I have a confession to make.
I am an intermittent faster.
Now, I don’t align myself with any views too strongly in fitness, because when you do that you quickly lose sight of the bigger picture.
That said, intermittent fasting is, in my opinion, one of the greatest tools for controlling your weight in modern life. We look at how many calories we eat, and there are a number of ways to influence that, but we seem pretty weary about eating less frequently.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is simply extending the time that you go without eating. We all fast overnight when we sleep, but those doing intermittent fasting will often break the fast much later than most people, or finish eating much earlier in the day.
What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent fasting?
There are a number of benefits of intermittent fasting. Some are physiological, others are psychological.
Increased Fat Burning Hormones
Insulin levels drop significantly during fasted periods, which helps with fat loss. Growth hormone, a hormone that helps with muscle growth and fat loss, can also increase by as much as five times.
Increased Metabolic Rate
Intermittent fasting causes a short-term increase in metabolic rate of 3-14%. Often increases like this tend to be followed by a decrease later on to nullify the effect, but based on the research so far, I’d say that it probably doesn’t occur with intermittent fasting. That means you simply get more fat loss when you practice intermittent fasting.
It’s Good For Your Brain
Intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress and inflammation and animal studies suggest it may protect against Alzheimer’s Disease, there’s not much data on humans but what exists seems to be positive.
It May Be Good For Your Heart
We’re always hearing about how eating breakfast is good for your heart right? Well, not necessarily.
Intermittent fasting has been found to improve blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar levels and numerous inflammatory markers. Not that breakfast is bad, but it’s certainly not the most important factor.
You Don’t Think About Food All The Time
You’d think that not eating would make you hungry, but hunger is more complex than that. Most people have a harder time stopping eating once they’ve started. If they’re not eating then it’s not so much of a problem.
Have you ever noticed how you get hungry at certain times? Your body is conditioned to expect food at the normal time you eat. This passes and if you stop eating at these times it often disappears completely.
The average person makes a ton of food-related decisions in a given day, this was tested in a study and the results strained belief. I don’t think about food that much during the day anymore but I can see how people do.
When you’re not eating, you shouldn’t be thinking about food. Do something else with your time instead. Psychologically it becomes like an on/off switch, if you’re not eating then you don’t consider eating every time the opportunity arises, you have a clear line in the sand.
One of the hardest things when losing weight is finding healthy options when you’re constantly on the go, and often having to pay a premium if you do find them. When you don’t have to make that decision, everything becomes pretty easy.
What about if you’re perpetually busy?
Then it gets even better. Not only do you not get the after-lunch brain fog, you don’t have to stop for lunch. This probably has more appeal to people who work for themselves, but hey, if you’re employed then maybe your boss will let you work through lunch and have a longer evening to enjoy.
Portion Control Is Actually Pretty Easy
When it comes time to eat, you are actually hungry. You enjoy your food because you’re eating less often, and best of all? You can eat quite a bit of food!
I don’t know about you but I’d rather eat like a king once a day than eat like a hamster all day.
How To Do Intermittent Fasting
There are two ways to do intermittent fasting. One is much better than the other.
One Meal Per Day
This one actually isn’t that good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty satisfying but you’ll find that your stomach can’t hold a day’s worth of food very easily if you’re eating a decent amount of protein. Frankly, protein intake is more important than meal frequency.
Time Restricted Feeding
This is what i do. You simply split your day into fasted and feeding.
You have 24 hours in a day, you allocate some to fasting and some to feeding.
Common splits are:
16 hours fasting / 8 hours feeding
18 hours fasting / 6 hours feeding
20 hours fasting / 4 hours feeding
Pick whichever one suits you. Just make sure that you eat enough of the right foods and don’t feel sick.
You have to treat it as an on/off switch. You’re either fasting or you’re not.
That means no sugar in your tea or coffee.
Normal amounts of milk are fine but you want to keep your calorie consumption to practically nothing throughout your fasted hours to get the most out of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting offers lots of benefits that make fat loss easier not just by making the process more efficient, but by making the execution of it more practical. If it is something that would fit well in your lifestyle then it’s a really great way to enjoy your food and still achieve your fitness goals.
Do what’s right for you.
Until next time,