Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be
Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, its very reasonable to choose a reduced calorie plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet. But research suggests that not all IF approaches are the same, and some IF diets are indeed effective and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet.
We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as diabetes.
Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day , or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.
Just changing the timing of meals, by eating earlier in the day and extending the overnight fast, significantly benefited metabolism even in people who didnt lose a single pound.
Tips And Tricks About Fasting
#1) Dont freak out! Stop wondering: can I fast 15 hours instead of 16? or what if I eat an apple during my fasted period, will that ruin everything? Relax. Your body is a complex piece of machinery and learns to adapt. Everything is not as cut and dry as you think.
If you want to eat breakfast one day but not another, thats okay. If you are going for optimal aesthetic or athletic performance, I can see the need to be more rigid in your discipline, but otherwisefreaking chill out and dont stress over minutiae!
Dont let perfect be the enemy of good when it comes to your intermittent fasting plan.
#2) Consider fasted walks in the morning. I found these to be very helpful in reducing body fat, and also gave my day a great start to clear my mind and prepare for the day.
Simply wake up and go for a mile walk. Maybe you could even start walking to Mordor?
#3) Listen to your body during your strength training workouts. If you get light headed, make sure you are consuming enough water.
If you notice a significant drop in performance, make sure you are eating enough calories during your feasting window.
And if you feel severely off, pause your workout. Give yourself permission to EASE into intermittent fasting and fasted workouts. This is especially true if you are an endurance athlete.
#4) Expect funny looks if you spend a lot of mornings with breakfast eaters.
#7) Track your results, listen to your body:
This is just one tool that can contribute to your success.
Is 16/8 Intermittent Fasting Right For You
Its true that 16/8 intermittent fasting can be a sustainable, safe, and easy way to improve your health when paired with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle.
However, it shouldnt be viewed as a substitute for a balanced diet rich in whole foods. Plus, you can still be perfectly healthy if you dont follow intermittent fasting.
Though 16/8 intermittent fasting is generally considered safe for healthy adults, you should talk with your doctor if you have any underlying health conditions. This is key if youre taking any medications or have diabetes, low blood pressure, or a history of disordered eating.
Intermittent fasting is likewise discouraged if youre trying to conceive, pregnant, or nursing.
If you have any concerns or experience any side effects while fasting, be sure to consult your doctor.
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Hormonal Changes And Menstrual Cycles
Some animal research suggests that intermittent fasting may lead to hormonal changes and undereating. In people with ovaries, these changes may negatively affect menstrual cycles and fertility .
However, most studies are old and have been conducted in animals. Human studies are needed to fully understand how intermittent fasting may affect reproductive health.
Furthermore, postmenopausal individuals may experience different effects from intermittent fasting. Menopause causes changes that can decrease insulin sensitivity and lead to weight gain, and intermittent fasting may help improve these outcomes .
Restricting daily food intake to a particular time window may cause increased food intake and weight gain, as well as short-term hunger and weakness. Older animal studies indicate that intermittent fasting may interfere with fertility.
Does Intermittent Fasting Have Different Effects On Men And Women
The quick answer is: yes, Intermittent Fasting can affect men and women differently.
Anecdotally, we have many women in our online coaching program that swear by Intermittent Fasting, while others have had adverse effects.
Lets dig into the science and studies.
A recent PubMed summary concluded thatfasting can be prescribed as a safe medical intervention as well as a lifestyle regimen which can improve womenâs health in many folds .
Now, in that extract, many of the studies cited are focused on specifically calorie restriction , and they also say that future studies should address this gap by designing medically supervised fasting techniques to extract better evidence.
Digging into the PubMed Archives brought me to the following conclusions :
One small study resulted in the following: Glucose response to a meal was slightly impaired in women after 3 weeks of treatment, but insulin response was unchanged. Men had no change in glucose response and a significant reduction in insulin response.
Another small study studied the effects on their menstrual cycles after a 72 hour fast which is significantly longer than any fast recommended in this article: in spite of profound metabolic changes, a 72-hour fast during the follicular phase does not affect the menstrual cycle of normal cycling women..
Precision Nutrition a great resource recommends not attempting Intermittent Fasting as a woman if:
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
You know your body best.
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Should I Eat 6 Small Meals A Day
There are a few main reasons why diet books recommend six small meals:
1) When you eat a meal, your body does have to burn extra calories just to process that meal. So, the theory is that if you eat all day long with small meals, your body is constantly burning extra calories and your metabolism is firing at optimal capacity, right? Well, thats not true.
Whether you eat 2000 calories spread out throughout the day, or 2000 calories in a small window, your body will burn the same number of calories processing the food .
So, the whole keep your metabolism firing at optimum capacity by always eating sounds good in principle, but reality tells a different story.
2) When you eat smaller meals, you might be less likely to overeat during your regular meals. I can definitely see some truth here, especially for people who struggle with portion control or dont know how much food they should be eating.
However, once you educate yourself and take control of your eating, some might find that eating six times a day is very prohibitive and requires a lot of effort. I know I do.
Also, because youre eating six small meals, Id argue that you probably never feel full, and you might be MORE likely to eat extra calories during each snack.
Although grounded in seemingly logical principles, the six meals a day doesnt work for the reason you think it would , and generally only works for people who struggle with portion control .
Thats why we made this:
Intermittent Fasting Plus High Intensity Interval Training Equals Rapid Fat Loss
If you want to lose fat as quickly as possible, Id recommend you introduce any form of training that has high intensity.
For example, when I first started out with intermittent fasting, I introduced 10 minutes of sprinting 3x a week, plus weekly football matches.
You could pick anything you enjoy doing, i.e. Swimming, skipping, jogging, then raise the intensity till youre gassed out after every workout.
In addition, training like this on an empty stomach also helped to improve my results.
Im not exactly sure about the science behind why training on a fasted state could aid fat loss, but, Id recommend you experiment with this as well.
Intuitively, it makes sense why this works. Fasting helps to reduce the amount of calories you consume, whilst the high intensity training burns more calories.
Your daily calorie intake drops significantly and over time you lose more fat. Simple.
Also Check: How Does Fasting Work To Lose Weight
The Health Risks Of Intermittent Fasting: It’s Not For Everyone
Intermittent fasting is one of the most buzzed-about diets — but should you try it?
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She’s written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women’s Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
If there’s a “golden child” of the wellness world from the last several years, it’s intermittent fasting. The trend quickly took hold of the wellness community, and everyone from doctors to bloggers and fitness trainers began to talk about the seemingly miraculous effects it can have on health.
Those effects include its potential to help people lose weight, decrease risk for cancer and disease and even improve longevity, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
With all of these benefits and promising research, it’s hard to think that intermittent fasting wouldn’t be worth the challenge of restricting food for periods of time. But some experts and researchers have questioned whether the benefits of fasting diets and intermittent fasting are worth the potential problems and challenges of maintaining a fasting diet.
Fasting can interfere with female hormones, exacerbating issues like PMS or period pain.
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.
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The Three Popular Approaches To Intermittent Fasting Are:
- Alternate-day fasting Eat a normal, healthy diet one day and then completely fast or have one small meal the next day. Usually, the small meal is fewer than 500 calories.
- 5-2 fasting Eat a normal diet five days a week and fast two days per week.
- Daily time-restricted fasting Eat normally but only within an eight-hour window each day. For example, skip breakfast, but eat lunch around 11 a.m. and dinner by 7 p.m.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Another duh! advice, you certainly already have heard it almost everywhere else on the web.
But I cant do a whole article on weight loss plateau without mentioning water consumption, because it might not be as obvious as you think.
First, water can help you if youre experiencing cravings. When I started intermittent fasting, I drank so much water. Because I knew it was important, but also because I had bad habits to get rid of and water helped me a lot.
I usually had an orange juice or two in the morning, some type of pastry at 9 am and a few snacks in the afternoon. Water was helping me get through my fasted morning and my non-snacking afternoon.
Every time a craving came, I would gulp on my bottle. I had created a habit of drinking at least 3 liters of water during the day.
And it would not only help reduce cravings I would also feel satiated from all the water I drank, especially when I had sparkling water.
Water will not only help with hunger itll also boost your metabolism for up to 30% for 1.5 hours after drinking it, through water-induced thermogenesis.
In this study, they looked into the effects of having water before a meal on a regular diet. On average, the group consuming water before meals lost 44% more weight than the other group.
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Hour Fast For Increased Hgh
Higher serum HGH levels are associated with improved muscle mass, better memory, reduced water retention, and more. HGH levels tend to inversely correlate with cortisol levels, meaning they can rescue the body from a high-stress state.
One study involving 200 people found that fasting for 24 hours increased HGH by a factor of 20 in men and 13 in women.
This exponential change explains why IF is so renowned for triggering sudden changes in mood and appearance.
Intermittent Fasting: Fad Or Valid Weight
Topics in this Post
Is skipping meals a bad idea or a secret weight-loss weapon? One diet trend that shows no sign of going away soon is intermittent fasting. That’s when you voluntarily abstain from food or beverages other than water for a certain amount of time. Some fasting is for religious reasons, while others fast for weight loss.
But is intermittent fasting a healthy way to lose weight?
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Your Lifestyle Can’t Accommodate The Eating Hours
Your work schedule can greatly influence your ability to engage in IF successfully. For example, if you work the night shift and have to sleep during the day, but one of your eating periods falls within the daytime, what do you do? Or worse, what if the majority of your fast occurs while you’re hard at work. Or, what if you work different shifts each day and never have a consistent schedule? Bannan says that fasting intervals can make you feel cold and experience headaches and mood swings. Having to cope with all of those potential side effects could distract you from work and make you less productive.
Overeating And Potential Weight Gain
Restricting your intake to just 8 hours per day may 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 unhealthy eating habits.
Interestingly, current research doesnt suggest that intermittent fasting leads to any more weight loss than typical diets that recommend overall calorie restriction. Both eating patterns may lead to modest weight loss .
If weight loss is your primary goal, you may therefore prefer to lower your calorie intake instead of fasting intermittently to prevent the overeating that may occur when restricting intake to a certain time window.
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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.
Making Weight Loss Easier
Intermittent fasting can change the function of hormones, cells and genes, Sawyer says. “Changes in hormone levels makes stored body fat more accessible and initiates important cellular repair processes. When you fast, insulin levels drop, and human growth hormone increases. Your cells also initiate important cellular repair processes and change which genes they express.”
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Hour Fast For Increased Bdnf
BDNF-1, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is another important endogenous hormone. While HGH is correlated with increased muscle cell production, BDNF-1 is associated with increased brain cell creation. Neuropsychiatrist John J. Ratey aptly calls it Miracle-Gro for the brain.
Higher levels of BDNF are correlated with faster learning and neural pathway development. Conversely, lower levels of BDNF are correlated with degenerative diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers.
Its not yet known why fasting boosts BDNF-1, but the connection makes logical sense from an evolutionary perspective: In ancient times we wouldve needed to think faster in times of caloric scarcity, and it appears BDNF is the neurological ingredient that helps us to rise to the occasion.
May Help Prevent Cancer
Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.
Fasting has been shown to have several beneficial effects on metabolism that may lead to reduced risk of cancer.
Promising evidence from animal studies indicates that intermittent fasting or diets that mimic fasting may help prevent cancer. Research in humans has led to similar findings, although more studies are needed (
However, more research in humans is needed.
Studies in animals suggest that intermittent fasting may be protective against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers disease.
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Intermittent Fasting And Lasting Weight Loss Results
A 2017 statement by the American Heart Association says theres evidence that both alternate-day fasting and periodic fasting may be effective for short-term weight loss, but there isnt enough evidence to determine whether its effective long term. More research is needed to be able to point people in the right direction.
Remember: Many different weight loss methods can work for any number of people. Before you start any plan though, think about how sustainable it is and if it is healthy. Dont get so caught up in fasting that quality of diet is an afterthought.
Benefits To Gut Health
Short periods of fasting, such as skipping breakfast , may benefit your gut microbes, explains Professor Tim Spector of Kings College London in his book Spoon-Fed. Although research in the field is in its early stages, accumulating evidence suggests that during fasting, certain species of microbes replicate and feed off carbohydrates in the gut lining. This makes the gut barrier healthier and more efficient.
One explanation for this could be that gut microbes follow a circadian rhythm like you do. Microbe communities, like us, may also need to rest and recuperate as part of a daily circadian rhythm which could be important for our gut health, writes Spector.
Everyones body responds differently to skipping meals, so Spector suggests experimenting by giving breakfast or another meal a miss to see how you feel. Leaving a minimum of 12 hours between eating, even if its only occasionally, could improve your mood and energy levels in the short term , he argues.
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