Intermittent Fasting

Last Updated: October 19, 2018
Fasting

How many diets can promise you that you can eat whatever you want, burn off unwanted fat, and not suffer from excessive calorie restrictions or hunger pangs? Sure, there are tons of different pills and other gimmicks which might make similar claims, but few people actually experience any success with such methods.

Intermittent fasting, however, is a different story.

For those who don't know, Intermittent Fasting (or "IF" for short) is a very simple form of dieting. Really, it's more of an altered eating schedule than a typical diet. This is because, with IF, you don't have to change what or how much you eat - if anything, you may end up eating more than you were before. The only thing that changes is when you eat your daily meals.

Another great thing about IF is that you can set your own schedule. It all depends on what works best for you and your body. Do you typically find yourself skipping breakfast? Then maybe a daily IF schedule might work for you. You could start with an easier regimen, such as 14/10, where the number in front (the 14, in this case) is the number of hours you spend fasting, and the following number (the 10) is the number of hours in your "food window", AKA the timeframe during the day in which you can eat.

Alternatively, if daily fasting is too taxing or doesn't fit in with your schedule, you could try alternate fasting days. The 5:2 regimen is a popular one in which you eat normally for 5 days, and fast for 2 days during any given week.

The Science behind Intermittent Fasting

Right now, you may be thinking to yourself that this IF business seems too good to be true. After all, how can someone eating a less-than-healthy diet somehow magically transform their physique simply by changing when they eat their meals?

The truth is that it isn't magic; it's your metabolism. After being left in a "fasted" state for several hours, the human body lowers its insulin levels. And when your insulin levels are low, your body is capable of metabolizing its stored fat cells for energy.

Forget the old wives' tales you've heard about how the human body immediately starts eating its own lean mass when it enters a fasted state. This simply isn't true. This only happens when your body goes into starvation mode, which doesn't happen until after several days of denying yourself calories. Most IF regimens schedule your meals to happen at least once per day, which prevents your body from reaching the starvation mode threshold. Even some of the more extreme eating schedules, which may leave you in a fasted state for 24-36 hours, won't take your body into starvation mode. And those fasting windows only happen 1-2 times per week.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Are you a morning person? Do you spend several minutes each day cooking yourself a lavish, gourmet breakfast? If you answered "no" to either or both of those questions, then IF might be right up your alley.

IF is great for people who lead busy lifestyles and don't have the time to cook 5-6 small meals for themselves every single day. Limiting your food window is also great for busy people who don't have a lot of time in the mornings. Just think about how much better your day would be if you could sleep in for a few extra minutes, grab a cup of coffee, and go about your business.

Many people who try IF actually report having more energy during their fasting windows, as opposed to feeling hungry or lethargic. From an evolutionary perspective, this make sense. After all, would Primitive Man have been able to survive if he became lethargic after going without food for a few hours? Or would it make more sense for the human body to give itself a temporary boost of energy in the fasted state to increase the likelihood of finding food?

Supplements for Boosting your IF Success

You can stick to whatever IF regimen you choose - whether you decide to do a 5:2 alternate day fasting, or a daily 16/8 schedule - and have plenty of success on your own. On the other hand, you can take beneficial diet supplements during your fasting window to curb hunger cravings, increase your overall health, and maximize your IF benefits. As long as you supplement with something that is sugar-free during your fasting window, it won't compromise your body's ability to burn fat or build muscle.

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