Intermittent fasting (IF) has been a consistent buzzword within the health and fitness realm. While it offers weight loss results and promotes a healthy lifestyle, what exactly is intermittent fasting?
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Intermittent fasting is an EATING PATTERN. It is a scheduled eating pattern that cycles between “fasting periods” and “eating periods”. There are a number of eating patterns that have varying lengths of “fasting periods” and “eating periods”.
It is not a fad diet that outlines what you can or can’t eat. There are no real limitations on the types of food that you eat. As long as you eat those foods within the “eating periods”, you’re golden. That being said, focusing on healthier food choices will ensure that you reach your weight loss goals and in turn produce a healthier lifestyle.
The “fasting periods” on the other hand only allows for water, tea, or plain black coffee. It is really important that you keep your bodies well hydrated during this time and only consume 0-calorie drinks.
Most Popular Intermittent Fasting (IF) Methods
As discussed above, IF is an eating pattern. All these methods will divide your days into scheduled “eating periods” and “fasting periods”. Simply put, you will consume the main bulk of your calories during the “eating periods”. While you eat practically nothing during the “fasting periods”.
1. The 16/8 or Leangains Method
This IF method cycles through a 16-hour fasting period and an 8-hour eating period. It is also the most popular IF method since it can be easily integrated into our schedules.
- Skip breakfast, 8-hour eating period (12-8pm), 16-hour fasting period (8-12pm) –
This specific plan is quite versatile and can be adjusted depending on your schedule. If you wake up extremely early and waiting until 12 pm to eat isn’t doable, adjust your eating period from 10am-6pm. I’ve made my eating window from 11am-7pm since I don’t like eating too late in the day. However, if you prefer eating later in the day, alter your eating period to 1-9pm. As long as you’re eating period is only 8 hours, you’re good to go.
- Skip dinner, 8-hour eating period (7am-3pm), 16-hour fasting period (3pm-7am) –
If you are the type of person that needs to eat breakfast, this schedule might work better for you. Just keep in mind, your last meal will be at 3 pm. Assess what your typical day will look like and adjust the eating periods accordingly. The 16/8 method is one of the most popular intermittent fasting methods because it provides the flexibility to accommodate our busy and varying daily life schedules.
2. The Warrior Method
This specific method requires a fasting period for the whole day. During this fasting period, raw fruits and veggies, and fresh juice are allowed. You’re eating period will include one meal at the end of the day. The Warrior method would be suitable for those who are already following a Paleo diet. It might also be ideal for people who don’t eat as much during the day and eat the bulk of their calories at the end of the day. While you are only eating one meal a day, it doesn’t mean you should binge and eat junk or highly processed foods. With all the different IF methods listed, fueling your bodies with whole and natural foods are key if you are serious in making these lasting changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
3. 5:2 Method
The 5:2 method focuses on limiting your calories to 500 calories per day twice a week. These two days can be any day of the week, and it’s not mandatory to have them be consecutive. While the other 5 days are seen as normal eating days. This method will be ideal for someone who has an irregular schedule and is looking for flexibility.
4. Eat, Stop, Eat Method
The Eat, Stop, Eat IF method involves 100% fasting for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. While the eating period is normal for the other days without any time or food restrictions. This method is definitely ideal for those who want to feel that “cleanse” for a couple of days in the week.
5. Up-Day Down-Day or Alternate Day Fasting
This IF method cycles between a full day of normal eating and a full day of fasting. This is probably the most extreme out of all the intermittent fasting methods. This method is ideal for someone who has weight loss as the primary goal.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Fasting has been standard practice for many years for many cultures and regions across the world. Intermittent fasting, however, has really gained traction through the past couple of years. It’s positive effects and weight loss results have been central to its popularity.
1. ↑ in Human Growth Hormone and ↓ in Insulin levels
Regular fasting will naturally increase the release of the human growth hormone (HGH). HGH plays a significant role in cell regeneration, development of healthy tissue, and muscle gain. This is important for those interested in creating a leaner physique and developing muscle. In contrast, regular fasting will cause insulin levels to drop. The decrease in insulin levels causes the body to not hang onto stored fat. In turn, burning fat and building muscle will become easier.
2. Aids in Weightloss
One of the main attraction to intermittent fasting is weight loss. Although there are no restrictions on the type of food that is consumed during the “eating periods”, eating fewer meals will naturally lead to a decrease in calorie intake. For many of us, feelings of hunger trigger the subconscious act of eating instantaneously. However, it is important to recognize the feeling of hunger and thus teach our bodies to learn how to adjust accordingly.
It is important to note that the absence of an eating guide, does not mean you should eat unhealthily. Complementing intermittent fasting with a balanced diet will be the key to maximize its positive effects. Combining that with an active lifestyle will certainly allow for weight loss and most importantly long-lasting health benefits.
3. Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, rather it is an eating pattern. Unlike fad diets that only last for a couple of weeks or so, the goals of IF is to establish a lasting and solid eating routine. While most diets force harsh restrictions for a specific amount of time, the difficulty comes in maintenance. Despite losing weight during these diets, we easily find ourselves in the same weight predicaments soon after. How many times have you lost weight during a diet and eventually ended up gaining the weight back and some? While it might be difficult at first to adopt this eating pattern, hopefully, you’ll soon be able to see its positive effects and the benefits of adopting this eating pattern.