Intermittent Fasting is all the buzz at the moment, and for vey good reason. It is by no means a new concept on the health and dietary scene. There are so many various diets springing up here and there and the masses of information often over-whelm one. Where do you even start. How should you be eating and which form of diet or way of eating will best suit your body and lifestyle? Counting calories and macros have long been praised for weight-loss, but this definitely isn’t the only way.
Intermittent fasting has many benefits that include not only weight-loss but various other factors that will greatly improve your body, mind and lifestyle. If you’ve tracked your macros, counted calories, exercised like crazy but still do not have the body that you desire….your answer is Intermittent fasting.Continue reading to learn more about the amazing benefits of intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting, or commonly known as IF, is a pattern of eating whereby you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. We all actually do this without even trying. When we break our fast in the morning, hence the name breakfast, we have been fasting for a period of time since dinner until breakfast. Intermittent Fasting does not state which foods should be eaten, but rather when you should consume foods in order to optimise their effects and your results. Whilst fasting no food should be consumed, but you can have tea’s, water and other non-caloric beverages.
The concept behind IF is that your body should be spending time repairing itself and not continuously digesting food. You do not in fact need to eat six small meals a day to be healthy and lose weight. When your body spends more time digesting food, it is spending less time repairing itself. As already stated, we all fast at some point in the day or other. There are various different forms of IF and it is about finding which works best for you and your lifestyle. But more about the types of IF later.
The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Humans have been fasting for thousands of years. Sometimes due to the fact that there wasn’t an abundance of food, or for various religious reasons. It is not something new and the human body can adapt very well to periods of fasting. Intermittent Fasting is not a starvation diet, but rather a period of time where you shorten your eating window and increase your fasting period.
More Mindful Eating: We tend to eat based on the scenario and not necessarily because we are hungry. Have you ever eaten lunch and then gone to the movies and decided you just have to have the popcorn because you are at the movies? Sounds familiar! With IF you are forced to be more present in your food choices as your eating window is shorter than what it used to be. Therefore, if you’re headed to the movies during a fasting period then you shouldn’t be getting the popcorn.
You Will Lose Weight: One of the main reasons people try IF is to shed weight. Intermittent Fasting is very effective in aiding in weight loss. As the period of time in which you consume food is much shorter, you are less likely to over-eat. Hence you will lose weight. There are also various scientific and biological reasons, but I am neither a doctor or scientist so let’s not get too complex. I personally use intermittent fasting and can attest that it is a great tool to aid in weight -loss.
Better Sleep: Limiting your eating to a certain time frame will mean that there are no late night kitchen raids. This will allow you to head to bed earlier and get a better nights sleep. As we all know sleep is crucial and even more so when trying to lose weight. More sleep also equates to a better and more productive day the following day.
Slows The Aging Process: There are various medications and supplements that can be taken in order to slow the aging process, but they are not very effective. Food choices are the most powerful when it comes to getting a youthful complexion. Studies have shown that fasting is able to significantly reduce oxidative stress and fibrosis. These are key characteristics in aging tissues.
Improved Brain Function: No one wants to be fatigued or have brain fog, and IF may just be the answer. With lower blood sugar levels and a slimmer waistline you will be able to focus on tasks more clearly throughout the day.
Disease Prevention: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes. IF is also said to improve blood pressure and therefore is good for your heart!
Improved Digestion: Having to no longer digest food continuously throughout the day, your digestive system will work more effectively and will be grateful to get a bit of a break!
Increases Fat Burning: After a great nights sleep you will awake with a good hormone balance for optimal fat loss. Low insulin and high glucagon levels make delaying your first meal an effective strategy to prolong this fat burning state.
The Potential Downside Of Fasting
As with everything there will be a positive and negative aspect to Intermittent Fasting. Initially when you start intermittent fasting you may experience nausea, dehydration and anxiety. Some people find it very socially isolating, whilst others find it too difficult to fast for a longer than average period of time (more than 10 hours). And that’s okay because even though IF is all the craze now and it has some great benefits, it may just not be for you. You should always place your health first.
Word to the wise, if you have previously suffered from any disordered eating, anxiety, are pregnant or are on insulin then you should not be intermittent fasting. Always consult your doctor before starting any new regime, especially if it entails fasting.
Before You Start Intermittent Fasting
Before you embark on this new lifestyle change there are some things that you need to get in order. You may start intermittent fasting for weight loss reasons and may follow this pattern of eating for 3 months, or this may be a long term lifestyle change for you. Whatever the reasons, you need to ensure that you get these three things in order before you start.
Your diet: You will only really benefit from IF if you are eating a clean diet. So clean up your diet before starting.
Sleep: If you struggle to fall asleep or sleep through the night then IF may not be for you as it may lead to increased cortisol stress levels.
Stress: If you are currently very stressed for whatever reason, then you may want to hold off on starting IF until you have reduced your stress levels.
Types Of Intermittent Fasting
There are various ways of fasting, and it must be stressed that you need to find what works best for you, your body and your lifestyle! Now lets get in to the types of Intermittent Fasting.
The 16/8 Method
This is personally the method that I use. You fast for 16 hours and have an eating window of 8 hours. This method is easy to follow as you can simply not eat anything after dinner and then skip breakfast in the morning. So if you finish your last meal at 8pm you will then eat your first meal at 12 noon the next day. This is the most popular type of IF. It is said that woman should do shorter fasts of 14-15 hours as they generally do better with shorter fasts. If you generally skip breakfast then you are already eating in this pattern . As with the time frame or your eating window you are able to extend the fasting period and decrease the eating window as you see fit. You should speak to your doctor first though.
The 5:2 Diet
This pattern of eating is where you eat normally for 5 days of the week and then restrict your calories to 500-600 calories per day for two days. On fasting days it is suggested that women eat 500 calories and men eat 600 calories. You can do this by eating two small meals of 250 calories each on the fasting days.
This type of Intermittent Fasting is where you don’t eat for a period of 24 hours once or twice a week. You could fast from dinner one night to dinner the next night, or whichever meal suits you best. This fast is particularly difficult as fasting for a period of 24 hours is normally difficult for most people.
Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate day fasting is just what the name suggests. You fast for one day and then resume normal eating the next day and then fast the next day and so on. There are various versions of this and some allow 500 calories on fasting days. A full fast every other day is rather intense so it is not suggested that beginners try this. This method is not sustainable for the long run.
The Warrior Diet
This form of fasting is where you fast during the day and then eat a large meal at night. It was made popular by a fitness expert and has gained much traction over the years and is popular. You can eat raw fruits and vegetables during the day and then feast at night having a large meal in a 4 hour eating window. This diet emphasises food choices in line with the paleo way of eating.
For me I have found Intermittent Fasting to be an amazing way to shed weight, boost my energy as well as increase my mood and mental clarity. I personally follow the 16/8 method. This is the easiest form of IF. I work out in the morning and skip breakfast, meaning that my first meal is lunch and then I have dinner later. I will admit that the first couple of days when first starting are a little tough. Ensure that you are eating a clean diet and drinking enough water. Always remember to consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise regime.
Have You Tried Intermittent Fasting? What Benefits Did You Experience?