What Is Intermittent Fasting?
In short, intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern. What it involves is eating at on a schedule where you cycle between periods of feasting and fasting. By controlling your eating periods on purpose, generally you consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time. There are several different methods of IF, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. The most common is the 16/8 method.
The Intermittent Fasting 16/8 Method
What it is: This method includes fasting for 16 hours and then only eating within a specific 8-hour window. For example, only eating from noon-8 PM, essentially skipping breakfast.
Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or even a 4-hour window. These are the “feasting” and “fasting” parts of your days. You can adjust this window to make it work for your life.
For example if you start eating at..
- 7AM, stop eating and start fasting at 3pm
- 11AM, stop eating and start fasting at 7pm
How does it work?
By cutting out an entire meal each day, you are consuming fewer calories per week. When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food. During this time your body is burning what it can from what you just consumed. Because it has readily-available, easy to burn energy, your body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat you have stored. However during the “fasted state” your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it is more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body as it’s the only energy source readily available.
Basically this means IF can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently. As a result, your body can learn to burn fat as fuel when you restrict it of new calories to constantly pull from.
Why Intermittent Fasting?
If you’re still on the fence for trying IF, here are some pros you may have not considered:
1. Simplifies your day: Rather than having to prepare, pack, eat, and time your meals , you simply skip a meal or two and only worry about eating food in your eating window. It’s one less decision you have to make every day.
2. Requires less time (less money): Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals.
3. Promotes muscle growth: stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, two keys for weight loss and muscle gain.
4. Promotes neurological health: including positively affecting conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
And probably the reason you searched intermittent fasting..
5. IF can work for your physique goals: Not all calories are created equal and caloric restriction plays a central role in weight loss. When you fast, you are also making it easier to restrict your total caloric intake over the course of the week, which can lead to consistent weight loss and maintenance.
What about the cons?
The biggest concern most people have is that IF will lead to being tired, less focused, and hungry during the fasting period. Some feel worry they will spend all morning being miserable because they haven’t ate. Therefore will be miserable and inefficient at work. While individual results will vary, generally the initial transition from eating all the time, to intermittent fasting can be a jolt to your system. After a few days, your body should adapt and learn to function just as well only eating a few times a day.
Some things to note..
Depending on your training schedule, lifestyle, and goals, how you go about your own eating schedule can vary.
- Don’t overthink this. IF is great for some people, and not so great for others. The only way to find out which group you belong to is to try it out. At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in nutrition. The best diet for you is the one you can stick to in the long run.
- If you are an elite athlete, speak with a coach or nutritionist about your specific concerns and expectations.
- Eat for your goals.
- If your goal is weight loss, you still need to consume fewer calories than you burn every day to lose weight.
- If your goal is bulking up, you’ll need to consume more calories than you burn every day.
- Intermittent fasting is certainly not for everyone. If you are underweight,have a history of eating disorders, have issues with blood sugar regulation, suffer from hypoglycemia, have diabetes, etc. then you should not do intermittent fasting without consulting with a health professional first.
- It is recommended to consume Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) as a supplement especially when considering to do fasted training to aid your muscles through your workout.