There’s a new diet on the block. Well, at least that’s what people thought. Intermittent fasting is neither a diet nor is it new! Sourced from our great ancestors, intermittent fasting is about designing an eating pattern which restricts WHEN you eat, rather than WHAT you eat. It has shown amazing results in regards to weight loss and fat burning while still enabling people to maintain muscle.
Check out more about IF below, including 3 common methods and some frequently asked questions!
Intermittent fasting is all designing what times you eat, rather than what you eat. Instead of limiting your diet, intermittent fasting enables you to eat what you want just not when you want it. It’s focused around an eating pattern which cycles between both eating and fasting within a day. Instead of being a diet, it’s more of a specifically designed eating pattern which has shown amazing results in terms of weight-loss.
Commonly, the intermittent fasting (IF) method involves daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for a total of 24-hours, twice per week. The idea is that it’s a lot more like our eating patterns may have been originally, way back in our evolution as humans. Rather than strolling to the fridge or pantry when we’re feeling peckish, our ancestors would have had to rely on the resources on their environment - which are certainly less consistent than our food sources in modern times! As a result, our ancestors spent a lot of time functioning and surviving in a state of fasting. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot more ‘natural’ and instinctive than our modern habits on eating 3 (rather scheduled) meals a day.
Here are 3 of the most common Intermittent Fasting Methods:
1. The 16/8 Method - this method involves only eating during the time period between 12pm and 8pm. For many people, eating after 8 pm (or so close to their bedtime) isn’t great for their sleeping habits. The 16 hours before 1pm and after 8pm is a 16 hour fast. This may be done daily.
2. Eat-Stop-Eat - this is a 24 hour fast one or twice a week. To put this into a real-life context, it’s about not eating dinner one day until dinner the next day. For a more supported cleanse, check out the Isagenix Cleaning System. Rather than not eating at all, the Isagenix Cleanse system supports your cleanse days with a product called ‘Cleanse for Life’.
3. The 5:2 diet - this is about significantly restricting your calorie intake for 2 (non-consecutive days per week). On these calorie-restricted days, you would only consume between 500 and 600 calories while eating normally on the remaining 5 other days of the week. While here at Live Lively we don't personally encourage calorie-counting, this is a popular method.
As long as you aren’t compensating for the lost calories during your eating periods (i.e. binging on chocolate and popcorn) then these are all effective methods of weight loss.
On a cellular level, how does intermittent fasting affect the body?
During a fast, your body adjusts hormone levels (human growth hormone). This significant increase in our human growth hormone has benefits for both fat loss and muscle gain! The body’s sensitivity to insulin also improves during a fast, while our insulin levels drop dramatically. With lowered insulin levels, our stored body fat is more accessible. Repair processes throughout the cells are also initiated. As well as a process called ‘autophagy’ which involves the digestion of old and dysfunctional proteins which build up within the cells. The expression of genes is also affected. These changes relate to benefits in longevity and protection throughout the body against disease.
The health benefits of IF in terms of weight loss have been significant. As well as lowering your insulin and growth hormone levels, IF has been proven to increase the release of a fat-during hormone called ‘norepinephrine’. Short-term fasting may also increase your metabolic rate due to the changes in hormone levels. In simple terms, the higher your metabolic rate is the more calories you burn. Intermittent fasting attacks weight loss from two approaches, not only does it mean you have fewer calories to burn, but it also helps you burn them more efficiently.
To help you make a more informed decision, we will state that intermittent fasting has shown more positive results in men than in women. There is some evidence showing that while insulin sensitivity improved in men, blood sugar control in women worsened. It has also been shown to impact women’s menstrual cycles too, by stopping them completely while the woman is fasting repetitively. All in all, if you have any medical conditions or concerns, consult your GP prior to beginning a fasting method.
Here are some FAQ about IF:
1. What can you eat during a fast?
Liquids are allowed. These include water, coffee, and tea - as well as calorie-free drinks. Avoid adding sugar in your coffees and milk (if bearable).
2. What about supplements?
Taking supplements during a fast is fine. However, some supplements perform better when taken around or with meals.
3. Will fasting impact my workouts?
Working out during a fast is okay. Some people may notice a difference in their performance and energy levels. Others recommend taking BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) prior to a fasted workout.
4. Should I be concerned about muscle loss?
Any method of weight loss may cause muscle loss. For this reason, if you’re concerned about losing muscle it’s important to focus on maintaining high levels of protein during your eating periods and ensuring that you’re doing muscle building exercises.
5. Is Intermittent Fasting for me?
For a personalised answer to this question, see your GP. However, if you’re generally interested in losing weight or improving your overall health/wellbeing or minimising the effects of ageing then it’s certainly something to look in to.
Here are top tips to a successful intermittent fast:
1. Meal Plan! Check out our blog post here about meal planning. This is the easiest way to organise and plan your meal times effectively.
2. Make your calories count: focus on having a nutrient-dense diet during your eating periods. Fuel yourself effectively and practice moderation on unhealthy foods.
3. Stay busy! Keep your day full, avoid the kitchen (or lovely-smelling restaurants) and exercise regularly.
4. Avoid snacking or eating at nighttime! Instead, encourage your body to burn fat in-between meals.
Is Intermittent Fasting something you’re considering trying? Or perhaps you already have? Continue the conversation with us in the comment section below and share your thoughts and findings!
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