From increased fat loss to fixing insulin resistance. Intermittent fasting has earned its place in the health and fitness world. And for a good reason. It is a game changer.
Here’s what you have to know to get started:
What intermittent fasting is.
How to do intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting and weight loss.
What intermittent fasting does to your body.
Is intermittent fasting good for me? Are there side effects?
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a tool, a pattern of eating. It’s not a diet, it doesn’t tell you what you should be eating. It’s a pattern of eating and not eating. It isn’t cutting your calories, the only thing that is changing in your diet is: when you eat and when you don’t eat. Most of us already fast every day. We do it while we sleep.
Intermittent fasting is an easy thing to do and it has been very popular for years. A lot of people report having more energy and overall, feeling a lot better when they fast. This is because our bodies were designed for this. Our ancestors had to rely on hunting and gathering to survive.
We didn’t eat 3, 4, 5 or more meals a day. Sometimes, we couldn’t find anything to eat for a long time. Our bodies have adapted to fasting for longer periods. It’s more natural than eating 5 meals a day or more.
Many religious people like Christians, Muslims, Jews or Buddhist have been practicing fasting for centuries.
How to do intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting has gained popularity in recent years. There are many ways of doing intermittent fasting. It’s up to you to choose which one fits your lifestyle. I do 23:1 which is 23 hours of not eating and 1 hour of eating a day. Here are few popular and few that I did and had success with:
Being the most common way of doing intermittent fasting, the 16:8 works by eating within an 8-hour time frame and fast for 16 hours. You could try eating from 12 PM to 8 PM or 10 AM to 6 PM. If you eat healthy within that 8 hour time, you won’t be needing to restrict your calories much.
Just don’t snack between the meals and you should see the weight coming off.
5:2 Fasting method is based on eating 5 days in a week with no restrictions to meals or snacks and then fasting for the remaining 2 days. Well, not exactly fasting completely but you have to keep your calories below 600 if you are female and 700 if you are male. You also have to eat normally on 5 days eating period.
Don’t overeat on food. Count how many calories you burn and how much you put in your body if you have to.
Also known as one meal a day or OMAD for short. It’s simple: if you’re eating on, let’s say 6 PM, you should not eat until 6 PM the next day. You can do this for 2-3 times per week.
It’s also easily adaptable for any lifestyle you may have. You have more free time and you won’t screw up with your calories. Because by the time you reach your recommended calorie intake you will feel full already. I also don’t recommend jumping right into one meal a day.
Try reducing the meal count first. If you eat 3 or more meals with snacks in between, try stopping snacking first, then reduce your meal count slowly so your body can adapt.
This one used to be my favorite until I reached ketosis. It’s 20 hour of fasting and 4 hours of eating. If you are used to eating 3 meals a day, I suggest starting this one. Skip breakfast and eat your lunch at 2 PM and dinner at 6 PM. Or do as you wish but make sure you eat within 4 hour period.
20:4 was more like a transition to 23:1 or OMAD method for me. So, if you want to start eating OMAD start with 20:4 method until you feel adapted to it, then switch.
Intermittent fasting and weight loss.
Doing intermittent fasting has many benefits for weight loss. For example, your body is forced to use its fat reserves for energy, thus making your weight go down. You will not only lose weight but compared to other non-fasting weight loss plans, you will also feel much better and healthier.
This is because you’re giving your body time to clean up toxins. Making you absorb the food that you eat a lot better. Intermittent fasting will also optimize hormones which are the key to weight loss. The most important ones including Insulin and Human Growth Hormone or HGH for short.
Insulin is a very powerful hormone. It will help you store fat if you want to, but that’s not what you want. The thing is, with the presence of insulin you cannot lose weight. Insulin will block it. Insulin is the hormone that makes you fat.
It gives you a fat gut. This is because of insulin resistance in which your pancreas releases way too much insulin than you need. Up to 7 times more than what you need. Your cells are starting to block it. Without your body knowing. The pancreas doesn’t know why insulin is not getting into the cell, so it releases even more insulin.
This is what’s called insulin resistance: low insulin or glucose in the cell due to cells blocking insulin but high insulin in other places which can make you pre-diabetic and give you all sorts of problems. By eating fewer meals in a day, you will stop stimulating insulin. When you eat, no matter what you eat, you spike insulin.
Our bodies were not designed to eat 4-5 meals a day or more. Eating 2 times a day in a 4-8 hour window or less will help heal insulin resistance. It will also start using your body fat as energy. Because like I said, insulin will block fat burning. If you are someone who is used to eating 4-5 meals a day you shouldn’t jump right into a meal or two a day.
Start decreasing your meal frequency. Start with 3 meals a day. Do not eat any snacks in between those meals. So you have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now, try to skip breakfast and eat lunch, and dinner. You could also eat breakfast and lunch without dinner. It’s up to you. But make sure you get to 2 meals a day or less.
Going on a ketogenic diet will help you a lot too. I’d recommend combining fasting and keto.
Next one is HGH or human growth hormone. This one is very important. As we age HGH start decreasing. However, when you fast you can increase HGH by a lot. Up to 1300%. Including exercise with fasting will boost it even more. Some people are using HGH injections.
But there are lots of side effects of that so I suggest you stay away from that. HGH is the main fat burning hormone. It will help stabilize your blood sugars when you’re not eating, it signals the liver to start releasing stored sugar, it will also mobilize fats.
What intermittent fasting does to your body
Once you start eating less, a lot of things start going on in your body. For example:
- Brain. Fasting may promote new brain cell growth, increase cognitive function and it may even make you feel good.
- Muscles. With most diets where you do not fast, you lose muscle and fat tissue when losing weight. With fasting, you will lose more fat and less muscle. This is due to high levels of growth hormone which preserves your muscle mass.
- Heart. Fasting can help you lower the bad cholesterol and triglyceride. It also helps to lower the blood pressure. This will greatly reduce your risks for heart disease.
- Liver. Fasting may be a good thing to fight fatty liver disease. The stress on the liver cells caused by fasting signals the production of proteins which are controlling the liver’s absorptions of fats. Thus preventing excess fat from getting stored there.
- Pancreas. Every time you eat, your pancreas releases insulin which then sends glucose from food to be used as energy in a cell. If you eat frequently, you become insulin resistant. Fasting makes you more sensitive to insulin, meaning that it needs less of it to process glucose, thus curing insulin resistance.
- Belly. After about 12 hours, your body starts burning fat for energy. This will start shredding overall body fat as well as belly fat.
- Skin. Free radicals are constantly attacking our skin cells and cause fine lines and wrinkles. Once you start fasting skin becomes more elastic. This helps it withstand the oxidative stress damage and makes it smoother and firmer. Overall, you look younger.
Intermittent fasting side effects.
Well, if you have an eating disorder then intermittent fasting might not be a thing for you, if you like snacking on junk food then it’s bad for you. Are you trying to gain weight? Stay away from intermittent fasting.
Are you planning on losing some serious weight? Prepare your wallet because once you lose weight, you will waste ALL your money on buying new clothes. If your job isn’t paying you well, find another one before losing weight or just use your old clothes.
What if you’re afraid of your family and friends react to you saying no to foods that they offer you? Well, try avoiding having contact with them. This is especially true in the Balkans/Eastern Europe where I live. Just try to say no and you’ll be “beaten” with words full of reasons why you should eat and just eat.
I’ve been through all of this and I can say these things can slow you down. You can’t avoid them but you can fight them. Stay strong!