It’s all the over the primal/paleo web, trumpeted as a plateau-busting, mind-clearing, ab-cutting cure to what ails you.
And there’s a reason. IF works. I do several 16-hour IFs per week, and they do cut my abs, clear my mind, and make me feel digestively “light.” Furthermore, they refine my sense of true hunger, as opposed to habitual or emotional eating.
Unfortunately, it’s my opinion that IF is frequently recommended too quickly, for the wrong reasons, to individuals who aren’t physically and/or emotionally ready for it.
People trying to conquer emotional eating should not IF — particularly if they’re doing it to “make up” for snackiness or binges at other times of day. Using IF as a consequence for acting out on one’s food “issues” is just setting oneself up for failure…and guilt…and emotional eating…and more guilt…and more emotional eating…
[Sidebar: For the emotional eater who wants to focus on identifying real hunger, I suggest spending a few days on an eggs-only diet. Make a bunch of hardboiled eggs. That’s your fuel source. It’s the only thing you’re allowed to eat. Eat eggs whenever you want, as many as you like. Sure, you’ll get sick of them. That’s the point. If you just “want to eat,” the eggs won’t appeal to you. When you’re really hungry, they’ll sound just fine. Voila! True hunger.]
Anyway, I believe IF should never be forced for any reason. Not for emotional eating, not for plateau-breaking, not for cutting. (Note: I’m speaking from a health-enhancing perspective here, with no eye to figure competition.) There is nothing wrong with eating good food when you’re hungry. A healthy individual has no reason to push himself through a long stretch of unpleasantness for which the body or mind is not prepared.
IF, good IF, should occur naturally from a place of emotional and physical well-being. When your body is ready, IF will happen of its own accord. You’ll eat a satiating paleo meal, get busy with something, and look up 14 hours later to find that your head is clear, your muscles singing, your belly flat, and your stomach as content as can be. It’ll feel almost magical — certainly not like a chore!
For me, it took six months of highly compliant primal eating to reach this point. So what? I still achieved fantastic leanness and muscle definition during that period.
These days, I IF often just because my body is happy to do so. I don’t plan to IF, and if I’m hungry, I eat. No force, no guilt, no problem.
Ironman is blogging, too! Check it out at A Life Less Urban.