Intermittent fasting is taking over the health and fitness industry but you’re over there wondering, ‘What the heck is intermittent fasting?” Have no fears! Despite it being one of the world’s most popular trends, there are still many people who have yet to jump on the healthy band wagon. So, we’ve created this crash course on intermittent fasting to ensure you have all the information you need to start involving cycles of fasting and eating into your lifestyle. Oh, and did we forget to mention that the benefits of intermittent fasting are supported with science? You better believe it. So, let’s get you started on this new, powerful lifestyle change and you’ll be all the better for it. Why, you ask? You’re about to find out.
- 1 What is Intermittent Fasting About?
- 2 The Different Types of Fasting
- 3 The Powerful Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- 4 Things to Consider Prior to Intermittent Fasting
What is Intermittent Fasting About?
Intermittent fasting is all about alternating cycles of fasting and eating. You eat, you fast, you eat, you fast, and well, you get the idea. However, there are different fasting patterns or rather, cycles you can follow when intermittent fasting but the method remains the same; you have eating periods and then fasting periods.
Now, we know the idea of “not eating” can seem excruciating but what might surprise you is that you already fast. In fact, you fast every day when you go to sleep at night. And yes, intermittent fasting can be as easy as that. You just have to delay your morning meal a little bit later into the day to get a full 16 hours of fasting every day.
By doing so, you’ll be giving yourself an 8-hour time frame to eat. This is the 8-hour time period where you will get in all your meals before fasting again, for the next 16 hours, which has dubbed this intermittent fasting regime the 16/8 method.
But before you go into a panic at the mere thought of not eating for 16 hours straight, fasting doesn’t mean you can’t put anything into your system. You just can’t put food into your system. So, you can still drink non-caloric beverages, such as water, tea, (black) coffee, etc. That’s also not to mention that there are many different eating patterns you can choose from, which we will get into in just a moment.
But first, you must understand one thing. Intermittent fasting really isn’t a diet at all. You aren’t required to eat certain foods on a strict diet plan nor do you have to avoid other foods, often times, the tastiest foods of all. The truth is, you can eat like a pig on your “normal” eating days because your fasting days (or restricted calorie days depending on the type of fasting you do) will take care of it. Now, with that said, there are different types of fasting which leads us into our next topic…
The Different Types of Fasting
Fasting isn’t new to the world by any means. It’s been done for centuries, dating way back to ancient times. Fasting is history. It’s been done for religious reasons and even animals instinctively fast when they’re sick. In other words, the human body is more than able to handle periods in which you don’t eat, whether it’s for 16 hours or 1 full day. With that said, here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of fasting, or rather, fasting patterns you can do to dive into this health trend.
Alternate Day Fasting
Despite what the name, Alternate Day Fasting may have you thinking, this fasting method isn’t eating one day, then fasting the next. Instead, it involves eating everything you want one day, then having a restricted diet the next – like, really restricted. We’re talking 600 calories for men and 500 for women.
Eat Stop Eat
This fasting method is one of the simplest out there and one of the easiest for people to start with, as it involves fasting only once or twice a week. However, the goal is to aim for a total 24-hour period in which you fast.
The Warrior Diet is like the hippies of intermittent fasting. It’s all about listening to your body, mind, heart, soul and spirit when it comes to eating. Instead of eating when you feel hungry, you eat like a caveman or ancient warrior. In other words, you eat at night when the cavemen used to hunt. This type of intermittent fasting has a lot to do with controlling your hunger pangs and learning how to thrive, even on an empty stomach.
Lean Gains intermittent fasting is as simple as this – miss breakfast; eat huge meals and then train like you’ve never trained before. The concept is to have more calories on the days when you hit the gym and less when you don’t.
The 5:2 diet consists of eating like you normally would for 5 days of the week, and then eating a very restricted calorie intake on the other 2 days. We’re talking 500-600 calories per day.
The Powerful Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Now, let’s get into the good stuff – the benefits! After all, sticking with a new health regime can be darn near impossible if you have no idea why you’re doing it. But before we jump into the abundance of benefits of intermittent fasting, it’s important to know that everything is supported by research and science. Since anyone can log online and write an article about the benefits of whatever, it’s crucial to always look for evidence that supports the benefits of whatever you’re doing. This ensures the “benefits” aren’t just someone’s opinion.
With years of research, the body has shown to go through various changes during periods of fasting. From your genes to your hormones, to vital cellular repair processes, these changes are what makes intermittent fasting so powerful.
Increase in Human Growth Hormone
It’s easy to assume that the less you eat, the less you grow but science has proven quite the opposite1. Instead, with intermittent fasting, your human growth hormone increases which helps with both muscle and bone growth, sugar and fat metabolism, regulation of body fluids, composition and even heart function.
Reduce Risk of Cancer and Other Serious Diseases
Inarguably, one of the best benefits of intermittent fasting is the reduced risk of developing serious diseases and illnesses. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease are all too common in today’s society; so much so that they often seem unavoidable. However, intermittent fasting has shown to help protect the body against these serious diseases, as well as many more2.
Reduced Blood Sugar Levels
With the prior said, it’s no surprise that intermittent fasting helps reduce blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance, decrease inflammation, lower heart rate, cholesterol and blood sugar3. In fact, it’s been so effective in doing so that many health organizations now encourage their patients to fast.
Yes, intermittent fasting can even increase your lifespan. A study done on rodents showed that calorie restrictions effectively extended lifespan4. Although we aren’t rodents ourselves, our make-up is actually quite similar which is why rodents are often used for these types of tests.
Slowing Down the Aging Process
Not only does intermittent fasting increase your lifespan, it also slows down the aging process as a whole by “prolonging the health-span of the nervous system”4. Intermittent fasting positively affects the energy and oxygen metabolism, as well as the stress response system in a way that deters them from succumbing age, which is typically what happens.
It’s simple; the fewer calories you eat, the more fat you burn and losing weight is inevitable. However, this may have you wondering whether this is a healthy way to do so. As mentioned previously, there’s nothing unnatural about fasting. Humans have been doing it for centuries and our bodies are capable of handling it. Not only that but scientific evidence shows that we thrive on it. So, yes; fasting is a healthy way to lose weight – and that’s an understatement.
… And that’s only to name a few of the benefits you receive when you start fasting.
Things to Consider Prior to Intermittent Fasting
By now, you’re ready to start fasting immediately. However, there are some things every intermittent fasting enthusiast needs to be aware of before getting started. Just like any big lifestyle change, your mind and body are likely to be a little shocked when you start changes things up. After all, you’re used to eating whenever you get the slightest bit of hunger or feel a little hangry (hunger + angry). It’s important to know what to expect ahead of time so you can properly prepare yourself – mentally, emotionally and physically.
Anytime you change anything in your life, there are going to be side effects. If you lower your sugar intake, you risk getting headaches; if you stop drinking caffeine, you risk being moody; if you stop eating carbs, you’ll still feel hungry even though you’re not. Side effects aren’t always “bad things that can happen with change”, despite what society wants you to think.
Instead, side effects are nothing more than things that may happen as a result of, in this case, intermittent fasting. Some can be more serious than others but most are nothing more than a slight hindrance or discomfort. Either way, you must be aware of them prior to starting your fast. Here are some of the side effects you may experience:
- Feeling uncomfortably full after eating during your non-fasting times
- Being overly focused on your feed windows
- We teach you how to avoid this
- Being overly reliant on coffee in an effort to control your hunger and to stay energized
- Food cravings
- Hunger pangs
- Usually stops occurring after your body gets used to intermittent fasting, which is around 5-6 weeks
- Brain fog
- Disappears with time and once your mind and body get used to intermittent fasting
- Decreased energy
Usually these symptoms will slowly disappear when you’ve fasted for at least 2 weeks or so. If you still experience these symptoms after more than 2 weeks of fast, then you may have made some deadly mistakes which would be detrimental to your long-term health5.
If you’re a diabetic, your first concern is whether or not intermittent fasting is a healthy option for you. Since there is scientific evidence that fasting can improve insulin sensitivity and aid with weight loss, it can definitely improve your health. However, it’s important to know that intermittent fasting isn’t recommended for people on blood sugar-lowering medications.
Additionally, if you’re on insulin, fasting can increase the risk of hypos. So, as a rule of thumb, if you are diabetic (especially Type 1 Diabetics), do speak with your doctor about whether or not intermittent fasting is appropriate for you at this time.
Intermittent fasting has proven to reduce cholesterol and help with weight loss. In fact, a study conducted by the Intermountain Medical Center in Utah showed that intermittent fasting pulls the bad type of cholesterol out of fat cells to use them as a source of energy6. This is excellent. However, it’s still crucial for you to consult with your doctor first if you suffer from Familial Hypercholesterolemia. Intermittent fasting isn’t the same for everyone and if you already have a condition, you must seek advice from your doctor first to ensure your health and safety.
And there you have it – intermittent fasting at its finest. As you can see, it makes sense why this type of fasting is one of the most popular health and fitness trends as of today. Not only does it help you achieve your weight loss goals but it also improves your health – mental, physical and emotional – in the meantime. Let’s also not forget that intermittent fasting increases your lifespan while reducing the aging process. Can we get a hallelujah?
But don’t be mistaken. This is a huge lifestyle change and your body will react, and quite possibly, not in favour at first. It’s like taking candy away from a baby, only your body is the baby. It will scream; it will cry; it will stomp around and want to hide inside all day but eventually, it will start to thrive without the candy. What an analogy! So, if you’re serious about getting your life and health on track, you know what you do. You need to start intermittent fasting and we have everything you need to get started and to thrive with this new lifestyle change.
- Hartman ML1, V. J. (1992, April). Augmented growth hormone (GH) secretory burst frequency and amplitude mediate enhanced GH secretion during a two-day fast in normal men. Retrieved from PubMed – NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1548337 ↩
- Hellerstein, K. A. (2007, July). Alternate-day fasting and chronic disease prevention: a review of human and animal trials. Retrieved from American Society for Clinical Nutrition: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/1/7.full ↩
- Amy Campbell, M. R. (2013, August 12). Intermittent Fasting: Not So Fast. Retrieved from Diabetes Self-Management: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/intermittent-fasting-not-so-fast/ ↩
- Bronwen Martin, M. P. (2006, August 08). Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging. Retrieved from PubMed – NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2622429/ ↩
- Krista A Varady, S. B. (2009, November). Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults. Retrieved from The American Society for Nutrition: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/5/1138 ↩
- Intermountain Medical Center. (2014, June 14). Fasting reduces cholesterol levels in prediabetic people over extended period of time, new research finds. Retrieved from ScienceDaily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140614150142.htm ↩