The Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting
There have been so many weight loss programs and techniques that were promoted in the past. Every year, new weight loss programs are introduced to slim down and make people healthier. Intermittent fasting is a new trend that has accumulated so many followers and practitioners in recent years. The main reason it became very popular is that it is simple to follow and it really works. Many studies have also proven that it is an effective way to shed off those unwanted fats. If you are serious about trimming down and losing weight, then follow this ultimate guide to intermittent fasting weight loss program.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It is a misconception that intermittent fasting is a form of diet. It is not a diet, but it is a pattern of eating. It is also not what you should eat, but when you should eat. Intermittent fasting is all about the eating pattern that cycle between fasting and eating. In a simpler definition, intermittent fasting is consciously skipping certain meals on purpose. By skipping meals, you are deciding when to consume calories during the day. A very common intermittent fasting involves fasting for 16 hours every day or fasting for one day, twice per week. Many experts agree that intermittent fasting is a great way to get lean without dieting too much. With this type of fasting, you don’t even have to cut down on calories. This is the best way to lose weight and get lean while keeping your muscle mass.
How To Do Intermittent Fasting?
A lot of people are trying out intermittent fasting because it is easy and simple. However, there are some key steps that you have to follow in order to get the benefits of intermittent fasting. Here are some of the most common methods of intermittent fasting and how you can do them.
The 16/8 Method
The 16/8 intermittent fasting weight loss method is fasting for 16 hours and restricting your eating period within an 8 hour period every day. When trying out this method, many people skip breakfast and eat only between 12 noon up to 8 in the evening. Others prefer skipping dinner instead of breakfast. You can adjust the 8 hour window period for eating depending on your schedule and preferences. You can start eating in the morning at 7 am and start your fasting at 3 pm onwards. Others may prefer starting to eat or feast at 6 pm and start fasting at 2 am. This type of intermittent fasting can be very flexible, but you also have to strictly follow it to get better results.
There are some people who try eating only within a 6 hour window period and fasting for the rest of the day. However, if you are not used to fasting for a long period of time, you should just initially stick with the 16/8 method.
The 24 Hour Method
As the name suggests, this method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week. For example, today you’ve eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tomorrow you will skip breakfast and lunch, and you will only start eating at dinner. If you finished dinner today at 8 pm, you can only start eating again tomorrow night at 8 pm, which is exactly 24-hour fasting period. You can pick any day you want to fast. It is also okay if you can only last for 18 hours or 22 hours. You don’t have to force yourself to reach the 24-hour mark, especially if you are not really used to fasting for a long period of time.
The 5:2 Method
This method recommends that you start eating only 500 to 600 calories for two consecutive days of the week. For the other days of the week, you can eat normally. You might have to fast or skip meals in order to limit your calorie intake up to 600 calories for the whole day.
The most popular method is the 16/8 intermittent fasting because it is the simplest and easiest way to fast. Many people find it easier to stick with this program without any problems.
Rules of Intermittent Fasting
You can say that intermittent fasting can be flexible and simple to follow, but there also rules that you have to keep in mind if you want to lose weight. Here are the basic rules of intermittent fasting:
- You can fast on 2 non-consecutive days of the week. For example, you can fast on Tuesday and Thursday, or Thursday and Saturday.
- The ideal length of time to fast is 12 to 16 hours.
- During your fasting period, you can do light cardio or yoga.
- During your non-fasting days, you can intensify your exercise routine or strength training.
- Always drink plenty of water. It is okay to drink tea or coffee as long as there are no added sweeteners and milk.
- After 2 weeks of intermittent fasting, you can feel free to add another day of fasting.
- People who are underweight, pregnant, breastfeeding, and less than 18 years of age should not do intermittent fasting.
- Do not try intermittent fasting if you are susceptible to low blood pressure.
- Do not binge or eat too much after your fasting period.
- Intermittent fasting for women is not allowed if you are chronically stressed, have a history of eating disorder, and you have a problem sleeping at night.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Your body has two states, the fed state, and the fasted state. The fed state is when you are eating and your insulin level is increased. When you eat food, some of the food energy must be stored away for later use. This increases the level of insulin, which plays a vital part in storing the food energy. If there is too much food energy, the liver starts to convert the excess glucose into fat. These fats can be stored in the liver, but some are stored in different parts of the body.
When your body is in the fasted state, this means you are fasting and your insulin level goes down. This state signals the body to start burning the stored fats. There is a low level of blood glucose, which forces the body to get the stored glucose to burn them for energy.
If your body is constantly in a fed state, then you will surely gain weight and unwanted fats. There should be a balance between these two states. What you need to do is to increase the amount of time that you are not eating to allow your body to burn most of the food energy. Intermittent fasting works because it allows your body to use up the stored fats and energy in your body. Experts believe that this is how the human body is naturally designed. Eating constantly throughout the day will only make your body use the incoming food energy, but it will not help to burn the stored body fats.
By doing intermittent fasting, you are also teaching your body to use the food energy more efficiently. Your body will eventually learn to burn the stored fat for energy when you don’t eat for 16 to 24 hours.
How does intermittent fasting work for weight loss? Studies have discovered that intermittent fasting can slightly increase the body’s metabolism rate while helping you eat fewer calories. Since you are eating fewer meals, your calorie intake is greatly reduced. These two factors can effectively cause your body to melt those stubborn fats, resulting in weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting for Women
Both men and women can benefit from fasting and reducing calorie intake. However, women should always do the proper fasting method because if it is not done correctly, it might cause hormonal imbalance. Studies have shown that women are very sensitive when it comes to hunger pangs and starvation. When a woman’s body senses that there is no food intake, the body will start producing leptin and ghrelin, which are both hunger hormones. A woman’s body automatically does this hormone production to protect a potential fetus, even though the woman is not pregnant. This means that women should only fast once or twice a week instead of doing it every day. This is where intermittent fasting for women comes into play.
Intermittent fasting for women is a gentle and gradual approach that helps the body adapt easily to fasting. Just like men, women can also benefit from intermittent fasting. By following a proper schedule and doing everything right, intermittent fasting for women can reduce body fat, which leads to weight loss.
As mentioned in the rules above, women should not practice intermittent fasting weight loss method if she is pregnant, breastfeeding, and has a history of eating disorders.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
Losing weight is not the only reason why most people are trying out intermittent fasting. There are many health benefits that intermittent fasting can provide.
It Works for Both Weight Loss and Muscle Gain
Intermittent fasting is like hitting two birds with one stone. By doing this fasting method, you are not only losing weight and excess fat, but you are also laying a nice groundwork for building a lean and solid physique. It has this very positive effect because fasting promotes an increase in growth hormone and better insulin sensitivity. With these two key factors, you can lose weight and add more muscles at the same time.
Good for Your Heart
Intermittent fasting promotes heart health because it reduces the bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. It also reduces blood sugar, insulin resistance, blood triglycerides, and inflammatory markers. All of these are factors that can lead to heart disease.
Promotes Brain Health
Intermittent fasting can boost the growth of new nerve cells in the brain and increases the brain hormone. There are also studies showing some proof that intermittent fasting can protect the brain against Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s Disease.
Reduces the Risk of Cancer
A study regarding cancer patients showed that fasting before undergoing chemotherapy sessions resulted in higher chances of cure and fewer death rates. The side effects of chemotherapy also diminish when the patient practices fasting before the treatment.
May Lengthen Your Lifespan
Scientists have found solid evidence that you can lengthen your life by restricting calorie intake. When you practice intermittent fasting, you are teaching your body to find ways to survive and extend your life. In a study made using mice, researchers discovered that intermittent fasting has extended the lifespan of the mice.
Intermittent Fasting Results
After going 16 to 24 hours fasting for one day or 500 to 600 calories two days per week for several weeks, you will most definitely see positive results. Moreover, the intermittent fasting weight loss program made you feel a lot healthier.
For beginners or those who are not used to fasting, it is best to work your way up. This means that you just have to gradually increase the number of hours you are fasting. For example, if you started to fast from 12 to 13 hours, you can slowly increase the number up to 16 or 18 hours for the coming weeks. Just remember, intermittent fasting is not for everyone, so if you feel that it is making you suffer too much, then it’s time to give it up. For those who are willing to continue and pursue this weight loss method, you should push through. Here’s what you can expect if you religiously follow intermittent fasting:
- It would be difficult for most people at first. There will be hunger pangs and cravings, but you need to ride it through. Once you get the hang of it, the fasting period would be easier. Within a couple of days, your intermittent fasting schedule will become your new normal and the hunger pangs will no longer be noticeable.
- Fasting will teach your body how to be comfortable with your hunger. You think of hunger as just a mere sensation that comes and go. Drinking coffee or tea may help with the hunger pangs, but you have to remember that intermittent fasting is not supposed to starve you and make you suffer.
- You will feel great. Your energy levels will always go up and eating is more enjoyable for you.
- Exercising during your fasting period is very beneficial because it pushes your body to burn a lot of fat.
- You are bound to eat less food and feel less hungry after doing intermittent fasting for a week. Over time, this will make you lose those excess fats. Don’t lose your motivation because you didn’t lose as much weight as you expected in the first week. Use the extra energy and sharper mental focus you gained from intermittent fasting to keep you motivated until you achieve your desired weight and achieve good health once again.