Understanding Intermittent Fasting

Simply put intermittent fasting is the process when you cycle between periods of fasting and eating. Fasting is definitely not a new phenomenon but has become increasingly popular with health and fitness junkies alike. However, you will read contradicting research on the benefits of fasting versus studies indicating you should always keep your body filled with healthy fuels. Honestly, I think it really depends on who you are, what your metabolism is like and what works for your body. Our bodies are all different and it is important to find out what works for you!

So, How Does it Work?

Well, there are several ways to perform intermittent fasting which include:

  • The Leangains method, which involves limiting your eating period to 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours.
  • Weekly Fasting, which involves fasting for 24 hours each week.
  • 5:2 Fasting, which involves five normal eating days and two days of the week in which you only eat 500-600 calories.
  • Alternate Day Fasting, this one is a bit more strategic in the fact that it is designed to have you fast for 24 hours every other day. However, it is strategic because the timing of the fast will still allow you to have one meal everyday. For example, on Monday you will start fasting at 8pm and fast through 8pm Tuesday. On Tuesday you will then be able to eat a meal after 8pm.

Can I Have Anything During Fasting Periods?

Yes! Most plans will allow you to have water (of course), coffee/tea, and any other non-caloric beverages. One of my favorites during fasting is to put an enhancer in my water. I find myself drinking way more water when I use an enhancer.

What Program Should I Choose?

Before beginning any fasting program always consult your physician to make sure fasting is safe for you.

For most of us fasting is no easy feat and that is why in my opinion the Leangains method is the easiest program to follow. For most of the fasting program you are asleep and the only time you really feel any kind of food deprivation is for a small time period in the morning (dependent on when you choose to fast).  If fasting is safe for you I would recommend trying out several programs to determine which is the best fit. For me personally, there is no way that 24 hours of fasting is realistic, but it may be the best fit for someone else!

Pros & Cons

Fasting is not the right eating pattern for everyone, always consult a physician before beginning a fasting program.

The Pros

  • Flexibility – Choose your fasting schedule and change it as needed
  • It’s Relatively Easy – It’s not a diet, it’s simply changing your eating pattern, so you are not limiting what foods you can eat
  • Simplicity – There is no counting/calculating or trying to follow a strict diet plan
  • It’s Natural – We have been doing it for thousands of years due to lack of food available, religious reasons, instinctively fasting when ill, etc.
  • Science – It can positively effect – Human growth hormones, improving insulin sensitivity, initiates cellular repair, and may affect gene expression of those genes connected to longevity and protection against disease.
  • Effective Weight Loss Tool – Fat Loss in Particular – May increase metabolism while helping you to eat fewer calories

The Cons

  • It Is Not Safe For Everyone – Consult a physician before beginning a fasting program
  • The Feeling of Hunger
  • Temptation to Overeat – After fasting, it can be very tempting to stuff yourself with unhealthy calories
  • Decreased Energy Levels
  • Hunger Hormones may be Suppressed – Fasting may lead to our hunger hormones being suppressed, meaning we lack the ability to determine when we are full versus hungry

Take Home Message

Fasting can be a very effective tool in shedding some pounds, but it is not right for everyone. Weigh the pros and cons before beginning a fasting program and consult your physician before starting on an intermittent fasting plan.

Liked this article? Check out our article on Cardio Fasting.

Author: fitscene