Intermittent fasting is not a miracle diet or a passing trend. While the concept of fasting comes from time immemorial and most people are unaware of the potency of intermittent fasting, in recent years various alternatives, have emerged. The concept does need some explanation. There are many misconceptions even among those who have heard of it or have some rough idea about it. Let’s clear up those misconceptions first.
Intermittent fasting is not about what you eat. It’s not about low carbs or paleo diets. In fact, it has nothing to do with the food you eat. Intermittent fasting is not about starving yourself and surviving on air and water for days on end. It’s not an exercise technique either and there are no specific timings to this method. You are trying to lose weight, not end up emaciated and sick.
The Basics of Intermittent Fasting
The concept was first mentioned by Martin Berkhan, which took the fitness world by storm. There are two windows for intermittent fasting. The first window is the eating window. This can be 8 hours, 6 hours, or even a 4-hour window. You will need to consume all your daily required calories during your eating window.
For example, if your daily calorie requirement is 2000, you must consume all your calories during this window. That means whatever food you will eat for the day should be eaten during this window.
After that comes the fasting window. So, if your eating window is 8 hours, your fasting window will be 16 hours. This is based on a 24-hour day. If your eating window is 4 hours, your fasting window will be 20 hours. You are not supposed to consume any calories from food or drink during this period.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you should have a caloric deficit of about 500 calories. The goal of intermittent fasting is to use the fasting window as a time when the body burns fat as fuel. Once your eating window is over, the food you eat will have been digested in a few hours. The body will use this food as fuel for a while.
After that, since your stomach is empty, your body will have no choice but to use the stored fats as fuel to carry out all your bodily functions and also as energy. The interesting thing to note here is that your body is getting its daily calorie requirements even though you are fasting. You’re not starving.
Some people may worry that their insulin levels may spike the moment they start eating during their eating window. This will happen, but it is not even an issue. Insulin spikes will not lead to weight gain while on the intermittent fasting program because your body will constantly be burning fat for fuel. So, cast your worries aside.
Fasting does not affect or reduce your muscle mass. Long-term fasting itself can reduce your muscle mass, but studies have attested muscle mass remained fully intact in fasting subjects after 48-72 hours, and in this case, we are proposing a fast of only 24 hours maximum.
Benefits of intermittent fasting:
But what are the advantages of fasting? As the benefits of fasting are many, we will focus only on some of them.
It promotes the production of growth hormone (GH):
- GH stimulates the growth, reproduction and cell regeneration in humans and other animals. It is considered one of the most important hormones in the body. Growth hormone slows the aging process; It promotes longevity. Studies have found that fasting can increase growth hormone
. Growth hormone is a metabolic hormone, which explains, in part, why fasting is so good for losing weight; It promotes fat burning and protects lean muscle and metabolic balance.
- It has been shown that intermittent fasting causes important benefits for insulin resistance, thereby achieving lower blood sugar levels.
- In proven human studies, fasting reduced blood glucose by 3- 6% while fasting insulin decreased between 20 and 31%.
- When fasting, the cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes
in which cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that accumulate within cells.
- There are changes in the function related to longevity genes and protection against disease.
Side effects of Intermittent Fasting
Hunger is among the main side effects. Other symptoms may include feeling weak and that your brain is not working as well as you might be used to. This is only temporary, as it may take some time for your body to adjust to the new meal schedule.
You must consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting if you have a particular medical condition.
Intermittent Fasting for women
Some studies have found that fasting might not be as good for women as for men. One study found improved insulin sensitivity in men but blood sugar control in women worsened. Several women had reported presentingamenorrhea
(lack of menstrual period) when they began intermittent fasting and returned to normal after they stopped it. Women should be careful with intermittent fasting. If you were to present amenorrhea stop it immediately. Women with fertility problems, pregnant or nursing women should not fast.
Intermittent fasting, when combined with a clean diet and a progressive training regimen, is unstoppable regarding fat loss. People who have struggled with stubborn body fat are stunned to see how fast their fat levels drop once they start intermittent fasting.
You should definitely give it a try. One of the best guides on this topic is “Eat Stop Eat.” The title pretty accurately sums up this very straightforward program. There are some finer points that Eat Stop Eat will show you to really boost your fat loss results. Get the guide and give intermittent fasting a try. You may never eat the same way again.