What is Intermittent Fasting?
Trying to lose weight or maintain your weight loss? Do you want to try and shake things up? You might be interested in learning about Intermittent Fasting or IF. This is basically timed eating that provides hormonal, blood sugar, metabolic health, and anti-aging benefits. There are numerous research studies that have shown the clear and definite benefits of incorporating IF into your lifestyle.
Intermittent Fasting, or IF, is a style of eating that requires long periods of fasting and eating. The food intake window is restricted ideally to eight (8) hours per day with the 16:8 IF structure. During the rest of the day, you are either sleeping, drinking non-sugary liquids like tea and black coffee, and going about your day, just not eating outside those eight hours.
IF is strictly a timing issue; it’s not about what you are eating although making healthy choices will bring greater benefits. If you are following a weight-loss plan, there are benefits to timing your eating.
Why practice Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting has shown many benefits, including anti-aging characteristics, improved insulin resistance, and weight loss. So rather than eating multiple mini-meals several times a day, grazing, as was popular a decade ago, the new recommendation is not to eat frequently throughout the day. Studies have shown that there are benefits to maintaining a lower blood glucose level, one result of the IF practice. (If you are frequently snacking throughout your day, your glucose levels will go up, especially with higher carb snacks.)
IF extended periods of not eating. There are many different ways to do IF. Intermittent Fasting is more than an overnight (sleeping) fast which would be about 8 hours.
While you are fasting and staying snack-free between meals, your insulin levels will go down. Then, your fat cells will release their stored sugar which is used as energy by your body. (Rather than using calories from snacking, your body uses its fat cells.) You will lose weight when your insulin levels are down. This is how IF impacts weight loss.
With IF, insulin levels drop which will help with fat burning. Cells repair faster. Additionally, there is evidence of an increase in HGH (human growth hormone) which will improve fat burning and muscle gain.
Short-term fasting actually increases metabolic rate up to 14% which helps burn more calories. Additionally, by skipping a meal, like breakfast, you should
be taking in fewer calories throughout the day with IF. Keep in mind that it’s not just the fewer calories that cause weight loss. IF actually increases your caloric burn when you adhere to an IF style of eating.
Bottomline, IF reduces your insulin resistance which means the risk for Type 2, adult-onset, diabetes is reduced.
This benefit is tied to eating fewer calories, lower insulin, and healthier cells. Overall, with lower insulin rates churning through your body results in less wear and tear on your body.
#5 Gain more time
One overlooked benefit of intermittent fasting is that you may find you have more time in the morning by skipping breakfast. You can repurpose breakfast to exercise, journaling, or just sitting still meditating. However, working out in the morning is a great way to start your IF day.
While you may be reluctant to exercise on an empty stomach, there are actually some key benefits to working out on an empty stomach in the morning. This is known as a fasted cardio. This leads to a natural calorie reduction and a fat-burning effect. IF is just an extension of this.
If you are considering exercising in the morning, you’ll reap even more benefits, like a greater likelihood of sticking to your workouts.
Examples of Intermittent Fasting
There are a few ways to practice Intermittent Fasting. Here are some examples:
This is the most popular method and the most recommended. Ideally, the best IF window is 10:00 AM-6:00 PM; that’s restricting your eating window to eight hours, and fasting from 6:00 PM to 10:00 AM, the next day. You can drink non-caloric beverages like black coffee, tea, and, of, course, water.
5:2 (the Fast Diet)
This is based on the wildly popular UK author, Dr. Michale Mosley. Based on his own research, Dr. Mosley crafted a diet with two days of limited calories spaced at least a day or two apart and eating regularly on the other five days. The two fasting days are light in calories, about 500 calories for women. Those other five days should be in a normal calorie range.
24-Hour Fast (1-2 times per week)
Some people do IF by fasting 1-2 times per week, each with 24 hours between meals. They might eat dinner on Sunday and finish at 6 PM. Then, they will not eat the entire Monday until dinner at 6 PM. This might be hard to do for most and resembles a traditional fasting period.
Both the holidays of Ramadan and Yom Kippur adhere to this style of fast. This will be the most difficult style of IF to follow and probably is not doable for most. If you decide to try this style, be sure that you eat a modest meal to break your fast and avoid binging.
How long to fast to get the minimum benefits?
Most of the research looks at a minimum of 16 hours of benefit. This fasting window of 16 hours of fasting (eight hours “off”) is where the data shows the most benefit. The latest studies suggest that the earlier your eating window, the better. So, a 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM window of eating is more effective than a 12N to 8:00 PM. The earlier you start the 16-hour fast, the better.
How to get started?
You may like to start with a 12-hour fast. This looks like 7:00 to 7:00 AM. Then, you can gradually increase that breakfast window, maybe by 30 minutes each day. By the end of a week, you’ll be at a start time of about 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. If you find a 16-hour fast too difficult, change your goal to 14 hours a day for a fast. That could be 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM window. Then, over time decrease that window by two hours, ideally reaching a 16-hour fast period.
What about my coffee?
Certainly! You can enjoy your coffee, but do not add creamer, sugar, or artificial sweeteners. These will impact your insulin levels, even the artificial sweeteners. You can enjoy tea as well but with no sugary additions. Stick to water, seltzer, black coffee, and tea during this fasting window.
Is IF an every day thing?
If you find seven days too difficult, practice IF during the weekday, when you are more apt to be super busy in the morning. You may find that you get almost as much value of IF with a weekday schedule only. On the weekends, consider a lighter breakfast along with eating an earlier dinner. Otherwise, your weekday fasting may become more challenging.
Can I eat anything as long as I’m following an IF regime?
No, that’s not a good idea, You can undo the benefits if you binge or overeat after your fasting period. Start with water throughout the fast as well as teas to stay hydrated. You will
still have to make good choices. For fewer calories and more volume, think about having salads or soups for your first meal after fasting. Avoid stuffing yourself with loads of carbs. Plain Greek yogurt with berries is another good option.
Can I exercise while fasting?
While each individual is different, many people do not eat before working out in the morning. Studies actually show that exercise on empty stomach is very effective. When you exercise the first thing in the morning, you will burn even more fat. However, the body may burn muscle, too. If you are on low carb diet and you don’t have the energy to fast during your workout
“The kitchen is closed!”
As you start an IF schedule, considering shifting your eating window early. Ideally, end your last meal by 7:00 PM. Don’t eat or drink sugary drinks or alcohol after 7:00 PM. This is a good habit overall and prevents indigestion if you have a few hours to digest your dinner before bedtime.
Five Best Intermittent Fasting Books
From Amazon: Here is a preview of what you will learn:
- A Quick Overview of the 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Method
- Benefits of 16:8 Intermittent fasting
#2 The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting
From Amazon: Toronto-based nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung has used a variety of fasting protocols with more than 1,000 patients, with great success. In The Complete Guide to Fasting, Fung explains what fasting is really about; why it’s so important; and, how to fast in a way that improves health. Together, they make fasting as a therapeutic approach both practical and easy to understand.
The Complete Guide to Fasting explains:
- Why fasting is actually good for health
- Who can benefit from fasting (and who won’t)
- The various ways to fast: intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting
- What to expect when starting to fast
- tThe weight loss effects of fasting
- How to ward off potential negative effects from fasting
#3 Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Weight Loss, Increase Energy and Detox your Body
From Amazon: this book provides the following information:
- The basics of intermittent fasting and the connection between intermittent fasting and hormones
- How fasting affects women differently
- When to use IF as a woman and when you should stay away from it
- How IF is particularly helpful for women over 50
- How to get started with IF, including the different fasting protocols that are ideal for women over 50
- Powerful tips on how to use intermittent fasting for weight loss
- The best foods and drinks you should take for IF
- How to eat properly on fasting days, the meal patterns and examples of foods that are suitable
- An intermittent fasting day by day one-month diet plan
#4 Intermittent Fasting 16/8: The 16:8 Method Step by Step to Lose Weight, Eat Healthy and Feel Better
You’ll learn about the most important reasons why the intermittent fasting diet plays such a crucial role in getting your body on track and to lose weight in a healthy way.
For those who do not know much about intermittent fasting, apart from the fact that it has helped a lot of people lose weight.
Here are just some of the many concepts highlighted in this book:
- What is The 16:8 Method and Why It is Perfect for Beginners
- The 16/8 Method Step-by-Step
- How to Lose Weight and Burning Fat
- Extra Tips To Get The Most Out Of Intermittent Fasting
#5 Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50: The Simplified Guide to A Fasting Diet Lifestyle For Women Over 50
From Amazon: Here’s what you’re going to discover in the pages of Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50:
- Three reasons you should start Intermittent Fasting today if you’re a woman over 50
- 11 intermittent fasting types and how to select the one best suitable for your body type
- 11 healthy foods to eat when on the Intermittent Fasting lifestyle
- Three toxic foods you shouldn’t touch while you’re fasting intermittently
- Common health myths and Intermittent Fasting misconceptions you need to rid yourself of
- Nine surefire tips and tricks to help you stay fit and in optimum health in your 50s