The Backstory On Intermittent Fasting
IF as a weight loss approach has been around in various forms for ages, but was highly popularized in 2012 by BBC broadcast journalist Dr. Michael Mosleys TV documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer and book The Fast Diet, followed by journalist Kate Harrisons book The 5:2 Diet based on her own experience, and subsequently by Dr. Jason Fungs 2016 bestseller The Obesity Code. IF generated a steady positive buzz as anecdotes of its effectiveness proliferated.
As a lifestyle-leaning research doctor, I needed to understand the science. The Obesity Code seemed the most evidence-based summary resource, and I loved it. Fung successfully combines plenty of research, his clinical experience, and sensible nutrition advice, and also addresses the socioeconomic forces conspiring to make us fat. He is very clear that we should eat more fruits and veggies, fiber, healthy protein, and fats, and avoid sugar, refined grains, processed foods, and for Gods sake, stop snacking. Check, check, check, I agree. The only part that was still questionable in my mind was the intermittent fasting part.
To Improve Gut And Digestive Function At Rest
If youre looking to improve digestive function through intermittent fasting, the idea is to give your system a prolonged rest period.
You have to be strict with yourself. Just like the autophagic issue, even the smallest amount triggers the digestive system, effectively resetting the clock.
Even black coffee or lemon water will trigger certain functions. The gallbladder will contract, the gut gets put to work, the liver has to process something, etc., etc.
So are there exceptions to intermittent fasting rules? Not really. Unless youre trying to gain weight, just stick to eating in your feeding window and stick to water in your fasting window.
Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss: How To Get Best Results
Youve seen countless before and after photos and read success stories and wonder if intermittent fasting is that good for weight loss? Then youve come to the right place!
Properly applied, intermittent fasting can bring about extraordinary weight loss success. Here you can find out exactly how it works and which health benefits you may unleash, based on current studies.
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Does Intermittent Fasting Have Any Side Effects
There are a few things that can happen when you follow an intermittent fasting diet. One thing to note is that fasting can interfere with your hunger cues. Since people are only allowing themselves to eat in a certain window of time, they are completely ignoring their internal cues of hunger, Rumsey says. It causes people to disregard hunger cues, which then means once they are allowed to eat, they are starving and it can be hard to stop eating. This could lead to an unhealthy obsession with food for some people, Rumsey says.
Some fasters find that the diet makes them feel sharper and more alert, but alternately, fasting for long periods can also lead to mental fogginess, disrupted sleep, and decreased alertness, Rumsey says. And, she adds, fasting for extended periods of time takes a large toll on your blood sugar levels, causing you to flip-flop between low blood sugar and a spike when you eat again.
May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Intermittent fasting is generally associated with improving blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity . A pilot study done in 2017 showed that fasting for 18 to 20 hours a day could lead to weight loss and post-meal blood sugar control . This shows that fasting could be extremely beneficial to patients with type 2 diabetes. However, if you are suffering from this disease, please talk to your doctor before trying the 20-hour fast, or any other form of intermittent fasting.
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Types Of Intermittent Fasting
- 5:2 This type of fasting involves eating less than 500-600 calories on two days a week and eating normally the other five days.
- Alternate day This type of fasting means only eating every second day. Another form of this is Eat-Stop-Eat which does two 24 hour fasts each week. Im not a huge fan of this one as it is hard on your body and might not have much benefit.
- 16:8 This type of fasting which seems to be most common right now is where you extend the overnight fast to 12, 14 or 16 hours, shrinking your daily eating window in kind.
Benefits Of A Whole Food Diet
In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.
In fact, one review from 2019 stated that diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally. This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.
How To Do Intermittent Fasting
As briefly explained above, the best approach to fasting is to fast for a minimum of 16 hours including sleep time and to consume food within an 8-hour eating window. Of course, you could be more aggressive and fast for 18 hours, 20 hours, and even up to and over 24 hours in some cases . The tricky thing about fasting for 20 hours is youll only leave yourself a 4-hour eating window, and depending on your goals/objectives and caloric requirements, it can be difficult to consume all the needed calories and nutrients within a 4-hour window.
Personally, whenever I fasted for more than 20 hours, I found it challenging to eat enough food while leaving time for digestion, and in most cases, I ended up consuming my entire caloric intake within a single massive meal, which would take about an hour to eat.
If you are new to intermittent fasting, I suggest starting with a 14-hour fast and 10-hour eating window, then after a few days , scale up to a 16-hour fast then an 18-hour fast. The sweet spot for many is 18-hour fasting.
You can also get a DNA report from 23andme and submit it to Dr. Rhonda Patricks Genome Analysis Tool, and it will make suggestions for your ideal fasting period. My DNA report revealed that genetically I benefit from a 16hr+ daily fast, among lots of other resourceful information.
Week Three Phase Three
This is known as the concluding fat loss week or the high-carb high-protein cycle. During this week, your food consumption should be as follows :
- 1 to 2 days high in carbs
- 1 to 2 days high in protein and low in carbs
- one to two days high in carbs
- 1 to 2 days high in protein and low in carbs
1. Undereating window Eat the same foods that you had been eating during the first week.
2. Overeating window Break your fast with the same salad that you have been having. The next large meal or smaller meals should consist of cooked vegetables, some animal protein, and one main source of carbohydrates like corn, rice, potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, barley, or oats.
High-Protein Low-Carb Days
1. 20-hour Underfeeding window The same foods and drinks that you have been having throughout the previous weeks.
2. 4-hour Overfeeding window Break your fast with the same salad, and the next meals should have 227 to 454 grams animal protein and some cooked, non-starchy vegetables.
3. Fruit While you should not consume grains or starchy veggies during these days, you can have some fruit if you are still hungry at the end of the night.
Once you have completed this 3-week phase, you are supposed to start it all over again. If this suggestion does not appeal to you, just stick to the undereating rules set for the 20 hours and then consume healthy, high-protein meals in the 4-hour overfeeding window.
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What Should I Eat With 20/4 Intermittent Fasting
Now that you know how to effectively follow the intermittent fasting 20:4 rules, your next step is to make a meal plan. Meal planning is an easy way to ensure that you always have meals at the ready for whenever you break your fast. This ensures that you always have healthy meals or snacks, which prevents you from consuming unhealthy food options.
Since intermittent fasting is an eating plan and not a diet, people do not have any strict regulations on what kinds of foods or drinks they should eat during the feeding window. However, the warrior diet stands out as it offers some guidelines on how to eat. Your meals should make up a balanced diet, which is a diet that gives your body enough nutrients to work effectively, protecting itself against disease, infection, fatigue, and low performance .
With that in mind, here are some foods that should be included in your 20/4 intermittent fasting meal plan or grocery list. Not only will these foods help with your weight loss goals, but they are also good for your overall health.
Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy
Simple and easy to follow, intermittent fasting is a type of diet that requires you to only eat during a specific span of time and spend the rest of the day fasting. When done properly, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight, making it easier for you to also adjust to a healthier diet.
More than weight loss, research by John Hopkins Medicine reveals that there is also clear evidence to suggest that there are other intermittent fasting benefits. Through a good intermittent fasting diet plan, you can also enjoy a bevy of other health benefits, including:
Aside from being an effective weight loss solution, intermittent fasting has a lot of other health benefits. Pixabay
1. Lose Belly Fat Intermittent fasting leads to lower calorie consumption, which contributes to weight loss. Not only does intermittent fasting reduce your calorie intake, but it also increases your overall metabolic rate, improving your bodys ability to focus on weight loss management.
2. Lower Diabetes Risk Another benefit is that this diet helps lower your risk of developing diabetes. Research has shown that intermittent fasting improves insulin resistance within the body, leading to lower blood sugar levels.
3. Better Heart Health Lower blood sugar levels also mean healthier circulation, which translates to better heart health. Additionally, intermittent fasting helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
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How To Properly Do Intermittent Fasting 20/4
When people choose intermittent fasting 20/4, many assume that it just involves cutting down your feeding window to only four hours a day. While this is essentially what a 20-hour fast means, many people are unaware that Ori Hofmekler, the diets developer, created an initial 3-week, 3-phase plan.
According to Ori, this plan and its phases are necessary as they give your body a chance to get used to the Warrior Diet, improving its ability to utilize fat for energy. The plan is as follows :
Intermittent Fasting Good For Reversing Insulin Resistance And Muscle Building
You may start intermittent fasting because you want to reverse your insulin resistance. That objective might take you a little longer to achieve, so you could be fasting intermittently for say 5 6 months.
If your objective is to build muscle with intermittent fasting, then it may take you as long as 4 6 months or even longer. With muscle building, you will want to consider adding a workout regime to the fasting.
You also should consider doing your workout routine which must include resistance training towards the last 2 hours of the fasting window to accelerate the process.
In essence, I am saying the workout should be the last activity you do before you resume eating. That has been shown to be very effective.
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Drawbacks Of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
16/8 intermittent fasting may be associated with many health benefits, but it does come with some drawbacks and may not be right for everyone.
Restricting your intake to just eight hours per day can cause some people to eat more than usual during eating periods in an attempt to make up for hours spent fasting.
This may lead to weight gain, digestive problems and the development of unhealthy eating habits.
16/8 intermittent fasting may also cause short-term negative side effects when youre first getting started, such as hunger, weakness and fatigue though these often subside once you get into a routine.
Additionally, some research suggests that intermittent fasting may affect men and women differently, with animal studies reporting that it could interfere with fertility and reproduction in females .
However, more human studies are needed to evaluate the effects that intermittent fasting may have on reproductive health.
In any case, be sure to start gradually and consider stopping or consulting your doctor if you have any concerns or experience negative symptoms.
Restricting daily food intake may cause weakness, hunger, increased food consumption and weight gain. Animal studies show that intermittent fasting may impact men and women differently and may even interfere with fertility.
Whole Foods And The Brain
The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best isyou guessed ita whole, unprocessed food.
In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimers.
Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:
- Oily fish
- Whole grains
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Thai Prawns With Pineapple & Green Beans
Filled to the brim with proteins, these Thai prawns with pineapple and green beans are a gastronomic masterpiece. They are quite easy to make and take not that much time
Ingredients for 2 servings:
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Nutritional value of 1 serving:
Calories: 228, carbs: 20g, fats: 7g, protein: 22g
Do Not Fear The Shaker
In addition to fluid loss, a second significant aspect is responsible for physical complaints such as dizziness.
An undersupply of salt is the primary trigger for this. Therefore, even in strict therapeutic fasting, natural salt is allowed in addition to water.
Besides other electrolytes, sodium, in particular, is flushed out of the body while breaking down carbohydrate stores. Since salt has an unjustly unhealthy image, unfortunately, nutrition-conscious people often save with it.
However, we now know that it is precisely those countries with the highest salt consumption that have the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease .
Moreover, salt takes the bitter taste out of food and acts against cravings. Since it also has a negative feedback loop, unlike sugar, your body will tell you when youve had enough salt.
While sugar consumption promotes insulin resistance and body fat storage, salt increases insulin sensitivity and aids weight loss .
Finally, salt is the natural antagonist of sugar. If you want to do intermittent fasting without problems, salt your food as you like.
Furthermore, if you have a headache during fasting, you can dissolve natural Himalayan salt in water or drink homemade sole water.
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Managing Insulin Sensitivity And Metabolic Health
If your primary concern is decreasing insulin levels or improving your bodys metabolic health, you might not be concerned with weight loss.
Perhaps youre even using fasting to gain weight, combining it with strength training. If your goal is a very metabolically healthy body, you can add calories in your fasting window in the form of healthy fats.
This is when adding ghee or butter to coffee or having coconut oil makes sense.
And Some Of The Donts Of Intermittent Fasting:
2. Do not add a lot of milk to your coffee. Only use half or teaspoon of milk when having tea or coffee. Milk does contain lactose which is sugar. This could derail the plan. Only use a small amount.
3. Use your fasting period to do stuff. Dont sit idle. Getting busy will stop you thinking about food.
4. Dont keep changing your feeding window if you are on the plan that allows food at certain times. If your eating window is between 12 Noon and 8pm, try and maintain that consistency every time. Its all about teaching your body to adapt to a new way of eating and fasting.
5. Do not go to social events where the place will be awash with food on your fast days. The temptation of having so many food choices and so much food around might be too much for you to resist.
6. On your feed days or eating window as the case may be, you should exercise caution in how much food you consume. Theres no need to stuff your face with so much food in an attempt to compensate for the fast period.
It is not a feast or famine ethos and you should refrain from seeing it as such. Eat sensibly!
Above all, be resilient. Its not as hard as it appears. Start small and build up.
If you like your coffee, you may be also interested in the answer to the question: does coffee break a fast?
Suggested further reading:
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