NUTRITIONDietIntermittent Fasting & Firefighting

Intermittent Fasting & Firefighting

Intermittent Fasting, Firefighting, CRACKYL MAGAZINE

By: Carly Lumsden

We’re all unique, and what works best for one person may not work for another.

Intermittent fasting is a style of eating that’s gained popularity in recent years. It’s a style of eating where you eat in a small window of time and fast for a larger period of time. But, is intermittent fasting a sustainable way to eat for firefighters? What happens if you get a big call and haven’t had your first meal yet? Where will your energy come from?

Benefits of intermittent fasting include improved digestion, reduced inflammation in the body, regulated blood pressure levels for heart health, weight loss, and so much more. In this article, we will determine if fasting and firefighting can work together.

Factors to consider first

One of the most critical factors in determining if you can combine firefighting and fasting depends on how regulated your blood sugar levels are. A simple way to determine if your blood sugar levels are regulated is to ask yourself if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Consistently get “hangry”
  • Experience frequent intense cravings, especially for sweets
  • Feel weak and shaky when you miss a meal
  • Get anxious without food

If you’ve said yes to any of these, chances are your blood sugar levels aren’t regulated. Before you choose to follow any form of intermittent fasting, get your levels in check first. Although intermittent fasting is beneficial for blood sugar regulation, it does take time to work. This may be okay for a regular person, but it can put you at risk if a serious call comes in during your shift.

If you try intermittent fasting in a physically demanding career like firefighting without gaining control over your blood sugar first, you’ll likely experience extreme crashes, mood swings and fatigue. So, it’s best to regulate your blood sugar with food first and then swap over to intermittent fasting.

To regulate your blood sugar levels, follow these tips:
  • Cut out sweets completely 
  • Always pair fruit with a fat of some sort (i.e. nuts, seeds, coconut, avocado)
  • Pair starchy carbs, such as rice, sweet potato or bread, with a healthy fat or protein
  • Increase your water intake 
  • Avoid caffeine 

Once your blood sugar is under control, you shouldn’t experience the extreme crashes or shakiness from missing meals. So, even if you do get a call without having your first meal, your stress-response hormones should be able to kick into gear and give you the energy you need to perform.

Find what works for you

We’re all unique, and what works best for one person may not work for another. Give different patterns a try, and don’t get discouraged if one doesn’t fit with your schedule. To get an in-depth beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting, check out this article.

When it comes down to it, intermittent fasting can definitely combine with firefighting. You just need to make sure your blood sugar levels are regulated first, and then from there, you can find the best style of fasting for you.

Maybe you’ll only want to intermittent fast on your days off or a few days a week, eat one huge meal per day or just skip night-time snacks. Whichever direction you choose to go, you’ll likely experience significant benefits to help you continue to thrive as a firefighter long-term. 

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