What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Intermittent Fasting is a certain eating pattern where the number of daily calories is drastically reduced over a certain period. The fasting periods can be chosen, there are some ground rules to keep in mind: no eating or drinking of any calories is allowed during the fasting periods. Only water, tea and coffee (without sugar!) are allowed.
Scientific research shows that IF is good for us. More and more People are trying it and discover the well-being of intermittent fasting. By not eating for a certain period, they notice that they get more
energy and also that they are losing weight more easily. How does IF help you lose weight? First I will explain the different forms of fasting and further down I will talk about the advantages.
Intermittent Fasting Guide
There are several ways to do Intermittent Fasting:
1. Fast Five: you eat for 5 hours and you fast for 19 hours. You could choose for example the time frame of 14-19 hours to eat, but this is up to you.
2. Warrior-Diet: this means you eat for only 4 hours a day and the remaining 20 hours you fast.
3. Fasting within a daily windows: for example the 16/8intermittent fasting, where you eat 8 hours and you fast for 16 hours. This is also a good method for those who work and much appreciated by sportspeople.
4. Eat-stop-eat: now and then you don‘t eat anything for a period of 24 hours. You only drink water,
coffee and (green) tea. You can also do this in a regular rhythms (5:2)
5. Alternate day fasting: you eat for 24 hours, you fast for 24 hours
The health benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Every time you eat, the body has to work hard to turn the food into energy that is used immediately, and it will store the excess amounts through insulin. This is called the „fed state“ in which the insulin rises
and whilst in this state, the body cannot burn fat at the same time.
When you stop eating, the insulin starts to drop. This process takes up to 24 hours. After that, the body will begin to burn fat. We call this the „fasted state“.
We will gain weight, when we find ourselves in the fed state longer than in the fasted state. Therefore, it is recommended to spend more time in the fasted state than in the fed state, because the fat will be burned and this will accelerate the eight loss process.
4 benefits of practicing IF:
1. Blood sugar regulation
Over the years, our nutrition has changed a lot. We eat too much processed foods and often our food has (hidden) sugar in it. This means that the cells within our organs become less sensitive of Insulin and
thus the blood sugar remains on a high level. When fasting, your blood sugar level drops and the risk of Diabetes Type 2 will be reduced.
2. Lower risk of cardiovascular problems
You body is in need of healthy food to protect your health from risks like cholesterol, which could result in a stroke. Tests have shown that Intermittent Fasting has reduced cholesterol and triglycerides in
normal and overweight adults, which cause heart diseases. It also helps decrease high blood pressure.
3. Weight loss
losing body fat means gaining more energy. By IF your body changes from burning glucose to burning fat. When your body is getting used to burning fat, it will most likely ask for fewer carbs and sweet stuff, which is helpful when losing weight. Intermittent fasting also helps accelerate your metabolism, which makes the weight loss process easier. Because you are not starving yourself for long periods of time, your body does not shift into the saving modes, which means that you avoid the yoyo-effect. It’s also a great way to limit caloric intake and it’s way more enjoyable than counting calories.
4. Time and Money savings
It is not necessary to prepare a diet plan for the whole week for your grocery shopping and for the preparations of your meals. This precious time can be used to other important stuff.
How to start?
As a beginner it is recommended to start with leaving the morning and/or afternoon snacks out. This way you just eat your 3 meals a day and your body can get used to being without eating for a couple of hours in between. Do not make it too hard on yourself and start slowly.
The Leangains Method, where you eat for 8 hours and you fast for 16 hours, is the most common form of IF. Start with adding some hours before or after your night sleep. If your blood sugar is low and you are
having difficulties skipping breakfast in the morning, then adjust the hours. You could start with breakfast at 9 am and end with an early dinner around 5 pm.
Everyone should find out for themselves which method is best, what fits the best in your daily routine and how your body reacts to it. It is possible that in the beginning you feel tired, or that you have
headaches or that you’re cold. This is normal your body has to get used to the changes. Probably you will think of food more than before, don’t worry about that, it will go away as soon as you’re used to it. Do not maintain the same rhythm all the time, your body will get used to it and your metabolism will adapt and run slower.
You body is always right!
There may be times when it is not a good idea to do IF, for example when you are pregnant, recovering from an illness or when your weight is low already. It should be a way to gain more energy.
If you are not sure, ask a physician or natural health practitioner for help.