The word “fasting” never has a great ring to it. It often brings up undesired thoughts of possible discomfort and starvation. What if we told you, however, that that simply wasn’t true? Let us introduce to you what Intermittent Fasting is (IF), and how it could actually be beneficial to your overall health and lifestyle.
What Is It?
IF isn’t as much of a diet as it is a particular way of life. Rather than focusing on what to eat and how much of it, IF primarily focuses on WHEN you eat instead. As unorthodox as it may sound, IF suggests that people fast anywhere between 16-24 hours within a one-day span (we obviously don’t suggest 24 hours every day…that would make 0 sense whatsoever.) This concept has been proven to be an efficient weight loss system through all ages, sexes, bodily structures, and ethnicities. It’s also a great way to keep on muscle mass while also getting lean. This is primarily due to the body’s increase of fat loss acceleration and increased fat oxidation.
The main thought process behind the concept of IF is that the individual will completely reduce their overall calorie consumption total throughout the day. For a period of 16-24 hours, the individual will ideally completely diminish or heavily restrict the consumption of calories, followed by a period of 8-24 hours (depending on which version of IF the individual is doing) that they can consume calories once again.
This idea may be scary to look at originally, but following this plan isn’t as bad as it may seem. You may unknowingly be following this method of eating already. Let’s say that your usual daily timeframe is sleeping from midnight to 8AM, and that you skip breakfast and your first meal isn’t until 1PM (typical lunch hour). If you were to follow the typical plan of IF, your consumption period would be anywhere from 1PM – 9PM, and then fasting until 1PM the next day. That’s 8 hours fasting while you’re awake (5 hours from the moment you wake up, 3 hours post-consumption period) and 8 hours while you SLEEP! Not too bad at all once you put it into perspective.
The Science Behind The Magic
In the “fed” state, where your body is digesting the food you’ve consumed, it’s hard for you to burn fat because your insulin levels are so high. The fed state begins when you start eating and lasts for anywhere between 3-5 hours afterwards. Afterwards, your body goes into what’s known as the “post-absorptive state”, where your body no longer processes meals. This state lasts for about 8-12 hours after your last meal, in which the body will then begin to enter the fasted state.
During the fasted state, your body can burn any fat and excess storage that was completely inaccessible during the “fed” state. It becomes a lot easier to burn fat because during the fasted state, your insulin levels are very low. Being that 12 hours after our last meal is very rarely met with the common person, it’s rare that we often enter the fat burning state. This is exactly why IF has been proven to work well with individuals without having to make changes in what they eat, but rather when they eat.
In addition to faster weight loss, there are also a number of benefits that IF provides.
1) Less Stress and More Simplicity
Think about it! When you wake up, you’ll no longer have to worry about breakfast. All you have to do is get up and get yourself a glass of water or some black coffee. Cooking and eating 3 meals a day isn’t so horrible to set up for yourself, but removing one meal from your day can definitely add some extra time to your day to get more things done. More time = Less stress.
2) Much Easier than Dieting
As we said, IF doesn’t focus on what you eat, but rather when you eat. Most diets aren’t successful because we completely switch up the foods we eat. Once you get over the mental state of having to eat three or more meals a day, IF is a very simplistic way of life, and is quickly adaptable to the newfound follower.
3) Longer Life
Scientists know that limiting calories leads to a longer lifespan. When you’re starving, the body naturally finds ways to extend your life…but no one wants to starve their way into a longer life. We want to enjoy it.
IF does not encourage starving yourself. Rather, it encourages calorie restriction during a specific timeframe, which actually has the same effect of starvation and therefore extends the general lifespan…without having to starve. One study shows how IF has been successful in longer lifespans within mice, while another study also proves how alternate day IF can also lead to a longer span.
4) Reduced Risk of Cancer
This one is still a toss in the air since there hasn’t been a ton of research on it, but one study shows how the side effects of chemotherapy could decrease by fasting before treatment. Another study also suggests that fasting can not only reduce the risk of cancer, but also cardiovascular disease.
But What About Muscle Loss?
By now you’re probably convinced that IF can definitely help you lose weight, but what if you’re not looking to do so? What if you want to reduce your overall fat, but make sure that your body maintains muscle mass. Luckily, IF can work in your favor as well, as long as you don’t overdo it.
If you’re looking to still make those gains, your best bet is to consume your calories post-workout. Naturally, IF is encouraged for those who want to lose weight, because the lack of time eating helps the individual to consume less calories as a whole. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to lose weight. You can still follow the eating patterns IF provides while also making gains, you would just have to eat your desired calories within the allowed consumption period.
To get some more details as to how you can integrate IF into your daily training routine, we recommend following The HodgeTwins YouTube channel. These guys swear by intermittent fasting, and help to explain it in an efficient and comical manner. (Warning: They use a lot of explicit language.)
Intermittent Fasting isn’t for everyone. If you prefer your 3 course meals, snacking, or 6-8 small meals throughout the day, then go for it! Do what’s best for you. However, if you’re still looking for a diet or a way of life you’d be able to stick to, we definitely recommend trying out IF to see how it works for you. For more details about intermittent fasting and the different versions you may want to consider practicing, this link should be able to help you.
What are your thoughts about Intermittent Fasting? Leave us a comment below!