What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is 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, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages.
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.
The primary reason most people try intermittent fasting is to lose weight. As you’ll be eating fewer meals, unless you compensate by eating a lot more during other meals, you’ll end up taking in few calories, which is the basic formula for weight loss.
But as mentioned, intermittent fasting further helps as it allows the body to reach its fat-burning peak.
So that you lose fat without losing muscle, the key to successful, long-term weight loss.
As it keeps your metabolism running like it should. More muscle means a higher metabolism, and burning more calories.
Research has shown that the 5:2 fasting protocol. Restricting calories to just 500 to 700 per day for two days each week, has been the most effective for weight loss.
A 2013 British study found that participants who steadily reduced their daily calorie intake became more insulin sensitive and lost more weight. As compared to those who followed a more typical eating pattern.
Fasting can raise human growth hormone
Research has shown that fasting can raise human growth hormone (HGH) by as much as 1,300 percent in women, and 2,000 percent in men.
Which is known to play a key role in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process.
It also happens to be a fat-burning hormone. Which further explains why fasting is so effective for weight loss.
Intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss as well as to lower insulin levels.
Higher growth hormone levels and greater amounts of norepinephrine – all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.
This is why fasting over a short-term period has been shown to increase the metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, which helps one burn even more calories.
In a scientific review conducted in 2014, researchers found intermittent fasting can result in weight loss of 3 to 8% over a 3 to 24-week period, which is a significant amount.
When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have to make breakfast, I don’t have to prep foodfor my lunch—I really don’t have to even think about food until 4 p.m.!
There’s also another side to the convenience of intermittent fasting: When 4 p.m. does finally roll around. I don’t have to worry so much about what I eat because intermittent fasting allows you to have a much more flexible diet.
I’m on the road nearly constantly, yet I do zero food prep. I can eat at restaurants and still maintain a photoshoot-ready physique, thanks to intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting works well for me because it addresses all of my needs. It helps improve fat loss and health, fights jet lag, and it is very convenient. And those four reasons are why you—and really everyone—should be intermittent fasting.
Unfortunately, fasting doesn’t trigger your body to break down only your fat reserves.
While that would make weight loss so much easier, metabolism is a bit more complex. Your body burns a combination of fat and carbohydrate and after about six hours or so.
When carbohydrates aren’t being consumed and your body’s back up stores in your liver have been depleted, you begin to convert some lean tissue into carbohydrate.
The ratio of how much fat to muscle you lose may vary depending on your body composition, protein intake, and activity level. But again, this is where I’ve seen women and men experience different results.
Research shows that in postmenopausal women, a higher protein intake is needed in order to lose less muscle mass (not offset the effect completely).
But many women tell me that when they fast they crave carbs, which may lead to a loss of muscle while maintaining body fat the opposite of their intended goal.
Bottom line: again, think through what feels good and in sync with your body needs, and remember, sustainability is key!
Improves Blood Sugar
When you eat, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream. A hormone called insulin is responsible for transporting the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it can be used up as energy.
Insulin doesn’t always work effectively when you have diabetes. Which can result in high blood sugar levels coupled with symptoms like fatigue, thirst and frequent urination.
Some studies have found that intermittent fasting benefits your blood sugar levels by keeping them well-regulated and preventing spikes and crashes.
In one study, participants with diabetes fasted an average of 16 hours daily for two weeks. Not only did intermittent fasting cause weight loss and a decrease in caloric intake. But it also helped significantly reduce blood sugar levels.
Another study showed that fasting decreased blood sugar by 12 percent and also lowered insulin levels by nearly 53 percent. Preventing a build-up of insulin allows it to work more efficiently and keeps your body sensitive to its effects.