What is intermittent fasting? It is described as a way to manipulate your eating patterns. Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern. While you are intermittently fasting, you take in calories during a specific time frame and fast for the remaining time. When you are not taking in any calories, your body will have more time to rest from the continuous process of digestion. Intermittent fasting can be used to increase lean muscle mass or decrease body fat.
There are multiple methods of fasting that can be used. Some methods use an on and off day, and others block out specific hours in the day to consume calories and spend the remaining hours fasting.
How does intermittent fasting work?
When you eat a meal, your body typically spends 3-5 hours to fully digest that meal. During digestion, insulin levels are higher and your body is using that food you just ate as energy. Once you surpass the 3-5 hours of digestion, your body shifts into a post-absorptive state, which can last 8-12 hours. The post-absorptive state is when your body enters its fasting state, which is optimal for burning fat. This is because the insulin stores are lower. Since it is so rare that our bodies are in a fasting state (i.e. 12 hours without taking in any calories) many people that begin fasting lose fat without changing what or how much they intake.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
The 5/2 method: Restriction of calories on 2 days of the week. This is the most popular method.
The 16/8 method: Skip breakfast everyday. Eat only just a set 8-hour period and fast for the remaining 16 hours of the day.
Eat-Stop-Eat: Fasting for 24 hours straight. Once or twice a week, you fast from dinner to dinner the next day.
The Warrior Diet: Fasting for 20 hours a day. During this time, you can eat a few servings of fruit and vegetables when needed. Eat one large meal at night. During this fast, you eat carbs, then protein, and then fat. You can consume carbohydrates if you are still hungry, but only if you have consumed the above foods in the correct order first.
1. Planning for one less meal
- If you are fasting through the breakfast hours, you will have one less meal to prep for.
2. Helps prevent cancer
- Fasting has been shown to have beneficial effects on metabolism that may reduce the risk for cancer.
3. May help extend your lifespan
- Studies in rats have shown that intermittent fasting extends lifespan in a similar way as continuous calorie restriction.
1. May feel overly full from meals
- Because you have a specific time frame to take in most of your calories for the day, you must consume a larger meal in a smaller-than-normal amount of time.
2. Energy levels begin to decrease
- After you have been fasting and before your next meal, you may feel like you have low energy or trouble concentrating.
3. Adds stress to the body
- Depending on hormonal status, intermittent fasting may put too much stress on the body.
The Bottom Line
You can achieve serious results with intermittent fasting, and there are many benefits as it can help increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat. However, there are still pros and cons that need to be taken into consideration before starting a fasting program.
Before starting an intermittent fasting schedule, you should meet with your doctor and discuss your health history. Topics of concern include regulating blood sugar levels, the impact of fasting on your emotional and psychological state, and your daily activity level. All of these factors should be evaluated before starting any type of fasting.