause muscle loss as well. Having more muscle is great for fat loss. BCAAs can provide the best of both worlds and allow us to workout fasted without the loss of hard-earned muscle. Leucine helps promote muscle (think lean mass) growth while assisting with fat-loss.
  • Lower Cortisol Levels – Cortisol is an important stress hormone that is responsible for increasing blood sugar and aiding in protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism – we need it in proper doses. The problem is most of us produce way too much. When we release cortisol along with low levels of Human Growth Hormone (think when you don’t get enough sleep) or high levels of insulin, cortisol causes muscle burning and fat storing (not good!). BCAAs lower cortisol and therefore help suppress cravings and hunger instigated by stress.

How and when do I take BCAAs?

For best results, it’s recommended to take BCAAs before/after a workout and any time that cravings strike – for many this is mid-afternoon or later in the evening.

While there are may different forms of BCAAs (flavored powders, pills, unflavored powders etc.) Momsanity’s NATURALLY flavored and sweetened BCAAs are THE BEST!

The pills get pricey and require a LOT of pill swallowing for proper dosing. The unflavored powders are unpalatable and VERY bitter. Almost ALL powders on the market are full of artificial ingredients and stimulants. Be cautious of any products marketed for “pre-workout” or even workout recovery as they often contain stimulants like caffeine and beta-alanine. These two things aren’t inherently BAD, just unnecessary and some women will respond negatively.

BONUS – BCAA gummies recipe:

Emily and Debbie are including a recipe book with your purchase! I wanted to share one of the recipes with you. The gummies are easy to make and great for those afternoon cravings.

Ingredients:
  • 1 scoop Momsanity BCAA powder
  • 3 packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • Optional – drops of lemon or lime juice
  • Optional – pureed fruit
  • Optional – package of flavored jello
Directions:
  1. Mix ingredients in a bowl (if using pureed fruit, add this after mixing).
  2. Microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time until mixture is clear and goopy. OR, cook on a stove top on low heat, whisking frequently, for 5 minutes.
  3. Spoon mixture into silicone candy molds or ice trays,
  4. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove molds from freezer. Pop gummies out of the molds. Store in airtight container or eat right away.
  6. Enjoy!

Video: Why Use BCAAs


Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your pricing does not go up, but if you register through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!
, , , , , ,

Food Cravings. How do I stop them?

One major struggle that women have is food cravings.

UGH! I know. It’s so frustrating to *want* to eat healthily but have food cravings pop up in the afternoon or evening when your willpower is at its lowest.

As you can imagine, I receive many emails asking the following question:

Q: How do I stop food cravings?

A: Besides eating for fat loss and making good lifestyle choices (like sleeping enough and de-stressing), there 2 primary supplements that I use to control or stop food cravings. Supplementation is rarely my recommendation, but when food cravings are a huge issue, these supplements are worth a try!

At the end of this post, I’ll give a few secondary ways to stop food cravings as well.

  1. Stop food cravings with BCAAs

BCAAs are branched chain amino acids.

Simply speaking they are broken-down protein molecules.

Usually, BCAAs are purchased in powder form and added to water. They can be used for multiple purposes.

Many people use BCAAs when working out fasted. The purpose for this is to provide the body with amino acids so that muscle tissue is preserved. When you workout, muscle tissue can be burned ALONG with fat. BCAAs help to preserve muscle tissue without having to eat protein prior to your workout.

BCAAs can also provide the body with energy similar to ingesting carbs but without the insulin response. This is another benefit to drinking them prior to working out fasted. BCAAs are also great for muscle retention and muscle gain, particularly in the post workout window.  This is why most all commercial protein powders include BCAAs in them.

Note that if you are eating a protein packed meal after your workout, you do not need to also supplement with BCAAs at that post workout time period.

BCAAs have been clinically shown to balance blood sugar (glucose) which makes them an excellent hunger and craving suppressant. Given the fact that fat loss often (not always) requires a lower carb intake than people are used to, BCAAs can become your best friend for achieving leanness. They can help in regulating hunger and cravings by supplying the brain with the energy it needs.

BCAAs can also lower cortisol. These lower levels will offer the overlapping ability to suppress your stress induced cravings.

Dosage is 5-10 grams pre (fasted) workout. If you are taking them to suppress hunger and cravings, 5 grams is a good dose.

My personal experience:

Although I’m personally a huge fan of getting all of my nutrition without supplementation, BCAAs is one of my exceptions. Most days, I work out fasted first thing in the morning. Working out fasted is good for fat loss, but can cause muscle loss as well. Having more muscle is great for fat loss. BCAAs can provide the best of both worlds and allow me to workout fasted without the loss of hard-earned muscle. I also use them successfully for my own cravings. When clients report having cravings, this is one proven way I can recommend that regulate body functions that fight those cravings.

Here are 3 of the name brands that I have used that taste great!

  1. Momsanity BCAAs are my top choice. It has all natural ingredients, perfect ratios of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and has a nice fruit punch flavor. This one is my top pick because of the ingredients and ratios of the BCAAs plus it mixes well in my water bottle! I featured this product in a blog post on the benefits of BCAAs for women.
  2. The MRM Reload is watermelon flavored. It is sweetened with stevia and xylitol which I prefer over artificial sweeteners. It stirs well with a spoon. They make a version sweetened with artificial sweeteners, so be sure to check the label in the picture before purchasing. The one I have linked was the correct version at the time of this blog post. 🙂
  3. The Scivation Xtend needs a little shaking to get it mixed well. It’s sweetened with sucralose (same as Splenda) and can cause some people GI issue (mainly gas and bloating) if used often. It’s very tasty in the green apple flavor (think: Jolly Rancher).
The science:

If you’re interested in the science behind BCAAs, here is a great article from Metabolic Effect which is where I received my nutrition coaching certifications as well as one of my personal training certifications.

2. Stop food cravings with 100% cocoa powder

Obviously, if you can get a handle on food cravings, you are less likely to grab that unhealthy food that’s calling your name. Consuming baking cocoa will also release serotonin in the brain causing you to feel happy and euphoric. 🙂 As a bonus, it has almost no calories, it’s high in fiber, and it contains compounds that blunt hunger and reduce cravings. Through research studies, it has been shown to lower blood pressure and balance blood sugar. Good stuff for the fat loss lifestyle!! Check out this blog post about cocoa by Metabolic Effect if you are interested in reading more.

Here is a way to incorporate cocoa into your daily fat-loss lifestyle. Grab a mug of this yummy drink as an after dinner treat or to curb an afternoon craving!

Hot Cocoa Drink

Ingredients:

  1. Hot Water
  2. 1-2 Tbsp of 100% baking cocoa
  3. Stevia to taste
  4. Optional: add a pinch of cinnamon or cayenne pepper to the drink, add a splash of almond milk, or even flavored stevia drops (like Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops English Toffee), add coffee to make it a mocha.

Directions: Heat a mug of water. Stir in a 1-2 Tbsp of 100% cocoa. Sweeten w/ stevia or Truvia to taste (approximately 3 packets but depends on your preferences). Enjoy!

Another pre-mixed option is Metabolic Effect’s Craving Cocoa. It has excellent reviews from many followers of Metabolic Effect!

food cravings

Additional Ways to Stop Food Cravings

  • Eat small amounts of protein regularly
  • Make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep
  • Add flavor to water (lemon, lime, Vitamin Water Zero)
  • Unsweetened almond milk with cinnamon sprinkled on top
  • Drink hot tea
  • Chew gum
  • Brush your teeth
  • Eat a pickle
  • Have a piece of lower sugar fruit (sweet craving)
  • Have celery with peanut butter (crunchy craving)
  • Make an effort to avoid things that you KNOW trigger temptation and cravings
  • Go outside —> Get busy.
  • Give it time to pass
  • Know that success breeds success. Giving in will sabotage success.
  • Assure yourself that it WILL get easier the more you succeed!!!

Have you tried any of these methods? If so, comment below with what works best for you!

xo -Jill

p.s. If you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter to receive a free copy of my Lean Lifestyle Guide for Busy Women. The included meal plan is designed to help balance out your hunger, energy, and cravings. I know you’ll enjoy the guide!
p.p.s. For more “Q&A” style blog posts, click here. http://jilljacobs.me/category/qa/

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your pricing does not go up, but if you register through my link I get a bit for referring you. Thanks for supporting my blog!

 

, ,

Q&A: How soon and what should I eat post-workout?

By Jill Jacobs

I vividly recall leaving the gym after a strength training sesh, opening my car door, adding water to my shaker bottle that was pre-filled with a scoop of whey protein powder, and shaking it vigorously. I peeled my banana or grabbed my apple and began noshing on it while sipping my protein shake in between bites. I was convinced that my the muscle I was trying to build would shrivel up or I’d miss out on all the gainzzz, bro, if I didn’t eat immediately after my workout. 😉

how soon and what should I eat post workout

There is a lot of science behind meal timing and macronutrients for muscle building and fat burning, no doubt. But did I really need to be that obsessive? Was it so important to eat that quickly post workout or could I wait until I got home?

While I’m not a biochemist, I am a certified nutrition coach and have studied many reputable articles on the topic of post workout nutrition. Here’s my opinion.

Q: How soon and what should I eat post-workout?

1. How soon should I eat post-workout?

A: In the story I told you above, I was of the understanding that I needed to eat right after my workout or I’d lose any gains.  I’ve come to believe that I was taking an extreme viewpoint and that the post-workout nutrition window is much larger than a few minutes! No need to take food to the gym. 🙂

Through my personal studies, certifications, and research, I now recommend eating within 2 hours of working out if your goal is fat loss. If your goal is muscle gain, the window is a bit smaller (30-60 minutes).

2. What should I eat post-workout?

A: Post workout nutrition serves the purpose of increasing protein synthesis, decreasing protein breakdown, and replenishing glycogen stores (for energy). You will need a good dose of protein for the first two processes and some carbohydrates for the latter one.

To keep it simple, I stick with a one-to-one ratio of protein to carbs and keep fat grams less that 5.

Protein intake should be approximately 20-25 grams with about the same numbers carb grams whether your goal is fat loss or muscle gain. (With fat loss, you can certainly drop the carb level if that works best for you. But post-workout is an optimal time to eat carbohydrates.)

Good sources of protein are whey protein powder, egg whites, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, lean beef, turkey, chicken, and fish.

Carb intake for muscle gain needs to be quick, higher GI carbs like rice cakes, honey, higher sugar fruit like bananas and raisins, or potatoes (white or sweet).

Carb intake for fat loss is ideally slow digesting carbs like oats and other grains, starchy vegetables, or beans.

What do I eat post-workout?

Here is my GO-TO chocolate banana protein shake! It’s YUMMY. 🙂

For more Q&A blog post, go HERE. I love answering the frequently asked questions that I receive from my readers and clients. Email me at jill@jilljacobs.me if you have a question you’d like me to cover. 🙂

xo -Jill