Weight loss with intermittent fasting has become popular in recent years. It’s technically not a diet. It doesn’t focus on what you eat, rather only when you eat. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat healthy if you try this method of weight loss. It might sound a little confusing but don’t worry, we have you covered! Here we’ll cover the basics of intermittent fasting. If you are interested in other forms of weight loss. Check out our review on 5 popular weight loss methods here.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is currently one of the world’s most popular health trends. It involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating. While that may sound difficult or complicated, you actually already do it! You eat during the day and fast at night while you sleep.
Research has shown that humans evolved to be able to go without food for extended periods of time. That is how our hunter-gather ancestors survived. A meal was not always a guarantee and they would fast intermittently out of necessity. Because of this, it is believed that fast periodically is actually a more natural way to live than eating 3 or more meals a day.
Most Popular Intermittent Fasting Cycles
There are several different intermittent fasting cycles that you can choose from. For all of them, while you’re fasting you eat either nothing at all or very little. Here we will go over the most popular methods.
The 16/8 Method
With this fasting method, you will only eat during an eight-hour period. The next 16 hours you will fast. If you have your first meal at 11 am you should have your last one before 7 pm.
The Alternate-Day Method
Alternate-day fasting, also called 1-OO-2 (one out of two), is an alternating cycle. You eat normally one day and then fast the next day.
The 5:2 Method
With the 5:2 method of fasting, within the span of one week, you eat normally for 5 days and then fast 2 days. The fasting days shouldn’t be consecutive. For example, you can fast Tuesday and Friday and eat normally the rest of the week. With this method, during fasting days you can eat up to 500 calories.
Which Method to Start With
Out of all of these methods, the 16/8 method is the most popular. It is also the easiest one to stick to as you don’t have any full days of fasting. If you want to be successful in losing weight using any of these methods, try not to overcompensate by eating too much during the non-fasting periods. During the fasting periods, it is also important to drink a lot of water.
We suggest that you start with the 16/8 method and see how your body reacts during the first week. You can either continue this method if you’re happy with it or step up to the 5:2 or even the 1-OO-2 if you want to see more results. Fasting will obviously not strengthen your body by itself, so make sure you get healthy daily exercise as well.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Help Me Lose Weight?
Fasting has been shown to elevate levels of human growth hormone (HGH) levels. This actually has many health benefits but the main ones we are focused on are its ability to burn fat and improve muscle gain. Intermittent fasting has also shown to dramatically reduce insulin levels. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible and therefore help your body burn fat reserves.
Another health benefit of fasting is cellular repair. When you are fasting, your body will automatically initiate a cellular repair process. This repair process involves cells digesting and removing old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside other cells.
Intermittent fasting can also boost your metabolism and it reduces your overall calorie intake. This makes it a very effective way to lose weight and reduce belly fat. In fact, one study found that people use intermittent fasting lost 8% of their weight over a 3-month period, which is much higher than similar weight loss research. More importantly, participants in this study also lost up to 7% of their waist circumference. This indicates a large reduction in belly fat, which is have been proven to be very harmful to overall health.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?
Research on humans is still in the early phases, but there are indicators showing that intermittent fasting can have many benefits for your body and brain. It may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It can also help you live longer. There are no proven health risks for normal healthy people to fast regularly. If you have a medical condition or if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are currently breastfeeding, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
While weight loss is a primary goal for people using intermittent fasting, there are also many other incredible health benefits.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to help with:
- Insulin Resistance
This can help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting was shown to lower blood sugar by up to 6% and fasting insulin levels by up to 31%.
- Risk of Cancer
Preliminary studies in animals have shown that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer.
- Improving Overall Heart Health
We already know intermittent fasting can help reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance (both risk factors for heart disease). It can also reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and blood triglycerides.
- Reducing Inflammation
Research has shown that people who practice intermittent fasting have fewer markers of inflammation in their blood. These markers are key factors in many chronic illnesses.
- Improving Brain Health
It has been shown that intermittent fasting increases the protein in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. This protein has been shown to increase the growth of new nerve cells. This may help protect against brain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and more.
Is Intermittent Fast Right for Me?
As with any change in diet, we suggest talking to your doctor before you start. However, intermittent fasting has shown to be beneficial for weight loss and your overall health. Many people believe that humans have evolved from our hunter-gathers to only eat at certain times. Therefore, overall, intermittent fasting stays true to our roots, keeps us healthy, and can help us lose undesirable and unhealthy extra weight.
If you’re interested in losing weight easily, check out our article on four food swaps you can make to lose weight!