Intermittent Fasters: Two Ways To Know
Inverse talked to five intermittent fasters on Reddit to find out: how do you know your intermittent fasting regimen works?
Their responses echo some of the researchersâ replies, too: They observed changes within their body and these changes tended to include weight loss. Hereâs what they had to say:
- âI started for weight maintenance, and itâs been good for that,â writes Patrick, a 30-year-old based in Australia.
- âMy resting heart rate has gone down by 40 points ,â writes Reddit user u/mogli_170, who is 27 years old. âMy weight has reduced a significant amount .â
- âThe reasons that I feel that is working for me are that Iâm losing weight in a steady way,â writes Reddit user u/RS_Stylish, who is a 24-year-old man.
- âI guess I know itâs working because itâs the steadiest, most consistent weight loss Iâve ever achieved,â writes Reddit user u/Miszteek, who is a 35-year-old woman. âI fasted for two weeks sans exercise and lost the same amount of weight as the two weeks in which I did exercise.â
Essentially these responses boil down to two quantifiable things: Steady weight loss and a lower resting heart rate.
But much of the fastersâ enthusiasm for the regimen seems to stem from other, more qualitative factors â intermittent fasting was something people could realistically maintain, and intermittent fasting resulted, perhaps most crucially, in a change of their relationship with food and dieting.
Improved Blood Sugar Control And Insulin Sensitivity
By giving your body an occasional break from calorie consumption, you can also help improve blood sugar levels and enhance the insulin sensitivity of your cells. One clinical trial found that intermittent fasting may even be a better strategy than maintaining the same calorie deficit with six meals per day.
When combined with the keto diet which also has been found to help with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes the two dietary strategies may work synergistically for improving blood sugar control. However, more research is needed on the effects of using them in tandem.
The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting For Men
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where a person cycles between eating and fasting.
There are different variations of intermittent fasting.
Some people may only do it a couple of times a week, while others do it every day or every other day.
The research is clear that intermittent fasting is beneficial for both men and women.
Here are just a few of the benefits of intermittent fasting:
Increases Brain Function And Health
There is more to brain function than mental health and concentration. Improved cognitive, memory and learning functioning is essential for good brain health.
Studies display how intermittent fasting improves metabolic processes which aid better brain functioning. The timed eating restrictions encourage new cells to produce more regularly and induce BDNF expression.
Intermittent fasting helps the brain reproduce cells and remove old cells. This improves overall brain health. Better brain functioning helps better memory, learning ability and cognitive functions.
Intermittent Fasting Vs Calorie Restriction
Hereâs where it gets tricky: calorie restriction can also lead to weight loss and changes in cardio-metabolic markers.
Some mouse studies have kept calories constant to evaluate intermittent fasting independently and only changed the feeding schedule. They have compared a regime of caloric restriction with intermittent fasting to a regime of calorie restriction alone. These studies have yielded somewhat mixed results, so there are no clear answers to be had there.
One human study on intermittent fasting, which involved changing only the timing of peopleâs meals without any calorie restriction, found very negligible results for participants.
This interplay can make it hard to know whatâs really behind the weight loss, blood pressure changes, insulin and glucose regulation, and other effects seen in research and people who follow intermittent fasting regimens. Is it the timing, or the reduction in calories that yields results?
âI think thatâs mainly just driven by people eating less.â
Three of the five fasters Inverse interviewed also practice a ketogenic diet, have cut out certain foods , or exercise while intermittent fasting, which may contribute to their results.
But Longo tells Inverse that this kind of drastic restriction isnât recommended.
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Is It Ok To Skip Breakfast
Yes, Varady said. The notion that omitting a morning meal is bad for your waistline likely began with studies sponsored by cereal companies, and most of that research looked at the effects of breakfast skipping on cognition in children, she noted: Im not sure how that all got translated to body weight.
What Are The Dos And Donts Of Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to the dos and donts of intermittent fasting, the rules are fairly flexible. But achieving your goal does require you to do certain things that will improve your chances of getting to the promised land.
Use these dos and donts as tips for intermittent fasting as well.
Okay here are some of the dos of intermittent fasting:
1. Do your exercise or workout close to your feeding time. This has been shown to be very effective producing really good results especially for people who want to build muscle. Some people use BCAAs or Bang energy drinks to break their fast.
2. The follow up to that is that you should have your main meal after your workout or exercise routine. You may have another meal afterwards. But must be within the eating window of the intermittent fasting plan.
3. You can take bcaa supplement just before your exercise. Its not going to hurt your results. If anything, it is actually a good thing as bcaas contain essential amino acids. BCAAs help with muscle building and muscle bulk maintenance. See article on the advantages of using BCAAs.
4. On fast days, one way of coping is to have warm beverages. But absolutely calorie-free sweeteners only are allowed in your beverage. This is particularly important in the evenings. The time you will be most tempted to cheat.
6. Having proteins on fast days can also be a good idea. White meat like Turkey, Chicken, Goose or Broad beans for vegetarians can let you hold up the fast more effectively.
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Simplifying The Mechanisms Behind The Benefits: Autophagy Ketones And Fat Loss
Intermittent fasting is so powerful because you can use it to restrict calories, induce ketosis, and activate the processes of autophagy that are brought about by protein restriction and starvation.
If this scientific jargon is throwing you off, think about what it takes for you to clean your room. You may clean it in your spare time or have a set time on the weekend to do it, but what happens when the weekend comes?
Tasks or chores come up and you prioritize something else. After a week without cleaning, your room is just a bit dirtier than usual, but after a month of being too busy to clean, your room is filthy.
This is what happens to our cells when we eat three or more meals a day that completely fulfills our calorie needs every day. Even by eating the healthiest of foods, your cells still can get backed up with non-essential proteins and toxic compounds so what can you do?
To make sure that you clean your actual bedroom, you fast not from food but from being consumed by other obligations. To make sure that your cells can clean themselves, you must fast from food.
This fasting process will not only activate this clean process for your cells, but it will increase your ketone production and promote fat burning as well. Simply put, by adding intermittent fasting to your keto lifestyle, you can experience the benefits of keto more quickly along with the effects of autophagy.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
The primary goal of intermittent fasting for weight loss is to get the insulin levels to decrease to a level where the body will begin to burn stored fat for energy.
Here is how it works. When the food we eat is metabolized , it ends up as molecules in the blood stream. One such molecule is glucose . Normally, when there is more circulating blood glucose than the body can use for energy, the excess is stored as fat for future use. But, for glucose to be utilized by the cells, it requires insulin. Between meals the body doesnt require insulin so insulin levels decline. When insulin levels are low, the fat cells release some of the stored glucose, resulting in weight loss.
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What Are The Negative Effects Of Intermittent Fasting
In my own experimentation with Intermittent Fasting since 2014, I have found very few negative side effects with Intermittent Fasting.
The biggest concern most people have is that Intermittent Fasting will lead to lower energy, focus, and the holy crap I am hungry feeling during the fasting period and ruin them.
People are concerned that they will spend all morning being miserable because they havent consumed any food, and thus will be miserable at work and ineffective at whatever task it is they are working on.
The following are my thoughts and experiences, and your results may vary:
Yes, the initial transition from EATING ALL THE TIME, to intermittent fasting MIGHT be a bit of a jolt to your system it was for me.
However, once I got through the transition after a few days, my body quickly adapted and learned to function just as well only eating a few times a day.
Although I fast for 16 hours per day with no issues, the following might help assuage your fears that skipping breakfast will cause your body to eat itself and your brain to implode:
After 48-hours of fasting in a recent study , cognitive performance, activity, sleep, and mood are not adversely affected in healthy humans by two days of calorie-deprivation. Youll be fasting for far less time than that.
So why do I feel grouchy and lethargic when I skip breakfast?
If you eat breakfast every morning, your body expects to wake up and eat food.
Intermittent Fasting And Women
While intermittent fasting seems to benefit males, it can have a negative effect on hormones and metabolism in some females.
Turns out, the hormones regulating key functionslike ovulation, metabolism, and even moodare incredibly sensitive to your energy intake.
In fact, changing how muchand even whenyou eat can mess with reproductive hormones. This can lead to a far-reaching ripple effect, causing all sorts of health issues.
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Female Intermittent Fasting Results After 1 Month
First off Ive noticed in my years as a personal trainer and nutrition coach that women tend to lose a little less weight than men with Intermittent Fasting. Im not sure the physiological reasons for this but women just tend to lose a little less than men. But that doesnt make it any less effective for them.
Women tend to lose about 10-15 pounds in their first month using Intermittent Fasting.
If youre a woman then youll also notice a slimmer midsection with less belly fat and a tighter tummy. You can also expect to drop a few pant sizes in one month as your body loses weight and burns off more fat. Plus youll notice your arms and legs will appear more toned than before.
But if you have a lot of weight to lose then women can easily lose more weight than this. 20 pounds can be achieved with Intermittent Fasting in your first month if youre already carrying 40+ pounds of excess weight on your body.
Many postpartum women can lose a good chunk of baby weight they gained during the pregnancy. Lots of women can get back to their pre-baby weight after a few months of Intermittent Fasting.
Make sure you also take a before and after picture to see visual changes in your bodys appearance after the first month of Intermittent Fasting. Measuring your inches as well will help to give you an overall picture of how much weight and fat you lost over the first month of fasting.
Helps Improve Heart Health
With heart disease being the number one cause of death worldwide, it is important to find ways to reduce the numbers and ultimately lower the risk of heart conditions.
Intermittent fasting has been studied for various heart health benefits. Fasting has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, as mentioned previously. Yet, there are many other factors fasting can improve.
Studies display that intermittent fasting methods can lower blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol and LDL. All of which are key drivers of heart conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease and cholesterol. Reducing these factors can lower the risk of heart disease and improve heart health.
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Why Might Changing Timing Help
But why does simply changing the timing of our meals to allow for fasting make a difference in our body? An in-depth review of the science of IF recently published in New England Journal of Medicine sheds some light. Fasting is evolutionarily embedded within our physiology, triggering several essential cellular functions. Flipping the switch from a fed to fasting state does more than help us burn calories and lose weight. The researchers combed through dozens of animal and human studies to explain how simple fasting improves metabolism, lowers blood sugar levels lessens inflammation, which improves a range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma and even helps clear out toxins and damaged cells, which lowers risk for cancer and enhances brain function.
Getting Started With Intermittent Fasting: Next Steps
Intermittent fasting can potentially have some very positive benefits for somebody trying to lose weight or gain lean body mass.
Men and women will tend to have different results, just like each individual person will have different results. The ONLY way to find out is through a conversation with your doctor and self-experimentation.
There are multiple ways to do an Intermittent Fasting Plan:
- Fast and feast regularly: Fast for a certain number of hours, then consume all calories within a certain number of hours.
- Eat normally, then fast 1-2x a week: Consume your normal meals every day, then pick one or two days a week where you fast for 24 hours. Eat your last meal Sunday night, and then dont eat again until dinner the following day.
- Fast occasionally: probably the easiest method for the person who wants to do the least amount of work. Simply skip a meal whenever its convenient. On the road? Skip breakfast. Busy day at work? Skip lunch. Eat poorly all day Saturday? Make your first meal of the day dinner on Sunday.
After that, get started! Take photos, step on the scale, and track your progress for the next month.
See how your body responds.
See how your physique changes. See how your workouts change.
And then decide if its something you want to keep doing!
4 years later, I have no plans on going back to eating breakfast. Sorry General Mills and Dr. Kellogg!
If youre worried about all of this stuff, or arent sure when to eat and stop eating, try out our new app!
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Intermittent Fasting: Is It Right For You
U-M dietitian Sue Ryskamp weighs in on intermittent fasting benefits, who it works best for and how to get started
Weight loss can be difficult, but could intermittent fasting help? This eating pattern, which features cycles of fasting and eating, is making headlines as research confirms its not only what you eat, but when you eat, that matters in the struggle to lose weight.
During intermittent fasting, individuals use specific periods of eating typically within an eight-to-10 hour window to lose weight, says Michigan Medicine dietitian Sue Ryskamp, who sees patients at U-Ms Frankel Cardiovascular Center.
The premise behind intermittent fasting is relatively simple, she says: When our insulin levels go down far enough and for long enough, as they do during a fasting period, were able burn off fat.
Insulin levels drop when a person is not consuming food. During a period of fasting, decreasing insulin levels cause cells to release stored glucose as energy. Repeating this process regularly, as with intermittent fasting, leads to weight loss. In addition, this type of fasting often results in the consumption of fewer calories overall, which contributes to weight loss, Ryskamp says.
A Harvard research study also reveals how intermittent fasting may slow the aging process through weight loss, lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol.
Intermittent Fasting: Surprising Update
- By Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor
Theres a ton of incredibly promising intermittent fasting research done on fat rats. They lose weight, their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars improve but theyre rats. Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast.
But a growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention.
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What Are The Possible Side Effects
There can be a number of possible side effects of intermittent fasting.40 Heres what to do if you encounter them:
- Hunger is the most common side effect of intermittent fasting. This may be less of an issue if youre already on a keto or low-carb, higher-fat diet.41Learn more
- Constipation is common. Less going in means less going out. However, keep in mind this is a normal response to eating less. It is not a concern and shouldnt require treatment unless you experience significant bloating or abdominal discomfort. Standard laxatives or magnesium supplements can be used, if needed.
- Headaches are common and tend to disappear after the first few times on fasts.42 Taking some extra salt often helps mitigate such headaches.43
- Mineral water may help if your stomach tends to gurgle.
- Other possible side effects include dizziness, heartburn and muscle cramps. Learn more
A more serious side effect is the refeeding syndrome. Fortunately, this is rare and generally only happens with extended fasts when one is undernourished.44
Since most of these side effects are manageable, they do not mean you have to stop your fast. However, if you truly feel unwell, are excessively dizzy, profoundly weak or have other severe symptoms, then you should break your fast.
Just remember to go slowly when you break it and prioritize fluids and salt . And of course, if the symptoms persist, see your doctor immediately.