How Do I Do Intermittent Fasting
There are several ways to approach intermittent fasting. My approach is to fast daily and consume food only during a narrow window of time from two to four hours. I built up to this gradually, starting with a larger window and progressively reducing is. At about the 18-hour mark of fasting is when the benefits described above kick into gear and rev up.
Here’s what I outline about my typicl daily approach to intermittent fasting in a previous column: I envision what I normally would have had for breakfast and lunch, plus snacks , and consume these after my first meal of the day at 6 p.m. I drink black coffee periodically throughout the day, which satisfies me comfortably until my dinner.
And, let me add, if I feel like cheating at night with a treat like a hot-fudge sundae, I dont hesitate.
In addition, my workouts are great, with no loss of energy, even though I am fasted for many hours prior to working out.
Safety And Side Effects
Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting.
You may also feel weak and your brain may not perform as well as youre used to.
This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.
If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
This is particularly important if you:
- Have diabetes.
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
All that being said, intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if youre healthy and well-nourished overall.
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor first.
Here are answers to the most common questions about intermittent fasting.
Best Foods To Eat While Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
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How To Start Intermittent Fasting
There is more than one way to start intermittent fasting, which is great because every BODY is different. The key is to experiment and listen to your body to see what works best for you. Here are some of the ways to get started:
- 16:8: You eat all of your daily calories within a shortened period and fast the rest of the time.
- 5:2: You eat normally five days a week. On the other two days, you fast by eating between 500 and 600 calories.
- Alternate Day Fasting: You alternate a day of eating normally with a day eating 25 percent of your typical daily calories. A study found that obese adults following an alternate day intermittent fasting schedule lost up to 13 pounds over 8 weeks.
If intermittent fasting causes fatigue or other negative symptoms, try fasting just once or twice a week, and build up from there. As with any diet or exercise plan, consult your healthcare provider to determine whats best for you.
Ways To Use This Information For Better Health
Adapted from a Harvard Health Blog post by Monique Tello, MD, MPH
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Your Fasting Window Is Too Short
If you want to notice a difference in your body weight, your eating window during your intermittent fasting diet should be significantly less than normal.
If the difference between your eating window before and during intermittent fasting is only an hour or two, you might barely notice significant weight loss.
A 14-hour fasting window with a 10-hour eating window seems like a great place to start. However, if you find the 14 hours to be too long, you could start with a shorter fasting duration and work your way up.
The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Fat loss is great, but it isn’t the only benefit of fasting.
1. Intermittent fasting makes your day simpler.
I’m big on behavior change, simplicity, and reducing stress. Intermittent fasting provides additional simplicity to my life that I really enjoy. When I wake up, I don’t worry about breakfast. I just grab a glass of water and start my day.
I enjoy eating and I don’t mind cooking, so eating three meals a day was never a hassle for me. However, intermittent fasting allows me to eat one less meal, which also means planning one less meal, cooking one less meal, and stressing about one less meal. It makes life a bit simpler and I like that.
2. Intermittent fasting helps you live longer.
Scientists have long known that restricting calories is a way of lengthening life. From a logical standpoint, this makes sense. When youre starving, your body finds ways to extend your life.
Theres just one problem: who wants to starve themselves in the name of living longer?
I dont know about you, but Im interested in enjoying a long life. Starving myself doesnt sound that appetizing.
The good news is that intermittent fasting activates many of the same mechanisms for extending life as calorie restriction. In other words, you get the benefits of a longer life without the hassle of starving.
Way back in 1945 it was discovered that intermittent fasting extended life in mice. More recently, this study found that alternate day intermittent fasting led to longer lifespans.
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What The Studies Show
Intermittent fasting has been shown, in many short-term research studies, that it can help you lose weight, improve your health and potentially protect you from developing certain diseases. And whats most appealing, is that it doesnt restrict you daily, like conversional dieting.
Studies have also shown that intermittent fasting may help prevent or even reverse diabetes. This is because it helps to control and reduce insulin and glucose concentrations in your blood.
However, theres still not enough studies to show how safe intermittent fasting is if you do it for a long time. But in general, most research highlights that its safe in otherwise healthy adults.
How Much Weight Can You Lose On : 8 Diet
To lose weight on the 16:8 diet, its important to match the fasting with healthy eating and exercise. If done so correctly, theres a typical weight loss of around seven to 11 pounds over a ten week period. This is according to a review of 40 different studies published in Molecular and Cellular Endocrincology who found that on average, someone weighing just over 90kg would lose 5% of their total body weight in the ten week period.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Healthy Eating revealed that the 16:8 diet plan can help people lose weight, without having to count calories as the 8-hour fast produces the same kind of calorific restriction and weight loss.
However, whether theres a distinct weight loss advantage achieved on the 16:8 diet compared to other diets remains to be seen. Some studies have demonstrated that theres almost no difference between people who do intermittent fasting compared those who count calories and cut back on unhealthy food.
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Frequently Asked Questions Concerns And Complaints
Im a woman. Should I do anything differently?
I havent worked with women on implementing an intermittent fasting schedule, so I cant speak from experience on this one.
That said, I have heard that women may find a wider window of eating to be more favorable when doing daily intermittent fasting. While men will typically fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours, women may find better results by eating for 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours. The best advice I can give anyone, not just women, is to experiment and see what works best for you. Your body will give you signals. Follow what your body responds favorably to.
Also, if youre a female, there is an allfemale page on Facebook that discusses intermittent fasting. Im sure you could find a ton of great answers and support there.
I could never skip breakfast. How do you do it?
I dont. Breakfast foods are my favorite, so I just eat them at 1pm each day.
Also, if you eat a big dinner the night before, I think youll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the worries or concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every three hours and so on. The science doesnt support it and neither do my personal experiences.
I thought you were supposed to eat every 3 hours?
Hereâs why this was a popular idea for a brief period of time:
Hereâs the problem:
Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan What To Eat And What To Avoid
When we opt for intermittent fasting, it takes some time for our bodies to adjust to the new schedule. Over time, it adapts to the changes and realigns its functioning.
The food we consume during our eating hours is systematically broken down over the expanse of fasting hours to meet the energy requirements of the body. Thus, its crucial to be conscious of what we eat, how much of it is required by our body and how it affects our system.
For example, if we consume too many calories, they will be stored in our body as fat but a calorie deficit will make you feel fatigued and nauseous.
To ensure that you get the most out of intermittent fasting, its vital to consume nutritious foods and beverages during the eating periods. Although there is no water-tight diet plan, including some foods and avoiding a few others will ensure your goal is achieved in the healthiest way possible.
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Seven Ways To Do Intermittent Fasting
There are many different ways of intermittent fasting. The methods vary in the number of fast days and the calorie allowances.
Intermittent fasting involves entirely or partially abstaining from eating for a set amount of time, before eating regularly again.
Some studies suggest that this way of eating may offer benefits such as fat loss, better health, and increased longevity. Proponents claim that an intermittent fasting program is easier to maintain than traditional, calorie-controlled diets.
Each persons experience of intermittent fasting is individual, and different styles will suit different people.
In this article, we discuss the research behind the most popular types of intermittent fasting and provide tips on how to maintain this type of diet.
There are various methods of intermittent fasting, and people will prefer different styles. Read on to find out about seven different ways to do intermittent fasting.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe
Some people try intermitting fasting for weight management, and others use the method to address chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol or arthritis. But intermittent fasting isnt for everyone.
Williams stresses that before you try intermittent fasting , you should check in with your primary care practitioner first. Some people should steer clear of trying intermittent fasting:
- Children and teens under age 18.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.
- Those with a history of eating disorders.
But, Williams says, people not in these categories who can do intermittent fasting safely can continue the regimen indefinitely. It can be a lifestyle change, she says, and one with benefits.
Keep in mind that intermittent fasting may have different effects on different people. Talk to your doctor if you start experiencing unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea or other symptoms after you start intermittent fasting.
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Choosing A Time Window
To get started, begin by picking an 8-hour window and limiting your food intake to that time span.
Popular 16/8 time windows include:
- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Many people prefer to eat between noon and 8 p.m., since you need to fast only overnight and skip breakfast but can still eat a balanced lunch and dinner, along with a few snacks throughout the day.
Others opt to eat between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., which allows plenty of time for a healthy breakfast around 9 a.m., a standard lunch around noon, and a light, early dinner or large snack around 4:30 p.m. before starting your fast.
However, you can experiment and pick the time frame that best fits your schedule.
It may help to set timers at both the beginning and the end of your eating window to remind you when to start and stop eating.
Who Should Not Try Intermittent Fasting
Not everyone should try IF. A few groups who shouldnt: women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant , those taking diabetes medication , or anyone who takes multiple medications , Kumar says. Also, if you have a history of eating disorders, introducing periods where youre not allowed to eat can put you on a dangerous path toward a relapse.
Know that IF has some side effects. You may be cranky hanger is real during fasting periods because low blood sugar can mess with your mood. You also still need to have a healthy diet when you do eat. One thought is that it would be difficult to make up a calorie deficit if you fasted for two days, but in our society with access to calorie-dense items, you could probably do it, Kumar says. Focus on balanced, nutrient-packed choices, like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, legumes, and whole grains . Expect that for the first couple of weeks you may deal with lower energy, bloating, and cravings until your body adjusts, Shemek says.
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How Does Intermittent Fasting Work
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week. There are many different intermittent fasting schedules.
Mattson says that after hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat. He refers to this as metabolic switching.
Intermittent fasting contrasts with the normal eating pattern for most Americans, who eat throughout their waking hours, Mattson says. If someone is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and theyre not exercising, then every time they eat, theyre running on those calories and not burning their fat stores.
Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.
Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
Social channels are filled with reports of significant weight loss using intermittent fasting. Studies show efficacy, too, but the reported weight loss is frequently much smaller.
One difficulty with assessing the scientific support for intermittent fasting for weight loss involves comparing different fasting protocols. For instance, some studies evaluate time-restricted eating with daily fasting windows ranging from 14 to 20 hours. Others investigate alternate-day fasting, while others focus on severe caloric restriction to mimic fasting physiology.
Another issue is factoring in the baseline diet followed by study subjects. Are many of them eating a high-carb standard Western diet? Or are they eating a low-carb, high-protein diet? The difference may matter as those eating low carb and/or high protein may find fasting easier, and thereby stick with it longer to see greater healthy weight loss benefits.
Despite the discrepancies, most fasting interventions show benefits for weight loss.
One meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials looking at time-restricted eating found an average weight loss of 4.4 pounds in up to 12 months.2 While the absolute weight loss may not be much, thats still pretty impressive considering that participants didnt change what they ate. They only changed when they ate.
So its safe to say that intermittent fasting has the potential to help people lose a little weight.
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Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Health
To determine the answer to this question, lets examine what occurs at the cellular and hormonal levels when you fast intermittently. Many things happen at the molecular and cellular level when you fast.
For instance, your body begins to adjust its hormone levels so that it can make all stored body fat more easily accessible. Then your cells initiate vital repair processes and alter gene expression.
Here are a few changes that are occurring while youre fasting:
- The levels of the Human Growth Hormone skyrocket sometimes increasing as much as 5 times. This benefits muscle gain, and fat loss.
- Your insulin sensitivity will improve. By fasting, your insulin levels will drop significantly, which helps make stored body fat easy to access.
- When you fast, your cells trigger cellular repair. Autophagy is an example of cell repair. In this process, old cells are removed and digested, including dysfunctional proteins that have accumulated inside.
- Intermittent fasting contributes to changes in gene expression which promotes longevity and protection against many diseases.
These changes that occur at the cell, hormone, and gene expression levels all contribute to the many health benefits of this fasting method.