What is Intermittent Fasting and how does it work?

22
Oct

What is Intermittent Fasting and how does it work?

Before you do any style of dieting you first need to have a valid reason “why” you are doing it. The second thing you need is a understanding of how it works and how to do it. Following any style of diet blindly will almost certainly lead to failure or less than optimum results.

 

Intermittent Fasting (IF)

This gets a lot of buzz from time to time. Let’s talk about what it exactly is.

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a eating pattern in which you cycle between periods of eating and periods of not eating (fasting). A very common way to do this is 16 hour fasts daily or to fast for 24 hours 1-2 days per week.

Fasting has been around throughout human history such as our hunter gatherer ancestors who would go through periods of not having food available to at all. This would happen often. As a result, humans evolved to be Able to function without food for long periods of time.

 

Methods

There are several ways to do intermittent fasting all of which use periods of eating mixed with periods of not eating (fasting).

Here are a few methods:

  1. The 16/8 Method – This method is simply skipping breakfast and restricting your eating to an 8 hour window. A common example of this is to eat from 12pm-8pm. This gives you 8 hours to eat and 16 hours of fasting.
  2. 24 Hours Twice a Week – This method is where you don’t eat for 24 hours. A common way of doing this is to not eat from dinner one day all the way to the next twice per week.
  3. The 18/6 Method – This method is very similar to the 16/8 method except now you take that feeding window and make it a little bit smaller. Take it from 8 hours to eat down to 6 hours.

 

Reducing your feeding window has been shown to help to reduce food intake. Which ultimately leads to body weight reduction and fat loss. This only works if you don’t over eat during you eating periods. The 16/8 is the most common method and is the most simple to follow.

 

How does it work?

When you fast there are several things that happen. Most often you body adjusts hormone levels to make that stored body fat aka Stored energy more accessible as fuel for you movement and body processes. Your body cells also start to repair themselves.

Let’s talk about a few ways changes occur in the body:

  1. Human growth hormone (HGH) levels drive up! Those increasing levels are great for fat loss and muscle gain
  2. Insulin Sensitivity levels improve and levels of insulin drop. Lower levels of insulin make stored body fat more accessible
  3. Cell Repair happens when fasted. One major one to note is something called autophagy, which is where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside old cells

These changes are why many people choose to try out IF. Mainly, most people use IF as a weightless tool. In addition to lowering insulin and raising HGH it increases the release of a fat burning hormone called norepinephrine (nonadreniline). These changes in hormones from short term fasting may increase your metabolic rate.

Even with all of these benefits its important to remember the primary benefit of IF is that it helps you to eat fewer calories overall. If you binge eat during eating periods you are missing the boat and may not lose any weight at all.

 

Health Benefits

There are a ton of health benefits outside of the weight loss. IF can help with inflammation reduction. Which is a marker of chronic diseases. It helps with Heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, blood sugar, and insulin resistance with are all factors for heart disease. Brain health can also be improved because fasting can increase the brain hormone BDNF and aid in the growth of new nerve cells. IF has been shown to extend the lifespan of animals in several research studies.

Now although all of that sounds good. It’s important to disclose that those studies that showed all of that data are at early stages. On top of that they were also done on animals. We need more studies to be done on human test groups to truly see and understand these health benefits.

 

Take aways

IF is not for everyone. Nor should everyone try it. If you are underweight or have struggled with a poor relationship with food you should not try this pattern of eating. I find that fixing a persons relationship with food first is always the base and the first place to begin in any dieting journey.

There are also several studies that show that maybe IF is not as beneficial for women. One showed that insulin sensitivity improved for all male subjects but blood sugar control worsened for women. Although the studies I read were done on animals it also showed that some females completely missed their cycles when fasted and resumed when the began eating normally again. With this information you can see why it’s important to be educated before trying to IF.

If you plan to try out this pattern of eating make sure to fully understand which method you are gonna implement and for what reasons. Keep in mind that it is not a magic pill and should be understood fully and done correctly. When you IF you should still consume the proper amount of calories and macro/micro nutrients daily.

This style of eating is not for everyone. It is also not the only way to eat. The diet or eating pattern that works is the one that you feel good on and stick to. If you don’t stick to the plan, feel good, or see results from your diet than it may be time to change it up and try something new.

 

Written by:

Cody Smith

Owner Create Yourself Training