If you have ever heard of intermittent fasting, you join the group of people who recognize its popularity in dieting. According to Google search numbers, in one month period, people searched for “intermittent fasting” over 245,000 times! That amount of searches is a clear indication of how popular this method really is.
Even nutritional experts and scientists have recognized that intermittent fasting is a good method for helping people lose weight and keeping it off for good. Some popular publications such as Eat Stop Eat and The Warrior Diet are best sellers and shown to be effective for their users. Paleo diet followers also see benefits in fasting because of how similar the habits are to the originations of Paleo eaters.
I have especially followed an intermittent fasting diet for about 2 years. From this, I have lost over 70 pounds. All this was accomplished without the tedious calorie counting and having to eat so many boring meals in a day.
My hope is that this article will educate you about intermittent fasting and how it is literally the best and last diet you will ever have to try. You don’t have to go to the store and buy any special ingredients or alternatives. You can literally start right away because it involves skipping meals, not adding in ones that you have no idea on how to pronounce.
What You Should Know About Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting means that you fast, or abstain, from eating for a length of time for the day. For most methods, this fast can last from anywhere between 15 to 20 hours in one consecutive period. When feeding time hits, you get to eat for the last 5 to 8 hours of the day.
During the fasting period, you can eat low-calorie foods or sugar-free drinks that are also normally little to zero calories. Usually, this intake involves drinking coffee, water, tea and vegetables.
The longer you go in a fasting period is when you will see the best results. They are flexible enough to where you can fast as often as you wish and what fits your particular lifestyle.
How to Begin Your First Intermittent Fasting
As I mentioned before, intermittent fasting is much easier than you think. The first thing you need to do is decide the length of time you can do a fast for. Basically, how long do you think you can really go without eating? Your goal is to aim for 15 to 20 hours to really see the benefits of fasting. What is nice is you won’t have to worry about counting your calories or worrying about your carb intake.
The next thing you will want to do is select the timeframe to fast. I like to start at about 7:00 p.m. in the evening and end it at about 4:00 p.m. the following day. I will eat my first meal and snack on things every few hours after that. When 7:00 p.m. hits the clock, I head back to fasting again.
What I can say about my experiences with fasting is that I found more success when I started with a 15 hour fast. I stayed with this scheduled for about 2 weeks. My body became more comfortable with this timeframe and I gradually increased the time as I got better at it. I would recommend adding in 30-minute increments each time to a point where you can work your way up to 20 hours fasting total in a day.
Another thing that is nice is that you don’t have to fast every single day. As with increasing your fast time slowly, you can also do this with your fasting schedule. Add in more days in the week as you become more comfortable and make it more of a habit.
How to Simplify Intermittent Fasting
- Stay hydrated! Drinking water throughout your fasting periods will help your body feel less tired and aid in making you feel full when your stomach begins to growl. If water becomes too bland for you, try adding a little lemon juice to give you a small twist without adding any calories. Drinking tea or coffee would be a good substitute as well and you will notice that you will have fewer cravings for sugar over time.
- Add caffeine! Depending on your tolerance, try adding in some caffeine in the A.M. and afternoons when you feel a slump coming on. Caffeine is supposed to aid in curbing appetite, which will make fasting period a little more bearable. Consume this in moderation though because it can work against you and make you feel super antsy. Try out some of these great tips on boosting your energy naturally.
- Throw out the fake stuff! Stay away from artificial drinks and foods. Foods and drinks containing preservatives and fake sugars like Sweet & Low or Splenda can trigger you to want to eat more than less.
- Don’t binge! Make sure that when the time comes to eat your normal meal, you do not go completely ham at it, figuratively speaking. Binging on food completely negates your entire fasting process and can cause you to feel worse.
- Limit processed carbs and sugar! Intermittent fasting does give you more freedom in your food choices but you should still be mindful about eating pure junk. Try to stay away from high-calorie and low-nutrient foods such as white rice, pasta and bread. Your diet should consist more of healthy proteins such as from chicken, fish or beef. Your carb load should come from fruits and vegetables. Fat intake is not frowned upon as you should include things like fish, nuts, avocado and extra-virgin olive oil.
Losing Weight with Intermittent Fasting
Weight loss has to do with reducing the amount of calories that you consume. With intermittent fasting, you are decreasing your calorie intake, thus begin to lose weight. Your body will look to fat for energy when you fast. It begins to burn the fat for energy rather than relying on the food you normally would eat throughout the day. It works to target fat cells immediately because you have no food in your system for it to work with. You will begin to like the way you look with less fat and more confidence.
Intermittent fasting also helps the body release fat burning hormones to promote weight loss. These hormones are insulin and human growth hormone, or HGH. Low insulin levels are ideal for helping people lose weight and keeping it off. Limiting refined carbs and sugar reduces the amount of insulin your body must produce to produce those elements into energy. Instead, it can focus on burning current and stored fat in the body. Not to mention, raised insulin levels puts you at risk for common diseases such as diabetes. HGH helps your body heat up and burn off fat because it targets stored body fat. Research has shown that fasting can increase the body’s ability to burn fat by a whopping average of 1,500%. That’s right. 1,500%!
Dieting can make people feel more hungry and deprived throughout the day. With intermittent fasting, these feelings will become more minimal and potentially disappear altogether. Your balance of sugar and insulin levels plays a role in helping you feel better when practicing this diet.
Here are some common questions about intermittent fasting that you might have and answers that will help make it much easier to implement it into your current diet and lifestyle.
How Much Weight Can I Anticipate Losing?
Weight loss varies for each person. The amount of time you spend fasting will also determine how much weight you can anticipate losing. The types of foods that you eat and other factors play a role in this calculation. If you fast for about 15 to 20 hours a day, you can expect to lose up to 3 pounds a week.
Will I Be Able to Exercise While Fasting?
YES and it is highly recommended that you incorporate physical activity when fasting. This will increase your results and help you to build stronger muscles, assuming you have strength training routines. Add in a good balance of intense strength training exercises as well as full- body exercises. Aim to workout 3 to 4 times a week and save those days for days where you have higher calorie intakes.
Can I Lose Muscle Tissue When Fasting?
You wouldn’t really be fasting long enough to where you begin to lose muscle tissue. Your body will look to burn stored fat for energy before it begins to target your muscles. Studies have been conducted to show that even for people who fasted for 3 days, they did not lose any muscle tissue.
Is It Safe?
Fasting is not necessarily for everyone. If you have health complications, are pregnant or are any medications, fasting may not be the best method for you. Before starting any new diet program, be sure to consult with a medical professional to be cleared for this type of dieting. I would personally not recommend this dieting plan for anyone who experiences chronic stress. The diet itself can provoke more stress and for someone who is already stressed, this is not a good combination at all.
Can I Take Supplements to Ease the Difficulty of Fasting?
Adding nutritional supplements to this diet is definitely recommended. As you decrease your food intake from fasting, you can be losing out on nutritional vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. Add in some multi-vitamins and other helpful supplements like vitamin D and fish oil. Taking amino acids before a workout can help give you a nice boost of energy to finish your routines strong. Plus, they also help with restoring your muscles and promote tissue repair. Even better!
So now you see that intermittent fasting is more simple than you thought. It has amazing benefits that can aid in weight loss without the harmful effects of other fad diets. It has the ability to work quickly and with less effort and thinking.
Try it out and let me know how it worked for you in the comments below.