Before I go into any details about Intermittent Fasting, I want to say that I am neither a certified nutritionist nor a doctor. However, I am a health nut, fitness junkie, certified personal trainer, and bodybuilder. All information in this article is based on what I have learned by fasting and my personal opinions on it.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is not a diet. IF is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.
I have been fasting for years, and as a bodybuilder, I always use IF whenever I need to drop fat fast. Especially when I am prepping for a bodybuilding show or when I am just trying to do a mini cut. IF is difficult but effective.
Why is IF effective?
Generally, it takes three to five hours for your body to digest and absorb the food that you consumed. When you eat, and up to five hours after, you are in the fed state, in which it’s hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.
After a period of not eating, your body goes into a fasted-state. You enter a fasted state 12 hours after your last meal. When you enter the fasted state, it is much easier for your body to burn fat because it isn’t processing any food, and your insulin levels are low. In a fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.
So essentially, Intermittent Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state.
There are several different ways of doing intermittent fasting.
- 16/8 method: This is the most popular method. It is also called the Leangains protocol, and it involves restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 12–8 p.m. During those 8 hours, you can eat every hour or eat 2/3 big meals. It doesn’t matter how you split your meals, but you have 8 hours to consume all your daily calories. Then you fast for 16 hours, preferably including the time you are asleep.
- OMAD: It stands for One Meal A Day. This involves fasting for 24 hours, then you eat a huge meal within an hour, then fast again for 24 hours.
- 36 hour fast: This is 36 hours of fasting, which is pretty self-explanatory
- 5:2: This method involves you consuming only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eating normally the other 5 days.
- 20:4: This method gives you a 4-hour eating window and a 20-hour fast.
The last four IF methods are more extreme than the 16:8 one, so you should only do those 2 or 3 times a week.
Let’s not forget that in order to make IF effective, you have to consume less than your maintenance calories. If you fast all day then overdo it the next day, IF will not help you lose weight/body fat. Also, this is very important, you CANNOT eat anything or drink anything that has calories, only water, plain tea, or coffee with no sugar. Whichever fasting method you choose, they should all help with weight loss.
Personally, I prefer the 16/8 method. It is not as extreme as the others, which makes it more sustainable and the easiest to stick to.
What are some benefits of IF?
Besides weight/fat loss, IF has many other benefits for the body.
1. It can help you live longer: Scientists have proven that Intermittent Fasting is a way of lengthening life. From a logical standpoint, when you’re starving, your body finds ways to survive. It helps your body to become not only stronger but it increases your body’s life span. IF activates many of the same mechanisms for extending life due to caloric intake restriction.
2. It repairs your cells: IF induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells.
3. It lowers the risk of diabetes: IF can lower blood glucose and insulin levels in people at risk of diabetes. And for those that already have diabetes, IF could help control insulin levels.
4. It improves your heart health: IF leads to a regulated blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat present in the blood that has links to heart disease.
5. It reduces the risk of cancer: Some research suggests that fasting helps fight cancer by lowering insulin resistance and levels of inflammation.
If you want to improve your health and lose weight then Intermittent Fasting can help you reach your goal. There are many health benefits that Intermittent Fasting has for your body, but again, it’s important that you consult your physician before integrating IF into your life. If your doctor gives you the green light, then go for it.
Featured image via Gesina Kunkel