Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
One of the most well-known benefits of fasting is the loss of weight, but there are numerous other advantages to this routine that are often overlooked. When you actively engage in intermittent fasting, the following are some of the benefits that you stand to gain :
- Fat loss
- Prevention and reduction in the occurrence of diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes type 2, and some types of cancer
- Improved heart condition
So Is Intermittent Fasting As Good As It Sounds
I was very curious about this, so I asked the opinion of metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Here is what she told me. “There is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective,” she confirmed, though generally she recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”
So, heres the deal. There is some good scientific evidence suggesting that circadian rhythm fasting, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be a particularly effective approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk for diabetes.
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:
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Intermittent Fasting For Beginners
In case you are not quite familiar with intermittent fasting, let me give you a refresher. Intermittent fasting is all about going through cycles of fasting and eating. The idea is to give your digestive system a break so your body can focus on healing and repair. The reason intermittent fasting is so effective for weight loss is that the healing and repair process includes improving your fasting insulin, which helps regulate your appetite and tell your body to release the extra fat. There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting, so experiment and see what works best for you:
- Daily: Make sure you abstain from food for at least 14 hours each day. You can skip breakfast or have a very early dinner . Some people even eat all their calories within one meal for a longer fast.
- Weekly: Instead of fasting every single day, you can pick a method that you practice only weekly. For example, you can eat 500 calories twice a week and thats called the 5:2 intermittent fasting method. Alternatively, you can fast completely for 24 hours thats called the eat-stop-eat method.
Read my post Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss for more information about how you can practice intermittent fasting for weight loss.
If Youre Just Starting Out With Intermitting Fasting You Might Be Wondering What The Best Foods To Eat At The End Of Your Fast Are
We asked a selected group of experts to deliver their insights when it comes to the kinds of foods you should be consuming after a fast.
Heres what they said.
Go For Foods With A Lower Glycemic Index
Dr. Melissa A. Murphy, PhD, Assistant Professor, Nutrition and Basic Sciences at Bastyr University California
During intermittent fasting, the body utilizes endogenous fuel stores rather than outside ones .
When sticking to an intermittent fasting regimen, one way to extend the benefits of the fast is to eat foods that will still support use of endogenous stores. This includes higher fat, lower carb options.
So when breaking the intermittent fast, I recommend consuming smoothies with greens, avocado and/or nut butter, protein powder and low fruit content or an omelet cooked in a healthy fat with low-starch vegetables and eggs or a salad with protein and nuts and seeds.
Having a meal with a lower glycemic index also prevents spiking blood sugar levels which can contribute to brain fog and digestive discomfort after fasts.
Start Off With Easily-Digestible Foods In Small Amounts
Kristin Gillespie, Registered Dietitian and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, exercisewithstyle.com
Generally speaking, foods that are more difficult for the body to digest are best avoided when breaking your fast.
For this reason, its generally best to start off with easily-digestible foods consumed in small amounts.
For the best results in breaking your fast, I recommend the following:
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Its Inappropriate For Many People
The Warrior Diet is not a way of eating that everyone should follow.
This type of intermittent fasting is inappropriate for many people, including:
Some women may be able to fast intermittently without negative effects. However, some may experience unpleasant side effects like insomnia, anxiety, missed periods and reproductive health disturbances.
Replace Protein Powders With Real Foods To Feel More Satiated
After an afternoon workout class, Jen has a protein shake.
Turoff advises eating whole-food protein sources rather than relying on protein and collagen powders.
“She’s still getting the protein in, which is great, but she might find she’s much more satiated if she incorporates other sources of protein into her meals ,” Turoff said.
Research Review Shows Intermittent Fasting Works For Weight Loss Health Changes
Intermittent fasting can produce clinically significant weight loss as well as improve metabolic health in individuals with obesity, according to a new study review led by University of Illinois Chicago researchers.
We noted that intermittent fasting is not better than regular dieting both produce the same amount of weight loss and similar changes in blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation, said Krista Varady, professor of nutrition at the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences and author of Cardiometabolic Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
Krista Varady, professor of nutrition, UIC College of Applied Health Sciences.
According to the analysis published in the Annual Review of Nutrition, all forms of fasting reviewed produced mild to moderate weight loss, 1%-8% from baseline weight, which represents results that are similar to that of more traditional, calorie-restrictive diets. Intermittent fasting regimens may also benefit health by decreasing blood pressure and insulin resistance, and in some cases, cholesterol and triglyceride levels are also lowered. Other health benefits, such as improved appetite regulation and positive changes in the gut microbiome, have also been demonstrated.
The review looked at over 25 research studies involving three types of intermittent fasting:
Various studies of time-restricted eating show participants with obesity losing an average of 3% of their body weight, regardless of the time of the eating window.
Calorie Restriction And Fasting Diets: What Do We Know
You may have heard about calorie restriction and fasting diets and wondered why they’re getting so much attention in the news. Aren’t they just other terms for dieting to lose weight?
No, they’re not. Calorie restriction means reducing average daily caloric intake below what is typical or habitual, without malnutrition or deprivation of essential nutrients. In a fasting diet, a person does not eat at all or severely limits intake during certain times of the day, week, or month. A practical effect of a fasting diet may be fewer calories because there is less time for regular eating.
These eating patterns are being studied as possible ways to maintain good health and live longer. They are not temporary weight-loss plans. Interest in their potential health and aging benefits stems from decades of research with a variety of animals, including worms, crabs, snails, fruit flies, and rodents. In many experiments, calorie-restricted feeding delayed the onset of age-related disorders and, in some studies, extended lifespan.
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So Wtf Should I Eat On If
There are no specifications or restrictions about what type or how much food to eat while following intermittent fasting, says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.
But Mary Purdy, MS, RDN, chair of Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine, counters that by advising that the benefits are not likely to accompany consistent meals of Big Macs.
Pincus and Purdy agree that a well-balanced diet is the key to losing weight, maintaining energy levels, and sticking with the diet.
Anyone attempting to lose weight should focus on nutrient-dense foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds, as well as dairy and lean proteins, suggests Pincus.
Purdy adds, My recommendations wouldnt be very different from the foods I might normally suggest for improved health high-fiber, unprocessed, whole foods that offer variety and flavor.
In other words, eat plenty of the below foods and you wont end up in a hangry rage while fasting.
The Easiest Way To Get Started With Intermittent Fasting
The best way I can start you off on the right foot to Intermittent Fasting so that mistakes are easily avoided is to stress the importance of eating clean whole foods when you are in a fasting window.
But first, lets take a quick look at the types of fasting so you can determine which one will work the best for you. Thats key, you know. Choose the plan that you think you will have the most success with and dive in. All options are feasibleit depends on your lifestyle and your end goals. Here we go:
- The 16/8 Method: This means you fast for 16 hours and make healthy food choices the other 8. Try finishing your last meal at 8 pm and then breaking your fast at 12 noon the next day.
- The 5/2 Method: Here, you eat normally for 5 days during the week and for the other 2 days, you choose meals that limit you to 500-600 calories per day .
- The Stop-Eat-Stop Method: With this regimen, you fast for 24 hours, once or twice per week. This can be a difficult method to start with if you are accustomed to eating 3 or 4 times a day, presently.
- The Alternate-Day Method: Alternating eating every other day is the rule with this method. A common way to accomplish this is to eat 500 calories on fasting days and whatever you want when its a non-fasting day.
- The Spontaneous Meal Skipping Method: For this IF method, you skip meals as it works for you. Although not a regimented method, you can benefit from it.
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Why Does My Blood Sugar Go Up During Fasting
While this does not happen with everyone, it can occur due to hormonal changes that occur during intermittent fasting. Your body is producing sugar in order to provide energy for your system. This is a variation of the dawn phenomenon and in general is not a concern as long as blood sugars are not elevated the rest of the day.45
Mistake #: Youre Eating Without Realizing It
“I’m trying to cut myself down to one meal a day, so while I’m not actively trying to do IF, I think I’m kind of doing it by proxy . But does this mean no calorie intake whatsoever outside of the time I normally eat? Or just no actual food? Because I have coffee every morning and I’ve also been drinking a cup of soy or almond milk for “breakfast and I don’t know if it’s going to mess with my progress.”
OK, this is intermittent fasting. Period. Even though this person says he or she isnt actively doing IF, they are. Theres nothing sinful about IF, so no need to deny it. But to reap the benefits, you cant have that quote-unquote breakfast. Fasting means no calories during that fasting time period.
More on intermittent fasting:
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Eat Often Or Intermittent Fasting
The main difference between eating less but more often and strict periods without meals is a hormonal change.
Accordingly, intermittent fasting shows a more potent reduction of insulin levels as well as insulin resistance, which enables better fat burning .
In addition to the growth hormone, which protects muscle mass, the hormone noradrenaline increases to boost metabolism during fasting .
In contrast to intermittent fasting, conventional calorie restriction leads to a loss of muscle mass. Also, the basal metabolic rate decreases if you eat less but frequently.
Consequently, a study with the participants of the weight-loss TV show The Biggest Loser revealed that those participants who lost the most weight through calorie restriction suffered the longest from a weak metabolism.
Since it was precisely these participants who were again rapidly gaining weight, scientists observed a severe yo-yo effect in them .
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:
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Intermittent Fasting Eat Before Or After Workout
Among bodybuilders, intermittent fasting is not a new idea. The most standard intermittent fasting schedule in which nothing is eaten for 14 to 18 hours daily is a proven method for improved muscle growth.
Therefore, bodybuilders have been using the 16/8 schedule, also known as peak fasting or time-restricted feeding , for decades.
Due to the release of growth hormone, intermittent fasting boosts muscle gain .
However, it is vital to exercise in a fasted state. Therefore, it is better to eat after than before workout while intermittent fasting.
Given the essential goals of burning fat and activating autophagy for health benefits, this even makes more sense :
- The low insulin level before eating enables maximum fat burning
- The fasting state allows the body to maximize autophagy through exercise
In contrast, eating allows the body to relax. And this is in contradiction to athletic performance, as you can also witness through self-experimentation.
Against this background, it is wiser to use the increased adrenaline levels for exercising. Afterward, you can send your body into recovery and growth mode with a meal.
Industrial Vegetable Oil And Trans Fats
When processing vegetable oils, the fragile omega-6 fatty acids oxidize through heat, light, air, and pressure.
As a result, these processes change fats that serve as building blocks for your body chemically. Therefore, they promote inflammation, cardiovascular disease, mortality, and weight gain .
Besides the following oils, it is essential to avoid fried dishes and hydrogenated trans fats :
- Safflower oil
- Preservatives and other chemical additives
Another reason why I advise against any kind of sweeteners during intermittent fasting is the craving.
When sweet taste stimulates the brains reward center, but glucose does not arrive due to calorie-free sweeteners, cravings increase .
As with sweeteners, plant-based does not always mean healthy, as we will learn in the next section.
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Who Shouldnt Try Interval Eating
If you are in good health, theres no reason why not to try intermittent fasting. Some people should be careful with this kind of diet, though, and consult a doctor before starting it.
People with the following conditions should steer clear of intermittent fasting:
- Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
Intermittent fasting is also not appropriate for:
- Anyone with a history of an eating disorder
- Elderly people