Intermittent fasting (IF), a timed approach to eating, is certainly not a new concept. It is practiced by early humans who, as foragers, would fast until they found food. While these people appear to have fast for survival, people at present fast for weight loss.
The approach basically involves eating a large amount of food during a specific period, then fasting for the rest of the day. But, is it really the ultimate weight loss hack? Read on to find out.
IF vs Starvation
While fasting for 12 hours or more seems like starvation, you’d be surprised that it’s not that hard to follow this style of eating. Also, intermittent fasting is much different from starvation where there’s no food available, and you’re forced to endure your hunger. With IF, it’s a conscious choice to restrict your food intake and extend the time that you’re not eating.
Effects of IF on Your Body
When it comes to IF, you have to look at eating and fasting as two sides of the same coin. Insulin, a vital hormone for the food storage process, rises when you consume food. Since the liver only has limited storage space for sugar, excess glucose becomes fat; some are stored in the liver itself and some moves to the body’s fat deposits.
On the other hand, your body isn’t getting energy for immediate use when you fast. This is mainly because there’s no food coming in. As a result, your insulin and blood glucose levels fall, causing your body to burn stored fat instead of glucose.
- Weight loss
You can lose weight just by intermittent fasting. Unlike regular diets, IF doesn’t make you want to jump off the dieting bandwagon. It doesn’t make you count calories every day or avoid forbidden foods. It only limits the time you’re consuming food.
IF optimizes hormones that aid in weight loss. And because you’re limiting the amount of time you have to eat during the day, you’re also taking in fewer calories. Moreover, IF boosts your metabolism, which, in turn, helps you burn more calories throughout the day, even while you rest.
Five Popular IF Schedules
Several methods of intermittent fasting exist. Each method can be effective, but figuring out which is the best intermittent fasting for weight loss depends on the individual.
Here are 5 popular IF schedules:
This schedule requires you to fast for 14 hours once or twice a week. This means that if you last ate dinner at 6 pm, you can’t eat another meal for the next 24 hours. Yes, this sounds like torture, but it’s effective as long as you discipline yourself. You may choose to finish the fast with either a big meal or a snack.
The gist of eat-stop-eat is; reducing your overall intake of calories by limiting how often you eat. Even when 24 hours is a long time to go without food, you’ll be happy that this program doesn’t limit what you’re able to eat afterwards.
- Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate day fasting is straightforward: Eat only every other day and lose weight. It’s like you starve one day and then feast on the next. However, it is not recommended for beginners, but it works on discipline dieters with specific goals.
So, what are the intermittent fasting rules? During your feast days, you need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water. On the other hand, to make the days when you’re starving easier to stick to, experts recommend that you consume meal replacement shakes. Besides the nutritional content, meal replacement shakes are convenient to sip throughout the day.
- 16:8 Method
The 16:8 intermittent fasting is supported by celebrities, including the darling of America, Jennifer Aniston. This method calls for consuming nothing but water, coffee, and tea for 16 hours a day. You can only eat all your meals and snacks for the next 8 hours. You can opt to fast through the night, and indulge in your first meal in the middle of the day. The best part about the 16:8 intermittent fasting is that you’ll see the weight drop off even without restricting to 500 calories.
The diet stems from the idea that the body can better process the food and burn away extra fat if you follow a longer fasting time between meals. If done so correctly, you can lose around 12 pounds in 10 weeks.
- 5:2 Method
The 5:2 diet allows you to normally eat for 5 days and reduce your calorie intake on 2 days of the week. On the fasting days, men should reduce their calorie intake to 600 calories while women should reduce their calorie intake to 500 calories.
Eating normally on the non-fasting days doesn’t mean you can over-indulge in food. It only means eating the right amount of calories needed by your body to perform daily functions. That said, you should aim to eat foods rich in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean proteins. Furthermore, you can drink anything you want on your non-fasting days, but on fasting days, you should only drink water to be able to stay within the day’s calorie limit.
- Warrior Diet
From the name itself, this intermittent fasting is inspired by ancient warriors who hunt food the whole day and only eat every night. If you follow a warrior diet, you can think of yourself as a nocturnal eater who fasts for 20 hours a day and eat one large meal at night.
However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat anything at all during the 20-hour fast. It helps to consume a few servings of protein, fresh juice, fruits, and vegetables. These foods will help stimulate fat burning, boost energy, and promote alertness. This is probably why many have gravitated toward the warrior diet- the few food servings can make it easier to get through.
There’s a reason why this diet encourages night-eating. Accordingly, the parasympathetic nervous system’s ability to help the body promote digestion and relaxation is better maximized at night. Also, eating at night makes the body produce hormones and burn fat during the day.