Intermittent fasting is the most discussed dietary concept these days in gyms and on the internet, and it’s gaining ground despite challenging the well-known facts and assumptions about nutrition.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a pattern of eating. Simply put, you eat your regular amount of food in a smaller time frame. It means that your eating window reduces to around 8 hours per day. You don’t change what you eat, but rather when you eat. You basically schedule your meals in such a way to get the most out of them. For instance, you can have your first meal at noon and then enjoy the rest of your meals until 8pm. Afterwards you fast until the next day at noon. This means that you have a 16-hour fasting window and an 8-hour eating window.
If we think about it, every one of us does some sort of fasting, whether we realize it or not. Anytime we’re not eating, it means that we’re fasting. However, it the fasting does not have a structured timetable of meals where the window of fasting is constant, we’re fasting aimlessly, without ripping any benefits for it. Most people fast for 6 to 8 hours per night while sleeping. It is for this reason, by the way, that the first meal in the morning is called breakfast – you are literally breaking your overnight fast, “break – fast”.
Using the Intermittent Fasting (IF) technique will not only make you leaner but if done properly, it will in fact improve your workout performance and strength gains. It will help you lose weight and still feel amazing. But again, this stands only if it’s done correctly and if you listen to your body. And let’s get a few things straight:
- You will not deprive yourself of calories – you will simply distribute them differently throughout the day.
- IF works for both men and women but bear in mind that each body is different and your experience might be very different from the person next to you.
- You will need to work on your willpower to reap the benefits of IF.
- You need to discuss the techniques presented in this book with your medical practitioner to make sure you’re in good health and perfectly able to change your dietary plans.
- Before you set out to test this new and amazing technique, it’s recommended that you try Paleo for 2-3 months, as this diet will help your body detox, and the switch to IF will be swifter and softer – your body will already know how to regulate its energy.
You basically eat to stay fit and fast to boost your fitness. The process is rather simple: fasting increases the production of the Human Growth Hormone which, in turn, burns off fat and helps you gain muscle. Another huge benefit of IF is that your body will learn how to handle all nutrients better because it will have fully processed the food from the previous day.
Here is a list with some benefits you get from IF:
- Reduced inflammation
- Weight loss
- Metabolism boost
- Lower LDL (ad cholesterol) levels
- Improved appetite control
- Better blood sugar control
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
- Protection against neurotoxins
Here are a few of the things that happen when you start fasting:
- The insulin levels in your blood drop significantly, which means your body will burn more fat
- This means that IF may protect those who are at risk of getting type 2 diabetes
- The Human Growth Hormone (which promotes fat burning and muscle gain) increases up to 5 times
- Your body starts several essential cellular repair processes such as removing waste material from cells
- This process of cellular repair may protect against several diseases, including cancer
- The various metabolic changes that will take place in your body will positively affect your brain health;
One of the reasons why IF is becoming more and more popular has to do with how very convenient it is. Just think about it: you can sleep in for another 15 minutes and then wake up and head to work. No more food prep or cleaning up. It’s as easy as that.
You might become a fan of intermittent fasting if:
- You’re a very busy person
- Frequent meals on the job are troublesome
- You’re not the best cook
- You have a big appetite
Here are the 3 most popular methods of IF.
This is the most popular and most sophisticated form of intermittent fasting, designed by Martin Berkhan. You basically fast for 16 hours, remaining with a feeding window of 8 hours. During this time you are allowed to drink black coffee, diet sodas and have a sugar-free gum. You can also add a little milk to your coffee. You can eat as few meals as you like, the most often recurrence being 3 meals.
This protocol is very adaptable so it can fit into almost every busy schedule, but you have to be consistent about your eating window time. The plan can be very specific for those of you who are serious about getting leaner and stronger faster but you can stick to a few basic rules if you just want to give it a go without having tried Paleo first. Eat plenty of carbs on your workouts day, don’t skip on the quality proteins every day and, like with any other, healthy diet or lifestyle, try to eat unprocessed foods.
The daily practice of this method means that you’re eating the same way every day and that will help you with not experiencing ups and downs in hunger, as with some other forms of fasting. This style of IF is best suited for serious folks and for those who are already lean. Because it was designed specifically with fitness-oriented people in mind it yields exceptional results for folks who train consistently.
- Eat Stop Eat
The protocol was created by Brad Pilon. This is a 24 hour fasting period, so if your last meal is at 7 pm on Monday, then you do not eat again – at all – until Tuesday at 7 pm. This can be done 1 to 3 times per week, 2 times being the most common recurrence. Whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain muscle, this method will reduce your general calorie intake without placing any restrictions on what you eat.
Basically, one or twice per week you fast for 24 whole hours. Of course, you are allowed to drink calorie-free drinks and then you can go right back to eating normally. The choice of day is up to you so it’s pretty flexible. You can also gradually train your body and increase the fasting period so you can adjust easier. Like I said, there’s no list of forbidden foods and you will not be restricting your diet. But you still have to eat in moderation and it is recommended to start off easily so you don’t end up binge eating afterwards.
Please note that apart from the usual crankiness that can come with changing your diet, fatigue and headaches have also been reported. Don’t be afraid to try another protocol if this one’s not the one for you.
- The Warrior Diet
For those of you who can truly devout yourselves to a lifestyle change, this type of IF was designed by Ori Hofmekler with you in mind! Basically, the diet is a 20-hour fast followed by a 4-hour feeding period. But you can “cheat” during your fasting period and eat fresh fruit of vegetables, drink juice and even have a small protein shake. This cheat makes the method more palatable and it seems that it will actually boost your energy levels.
The benefit of this method is that with its unique type of fasting you’re generally eating one large meal and the makeup of such a meal isn’t so important. It’s said that as long as you get adequate protein, you can eat any food and still do well. On the other side though, running into the issue of hunger is specific for the warrior diet.
Before choosing to implement one of these IF styles please keep in mind that if you’re going to force yourself to follow a certain method, it’s not going to work. You have to choose a method that you feel can make your life easier, or it won’t be sustainable and the benefits of your fasting may be short.
If you have a medical condition, then you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting. This is particularly important if you:
- Have diabetes
- Have problems with blood sugar regulation
- Have low blood pressure
- Take medications
- Are underweight
- Have a history of eating disorders
- Are a female who is trying to conceive
- Have a history of amenorrhea
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
With all that being said, IF does have an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if you are healthy and well-nourished overall.
If you’re still not convinced intermittent fasting is right for your or if you are uncomfortable with skipping breakfast time, the only thing remaining is to try it for yourself and see what happens and how YOUR body reacts to IF.
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