When you first hear the word fasting you immediately think? “Not planning on starving myself,” at least that’s usually the reaction I get when suggesting Intermittent Fasting to help with plateaus in weight loss. Although, the only side effects to fasting is hunger, the benefits that you receive outweigh the discomfort of hunger pains. If done right you won’t feel hungry or restricted.
In my eighty pound weight-loss journey I have found and used Intermittent fasting almost routinely now. Initially, it was challenging but I have found that anything new that I try is challenging. It’s when I push past the discomfort I found success and I have found that with weightloss and Intermittent Fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Technically, it’s withholding food for periods of time. Fasting has been practiced and used since Biblical days. There are different popular methods and systems but ultimately you are just creating a pattern of what I like to call feast or famine. I designated time to eat and designated time to abstain.
I usually suggest IF to my clients when they have hit a plateau or they are trying to accelerate progress. It’s one of the safest and effective natural ways to manipulate your metabolism. Also, the benefits of Intermittent Fasting outweighs the drawbacks.
There was a study done at the National Institute of Health that concluded that Intermittent Fasting can:
Reduces inflammation – Inflammation can have some negative effects on the body. Inflammation is caused by your bodies response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals. An overreaction can cause your body to “fight” itself which can lead to chronic diseases among other things.
Fasting has been known to help maximize energy metabolism- your body uses what is has more efficiently during fasting.
Helps to aid brain function – According to a National Institute of Health Study, “The behavioral responses to Intermittent Fasting are associated with increased synaptic plasticity and increased production of new neurons from neural stem cells” (Lee et al., 2002). Meaning your brain sends signal better and creates new signals more often.
Helps to protect your body – against diabetes, cancers, heart disease there has been studies that intermittent fasting during chemotherapy has helped reduce the toxicity levels in cancer patients and improving their well being during treatment.(Lee et al., 2012).
Alzheimer studies have concluded – fasting helps to protect against neurodegeneration (such as Alzheimer’s), While fasting your body will process fatty acids for energy, meanwhile, your brain is using ketone, amino acids and other free fatty acids. Studies show that “a human can survive for 30 or more days in the absence of food.”
Helps to improve aging process – It has also been hypothesized that the process of Ketolysis that happens during prolonged fasting has had improved the aging process and had a positive effects on mice with Alzheimer’s disease and has the potential to delay the aging process.
Another benefit is that intermittent fasting has help to reduce obesity, hypertension, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
How I do it?
Intermittent Fasting has recently became very trendy so they’re lots of different methods. Everyone has “the secret sauce” but if you do your research, follow common sense you can fast too without the help of a guru. Three methods of intermittent fasting can be found with lots of different names and variations but I will give you the fundamentals.
There is the controversial 5:2 Method: Where you eat your calorie regimen for 5 days but two days consecutively you eat 500-600 calorie. It’s reason for controversy is the low calorie diet for consecutive days. I would say do your research. I personally don’t do it but everyone is different and there has been some positive benefits in results to this method.
There is the 16/8 Method: This method was popularized by Leangains and has been called “Leangains protocol”; You do a 16 hour fast or abstain from food and then an 8 hour feast or eating period. This is the method that I have adopted and I see is very common in the fitness world.
There is the Eat-Stop-Eat Method:This is when you feast the you fast for 24 hours 1-2 times per week. It’s usually dinner to dinner so you have overnight but it’s still hard to withstain from food for 24 hours. This is what people typically associate fasting.
I only chose three common methods and there are so many variations but it’s really just people finding different eating patterns of feasting and fasting. From my own personal research there is no right way to do it and it is all based on personal body types, lifestyles and goals.
My suggestion would be do a little evidence based research and give it a try. The only adverse side effect I have found from intermittent fasting is that you will be hungry which we have all been there before.
Why I do it? How?
I feel better. I feel like I have more energy. I am not snacking all day and it’s easier to hit my macros in the my 8-12 hour feasting span. I plan less meals and they are larger and more nutrient dense to get all that I need. Having lots of little meals has me in the mindset of continually nibbling and I need to sit and eat meals if not I end up nibbling more than I intended. It helps to boost my metabolism as well while I am eating for my goals. I have found it very effective in my weight loss journey and contribute it to my belly fat loss as well.
Is it right for you?
If you are currently underweight or have a history of eating disorders I would not recommend fasting. If you want to try another approach at your nutrition and the way you eat I would try it for a week and see if it makes a difference. Try it longer to have a lasting effect. It’s really up to you but I would inform myself prior to “joining a challenge.”
The most adverse side effect of intermittent fasting has been found to be hunger. Other than that it is beneficial unless you have a preexisting condition that prolonged fasting would affect such as diabetes. With any nutrition program you should consult your doctor first.
Also, intermittent fasting is not going to replace getting rest, exercise and eating nutrient dense food. This is in addition to your existing exercise routine.
How do I get started?
Try starting with a 12 hour fast for at least 3 days a week and graduate as it gets easier. Nothing crazy just stop eating at a certain time every night and don’t begin again until 12 hours later. For example, Kitchen curfew at 7 pm start eating breakfast at 7 am.
I would also encourage you to drink up your water during this time it will help you with cravings and meet your hydration needs. It’s really that simple. The more complicated it the less easily it is adapted. You’ll know when you’re ready to try other methods of intermittent fasting.
Some common questions:
- While fasting it is okay to drink, water, coffee, tea, and no sugar beverages. I like to start my days off with BulletProof coffee which is Organic Coffee, 1 Tbsp . Coconut Oil, 1 Scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen or Collagen Creamer and a little Cinnamon or Chai Spice Mix I don’t do Protein Shakes, Meal Supplements or Dairy Products while fasting
- I thought breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it should not be skipped. Breakfast is important but the positive effects of fasting on your body supersede the effects of well balanced breakfast.
- Should I take supplements or medications while fasting? Most supplements and medications recommend consuming with a meal because they are fat-soluble. Of course, consult a physician but you should probably wait until you resume eating to take your supplements and medications.
- If you workout early in the morning and concerned about fasted workouts they are fine. There has been lots of research of the benefits of a fasted workout. I also recommend Branch Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs to drink before or during your workout.
- I don’t want to lose my muscle gains? Muscle gains are from proper protein intake. During your feasting time you should be making sure you are getting the proper amount of protein to nurture muscle growth and prevent loss. There has been studies that intermittent fasting will result in less muscle loss than if you restrict your caloric intake.
- I don’t want to get Metabolic Damage from fasting and slow down my metabolism? GRR! Another lack of research that is going around I’m not sure if it’s to scare women or people just don’t check their facts but short term fast boost metabolism. It’s fasting for long periods of time of over 3 days that can cause damage and a suppressed metabolism.