INTERMITTENT FASTING 101

- What is fasting?

A phenomenon called intermittent fasting is currently one of the world's most popular health and fitness trends. It involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. This blog explains what intermittent fasting is, and why you should care. I will try and keep this as short and sweet as possible. 

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. Most people already "fast" every day, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer. You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm. Then you're technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.

Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually fairly easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast. Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time. No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

There are several different types/methods for intermittent fasting. Its best to choose the right one that you think will fit you best with your daily schedule.

  • The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day, for example by only eating between noon and 8pm. This is the most popular method. You can also adjust these hours. Example: 17/7. A 17 hour fast. 

  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, don't eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).

  • The 5:2 Diet: During 2 days of the week, eat only about 500–600 calories.

  • Alternate Day Fasting: Fast every other day.

  • Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip meals when convenient. 

  • Warrior Diet: Fast during the day and have a huge meal at night. 

 

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

There are many, many benefits of Intermittent fasting. To keep this short and simple I won't explain the "why" of each benefit. But here is a list of them!

  • Helps with weight loss

  • Improved fat burning

  • Increased human growth hormone - muscle gains!

  • Increased energy

  • Lowers risk for disease  

  • Protects neurons and promotes autophagy

  • Improves memory

  • Eases depression

  • Lowers cholesterol

  • Slows down cancer

  • Keeps cells resilient

  • Lowers insulin and blood sugar 

  • Possible diabetes 2 reversals

  • Reduced inflammation

  • More mental clarity

  • Helps cure fatty liver

  • Increased gene expression for longevity and a healthy life

 

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

To understand how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss we first need to understand the difference between the fed state and the fasted state. Your body is in the fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. Typically, the fed state starts when you begin eating and lasts for three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the fed state, it's very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.

 

After that timespan, your body goes into what is known as the post–absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for you body to burn fat in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low. When you're in the fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state. Because we don't enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, it's rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

Is Intermittent Fasting for You?

To put this simply, Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It takes a very strong willed person who is able to tolerate not eating for long periods at a time. For some, fasting comes easy! For others, not so much. But if this is something that interest you, then it definitely won't hurt to try! You never know if its going to work for you unless you give it a go.

Some people have reported that they notice some benefits the first few days of starting intermittent fasting. Others have said it takes 2-3 weeks to notice any significant changes. Everybody is different, and what works for someone may not work for you.

 

If you are a beginner, ease into it. No need to go full force right away. Start out with a couple days of the week and do a short fast. Expect to be hungry, its not the most fun to feel this way, but as time goes on the hunger will settle down. Remember to drink plenty of water during your fasting window, this is more important than you know. Happy fasting!

- Ashley Lynn

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