And while I have talked about other “diets” before on my blog, this is the first time I’m talking about IF. Yes, there is a reason for that; so you don’t jump from diet to diet without doing your homework first.
That being said, intermittent fasting (IF for short) is a way of eating clean, healthy, mostly unprocessed and whole foods. It has nothing to do with what you eat, but instead how you eat. Let’s take an inside look at intermittent fasting, from the (basic) science to ways to try it out.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
IF involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. It’s an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.
There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. Most people already “fast” every day, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer.
You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm. Then you’re technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.
Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually fairly easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast.
Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time. No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, black coffee or tea and other non-caloric beverages like BCAAs.
Some forms of intermittent fasting allow small amounts of low-calorie foods during the fasting period. Taking supplements is generally allowed while fasting, as long as there are no calories in them.
Why Should You Consider Intermittent Fasting?
There’s nothing “unnatural” about fasting, and our bodies are very well equipped to handle extended periods of not eating. When we fast, we get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a drastic increase in human growth hormone.
Human growth hormone is naturally produced in the pituitary gland and plays a vital role in cell regeneration, growth and maintaining healthy human tissue, including that of the brain and various vital organs. The benefits of increased HGH production ranges from:
- increased muscle strength
- better fracture healing and stronger bones
- enhanced weight loss
- improved mood and less brain fog
- better sleep
Types of Intermittent Fasting
The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day, for example by only eating between noon and 8pm.
NOTE** Best for the majority of peeps reading this blog, who are like me, looking to lose some weight through healthier habits like clean eating and regularly working out.
TheEat-Stop-Eat Method: Once or twice a week, don’t eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).
NOTE** Unless you are a profesh athlete in training, I advise against this IF Method.
The 5:2 Diet: During 2 days of the week, eat only about 500–600 calories.
NOTE*** I highly recommend you do not adhere to the 5:2 Method. Unless you are a trained and profesh athlete, this method is NOT suitable for the everyday gal like you and me, who’s looking to lose a few lbs and get healthy.
Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss
The majority of peeps who try intermittent fasting are doing it in order to lose weight. Generally speaking, intermittent fasting will make you eat fewer meals. Unless if you compensate by eating much more during the other meals (which, obviously I don’t recommend), you will end up taking in fewer calories. Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss.
Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy. For this reason, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories. In other words, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It boosts your metabolic rate (increases calories out) and reduces the amount of food you eat (reduces calories in).
Who is Intermittent Fasting Not For?
- anyone looking for a crash diet or a quick fix
- anyone who is rebounding/recovering from overeating
- anyone who has an eating disorder
- anyone who has serious food sensitivities and/or gut issues
- anyone who is under a lot of stress due to anxiety
- a yo-yo dieter
- a complete beginner to weight loss/clean eating and exercise
- anyone who isn’t prepared to track their macros
- anyone addicting to night-time eating (after 8 pm)
That being said, there are many benefits to IF. If you have a hard time eating first thing in the morning, you might want to consider looking into it. Also, if you’ve been tracking your macros for awhile and are used to weighing and measuring your food, you’ll prob have no issues with trying IF.
Personally, I like IF because I’m just not hungry in the morning. I usually prefer something to eat anywhere from 10am-noon, and am good with just drinking water and coffee till then. If I’m a little noshy, I’ll sip on some BCAAs to get me thru to my first meal, or my workout, whichever comes first.
Also, it did take me a long time to quit the night-time eating game but I found IF great for that as the 16/8 protocol allows you to eat up until 8 pm. It also works very well with my lifestyle, someone who is single and very flexible with my meal times.
I’ve just recently gotten back into IF (a week ago since this blog post was researched and written) but I have done it a few times over the past few years. This time around I found it amazingly easy to get back into, but again my lifestyle allows for this style of eating.
Once I’ve been at it for a few months, I’ll do a follow-up blog post and share my results. 😉
Ok, now it’s your turn. Have you tried Intermittent Fasting before?
What were your results?
How did you fare out?
Did you like it, and are you still eating this way?
What method did you decide to follow (16/8 is the most popular but you could use any protocol that suits your schedule and lifestyle i.e. 17/7 or even 15/9).
Leave me a comment b’low with your Q’s or experiences with IF. I answer each and every comment personally, so feel free to chat away. 🙂
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