Intermittent Fasting 101
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of intermittent fasting. This is being mentioned everywhere, from social media sites to health TV shows like Dr. Oz. If you read a weight loss, fitness, or health blog, you will most likely see it mentioned often there as well. Intermittent fasting is a new way of eating that promotes weight loss, fat burning, muscle building, and many other health benefits through a very simple eating pattern. Here is more information about intermittent fasting so that you can decide if it is a good option for you.
IF is a Pattern of Eating
Many people call intermittent fasting a diet, but it is rather a pattern of eating or dieting for optimal success. It teaches you a lot, including how to listen to your bodyís hunger signals, and to follow a healthy pattern of eating. You are following a specific pattern each day, where you only eat during a shorter block of time, fasting for the rest of the day, except for having coffee, tea, and water. This pattern helps your body to burn food more quickly so that there is more time for burning fat.
There are Different Protocols
The next thing you will learn about intermittent fasting is that there isnít just one way to do it, but several methods or protocols to choose from. It is very flexible, so you can look at the different methods and choose which one works best for your schedule and your lifestyle. Here are some popular IF protocols people like to turn to:
16:8/LeanGains – This is a popular option, allowing you to eat for 8 hours, then fast for 16 hours. You try to do it as often as possible. It can be done every day of the week.
5:2 – The 5:2 diet requires you to eat how you normally would 5 days out of the week, then have 2 alternating days of the week where you fast for 24 hours. You can often have a low amount of calories on fasted days, up to 500-600 calories.
Warrior Diet – With the warrior diet, you go 24 hours between eating, having just one large meal at the end of every fasted day.
Eat-Stop-Eat/24-Hour ñ This is similar to 5:2, except you, may only go 24 hours once a week. You also donít have the calories, but a full fasting day with only water, coffee, or tea. There is more info on the Different Protocols in this post
Tips for Starting Intermittent Fasting
Here are a few quick tips that can make this transition easier for you:
Pick your protocol first, then do plenty of planning. You want to make sure you know when you will eat, what to eat, and how much.
Don’t go extreme on the first day. It is best to start with the lesser protocols, like a 12-2 or 16-8 where you still have a pretty lengthy window of eating. Wait a bit before you go to the 24-hour fasting protocols.
Listen to your body. The intermittent fasting method you are using might not work good for you, so if you notice bad side effects, go back to your normal way of eating.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a growing topic in the health and weight loss communities, but why? Simply put ñ it works. Many people are discovering the long list of benefits to this form of fasting, and not just those looking to lose weight. While that is definitely one of the top advantages, you will find many other health benefits as well.
It is a Simpler Way to Lose Weight
Yo-yo dieting is not only not conducive to successful weight loss, but it can actually be harmful to your body. Too many changes in short periods of time can lead to many issues with digestion, weight gain, and abdominal pain, so you want to stick one method and keep with it. The reason why so many people are having success with intermittent fasting is because of how simple it is. You just have to pick one method of intermittent fasting and stick with it, eating healthy and moderately during the eating periods, and fasting during the other hours of the day. It really doesnít get much easier than that.
It Can Help With Blood Sugar Control
Moving beyond helping you to lose weight or burn fat, intermittent fasting is also efficient at controlling your blood sugar levels. When you do intermittent fasting over a prolonged period of time and do it the right way, you can start increasing your insulin resistance and lowering your blood glucose levels naturally. When you do this, you just might help to treat your type 2 diabetes or avoid diabetes if you were in the high-risk category.
You Can Increase Cognitive Function
There have been animal studies on intermittent fasting and how it can have a positive effect on your cognitive health, which helps to promote brain and memory health. You can actually reduce your risk for brain-related illnesses like dementia and Alzheimerís disease with both a healthy diet and diets like intermittent fasting. Studies were performed at the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute of Aging on this very subject.
It Promotes Healthy Eating
Since intermittent fasting takes away overeating and requires you to really be conscious when you do eat, it can help tremendously with your overall health. Nutritious foods provide so many amazing health benefits, for your weight, heart health, cholesterol, even your bones. With intermittent fasting, you try to have nutrient-dense foods during eating phases, so it can help you to learn to eat better overall.
How IF Helps with Weight Loss
If you are like most people, you first started researching intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. Intermittent fasting (IF) provides a great way to burn more fat and help improve your weight loss efforts, without a lot of rules and guidelines. It is very simple ñ you eat during feeding periods and fast during the fasted periods. Here are some things to know about intermittent fasting and weight loss.
You Burn More Fat
So why are you able to lose weight with intermittent fasting? The first benefit for weight loss is that it helps you to burn more fat. Your body is a machine, working constantly to burn food and fat for energy. Your body will first burn the food you eat, which can take a few hours before it starts burning fat. This is why if you have a calorie deficit, there comes a point where your body has burned your food, and then starts burning fat. With intermittent fasting, you are burning your food and have a longer period of time for burning fat. This is why it is exceptional for losing weight and burning more fat than a diet where you are eating every few hours.
Your Calories Are Reduced Naturally
One thing people donít often consider is that you tend to eat less when you have less time to eat. You might think you will just want to eat everything in sight once your fasted period is over, but this is often not the case. Over time, you get used to going long periods of time before eating, but you also have a reduced appetite. This, in turn, requires you to go for the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods before you become full from eating, which helps with what you eat, but also how much you are consuming. Your calories and carbs will likely go down naturally.
You Learn About Self-Control
Many of the weight loss benefits of intermittent fasting come completely by accident. If you have trouble with self-control and eating, intermittent fasting is a great way to start. When you first start doing IF, just stick to the protocol you chose, not worrying about what you are eating during your eating periods. If you want donuts, have donuts. If youíre craving a pizza, go for it. Over time, you will learn to practice self-control by sticking to your fasted and eating states, then you can eventually use those skills to start changing what you eat, as well as how often.