Have you heard the term intermittent fasting before and wondered what it is? Intermittent fasting is a very popular health and fitness trend right now. People use intermittent fasting to lose weight, improve their overall health, and even to make their busy lives easier. So let’s talk about what intermittent fasting is, how to do it, and if it will help you to lose weight.
I’ve been doing 16:8 IF for about a year or so. That means I fast for 16 hours per day and eat two healthy meals and a snack during the other 8 hours of the day. Generally, I skip breakfast, eat a brunch-type meal around noon and then an afternoon snack and a reasonable dinner. I lost 30 lbs in this manner in less than a year. It’s the only weight loss method that has worked for me. Sadly, I started on a medication shortly thereafter that has caused me to gain a lot of the weight back – sigh. But I’m still working on it.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is the process of eating and fasting through cycles and there are a few different ways that you can do it. The lean gains protocol also known as the 16:8 method I follow is one of the more popular and easier types. This type of intermittent fasting works very well for those who aren’t regular breakfast eaters, and you can still have water, coffee, herbal teas, and other no-calorie beverages during the fasting hours. I stop eating after dinner (no late night snacks), then go to sleep – so there’s an 8 hour stretch without eating. Then I skip breakfast and go straight to lunch.
The important thing is to actually FAST during this time – even a sip of coffee with cream or anything with calories in it, can stop your body from burning your fat cells. I’ll have herbal tea with no sugar is all, otherwise, not even a Tic Tac. It’s also very good for straightening out insulin resistance because it gives your pancreas a rest for 16 hours of each day. During the year I’ve been doing it, my A1C went from a diabetic range of 7.6 to a much more normal rate of 5.8!
I was a lifelong breakfast eater, so I thought this would be pretty hard, but after the first week or two, I got used to it. There are some days when I’m pretty hungry by lunch time, but most days, not so much.
Another method is to fast on alternating days, sometimes referred to as the eat stop eat method. Intermittent fasting like this calls for you to eat normally 5 days a week while fasting for 24 hours twice a week. So for example, you would eat normally on Sunday, fast for 24 hours on Monday, eat normally on Tuesday and Wednesday, fast for 24 hours on Thursday, and then eat normally on Friday and Saturday.
Alternate day fasting is another popular intermittent fasting technique where you eat normally one day and either fast for 24 hours or eat minimal (less than 600) calories the next day. Then you have a day where you eat normally and the next day you fast or eat minimal calories. If you were to choose this method, you will eat normally 4 days per week, and fast for 3 days each week.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
You may be wondering why people decide to participate in intermittent fasting and there are lots of reasons including a myriad of health benefits. Some of the health benefits that you may see from trying intermittent fasting include increased energy, improved quality of sleep, increased levels of concentration and mental clarity, reduced inflammation, and lower blood sugar levels.
Many people begin IF as a weight loss method. Studies have shown that it is an effective and safe weight loss practice. Intermittent fasting increases your metabolism which helps you to burn calories more quickly. During the hours of fasting your body begins to break down fat, yes, even that stubborn belly fat, so that it can be used as an energy source for your body.
If you are using intermittent fasting as a method to lose weight, you will still need to be mindful of the types of foods that you eat when you are not fasting and your portion sizes. If you are eating mostly healthy foods like lean protein, vegetables, and fruits you can eat as much as you want or until you are full.
However, if some of the foods that you are eating during your non-fasting days or hours are not very healthy, you will need to be especially mindful of portion sizes and servings if you want your intermittent fasting diet to be successful. I find that sometimes I need a couple of days of regular eating to jump start my weight loss again. And regular exercise is important as well.
Have you tried intermittent fasting before? Did you find that it made you feel like you were in better health, or did it help you to lose weight? Do you have any intermittent fasting tips to share?