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.
May Be Beneficial For Heart Health
Heart disease is currently the worlds biggest killer .
Its known that various health markers are associated with either an increased or decreased risk of heart disease.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve numerous different risk factors, including:
- blood sugar levels
The effects of fasting on heart health need to be studied more in-depth in humans before recommendations can be made.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and inflammatory markers.
Five Reasons Why Intermittent Fasting Is Good For You
Intermittent fasting is the skipping of meals occasionally and allowing your body to go without foods for an extended period of time. In our experience it is best to fast intermittently throughout the day skipping lunches and dinners, as opposed to breakfast. The reason we say to enjoy your breakfast and skip other meals is because breakfast has an important role. It is called break-fast for a reason, meaning that you are breaking your fast from your sleep. When we sleep our body slows down, including your metabolism. It is the longest period that your body will naturally go without food. If you eat your meals too late at night, then your body never properly switches off. This can mean that your metabolism is still working and therefore other body functions will be working too, such as your kidneys. Ever wondered why you get up to pee frequently? If you are eating meals too late at night, then this could be a reason. If you stick to eating no later than 6pm, and you make that your last meal, then your next meal is breakfast. You might not be eating until 7am, which means you are naturally fasting for 13 hours. If you skip breakfast and then dont eat until lunch time, you could potentially put your body into starvation mode, and as a result your body will store more energy as fat. Skipping lunch however, means that you probably wont eat until 6pm again, so therefore youve fasted for another 10-hours.
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Learn The Risks Before Diving Into This Experimental Eating Style
Intermittent fasting is a popular eating strategy being studied in labs and practiced in kitchens across America. And it’s more than a fad. Restricting your calories or mealtimes may have the potential for many benefits, such as weight loss and reduced risk of various diseases. We don’t have much evidence, however, about intermittent fasting’s effect on the health of older adults.
For Coaches: Find The Best Intermittent Fasting Schedule For Your Clients
The topic of IF poses quite a few challenges for nutrition coaches. First, some clients really shouldnt be fasting at all. Others might do okay with some fasting approaches, but miserably on others.
And still other clients might come to you convinced that the most extreme fasting method is right for them, even though theyve never fasted before.
How do you navigate these turbulent waters? In this section, youll find advice from Robin Beier, PN2, a German nutrition coach we mentioned earlier in this chapter.
To match clients with an intermittent fasting schedule, consider these questions.
Factor #1: Have they practiced the fundamentals?
A number of fundamental nutrition strategies form the underpinning of all successful IF schedules. Your client will want to have these down before trying any fasting style. Is your client usually
- eating only when physically hungry?
- eating slowly until satisfied?
- consuming minimally-processed whole foods?
- eating balanced meals that include lean protein, healthy fats, smart carbs and colorful veggies?
If possible, try to spend some time on these practices before diving into any of the fasting schedules mentioned in this chapter.
Factor #2: Have they fasted before? If so, how did it go?
Consider asking: What experiences have you had with fasting schedules or meal skipping?
Factor #3: What kind of exercise are they doing? And how often are they doing it?
Factor #4: Whats their lifestyle like?
Two words that can reign in overzealous clients
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Relax You Can Still Drink Your Coffee
I know what youre about to ask with a hint of panic in your voice: I can still drink coffee while I fast, right!?
Yes! Luckily for coffee drinkers everywhere, our favorite morning ritual doesnt boost your blood sugar or disrupt your fast.
If you cant stomach the idea of black coffee, then yes, its okay to add some creamer but not too much! Keep in mind that your body will have to burn through the fat in the creamer before it can get back to burning your stored fat.
What about coffee drinkers who need to mask its bitterness with a sweetener? Zane warns against all-natural sweeteners, including cane sugar, honey, and agave. Its true that theyre natural sugars, but they immediately send blood sugar and insulin levels surging. This in turn kicks your body out of its fasting period altogether.
If you need a hint of sweetness in your coffee, stick to a small dash of Stevia. Most artificial sugars are dangerous because they stimulate cravings and trick your digestive system into preparing for sugar that isnt coming. This is highly disruptive to the fat-burning process that fasting is meant to achieve.
Overall, the question of coffee boils down to your goals. If youre on a mission to lose 50 pounds, adding cream to your morning brew could slow your progress. But a sweetened cup of coffee is much better than a slice of cheesecake! Its all about balance.
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May Extend Your Lifespan Helping You Live Longer
One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan.
Studies in rodents have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way as continuous calorie restriction .
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to increase the lifespans of fruit flies 30443-3.pdf” rel=”nofollow”> 43 ).
In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic. In an older study, rats that were fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who werent fasted .
In a 2017 study, mice that were fasted every other day saw their lifespans increase by around 13% .
Daily fasting was also shown to improve the overall health of male mice. It helped delay the onset of conditions such as fatty liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, which are both common in aging mice 30512-6″ rel=”nofollow”> 46 ).
Although this is far from being determined in humans, intermittent fasting has become very popular among the anti-aging crowd.
Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.
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Branch Chain Amino Acid Supplement
A final IF-approved supplement is the BCAA. While this muscle-building aid is most beneficial for the individual who enjoys fasted cardio or hard workouts at the crack of dawn, it can be consumed all throughout the day to prevent the body from going into a catabolic state and preserve lean muscle mass. Note: If you choose to follow a vegan diet pattern, this supplement may be off-limits, as most are sourced from duck feathers.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Many diets focus on what to eat, but intermittent fasting is all about when you eat.
With intermittent fasting, you only eat during a specific time. Fasting for a certain number of hours each day or eating just one meal a couple days a week, can help your body burn fat. And scientific evidence points to some health benefits, as well.
Johns Hopkins neuroscientist , has studied intermittent fasting for 25 years. He says that our bodies have evolved to be able to go without food for many hours, or even several days or longer. In prehistoric times, before humans learned to farm, they were hunters and gatherers who evolved to survive and thrive for long periods without eating. They had to: It took a lot of time and energy to hunt game and gather nuts and berries.
Even 50 years ago, it was easier to maintain a healthy weight. Johns Hopkins dietitian Christie Williams, M.S., R.D.N., explains: There were no computers, and TV shows turned off at 11 p.m. people stopped eating because they went to bed. Portions were much smaller. More people worked and played outside and, in general, got more exercise.
Nowadays, TV, the internet and other entertainment are available 24/7. We stay awake for longer hours to catch our favorite shows, play games and chat online. Were sitting and snacking all day and most of the night.
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More From This Section
At its simplest, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating, explains Singh. It doesnt specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. Apart from turning to it to lose weight and improve their health, people often adopt it to simplify their lifestyles, adds Singh. Its the simplicity and freedom to eat that has made Patel stick to this plan. Diets are about what works for you and I like intermittent fasting because I prefer diets that restrict quantities rather than food groups. Thats one reason why intermittent fasting works for me, explains Patel. Moreover, I like to do yoga on an empty or light stomach. Above all, I firmly believe eating less is generally good for health.
/5when You Get Too Obsessed With It
Obsession is harmful. Be it workout routine, diet habits or any other thing. When you get too obsessed with any diet, you find it hard to make tweaks or leave it when you have reached your weight loss goal. In case of intermittent fasting, you may have this urge to stay in the fasted state for longer, even though your body is not ready for it. In such a case, you may be able to stay fast for the desired time, but end up eating more after breaking the fast. Doing this won’t benefit you anyway as overeating may increase your daily calorie intake level.
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Schedule #: Fasting Mimicking Diets
Fasting-mimicking diets are similar to the 5:2 diet, except the time scale is longer:
- The low-energy period usually lasts around 3-7 days.
- Its done less often, generally once every 3-6 weeks.
What it involves
In practice, an FMD might include 1 week of low energy intake, say around 50 percent of normal needs, then 3-4 weeks of normal energy intake. Repeat.
People who benefit
This is an advanced fasting schedule that works best for people who have already mastered 5:2 eating or another less intense protocol.
Its ideal for people whose lifestyles reinforce the fasting schedule. Consider the life of a long-distance trucker who spends a week on the road followed by a couple weeks at home. Such a person might decide to eat very little while driving.
Why? For one, theyre quite sedentary, so their body doesnt need as much energy. Two, they may be incentivized to drive as long as possible and not want to take lots of breaks.
Then when that trucker arrives home, they might eat more normally.
If you try it
Can Help You Lose Weight And Visceral Fat
Many of those who try intermittent fasting are doing it to lose weight .
Generally speaking, intermittent fasting will make you eat fewer meals.
Unless you compensate by eating much more during the other meals, youll end up taking in fewer calories.
Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss.
Lower insulin levels, higher HGH levels, and increased amounts of norepinephrine all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.
For this reason, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate, helping you burn even more calories .
In other words, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It boosts your metabolic rate and reduces the amount of food you eat .
According to a 2014 review of the scientific literature, intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 38% over 324 weeks. This is a huge amount .
The study participants also lost 47% of their waist circumference over 624 weeks, which indicates that they lost lots of visceral fat. Visceral fat is the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that causes disease .
One 2011 review also showed that intermittent fasting caused less muscle loss than continuous calorie restriction .
However, a 2020 randomized trial looked at people who followed the 16/8 method. In this diet, you fast for 16 hours a day and have an 8-hour window to eat.
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/5pairing Intermittent Fasting With Other Diets
In intermittent fasting, you are not required to cut down on any food group, only the calorie count is restricted as per your fitness goal. But if you combine it with any highly restricted diet like keto, you may have to face severe health concerns later. Following two diets at a time can be taxing for the body and may lead to issues like constipation, mood swings and fatigue. When you are not feeling well, you may not be able to reap the benefits of following this diet.
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Weight Loss And Fat Loss
Eating during a set period can help people reduce the number of calories that they consume. It may also help boost metabolism.
- neurodegenerative diseases
However, the research in this area remains limited.
A 2014 review reports that intermittent fasting shows promise as an alternative to traditional calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes risk reduction and weight loss in people who have overweight or obesity.
The researchers caution, however, that more research is necessary before they can reach reliable conclusions.
Other studies report that intermittent fasting reduces fasting glucose by 36% in those with prediabetes, although it has no effect on healthy individuals. It may also decrease fasting insulin by 1157% after 3 to 24 weeks of intermittent fasting.
Time-restricted fasting, such as the 16:8 method, may also protect learning and memory and slow down diseases that affect the brain.
A 2017 annual review notes that animal research has indicated that this form of fasting reduces the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and cancer.
If May Help You Live Longer
In laboratory conditions, fasting has proven to be the most effective strategy to lengthen lifespan. Extensive research on various animals, from fruit flies to rodents to primates, has effectively demonstrated an increase in the average and maximum lifespan of those that fasted. While it will be some time before we know if fasting extends human lifespan, it lowers age-related disorders, hence boosting human health.
Furthermore, data from 19 studies involving a total of 1.5 million persons indicated that being overweight or obese is linked to an increased risk of death from any cause. A BMI of 20.0 to 24.9 was associated with the lowest all-cause mortality. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by the square of their height. BMI is a simple and inexpensive way to see if you are underweight, healthy, overweight, or obese according to these guidelines.
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When Should You Exercise
It is recommended that you exercise during your non-eating time. If you’ve heard the term “fasted workout,” you’ve probably heard of someone who follows an intermittent fasting regimen. When you’re in the final stages of a fast, it can be challenging to exercise, especially if it’s cardio, but it’s proven to be helpful for fat reduction.
Your body prioritizes specific resources above others, and calories consumed are at the top of the list. When you don’t have any calories from a recent meal, your body is more inclined to use fat stores for energy during exercise.
Intermittent Fasting May Be As Effective For Weight Loss As Cutting 500 Calories A Day Research Suggests
Diet plans that limit when you eat, and not much else, can lead to weight loss and improve metabolic health, according to a new review.
Intermittent fasting a diet that reportedly helped stars including Jennifer Aniston, Kourtney Kardashian, and Chris Pratt shed unwanted pounds, according to People has been transcending its status as a celebrity fad as research about its weight loss and other benefits continues to emerge. The latest, a review published in October 2021 in Annual Review of Nutrition found that intermittent fasting leads to roughly the same amount of weight loss as traditional calorie-restrictive diets, and may improve other markers of cardiometabolic health as well.
One of our main findings was that people who do intermittent fasting lose about the same amount of weight as people on a regular calorie-restriction diet that cuts out 500 calories a day, says lead author Krista Varady, PhD, researcher and professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Additionally, Dr. Varady notes that intermittent fasting appears to help with metabolic health. It did help lower blood pressure, she says. Some studies reported decreases in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and insulin resistance.