What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is rapidly growing to be a preferred choice amongst those attempting to lose weight. However, it’s liked by many other people, too, who wish to reap its overall health benefits. So, what exactly is intermittent fasting all about?
How is Intermittent Fasting Distinct from Other Diets?
Essentially, intermittent fasting (or IF for short) is really a pattern of eating as opposed to a regular diet. Typical diets prioritize on what you’re eating. Dieters are limited to a specific quantity of calories or particular kinds of food. This can lead to those on a diet, always thinking about what they may be and aren’t permitted to eat.
Fatty and sugary foods are entirely forbidden. There exists strong direct attention to vegetables, fruit and low-fat, low-sugar meals. Those following these methods for eating often find themselves daydreaming about treats and snacks. While they may shed weight, they might find it challenging to stay with their diet plan within the long term.
Intermittent fasting is different. It’s really a lifestyle instead of a diet. It requires eating patterns when you cycle between windows of fasting and eating. As opposed to other diets, it doesn’t target what you’re eating. Instead, it focuses on when you should eat. Some of those on a diet take pleasure in the greater freedom this offers them. They can eat the meals they like without guilt. Lots of people also discover that it fits better into their way of life. However, there are a few possible pitfalls with regard to IF for losing weight.
The Most Popular Varieties of Intermittent Fasting
There are many different types of intermittent fasting. Everyone has a unique following. All stick to the same principle of restricting the intake of food for a specific time period. However, the duration of the amount of time, as well as the gap between eating windows, varies.
Perhaps the most famous IF approach is the 16:8 fast. This requires an eating window of 8 hours, followed by 16 hours of fasting. Lots of people find this by far the most practical choice for them. If they skip breakfast or dinner, they can accommodate it comfortably into their lifestyle.
One other popular IF choice is the 24-hour fast. This is often referred to as Eat-Stop-Eat method. It requires regularly eating one day then avoiding food for the following 24 hours. The gaps between fasts might be as short as 24 hours or as much as 72 hours.
The 5:2 fasting way is also popular. This requires eating regularly for five days of the week. The additional two consecutive days, the slimmer should restrict their consumption of calories to around 500-600 calories.
Some IF dieters select the 20:4 method. This requires focusing on all eating every day right into a four-hour window. Throughout the other 20 hours of the day, the person should eat no calories.
There are many other sorts of starting a fast diet. Quite a few people follow extended fasts of up to 48 or 36 hours. Others fast even for more extended periods. If you’re considering trying IF, you’ll need to decide on the right way for you.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are many benefits that people who follow intermittent fasting chosen lifestyle report. Here, we take a close look at probably the most common.
Lots of people who do intermittent fasting do this to shed weight fast. There exists evidence to indicate that this method of eating enables you to shed weight more quickly. There are many explanations why IF helps weight reduction. It improves the function of your metabolism for faster fat reduction.
Additionally, it decreases the number of calories you take in in 24 hours. By lowering levels of insulin, increasing growth hormones levels, and increasing norepinephrine, IF accelerates the breakdown of fat. What’s more, it helps the usage of fat to make energy.
Fasting for brief time periods is shown to increase the metabolic process by as much as 14 percent. What this means is you’ll use up more calories. Consequently, IF will help trigger weight reduction as high as 8 percent during a period of 3 – 24 weeks. That’s a remarkable loss!
People who try IF claim a lowering of 7 percent in the circumference of their waist. This suggests a loss of abdominal fat – by far the most harmful variety of fat that leads to disease.
As an additional benefit, IF causes reduced muscle loss in comparison with calorie restriction diet programs.
Whenever you fast, your body’s cells start a mechanism for removing waste cells. This is referred to as “autophagy.” Autophagy requires the body’s cells to be broken down. Additionally, it involves the metabolization of dysfunctional and broken proteins, which have developed with time in the cells.
Exactly what is the advantage of autophagy? Well, experts think that it provides defense against the creation of several diseases. Included in this is Alzheimer’s Disease.
Therefore, in the event, you follow an intermittent fasting routine, you might help to safeguard yourself from diseases. Consequently, you might live a prolonged and healthier life.
A lot more people than in the past have type 2 diabetes. The condition has become more prevalent because of increasing obesity. The main feature of diabetes is increased degrees of sugar in the blood because of insulin resistance. When you can decrease insulin, your blood sugar levels level should decrease. This can offer an excellent defense against developing type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to make a significant benefit concerning insulin resistance. It may decrease blood sugar levels by a remarkable quantity. In studies into intermittent fasting with human participants, blood sugar level diminished by as much as 6 percent while fasting. Consequently, fasting levels of insulin is effective in reducing up to 31 percent. This implies that IF could offer the benefit of lowering the possibility of developing diabetes.
Enhanced Brain Function
When something is perfect for the body, it’s often great for your brain too. Intermittent fasting has proven to enhance several metabolic features. They are essential for permanent brain health.
Intermittent fasting can lessen oxidative stress. Additionally, it lowers inflammation and decreases the amount of sugar within the blood. Not only that, but it also reduces insulin resistance, as we showed above. They are all essential aspects in enhancing brain function.
As an extra advantage, research in animals has demonstrated that IF can safeguard against damage to the brain from strokes.
All this shows that intermittent fasting offers many brain health advantages.
It is known that oxidative stress is really a primary factor in chronic diseases along with aging. Oxidative stress consists of free radicals, which are volatile molecules reacting with other important molecules such as DNA and protein. The end result is harm to those molecules that trigger damage within the body.
There are many studies to demonstrate that IF might help enhance your body’s ability to resist oxidative stress. Other research has also shown it will also help to combat inflammation, which also drives many common diseases.
Why Does Intermittent Fasting Help to Promote Losing Weight?
Even though intermittent fasting offers lots of benefits, the very best one is weight loss. A lot of people who attempt this lifestyle hope to reduce weight and keep a wholesome bodyweight. So, how come intermittent fasting help to improve weight reduction? Here, we look at the three primary reasons.
Reduced Calorie Intake
The primary reason that IF can help to boost weight loss is mainly that you naturally consume less food. When you only have a short eating window, you have a shorter period to eat. Typically, you’ll miss a minimum of one meal per day so that you can accommodate this schedule. Because of this, you’ll consume fewer calories within each 24-hour period. As you know, you have to keep a calorie deficit to shed pounds. Therefore, IF lets you reach your weight loss goals efficiently.
It’s worth noting, though, that many people cannot slim down when they fast intermittently. The reason being they don’t reduce their caloric intake. Throughout their eating window, they still eat just as much as they would have if they had been eating ordinarily. Therefore, they don’t have the needed calorie deficit to reduce the pounds.
So long as you don’t overeat during your eating window, you’ll automatically decrease your calorie intake.
Hormonal Changes Boost Metabolism
The body stores energy through calories in body fat. If you don’t eat, your system changes a few things so that stored energy can be readily available. These changes include the activity of your nervous system. They also contain significant modifications to some key hormones.
These changes occur in the metabolism when you’re fasting:
• Insulin increases every time you eat. If you fast, your insulin level will dramatically decrease. A lower insulin level facilitates fat burning.
• HGH (Human Growth Hormone) skyrockets when you fast. It can increase by as much as five times its normal level. Growth hormone aids muscle gain and fat loss.
• Noradrenaline (Norepinephrine) is sent by the nervous system to your fat cells. This causes them to break down your body fat. It is turned into free fatty acids. These are then burned to produce energy.
Some people think that if you fast, your metabolism slows down. However, research shows that fasting in the short-term may increase fat burning. There have been two reports that have demonstrated fasting for 48 hours boosts metabolism up to 14 percent.
Reduced Insulin Levels Speed Fat Burning
Likely, you may already know about insulin due to its importance for people who have diabetes. Those who have diabetic issues have to take insulin to keep normal functionality. However, lots of people are puzzled by what insulin does in the body or even what it is.
Insulin is a hormone that is made by your pancreas. Its job is to convert sugar (glucose) in the blood into energy. The cells then use that energy as fuel. Insulin also has another role to play in the body. It drives the storage of fat.
The level of insulin in the body will increase whenever you eat. It also decreases whenever you fast. The lower level of insulin caused when you fast can help to prevent excess storage of fat. It also helps the body to mobilize the fat that is already stored. As a result, it can boost your fat loss and help you lose weight more rapidly.
A Protocol for 16:8 Intermittent Fasting
If you’re willing to try intermittent fasting, you might like to begin with 16:8 fasting. This approach consists of fasting for 16 hours and then having an eating window of 8 hours. It is the single most preferred type of this way of eating. If you’re ready to begin, here is a protocol for 16:8 IF.
Choosing an Eating Window
When you’re prepared to begin 16:8 fasting, an important thing to do is choose an eating window. This 8-hour period can be at any time during the day. Therefore, you can pick the right time to satisfy your personal preferences and lifestyle. Once you have selected your preferred eight hours, you must limit your eating of food to those hours.
How do you pick the right hours for you? Many like an eating window from noon to 8 p.m. The reason being they can fast overnight, skip breakfast, and after that, enjoy lunch and dinner at typical times. They may even add in a few healthy snacks into their regime.
For those who would rather have three daily meals, a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. eating window may be best. This allows for breakfast at 9 a.m., lunch at noon, then an early dinner at 4 p.m.
Other people would rather wait until early afternoon to break their fast then to have their last meal later before going to bed.
No matter which eating window you decide on, be sure it’s one that fits with your lifestyle patterns. If you pick wrongly, you won’t be able to stick to your diet.
Planning Healthy Foods
To increase some great benefits of the 16:8 diet, you should eat healthy foods whenever possible. If you fill up on foods that are rich in nutrients, you won’t be hungry or crave unhealthy foods. This will help you to stick to your new way of eating in the long-term.
While you can enjoy some snacks and treats, you should balance every meal with a variety of wholefoods. Some of the best include:
• Fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, pears, peaches and berries
• Vegetables like tomatoes, leafy greens, cucumbers, cauliflower and broccoli
• Wholegrains like oats, rice, quinoa, buckwheat and barley
• Healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados and olive oil
• Lean protein like poultry, fish, seeds, nuts, eggs and legumes
If you binge on junk food, you could end up negating the benefits of this diet. Therefore, you should still keep unhealthy choices to a minimum.
Choosing Calorie-Free Beverages
You can drink any of your preferred beverages during your eating window. At least within reason! If you drink several family-sized bottles of full-fat soda you probably won’t lose weight!
In your fasting window, you need to only consume calorie-free beverages. If you consume any beverage containing calories you are essentially breaking your fast. This spoils your entire eating regime.
Water, green tea, unsweetened coffee and tea without milk are all good choices. They will also help you to control your appetite and keep you hydrated until you break your fast.
A Weekly Timetable
Your weekly 16:8 eating timetable will vary depending on which eating window you choose. Here are three samples to suit different schedules:
Early Eating Meal Plan
Average Eating Meal Plan
Late Eating Meal Plan
A Protocol for 24-Hour Intermittent Fasting
If the 16:8 diet isn’t right for you, you may want to consider 24-hour fasting. This is known as the Eat-Stop-Eat method. It involves one or two non-consecutive days of fasting every week.
Introduction to the Eat-Stop-Eat Method
This method was devised by Brad Pilon, who wrote a book about this way of eating. His methodology was based on Canadian research into the effect of short-term fasts on metabolic health. The idea behind Pilon’s method is to re-evaluate all you’ve learned about the timing of meals and meal frequency.
This diet is quite easy to implement. You simply choose one day or two non-consecutive days of the week in which you won’t eat for 24 hours. You can normally eat on the other five or six days. It’s advisable, though, to eat healthily for the best results.
Although it sounds counterintuitive, you’ll still be eating on every calendar day with this fast. How does this work?
Imagine you decide to fast from 9 a.m. on Monday until 9 a.m. on Tuesday. You eat your last meal on Monday morning before 9 a.m. You can then eat your next meal on Tuesday morning after 9 a.m.
During your fasting hours, you should stay well-hydrated. Drink lots of water and other beverages with no calories like unsweetened, milk-free tea, or coffee.
Choosing Your Fasting Days
If you want to try the Eat-Stop-Eat method, you’ll need to choose the right fasting days for you. This will be down to individual choice. First, you’ll need to decide whether to fast for one day or two. You’ll probably find it easier to start out with one fasting day per week. When you’re used to it, you can increase it to two days weekly. Don’t exceed that number of days, though.
Some people find it easier to fast at the weekend because they don’t have to focus at work. Others would prefer to fast on workdays, so they have distractions to stop them thinking about food. You will need to determine your own preferences.
Remember, though, if you choose to do two days of fasting, they cannot be consecutive. This would be too long an extended period of fasting. You may wish to space your two fast days out fairly evenly. Alternatively, you may want to space them just a day apart then enjoy eating the rest of the week. You may need to experiment to find the right pattern for you.
A Weekly Timetable
These are some sample timetables to help you plan your 24-hour fasts:
One Day Fast Meal Plan
Two Day Fast Meal Plan
You may prefer to begin your fast period at an earlier or later hour of the day. We have suggested 9 a.m. – 9 a.m. on the next day. However, you may prefer 7 a.m.- 7 a.m., or even 12 noon to 12 noon. You need to choose the right times for you as well as the right days.
Other Types of Intermittent Fasting
Although 24-hour and 16:8 intermittent fasting are the two most popular types, there are several others. Here, we’ll take a closer look at five other kinds of fasting regimes that several people follow.
20:4 fasting is sometimes called the Warrior Diet. It was one of the earliest diets to involve intermittent fasting. Made famous by Ori Hofmekler, a fitness expert, this diet involves eating one large meal in the evening. This massive meal takes place in a four-hour eating window.
During the other 20 hours of the day, only small amounts of raw vegetables and fruits can be eaten. The food choices for this diet should be healthy – similar to those on the Paleo diet. They should be unprocessed wholefoods that contain no artificial ingredients.
A timetable for this diet looks like this:
This popular form of intermittent fasting involves regularly eating for five days every week. The remaining two days, calories should be restricted to 500 – 600. Sometimes called the Fast Diet, this way of eating was made famous by Michael Mosley, a journalist. Women are recommended to eat 500 calories on their fasting days. Men can have 600 calories on their fast days.
You can choose which two days you prefer to fast. However, it’s best if they aren’t consecutive. On those days, you can choose to eat one meal or two small meals. Many people prefer to eat two meals of 250/300 calories each.
This is a sample timetable for this way of eating:
The 36-hour fast plan means you’ll be fasting for a full day. Unlike the Eat-Stop-Eat method, you won’t be eating something every calendar day.
If, for example, you finish dinner at 7 p.m. on day one, you skip all your meals on day two. You won’t eat your next meal until day 3 at 7 a.m. This equals a 36-hour fast.
There is some evidence to suggest this kind of fasting period can produce a quicker result. It may also be beneficial for people with diabetes. It may also be more problematic, though, since you’ll be going for extended periods without food.
A timetable for this eating plan looks like this:
Alternate Day Fasting
This way of fasting means that you fast for a full 24 hours every alternate day. Some versions of this IF diet allow you to eat up to 500 calories on a fast day. Others only allow you to have calorie-free beverages.
This isn’t the best option for any newcomers to intermittent fasting. You go to bed feeling hungry several nights each week. This is hard to maintain in the long-term.
A timetable for this way of eating looks like this:
Following the 16:8 or Eat-Stop-Eat method is quite simple. Some people, though, are keen to push the benefits of intermittent fasting to the limit. They prefer to do a 42-hour fast.
This involves eating dinner on day 1, say at 6 p.m. All meals would be skipped on the next day. On day 3, you would then eat your breakfast at noon. This would be a total fasting time of 42 hours.
If you try this way of eating, you shouldn’t restrict your calorie intake during your eating window.
It’s technically possible to extend fasts for more extended periods of time. The world record stands at 382 days. Of course, that isn’t recommended!
Some people do try 7 to 14-day fasts due to the theoretical benefits they are said to provide. Some people say that a seven-day fast can help prevent cancer. Others say that longer fasts promote mental clarity. These benefits are unproven and are theoretical. It’s probably best, therefore, to stick to one of the tried and tested IF plans outlined above.