Intermittent fasting is a method of weight management that has stood the test of time, dating back to our earliest ancestors.
Intermittent fasting is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of fasting for days at a time, you simply adjust your daily schedule to include short periods of eating that alternate with longer periods of time when you consume zero calories.
Since this technique rarely involves going more than a day without food, most people find it more comfortable than a traditional fast. This technique in and of itself does not limit any specific foods, which technically means that you can eat whatever you want as long as it occurs during your chosen eating times.
*Note that eating whatever you want is not necessarily a good thing necessarily. It is still very important to eat healthy foods, especially for weight management and wellness.
It’s Been Around for a Long Time
Intermittent fasting is not some new trend, either. People have been fasting since the beginning of time. While those early fasts were often due to a lack of available food, other people have chosen to fast due to religious observances or to enjoy the benefits that giving the digestive system a rest can have for the entire body.
Today, science has shown that fasting can extend a person’s life span, help with weight management, prevent many common diseases and make the body more responsive to insulin, which can reduce hunger and cravings.
13 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
When you think about the hunter and gatherer lifestyle, the body was never designed to be full 24-hours a day. Instead, our early ancestors learned to go without food for extended periods of time. In fact, eating four to six meals a day is a relatively new concept that is being associated with promoting obesity and its the health problems that go along with it.
In contrast, fasting revs up your metabolism and causes the following positive changes to your body:
- Increased levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
- Weight loss
- Faster metabolism
- Helps control binge eating – regulates eating pattern
- Normalizes feelings of satiety (feeling full/hungry)
- Improved insulin sensitivity that makes stored fat more accessible for energy
- Cellular repair processes speed up
- Gene functioning shifts toward longevity
- Decreased risk of heart disease due to lower cholesterol and triglycerides
- Reduces inflammation
- Cancer prevention
- Boosts immune system
- Helps with brain function/focus/mental acuity
According to a professor at the the San Diego-California Salk Institute for Biological Studies, “Intermittent fasting helps the body to rejuvenate and repair, thereby promoting overall health.”
Weight Loss and Metabolism Benefits
One benefit of intermittent fasting that people often find most motivating are the weight loss benefits. What is most interesting about this is that oftentimes, people do not eat any less than they would if they weren’t doing intermittent fasting, however the timing of it all helps with shedding unwanted weight.
How to Start Fasting
One of the best things about intermittent fasting is that there are several different methods from which you can choose to fit your lifestyle. It is also easy to start one method and transition to another if you find that you prefer going longer or shorter periods of time without eating.
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Intermittent Fasting Methods:
1) Daily Intermittent Fasting (Lean Gains Model and also known as the 16/8 Model)
This fasting method is easiest for beginners since it only involves eating within an 8 (to upwards of 10) hour window with a period of fasting making up the rest of the time. Since you likely already go through the night without eating, daily intermittent fasting is an easy adjustment.
For example, you may choose to eat from 12 pm to 8 pm, which means you still eat lunch and dinner. When it is your fasting time, it is important to avoid consuming any food. Note that black coffee and water are allowed during the fasting times.
For best results, you should try to stick to the same schedule each day since changing it up could throw your hormones off balance.
2) Eat Stop Eat Method
If you prefer to do your fasting in longer periods of time, then this method can allow you to gradually work up to a full 24-hour fast. With the Eat-Stop-Eat Method, you fast for 24-hours straight one or two days a week. When you finish your fast, you just go back to eating normally.
It is important to note that you have complete control over how quickly you start fasting for a full day. If you prefer to start slowly, simply go as long as you can without eating the first day. Then, go longer on your next fasting day. Many people who use this method enjoy the productivity that comes from not having to plan or prepare meals for a full day.
3) Warrior Method
This method involves a fasting period of 20 hours. If you follow this method, you will give yourself four hours every evening before bed during which you should consume the majority of your daily calories.
For those who find it impossible not to snack during the day, this method does allow you to eat a small serving of vegetables or fruit during the fasting period of 20 hours.
It is also important to be cautious regarding what you eat during those four hours. Ideally, you should begin your evening meal with vegetables followed by a protein and fat.
If you find that you are still hungry after that, then you may eat a small amount of carbohydrates. Practitioners of this method report that it provides increased feelings of alertness during the day while promoting relaxation before bedtime.
Will You Try Intermittent Fasting?
Whichever method you choose, you can be sure to enjoy the benefits of intermittent fasting. Just remember to stay hydrated, continue working out and keep a focused mindset to maximize the positive changes you will enjoy for your health.