What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a term used for restricting the amount of time in any given period where consuming foods are restricted. It's done to cause the body systems to act in a different manner than it would if you were continuously eating every few hours.
This is key to good health and normal weight-loss and weight management, plus a lot more, which we will cover in this article.
The History of Fasting
Fasting is an ancient practice that many different cultures and religions have used throughout recorded history, and likely goes back much further than recorded history.
It's practiced by various religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhists and many others. But others throughout history have used it as medical treatments.
Why Should You Fast?
Because it's good for your health for most. Even more so in western cultures where eating is an all day event. But here's a quick list of benefits to get the ball rolling.
Losing weight, lowering insulin resistance, maintaining muscle mass while losing weight, using both of your body's energy processing systems instead of one, reduced odds of heart disease, type II diabetes, gout and other issues from auto-immune diseases.
We will cover more on these topics and others as we dive further into this article.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are 3 basic methods of intermittent fasting. They are as follows.
- Alternate Day Fasting
- Periodic Fasting
- Time Restricted Fasting
Alternate Day Fasting is where you fast for a complete day, then eating what you want the next and continue alternating with one day of fasting and the next day off.
Some do not fast and entire day, instead opting for calorie restriction of around 500 calories on the fasting day instead of a full, no food intake day. This fast is the most popular, but not as effective as periodic fasting, nor time restricted fasting.
Periodic Fasting is a method where you restrict food intake for a specified time period such as the 16-8 fast. This means you're fasting for 16 hours of the day with an 8 hour eating window. This is usually part of an ongoing system to lose weight, then maintaining the healthy weight you level out in.
Since it is periodic, you can skip a few days here and there instead of it being a daily regime. You might only do this 2 to 4 days a week instead of daily.
Time Restricted Fasting is just like periodic fasting, but the regime is daily, with no days off. This is the easiest and most effective method to gain the benefits you want if you are seeking to lose weight, reverse diabetes, arthritis or gout. This is the most powerful of the 3 basic types of intermittent fasting by far.
You'll understand why by the end of this article, plus the resources we provide. It's really a no-brainer.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Insulin regulation is the main reason it works, based on my research and personal experiences. But I am not asking you to believe me. Let's cover some important words you need to know first, then we will dive into the science of it immediately after.
Are you ready? Good, let's get started.
Glucose is a simple sugar and is an energy source for the human body. It is actually produced by the body from fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
Glycogen is a substance deposited in bodily tissues as a store for Glucose, in a slightly different format until it's time for it to be used, mainly wen the body is in a state of fasting. or when blood-sugar drops and the body starts using body fat as energy.
Glucagon is a human hormone that is produced by the pancreas when signaled and break down the stored glycogen that has been stored in the liver, turning it back into glucose.
Insulin is another important human hormone. It is the key to the cells doors so that glucose can get in and be be used as energy by cells, or stored as fat for later use.
Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced and released by the stomach, small intestine, pancreas and brain. It has several functions, but is mostly known as the hunger hormone. If you are feeling hungry, Ghrelin is the hormone behind it.
Leptin is one of the hormones that help your body maintain it's proper weight. It helps to lose fat cells and convert them back into glucose as needed to power the body.
Now that we have the important words and definitions, let's dig deeper into the science.
Does Science Support Intermittent Fasting?
There is no need for me to re-invent the wheel since there are incredible sources available. I will give you some quick intro's into the specific parts of the science and the sources that can explain it in more detail.
First things first. Here's a video that will give you a very good base understanding on fasting and some of the science behind it.
Although the video is about hunger and fasting, it explains a lot of how and shy each hormone works and interacts with with the human body as part of the storage/fat burn systems. If you click through to the video itself, they have a Patreon link where you can download a PDF with all sources used in the video.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
This is just the short list, but there are others.
1. Weight and body fat loss. Pretty instant results.
2. Increased fat burning. This is critical since most stay in insulin driven storage of fat.
3. Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels. This stops all of the negative effects of insulin resistence.
4. Reduction in HbA1C23
5. Improved mental clarity and concentration
6. Increased energy. You'll be shocked by the increase in energy you have on command.
7. Increased growth hormoneg by stimulating autophagy
8. Reduction of inflammation. This is very huge for people with arthritis, gout and diabetes to name just a few.
9. Increased productivity because it takes no additional effort or time to fast.
10. Can reverse diabetes, gout and arthritis.
Sources are at the bottom of the following source page. I would suggest reading the entire page and then accessing their sources from there. There is a lot to learn if you are serious about fasting for health and weight loss.
Is Intermittent Fasting The Same As Calorie Restriction or CICO (calorie in, calorie out)?
Calorie restriction gives you a steady and daily caloric intake for long periods, and this can work for some people who need to lose a few pounds, but usually backfires because the restriction is below your daily caloric needs. When this happens, your body enters starvation mode and lowers your metabolism. This is known as the weight-loss plateau.
Calorie in, calorie out can also maintain, or even increase your insulin levels if there is no timing for the meals. As an example, let's say you are on a 1,500 calorie diet and you stick to it, but your body needs 1,800 calories a day just to maintain your system. If these 1,500 calories are eaten over 6 small meals/snacks throughout the day, you are keeping your insulin spikes on a regular basis. You will feel hungry more often.
Insulin is a growth hormone. As you learned in the video above, if you keep dumping insulin into your system, you will get hungry more quickly because your body programs itself to become hungry at the programmed times, causing you to eat more in most cases. Diet failed as so many do.
No weight loss, maybe weight gain, and you are doing little to keep out of starvation mode.
But wait, there's more!
When someone is diagnosed as pre-diabetic or diabetic, they give you insulin. One of the side effects on the inserts is weight gain. But why? Because the more often you eat, the higher your insulin resistance grows.
A 16:8 intermittent fasting regime can give you all of the calories you need in an 8 hour window, and you are not spiking your insulin 4 to 8 times a day. Just lowering your insulin levels will help you lose weight alone, not counting the bodies change to using fat as energy.
As we've learned, you have two systems. one that burns fat, the other stores fat. Until you are at a normal body weight, you need to be in fat burning mode, also known as ketosis.
How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight
First off, let's cover something very important. Most people who are obese are likely diabetic or pre-diabetic, and this is very unhealthy. Secondly, it means their insulin resistance is very high.
Now here's the shocker. There is absolutely no need to consume carbohydrates. Your body can produce all of the glucose needed to operate your body at a very safe, if not optimum levels.
Sticking to fats and proteins will keep the few spikes you have in your eating window even lower, causing weight loss to work even faster. The longest know fast was over 800 days with only supplements to replace depleted vitamins and minerals the body needs to effectively work. As long as you're eating real food in your window, you are going to do just fine.
Does Intermittent Fasting Boost Your Metabolism?
Here's what new research suggests.
- Increased fat loss in abdominal area
- Decreased loss of lean body mass
- Improves cholesterol and fasting insulin is lowered
- Decreases inflammation.
Does Intermittent Fasting Help With Insulin Resistance?
From studies is shows that you can reduce your fasting insulin levels by 20–31%
Does Intermittent Fasting Make You Gain Or Lose Muscle?
According to two separate studies, it shows no difference in gains, but also no loses either.
If done correctly, there is little to no loss of muscle.
Can I Use Intermittent Fasting If I'm Pregnant or Nursing?
Although it's not recommended, there are a couple of studies that suggest it's perfectly safe.
Are There Different Rules For Men And Women for IF?
It may affect men and women differently. There is little information or peer reviewed studies, but there is a nice guide on the topic that may help you decide which way is best for you.
Intermittent Fasting Frequently Asked Questions And Excuses To Not Try It
I thought we're supposed to eat 3 times a day, breakfast, lunch, & dinner?
If you think about it, you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you eat at 9AM, 1PM, and 5PM. These would all be within your eating window.
I can't go 24 hours without eating!
That's the beauty of this. You don't have to! 16 hours off of eating is great, but you can still get some benefits if you only go 12 hours off. 16 hours is the real mark you should hit, though, if you want to see real results for whatever your goal is.
I was told I should eat 6 small meals a day, though
You can do this with intermittent fasting, you should just do it within your eating window. The key to results with intermittent fasting is to give your insulin a long break, preferably 16 hours.
Can I do IF and keto diet at the same time?
You absolutely can and it's totally recommended to do so. Keto is a difficult diet to stick to by itself, but intermittent fasting can make it easier. Keto reduces your body's insulin production by itself, so combined with IF, you've got some powerful benefits coming your way.
Are there negative effects of intermittent fasting?
It takes a few days for your body to adjust to any new eating schedule, so the first 3 or 4 days are the most difficult to get through. Just make sure that the meals that you have in your eating window are satisfying enough to help power you through it mentally. It's easier to go 16 hours without eating if you know you're getting one of your favorite meals at the end of it and can do mostly what you want for the next 8 hours. It just takes a few days to convince your body that this new schedule is fine and that you're not going to starve to death. The body is a powerful force, but it will adapt to your new eating schedule fairly quickly.
I can't skip breakfast!
You don't have to! If you normally eat breakfast at 8AM, then your last meal for the day previously should be at 4PM the day before. You can schedule your fasting time around when you want to make sure you have a meal. If lunch is your most important meal of the day, wrap your eating window around it. 8 of your 16 hours without food should be while sleeping.
And the best thing about intermittent fasting is this: once you've done it for a few weeks, it's not a problem to take a day off of it. If you go on vacation or if you're celebrating a holiday like Thanksgiving, you don't have to fast that day as long as you've been fasting consistently. Have the ham, the potatoes, the dressing, and the pie that day and it's just not that big of a deal when you're fasting on a regular basis.
I case you haven't noticed, there is a lot of information on intermittent fasting and keto online, each with varying visions or views on the the same information, or selective lack of information.
There is a steep learning curve, ad like anything else, it's better to be educated on something and have resources available before starting on either or both IF and keto.
If you're interested and want to do IF and/or keto, here's a program that's $35. It's the equivalent of the cost of a good book and it's chock full of the resources you need to not get discouraged and quit. There's a lot of information that you need to know to be able to do this and you don't want to be searching the web for a host of different opinions when there's a tried and true system in place already.
I lost over 70 LBS in just 6 months using this program and you get it instantly once purchased. It works, the science is solid, and people are even reversing diabetes, gout, arthritis, heart disease and many other illnesses/disease/syndromes with these resources, IF and keto. I was one of them. It even eliminated my high blood pressure and gout.
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