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Intermittent Fasting - A Definitive Guide

Updated on September 15, 2019
BodystrongBen profile image

I have a masters degree in sports science and around 10 years experience in personal training and sports research.

Introduction

If you’re looking to shed some pounds, you’ll notice how there are no end of diet plans and training protocols you can adhere to which are designed to help you do precisely that. With so many resources at our disposal, it is easy to find ourselves overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin. Intermittent Fasting is currently one of the most popular methods of losing weight, and it has been linked with numerous health benefits in the process. But what is Intermittent Fasting, how do we adhere to it, what does it involve, and is it beneficial? Let’s take a look, shall we?

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting, or IF as it is also known, is a dieting protocol that has gained a lot of traction in the fitness community as of late. Despite this, we’ve all done IF in the past. In fact, we all do a version of IF every single night. From the second you finish your last meal of the day and go to bed at night, until you take your first bite of next day’s meal, you’ve done a form of Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent Fasting is basically a way of eating in which you will alternate between periods of eating, and not eating, for prolonged periods of time. There are several different IF protocols to adhere to, but the basic concept is that you alternate between periods of fasting and spells of feasting.

Intermittent Fasting may sound complex, yet in reality it’s a very simple concept. First off, it is NOT a diet. It is instead a method of eating and is more a lifestyle change as opposed to a quick fix diet designed to boost weight loss. Rather than focusing on which foods to eat, IF instead focuses on when you should eat them.

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Different Types of Intermittent Fasting

As we mentioned before, when you go to sleep at night you’re fasting because it can be a good 10 hours or more before you eat something. However, more conventional methods of IF include diet plans you’ve probably heard about before.

16:8 – The 16:8 method is arguably the most popular form of IF. Basically, you’ll fast for 16 hours each day, and for 8 hours of the day you’ll be in what if referred to as your ‘eating window’. This is a period of time where you can eat, without having to worry about portion control or macros – as long as you’re sensible. So, as an example, you may fast from 8pm at night, until 12pm in the afternoon. From 12pm until 8pm you will be permitted to eat if you feel hungry. This is not an excuse to binge. If you do, the diet will not work.

24-hour fast – With this method of IF, followers of the diet will fast for 24 hours once or twice per week. Basically, for these 24 hours you will consume no whole foods and will simply consume water and relatively calorie-free beverages.

5:2 – Finally, the 5:2 diet is actually also another form of Intermittent Fasting. It is one of the most popular methods. With the 5:2 diet, the basic concept is that for 5 days of the week you eat relatively normally. You will not worry about tracking calories or macros, and if you want a small dessert after your meal now and then, you can treat yourself. For the 2 days of the week however, you will only consume around 500 calories, which can be through drink or food.

Why Should You Fast?

Despite being told, decades ago, that fasting was dangerous and unnatural, in reality it is the most normal thing in the world. From an evolutionary standpoint, we’ve been fasting for hundreds of thousands of years. During the Palaeolithic era when Neanderthals roamed the earth, we didn’t eat if we couldn’t find, forage, or kill food. As we evolved and adapted, we began fasting for religious reasons, and through a scarcity of food. From an evolutionary perspective, we’ve been fasting for far longer than we’ve been feasting. Fasting helps to stabilise blood sugar levels, it regulates your hormones, and there are certain metabolic health benefits to enjoy as well.

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Key Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Several key benefits of Intermittent Fasting include:

Weight loss – Let’s not beat about the bush here, one of the main reasons why Intermittent Fasting has been found to be so popular is because it promotes weight loss. Not only does it allow you to create a slight caloric deficit without going hungry, it also helps to boost growth hormone levels and reduce insulin levels.

Cellular benefits – It not only facilitates weight loss, it’s also been found to be very beneficial for your cells. IF has been found to boost cellular health and function. Not only does it help to increase the rate in which your cells repair themselves, it also enhances the rate in which waste material is extracted from the cells and removed from the body.

Regulates blood glucose levels – IF helps to reduce insulin levels and increases insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone so the less we produce the less fat we’ll store. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, so if insulin sensitivity is increased, you’ll need to produce less of the hormone to control and regulate your blood sugar levels.

Conclusion

In conclusion intermittent fasting is a brilliant diet that can be adapted by most people. It not only has the benefit of promoting weight loss but other health benefits also. One thing to remember when following this diet is that it doesn't mean you can just splurge out and eat unhealthy on feasting periods. Instead when you're feasting try to keep your meals as healthy as possible and you will see this diet at it's most effective.

Thank you for reading and if you try intermittent fasting i hope it works out for you.

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© 2019 Ben Smith

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    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      Kathy Henderson 

      6 months ago from Pa

      Thanks, Ben,

      This is a great description of how this works. I have heard about it and had some questions. I love how you answered them in this article.

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