A Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Saturday, August 1, 2015 - Author: Norah
Have you been trying to lose weight but keep hitting walls with those diets? Intermittent fasting might just be the thing for you. What makes it unique is the fact that it's not a diet, but instead a pattern of eating, which seeks to control the amount of cholesterol entering the body. So intermittent fasting doesn't change the food you eat, it changes the time you eat.
Why use this formula to lose weight?
The most obvious advantage is the fact that you're able to lose weight gradually by reducing the amount of calories you consume in a day, and in so doing, most people are able to avoid the dangers associated with cutting down calories to zero. Typically, people tend to consume the same amount of calories when starting out on intermittent fasting - large servings of food over a short period of time: but the whole point of it is to lose fat, and the process works.
This is how it works:
In order to get a clear picture of how intermittent fasting works, one needs to understand how the body's metabolism works; and there's a major difference between the fed state and the fasted state. The fed state describes the period after you begin feeding and lasts up to five hours. Insulin levels tend to rise during this time, and that hampers the body's ability to burn fat.
After this period, your body enters into the post-absorptive state, at which time no meal is processed and insulin levels are low, and more fat is burned as a result. The unfortunate thing is, we don't enter the fasted state until about 12 hours after the last meal, which rarely happens with a conventional eating pattern.
Fasting allows the body to burn fat without necessarily changing your diet, and that facilitates weight loss as a result.
What are the main benefits of intermittent fasting?
It's a lot easier than dieting
A majority of the people who start out on a diet in the hopes of losing weight will end up disappointed, and in some cases end up gaining more weight in the long run. Now this doesn't happen because people eat the wrong foods or because diets are wrong; it's the inability to stick to the diet long term. Intermittent fasting allows for people to burn fat without the hassles of a typical diet, and this is achieved when you get over the notion that you have to eat constantly.
Promotes healthy living
Since the concept of effective weight loss leans more towards behavioral change more than anything else (and we've established most people fail at this), fasting makes for a simple, stress-reducing solution that only requires you to skip one meal. When compared to dieting, it's a lot easier in execution because you only have to cook two meals in a day, and that's one less meal to stress about.
You are likely to live longer
Let's look at it from a health standpoint: health experts have for a long time maintained that a build-up in calories can lead to a myriad of health problems. When you fast, the body uses the extra fat reserves to keep things moving, and in so doing extends your life.
For the average person, dieting and starving are painful ways to keep the weight off, but that's what makes intermittent fasting a unique solution; it works pretty much the same as calorie restriction, and it keeps you healthy without a hassle.
It may help reduce cancer risk
To be fair, research is still being conducted on the effects of fasting, but early reports suggest a positive relation between fasting and chemotherapy. One study involving ten cancer patients showed a reduction in side effects associated with chemotherapy when patients fasted before treatment began. There's yet another study supporting this finding, and it involved alternate day fasting whereby cancer patients fasted before chemotherapy, and the results were undeniable- higher cure rates and fewer deaths.
Thinking about fasting?
Here are examples of good fasting schedules:
Different schedules exist for intermittent fasting, and you should choose whatever is most effective for your situation. The Leangains model is a good example; 16 hours of fasting followed by an eating period of 8 hours. A good number of people prefer to skip breakfast and eat lunch and dinner instead. This way, you can share your meals with friends and family.
It's a good strategy if you normally eat breakfast alone, but that doesn't have to work for you. Lunch can be skipped as well, as long as it's convenient. Daily intermittent fasting has been known to be easier to incorporate into the day-to-day routine, but the occasional fast has also been shown to have great benefits in the long run.
For those looking to switch things up, alternate day intermittent fasting allows for longer fasting periods, during which time you can fast on alternating days throughout the week.
Make it count: Build muscle too
When the stomach is empty, there is a change in the body's hormones: there is a natural increase in the growth hormone, and the body becomes more sensitive to insulin. This state is highly conducive to burning fat and building muscle. In fact, a lot of times, this is the whole reason why people do intermittent fasting; they get their body into this state, and then they workout. It is also a good way for males to increase testosterone levels. However, you shouldn't wait until you are completely starving as you wouldn't have the energy or mental capacity to carryout a good exercise routine. When you do exercise in the fasted state, it is important that you have a well-rounded meal afterwards, which contains an adequate serving of protein.
In conclusion, intermittent fasting is the practice of eating a well-balanced meal and then going for a longer than normal period without eating. Sometimes, water and tea are allowed. Those observing fasts for religious reasons can also practice intermittent fasting. So if you'd like a new approach to weight loss, try forming a new eating pattern, and see what happens.