It used to be a long term conception that if you want to lose weight, eating less is a must. This has lead to such an unhealthy, toxic eating pattern for many people who struggle with losing weight, which cause eating disorders (binge eating, anorexia, etc) and other digestive conditions.
Recently, the term Intermittent Fasting (IF) has come to a rise. Many swear by it, some say it’s not healthy.What is IF? How does it work? Should you apply it?
In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the basis guide of intermittent fasting for beginners, or been struggling to find the right method, so that you have a deep understanding about it to make better decisions for yourself.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF) and how does it work?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a way of eating. It’s a method of planning your meals to make the most of them. Intermittent fasting does not alter what you eat; rather, it alters when you eat.
Why should you change your eating habits? Most importantly, it’s a great way to get lean without going on a fad diet or cutting your calories to zero.
In fact, when you first start intermittent fasting, you’ll try to keep your calorie intake constant. (Most people eat larger meals in a shorter period of time.) Intermittent fasting is also a good way to maintain muscle mass while losing fat.
Having said that, the main reason people try intermittent fasting is to lose weight. In a moment, we’ll go over how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss.
Perhaps most importantly, intermittent fasting is one of the simplest strategies for losing weight while maintaining a healthy weight because it requires very little behavioral change. This is a very good thing because it means intermittent fasting is “simple enough that you’ll do it, but meaningful enough that it will actually make a difference.”
How Intermittent Fasting works?
To understand how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss, we must first distinguish between the fed and fasted states.
When your body digests and absorbs food, it is in a fed state. The fed state typically begins when you begin eating and lasts three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. Because your insulin levels are high when you are fed, it is extremely difficult for your body to burn fat.
After that time period, your body enters what is known as the post–absorptive state, which is simply a fancy way of saying that it is not processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, after which you enter the fasted state. Because your insulin levels are low when you fast, it is much easier for your body to burn fat.
When you fast, your body can burn fat that was previously inaccessible during the fed state.
Because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, our bodies are rarely in this fat-burning mode. This is one of the reasons why many people who begin intermittent fasting lose fat without changing their diet, eating habits, or exercise frequency. Fasting puts your body into a fat-burning state that you rarely achieve on a regular eating schedule.
Why should you go for IF?
Fat loss is great, but it isn’t the only benefit of fasting.
1. Intermittent fasting makes your day simpler
I’m a big believer in behavior modification, simplicity, and stress reduction. I enjoy the additional simplicity that intermittent fasting brings to my life. I don’t think about breakfast when I wake up. I simply grab a glass of water and begin my day.
Because I enjoy eating and don’t mind cooking, eating three meals a day was never a chore for me. However, intermittent fasting allows me to eat one fewer meal, which means I have to plan one fewer meal, cook one fewer meal, and worry about one fewer meal. It simplifies my life, which I appreciate.
2. Intermittent fasting helps you live longer
Scientists have long known that limiting calories can help you live longer. This makes sense from a logical standpoint. When you’re hungry, your body finds ways to keep you alive.
There’s only one problem: who wants to starve themselves to live longer? I don’t know about you, but I want to live a long life. Starving myself does not sound appealing. The good news is that intermittent fasting activates many of the same mechanisms that calorie restriction does for extending life. In other words, you get the benefits of living a longer life without having to go hungry.
It was discovered in 1945 that intermittent fasting increased the lifespan of mice. This study recently discovered that alternate day intermittent fasting resulted in longer lifespans.
3. Intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of cancer
This one is debatable due to a lack of research and experimentation on the relationship between cancer and fasting. Early indications, however, are encouraging.
This study of ten cancer patients suggests that fasting before treatment may reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. Another study that used alternate day fasting with cancer patients concluded that fasting before chemotherapy would result in higher cure rates and fewer deaths.
Finally, this comprehensive review of numerous studies on fasting and disease concluded that fasting appears to reduce the risk of not only cancer but also cardiovascular disease.
4. Intermittent fasting is much easier than dieting
The reason most diets fail isn’t because we eat the wrong foods; it’s because we don’t stick to the diet over time. It’s not a nutrition issue; it’s a behavior change issue.
This is where intermittent fasting shines because it is remarkably simple to implement once you get past the notion that you must eat all the time. This study, for example, discovered that intermittent fasting was an effective weight loss strategy in obese adults and concluded that “subjects quickly adapt” to an intermittent fasting routine.
Many studies on intermittent fasting have been conducted in both animals and humans. These studies have shown that it can have significant benefits for weight control as well as overall body and brain health. It could even help you live a longer life.
Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Weight loss: As previously stated, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat without having to restrict calories consciously.
- Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, potentially protecting against type 2 diabetes.
- Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in inflammation markers, which are a key driver of many chronic diseases.
- Heart health: Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, and insulin resistance — all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
- Cancer: Animal studies indicate that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer.
- Brain health: Intermittent fasting boosts the brain hormone BDNF and may aid in the growth of new nerve cells. It may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can help rats live longer lives. Fasted rats lived 36–83 percent longer, according to studies.
Keep in mind that research is still in its early stages. Many of the studies were small, short-term or conducted in animals. Many questions have yet to be answered in higher quality human studies.
Intermittent Fasting For Beginners
1. Identify personal goals
A person who begins intermittent fasting usually has a goal in mind. It could be to lose weight, get healthier overall, or improve metabolic health. The ultimate goal of a person will help them determine the best fasting method and how many calories and nutrients they need to consume.
2. Pick the method
When fasting for health reasons, a person can try one of four methods. A person should select the plan that best suits their preferences and that they believe they can stick to.
- Eat Stop Eat (ESE)
- Warrior Diet
- Alternate Day Fasting
Before attempting a different fasting method, a person should typically stick with one for a month or longer to see if it works for them. Anyone with a medical condition should consult with their doctor before beginning any fasting method.
When deciding on a method, keep in mind that you do not have to eat a specific amount or type of food, or avoid foods entirely. A person is free to eat whatever they want. To achieve health and weight loss goals, it is best to eat a healthy, high-fiber, vegetable-rich diet during the eating periods.
On eating days, bingeing on unhealthy foods can stymie health progress. It is also critical to drink plenty of water or other low-calorie beverages during the fast days.
Brad Pilon created this fasting method, which involves eating nothing for 24 hours twice a week. It makes no difference what days a person fasts or when they begin. The only restriction is that fasting must last 24 hours and take place on non-consecutive days. People who go 24 hours without eating will most likely become very hungry.
Ori Hofmekler created the Warrior Diet, which involves eating very little for 20 hours per day. A person who fasts in this manner consumes all of their usual food intake in the remaining 4 hours.
Eating a full day’s worth of food in such a short period of time can cause stomach discomfort. This is the most extreme fasting method, and a person new to fasting, like Eat Stop Eat, may not want to start with it.
Leangains was created by Martin Berkhan for weightlifters, but it has since gained popularity among those interested in fasting.
Males who choose the Leangains method, for example, will fast for 16 hours and then eat whatever they want for the remaining 8 hours of the day. Females fast for 14 hours and then eat whatever they want for the remaining 10 hours. During the fast, a person must refrain from eating any food but may consume as many zero-calorie beverages as they desire.
Alternate Day Fasting, 5:2 method
Fasting on alternate days is practiced by some people in order to improve blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight loss. A person following the 5:2 diet consumes 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days per week.
Some alternate-day fasting regimens include a third fasting day each week. A person eats only what they burn during the day for the rest of the week. This creates a calorie deficit over time, allowing the person to lose weight.
3. Figure out caloric needs
When fasting, there are no dietary restrictions; however, calories do count. People who want to lose weight must create a calorie deficit for themselves, which means consuming less energy than they use. People who want to gain weight must consume more calories than they burn.
There are numerous tools available to assist a person in calculating their caloric needs and determining how many calories they need to consume each day in order to gain or lose weight. A person could also consult with their healthcare provider or a dietitian to determine how many calories they require.
4. Figure out a meal plan
A person who wants to lose or gain weight may find that planning their meals for the day or week is beneficial. Meal preparation does not have to be overly restrictive. It takes into account calorie intake as well as nutrient intake.
Meal planning has many advantages, including assisting a person in sticking to their calorie count and ensuring they have enough food on hand for cooking recipes, quick meals, and snacks.
5. Make the calories count
“A calorie is a calorie” is a common misconception. Although these fasting methods do not specify how much a person should consume while fasting, the nutritional value of the food must be considered.
In general, nutrient-dense food, or food with a high number of nutrients per calorie, should be consumed. Though a person does not have to completely avoid junk food, they should practice moderation and focus on more healthful options to reap the most benefits.
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. You may also feel tired and your brain may not function as well as it used to. This may only be temporary, as your body will need time to adjust to the new meal schedule. If you have a medical condition, consult your doctor before attempting 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 woman who is trying to conceive
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
Anyone does not need to practice intermittent fasting. It is simply one of many lifestyle changes that can benefit your health. The most important factors to focus on are still eating real food, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
If you don’t like the idea of fasting, you can safely disregard this article and do what works for you. When it comes to nutrition, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. The best diet for you is one that you can maintain over time.
Some people benefit from intermittent fasting while others do not. You can only find out which group you belong to by trying it out. Fasting can be a very powerful tool for losing weight and improving your health if you feel good while fasting and find it to be a sustainable way of eating.