Following up on my write-up about the Mediterranean Diet, in this article I’ll be talking about another diet (of sorts) that will help you lose weight as well as improve your health. Have you ever heard of intermittent fasting? It’s not a diet, per se, as it doesn’t dictate what kind of foods you eat. Rather, it dictates the schedule of when you eat.
The Basics of Intermittent Fasting
To understand what this is, it’s easiest to just break it down by definition.
Intermittent: occurring at irregular intervals; not continuous or steady
Fasting: abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink
As you can probably guess, it is an eating pattern where you go through periods of eating and not eating for periods of time. The most common types of schedules are going 16 hours or 24 hours without eating or drinking, on a twice per week schedule.
This is not a new concept, actually, it is something that has been practiced since man has been around. In old times, it was often because the scarcity of food to eat. You didn’t always have a supermarket down the street or a stocked pantry. At other times, and where it is most commonly used today, is in religious observance.
Because this has been going on for so long, our bodies have evolved to go without food for periods of time without nutrition. It’s actually more natural for our bodies than eating every few hours. Sure, you get hungry a few hours after a meal, but you’ll survive. That’s the basis behind this kind of diet program.
Kinds of Intermittent Fasting
Here are the most popular methods to practice this type of fasting:
- Leangains (“16/8”) Method – In this method, you skip breakfast and constrain all of your food intakes into the 8-hour period of 1 pm to 9 pm. Thus, the term “16/8”, for the 8 hours you are able to eat, and the 16 hours without food.
- 5:2 Diet – On two days of every week (non-consecutive), limit your diet to only 500-600 calories. On the other 5 days of the week, eat as you normally would.
- Eat-Stop-Eat – A more extreme version of the 5:2. This involves going without food for 24 hours, once or twice per week.
As long as you don’t overcompensate by eating too much during the periods when you do eat, you should be losing weight. Of the above options, the 16/8 is probably the easiest to stick to.
When you fast, your body goes through hormonal changes that make fat stored in the body more accessible. When you exercise during fasting, you are primarily burning this fat that is now readily available for use as energy.
Your cells also go through a repair process, helping to rejuvenate your body and lead to an overall feeling of wellness. Old proteins that have become wasteful are broken down and replaced with fresh ones.
You also get a boost in HGH (human growth hormone) levels, which has a strong correlation to fat loss and muscle gain. Additionally, the function of your genes is altered which promotes longevity as well as wards off disease.
If you can stomach (pun intended) going without food for 16-24 hours, I recommend taking a look at the three methods mentioned above and seeing which one would work best for you. It is not limited to those three schedules. I encourage you to research more, but those are the three main ones. It could just be the thing to kickstart your health!