What is Intermittent Fasting?

As a species, we’ve been fasting, or abstaining from food, since the beginning. Initially, this wasn’t on purpose as our meals weren’t always available. Eventually, fasting became a choice, typically within religious practice. Fast forward to 2018 and people are choosing to fast due to the health benefits that are being revealed by scientific studies. This new trend is called intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is the practice of going without food or beverage-based calories for a pre-determined amount of time then following this up with a feeding window. The most common method of intermittent fasting is 16:8 where you fast for 16 hours a day and consume your meals during an 8-hour feeding window.

Is intermittent fasting worth it?

 

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has gained an immense worldwide following as scientists have revealed the numerous health benefits of intermittent fasting.

 

Increases fat loss

Intermittent fasting has been shown to support an increase in fat loss, especially within overweight and obese subjects. Not only is the body using more stored fat during a fast for energy but you tend to eat less calories per day. This combination triggers a successful weight loss. One study that utilized fasting every other day still saw significant improvements in weight loss.

 

Supports lean gains – No catabolic environment

If you want to begin to shred for cutting season or if your goal is muscle mass without the added fat mass, intermittent fasting can help. Not only does it increase fat burning but it also protects lean muscle tissue from catabolism, or the breakdown of muscle protein. Instead of going through the old school method of bulking up with muscle and fat then slimming down, you can promote lean gains year-round.

 

Boosts brain health

With all of the focus on weight loss, many people tend to jump right over the fact that intermittent fasting can improve the health of your brain. Intermittent fasting allows for efficient cellular waste removal while promoting cognitive functioning. What’s more, studies suggest that intermittent fasting may also play an important role in decreasing the risk of cognitive-based diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

 

Decreases risk for disease

Continuing with the idea above, intermittent fasting has been shown to be a powerful way to support health into old age, helping to prevent the onset or progression of age and lifestyle-related diseases with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and diabetes. The implication here is that many adults can maintain a sense of good health and independence well into their older years.

 

Best Method of Intermittent Fasting

If you’re ready to give intermittent fasting a try, I would recommend the most popular method of 16:8. You can follow this method Monday through Friday and eat normally on the weekend, especially if you’re just starting out as those two normal days help with getting used to the process.

The easiest way to get through intermittent fasting is to begin your fast at 8 p.m. This way, you are sleeping during most of the fast. At noon the next day, you begin your feeding window where you follow your normal diet. Once 8 p.m. comes around, begin the fast again.

During your fast, you can drink water, plain tea, black coffee, and calorie-free beverages. If you’re having trouble adjusting, I’d recommend a near zero calorie BCAA supplement to help you during the first few weeks.

 

Conclusion

Have you been using intermittent fasting? What benefits have you personally noticed? How long did it take for you to get used to the fasting? Let me know in the comments below!

 

References
  1. Heilbronn LK, Smith SR, Martin CK, Anton SD, Ravussin E. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):69-73.
  2. Johnson JB, Summer W, Cutler RG, Martin B, Hyun DH, Dixit VD, Pearson M, Nassar M, Telljohann R, Maudsley S, Carlson O, John S, Laub DR, Mattson MP. Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Mar 1;42(5):665-74. Epub 2006 Dec 14.
  3. Van Praag, Henriette et al. “Exercise, Energy Intake, Glucose Homeostasis, and the Brain.” The Journal of Neuroscience 34.46 (2014): 15139–15149. PMC. Web. 14 Nov. 2017.
  4. Aly SM. Role of Intermittent Fasting on Improving Health and Reducing Diseases. International Journal of Health Sciences. 2014;8(3):V-VI.

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