Intermittent Fasting is a recently popularized way of dieting to optimize hormones and aid in burning fat. Here is everything you need to know about intermittent fasting.
There seems to be new diet fads left and right, many of which contradict one another. Intermittent fasting is definitely NOT one of those diets.
Yes It certainly challenges the conventional wisdom of eating six or more meals a day, but more and more scientific evidence are supporting the benefits of intermittent fasting, and people who practice it responsibly have sworn by it.
If all the previous diets you have tried have only yielded mediocre results, then this diet just may be right for you.
Intermittent Fasting 101
Fasting, of course, entails going for a specific length of time without eating, or eating only small morsel of foods with very few calories, such as vegetables.
People fast for a variety of reasons, and it’s not always voluntarily. In many underdeveloped nations where famine is rampant, people will fast for days when crops yielded little. What little food was available was given to their children so their offspring wouldn't go hungry.
People also fast for religious observances. In the Muslim holiday Ramadan, followers refrain from eating or drinking while remaining in steadfast prayer and avoiding impure thoughts.
Today, many more people fast for health reasons, including accelerating fat loss and flushing the body of harmful toxins.
Even in the animal kingdom, various forms of wildlife fast on a routine daily basis. Since animals have to stalk prey to bring food to the dinner table, an unsuccessful hunt meant going for weeks without food.
Unlike humans, they do not have the convenience of dropping by a grocery store and exchanging paper currency for a rack of lamb.
The fasting duration varies in length and can range anywhere from half a day to as long as the body is physically able to survive without eating. The extreme end of the spectrum, though, is very dangerous and is almost never recommended by health professionals, or the reputable ones at least.
With intermittent fasting, the duration is on the lower end and typically never more than 24 hours, and in most cases, much shorter at around 14 to 18 hours.
Here’s another point about fasting: everyone fasts whether they know it or not. When you wake up every morning, you just fasted for at least eight hours. That’s definitely a lot longer than you normally go between meals during your waking hours.
With intermittent fasting, you’re just adding a few more hours on top of that.
How to Fast
Okay, so you’re sold on the idea of intermittent fasting. How do you go about doing it? The process is quite simple to follow and usually lasts for 16 hours, give or take an hour or two.
The best part of all, half of the process is already completed for you since – as already mentioned – you fast every night during slumber. If you are getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, then you only need to get in another eight hours.
The best way to get that in is by eating your last meal of the day a little earlier than usual and skipping breakfast the next morning. This should add up to 16 hours by the time lunch comes around. Here is a sample schedule of what this would look like:
|Final meal of the day||8:00 pm|
|Bed rise||8:00 am|
The chart shows an entire 16 hour time frame. For some people, adhering to such a routine is as simple as skipping breakfast.
If you choose to, you may extend the fast by an additional hour or two by having the last meal of the day even earlier or pushing lunch back by an hour or so.
How to Fight the Hunger
When you go for longer than usual without eating, hunger is going to set in. Everyone has a different hunger threshold. Some people find it unbearable while for others it’s nothing more than a mild discomfort that’s more than tolerable.
In any case, it’s all mind over matter. Nevertheless, if you’re not accustomed to fasting, it can get quite uncomfortable. There are ways to help you cope so that your mind isn’t inundated with thoughts of food all day.
One method is to take an appetite suppressing supplement. Some fat burners come with ingredients known for minimizing hunger. Tea Rexx is one example; it contains green tea, which contains catecholamine, a compound proven in this study for reducing appetite.
Coffee has also been shown to blunt appetite. Bro Labs Fighter Fuel coffee is a delicious and healthy coffee product that can help you fight off hunger.
Another way to cope is to consume fibrous, crunchy vegetables. Sure, there are a few calories in vegetables, so technically, you’re breaking your fast, but the amount is negligible.
Yet another way to combat hunger is by keeping yourself busy. According to some psychologists, some people eat as a way of fighting off boredom, and may confuse boredom for hunger.
For many people, whether they realize it or not, eating is a form of entertainment. Keeping yourself busy with work, house errands, or any other productive activity prevents you from gravitating towards the fridge or daydreaming about a cheeseburger.
Also know that you can ease into fasting gradually. Instead of a 16-hour fast, consider 14 hours or even 12. Pay attention to your body and notice how it feels.
Obviously, there will be hunger; take note of any other bodily sensations and go from there. If it feels manageable, then proceed with a 16-hour fast. If the hunger is making you too uncomfortable, then take the next few weeks to work your way up to that duration.
Be Sure to Stay Hydrated
Remember, fasting is about refraining from food, not fluids.. You can survive for about three weeks without food but only about three days without water, so drink up even if you only plan for a 16-hour fast.
Aside from keeping you nicely hydrated, people who drank more water has also been shown in studies to consume fewer calories overall, so good ol’ H2O certainly appears to have some appetite suppression qualities.
Intermittent fasting, in fact, has also been referred to as water fasting since that’s all you’re consuming the entire duration.
If the bland taste of water makes drinking a chore, then add some flavor by squeezing a few drops of lemon or lime juice. You can even substitute water for herbal tea or even pure black coffee minus the cream and sugar. These are all healthy beverages that contain antioxidants without the calories, or merely minuscule amounts.
Some people also drink sparkling water, attesting that carbonated beverages are actually quite helpful for quelling appetite. It’s best that you stick to natural drinks since diet soda is filled with artificial sweeteners and colors. Fountain drinks, diet or not, are something that’s best saved for your cheat day.
Any Side Effects?
Intermittent fasting is generally safe, though some people do experience some mild side effects besides hunger. This may include dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and nausea. A few people also reported feeling irritable and like they can lose their temper at any moment.
All symptoms should subside within a week or so once your body adjusts. Side effects for the most part should be fairly mild. If it feels severe and you’re beginning to feel physically ill, then stop immediately. You may want to see your doctor before continuing in the future.
Also be mindful that you definitely need to see a doctor before fasting if you have any preexisting medical conditions like diabetes.
A Note About Calories
If you’re fasting for fat loss, know that the method alone will not help you burn off the pounds if it’s not accompanied by a calorie deficit. You still need to consume fewer calories overall. Some people consume unnecessarily large portions of food in their first meal after a fast. This almost negates the purpose and benefits.
Look, it’s understandable; you haven’t eaten anything for 16 hours, and your stomach is demanding food. You’re more hungry than usual, and the very presence of food has you salivating.
There will be temptation, but that’s where you need to exercise discipline. Don’t throw away everything you just worked for to satisfy a temporary craving.
By the same token, you should also be careful not to overeat in your final meal before beginning a fast. Some people eat a large meal believing that it will hold off hunger longer during their prolonged period of no food. This is just as counterproductive.
If you’re on a fat loss phase, then you should be counting calories. You should not be exceeding your established daily limit. When you come off a fast, you can’t all of a sudden reward yourself with an extra cheat day. You still need to consume clean foods and stay within your calorie count.
Macronutrient ratios still continue to matter as well. That means getting plenty of protein with moderate carbs and fat intake. Fasting doesn’t change any of this or give you any extra leeway.
How Often to Fast
There’s no set rule on how often you should fast. It depends largely on your own individual goals. For fat loss, try to have a fast day at least twice a week. You can also do three times a week or even every other day.
It’s even recommended that you fast if you’re smack in the middle of a muscle, or “bulk up” phase. Fasting once to twice a week when you’re trying to build muscle may offset some fat gain.
Keep in mind, though, just as you need to maintain a calorie deficit while losing weight, you need to add calories while gaining lean mass. With that in mind, be sure you’re not cutting too many calories on your fast day.
If you choose to go on a longer fast or even a full 24 hours, then limit the fasting days to no more than twice a week.
If you rotate between muscle building and fat loss phases, and want to incorporate intermittent fasting into your regimen, then consider a customized meal plan to take the guesswork out of food selection, ratios, and meal timing.
Why Fasting Works
So why does fasting work so well? Food is energy, and when you don’t supply your body with energy, it has to acquire it elsewhere. In this case, it turns to your fat stores or muscle. The latter is quite concerning as you certainly don’t want to burn fat at the expense of losing some muscle.
This has long been a concern especially among men. However, studies show that subjects that fasted actually lost fat and very little, if any, muscle.
While beginners may initially feel lethargic, they may actually feel more energetic after their body becomes accustomed to it. This is because digestion requires energy; when there is nothing to digest, your body has “free” energy that can now be used to regulate other bodily functions, such as cleansing your body of toxins.
The whole concept that you need to keep your body supplied with calories, nutrients, and macronutrients at all times is an outdated concept. It certainly has its place, but it doesn’t mean your body will all of a sudden begin wasting away because you skipped your morning toast and OJ
Exercising While Fasting
When it comes to cardio, it’s generally recommended that you exercise on an empty stomach, so that the calories burned come from body fat and not from food consumed. This means you can perform a workout like HIIT on your fasting days at any time before your first meal.
What about strength training? It’s actually against conventional wisdom to strength train on an empty stomach. A lot of personal trainers do not recommend it as it’s supposedly detrimental to strength gains and may even lead to muscle catabolism.
However, it looks like conventional wisdom is being turned upside its head as studies show that this clearly isn’t the case. This study actually shows that resistance training in a fasted state may actually elicit a greater anabolic response than training in a fed state.
Nevertheless, there is still always the possibility of some muscle loss, which is why you should err on the side of caution and take a BCAA supplement before beginning a strenuous weight training session. Taking Revolt BCAAs would be a good idea to supply your body with essential amino acids that will help prevent muscle loss.
Give It a Try and Draw Your Own Conclusions
Fasting has been around since perhaps the dawn of human civilization. The human body is quite capable of coping during brief periods of hunger. Even if ripped abs aren't your goal, intermittent fasting is still a worthwhile practice simply for its general health benefits that have been reported around the world.
Give it a try; the results might just turn you into a steadfast believer.
If you want to maximize the benefits of fasting, taking a supplement like Tea Rexx or Fighter Fuel will aid in the process by managing hunger levels and elevating body thermogenesis for an even greater fat burning effect..