Original post published on June 06, 2018.
You’ve heard of intermittent fasting, and there is no lack of information about it; however, you may be hesitant to try this new weight management tool because it seems complex. Not the case—in fact, intermittent fasting is perfect for:
- Helping give your other dieting or clean eating efforts more power
- Enhancing your ketogenic lifestyle
- Breaking past a plateau to shed a few more pounds
- Gaining control of your eating habits and setting a schedule that works for you
Intermittent fasting is a simple cycling pattern where you alter what and when you eat, with periods of feasting and periods of fasting. The process alters how your body operates—for the better!
Why You Should Try Intermittent Fasting
As your body adjusts to the cycling pattern of alternating fasting and feasting days, you become more satisfied with eating smaller portions and less calories, and when you eat healthier foods to get the allotted calorie intake, you lessen your cravings for unhealthy foods, like foods packed with refined sugars. Intermittent fasting also enhances hormone function to promote weight loss and increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, which helps you burn more calories. Put all these facts together and it’s not hard to see how you can start losing weight.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are a few common ways to do this diet, meaning that you can tailor it to your lifestyle or goals! Check out the list below to determine which option is best for you.
- 5-Day-A-Month: With this form of intermittent fasting, you would limit your caloric intake for five days out of the month. On these "fasting days", you should eat between 750-1100 calories, with a mix of good fats and carbs. In a recent study, dieters who followed this plan for three months lost an average of 3% of their body weight while increasing their lean muscle mass.
- 5:2 Diet: This plan requires you to reduce your calorie intake for two, non-consecutive days a week. On these days, you would reduce your daily calories to a quarter of what you’d normally eat (about 500 calories for women and 600 for men).
- 16:8 Method: This is the most common way that people practice intermittent fasting because it is more feasible. Most choose to include their time sleeping in the 16-hour fast, meaning that they only need to abstain from food for 8 hours during waking hours. So for instance, you could begin your fast at 8pm and break it 16 hours later at noon the next day. Unlike the 5-Day-A-Month plan or 5:2 Diet, it is recommended that you still eat all of the daily recommended calories in your 8-hour eating window.
- 20:4 Method: Also known as the “Warrior Diet”, the 20:4 Method is a more extreme version of the 16:8 Method, in which your eating window shrinks to 4 hours a day instead of 8. This form of fasting is particularly popular with the ketogenic community since the longer fasting period ensures that your body will burn fat longer, thus keeping you in an ideal zone for the effects of ketosis to kick in.
- Every-Other-Day Diet: This fasting diet is the easiest to keep track of, but might be the most difficult to follow. Followers of this system fast on every other day of the week. On days that they are not fasting, they can hypothetically eat whatever they want to! If this seems a little too intimidating, you can easily modify it by consuming 500 calories a day on “fast days”. According to recent studies, following this method can help you lose 3-8% of your body fat in just 3 months!
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
A lot of people choose intermittent fasting because it is easy to follow, but along with this perk, there are some incredible health benefits!
- Cellular health: Fasting initiates important repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible, as well as removes waste material from the cells.
- Increased life expectancy: Studies are showing that we age slower and live longer when we consume fewer calories. I think the average American could due to cut back on a few needless calories.
- Hormone balance: Fasting reduces blood sugar/pressure and insulin levels. It also increases human growth hormone. This results in increased muscle, decreased fat, and decreased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Fat reduction: Studies show that subjects burn more fat and lose weight. Fasting also increases your metabolic rate, which helps burn even more calories.
- Less Stress: Oxidative stress leads to aging and many chronic diseases. Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting enhances our ability to resist oxidative stress and inflammation.
- More Energy: Despite the fact, that less calories are consumed, people typically feel better and have more energy.
- Protection against diabetes: Studies show that intermittent fasting can actually help to reduce blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
Can You Do It?
Once you commit to a certain method, you’ll find that it gets easier and easier as time passes. The hard part is starting, so set some goals today and get going!
Intermittent fasting is typically safe for most people, however, the elderly, pregnant women, those with health concerns or those who have a history of disordered eating should not try intermittent fasting or consult with a doctor before starting an intermittent fast.
For more specifics about the intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet, read this: