Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction about Intermittent Fasting
- 2 Getting started
- 3 How to stop intermittent fasting from becoming a fear?
- 4 Hunger and Intermittent Fasting
- 5 Intermittent Fasting Philosophy
- 6 what we do when we do not do intermittent fasting
- 7 Why Intermittent fasting is so good ?
- 8 A Misconception about Intermittent Fasting
- 9 Fasted state and fed state
- 10 Different intermittent fasting models
- 11 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- 12 FAQs
- 13 Final Verdict
Introduction about Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a famous method of losing weight and bringing the body back to shape. It is not a diet plan, but a fasting plan which helps people creating a balance between diet and fasting. As a matter of fact it is now considered one of the most famous ways or the best nutritional theory to lose weight. People enjoy freedom to devise their own IF (intermittent fating) plan and enjoy its maximum benefits.
In this kind of eating pattern people schedule their meals in a way that they are always mixed with long fasting breaks. While you may pick any food that you like, and it is the beauty of this dieting and fasting plan, you have to ensure long respites of fasting. We suggest a 24 hours fasting plan.
Starting intermittent fasting, one must make sure that they do not start off on the wrong foot. Let there be no confusion; your frequent but unorganized dieting and fasting plans have nothing to do with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can be started in many different ways and with many different time periods, but experts advise not more than 24 hours intermittent fasting plan.
However, it is not necessary for everyone to agree with a 24 hours fasting plan. While some people would go for even longer lapse, there are others who would go for shorter periods of fasting.
For example, there is this Leangains intermittent fasting model. In this kind of method, you have to fast for roughly 14 to 16 hours a day (varies from men to women).
During the hours of fasting, be it 24 hours model or this 16 hours model, you cannot consume much food, but only water and low-calorie food. Coffee, tea, green tea and protein supplements are what you can always take.
However, 24 hours fasting model makes an exception. In this type of fasting, one can always consume the kind of food they love. Yes, you can go for cheese burgers, with only one condition; you only consume a very little amount of the foods that you love. Comparing 16 hours leangains method to it, the only allowed food is low-calorie food.
How to stop intermittent fasting from becoming a fear?
Before ever you shout “Oh the horror!” and give up on your dream of getting that slim and smart bodyline that you always desired, you might want to consider the fact that even without giving a serious thought to fasting, you are fasting every day. Yes! It happens when you are asleep and as a matter of fact, each and every one of us, fasts for roughly 6 to 8 hours within a 24 hours period. All you have to do is to add extra hours to it.
How much? It depends on your threshold and will to lose fats.
Hunger and Intermittent Fasting
Now slowdown and hold your horses! No one’s asking you to give up on food at all. While fasting, you can still consume low calories food, water, coffee and tea. Not interesting? You want to have a little extra? Tell you what, there is a model of intermittent fasting that demands you to stretch your fasting a little bit farther than 16 hours, but let you enjoy your favorite meals. It is Eat Stop Eat model of 24 hours fasting. This model lets you eat a little quantity of whatever food you love, and you still manage to lose your weight and keep your muscles strong.
Intermittent Fasting Philosophy
So you are interested and want to know how intermittent fasting works and how you can do it step by step to reach the point where your body would have zero fats? Good for you. Well, nutritionists would charge a fortune to put you on the track and we are doing this for absolutely free. IF is complicated, but it is still not rocket science. See, our body is either in feeding state or in fasting state. This is why we keep getting fatter and fatter, because since the dawn of snacks and fast food, eating is not something which is done three times a day, but almost all the day, except the time when we sleep.
Thus, we live constantly in the feeding state and fasting state only happens for the few hours when we go to bed. This is the reason why average Joe is only gaining fats, not losing them. In order to make sure that you lose fats, not only you have to get introduced to the fasting state again. The fasting state is the state of body in which your food intake remains at minimal.
Let us not forget the reason why we need long fasting hours. Feeding state simply does not end right after you stop eating; it is definitely not the beginning of fasting state. After you are done with your food, your body still needs three to five hours to absorb all the food and thus your fasting state actually starts after three to five hours of your last food intake.
The point is, getting thin is impossible if your body is not burning fats, and it will not start burning fats unless you stop eating: why? Because insulin levels are so high for the fats to be burnt. However, once you are done with eating and a few hours are passed, you enter the fasted state and it is there that you start losing fats. Why you need a minimum 8 hours sleep per day? It is not only because your body needs rest, but also because you cannot have so many consecutive hours of fasting otherwise.
So how to go about it?
The biggest problem with intermittent fasting is not the will power to start it, but to find the perfect method. There are people who are determined to lose weight and they go for longer hours of fasting: longer than 24 hours span. Then there are those who suggest that even 24 hours is too much and it should be maximum 16 hours. So, which plan is good and balanced? Well, as it appears, 24 hours Eat Stop Eat method seems to be a balanced approach to IF.
First of all it is neither too less, to have little to no effects on your body fats, nor too much, to make fasting impossible. Secondly, it is a good model, because you get to eat something within the span of 24 hours and that something can be your favorite food, even pizza and burgers (only in minimum quantity). This ensures that you stay in touch with food, evade stress and depression, and keep right on the track of losing fats.
The secret lies in understanding the link of fasted state and fat consumption. As it has been mentioned above, your fasted state simply does not take off right after you stop eating; it still needs a few hours during which your body keep digesting the food. After those few hours, your body enters the fasted state and it is then that actual fat burning takes place. The key is to remember that while you are in fasted state and you are not eating anything at all, your body starts burning the previously stored fats and this is how you eventually start losing weight.
However, you can boost the results of fasted state, but simply adding some exertion and resistance exercises. Remember, when you are in a fasted state, your food intake is already little to no; in this kind of situation, you are losing fats at a good speed and if you add workouts to your schedule, it will only turbo-charge the fat burning mechanism in your body and you would see good results in a matter of days (depending on how much fats you have gathered in past years). Not to mention that your body, during the fasted state, gets all its energy from saved fats and it does not get energy from the blood glucose or glycogen in your muscle mass/liver.
It is like blackmailing your body to deplete the fats stored in it, instead of feeding it with more and more fats. Think of your body as a spoilt kid (those of you who are rich in body fats and love handles can easily do this – no offense), and now think of depriving this spoilt kid of his pocket money in a way to punish him for being bad. Just like a spoilt kid, your body will soon learn to behave and has no other option, but to burn the saved fats and lose weight.
How to plan your meal while fasting is totally up to you. Some people would skip the breakfast and make it an 8:00 PM dinner to next 8:00 PM dinner deal. It seems easier because you can always skip the breakfast with less calories and nutrition and go for a meal which is more nutritious in order to make sure that fasting does not suck all the energy out of you. While some other people who are so hell bent on “Breakfast is a must!” would argue that first meal should never be compromised and fasting is easier if done from dawn to dawn as compared to dusk to dusk.
Well, they have their own reasoning, but let us break the “One should not miss the first meal!” bubble! Breakfast, as the word suggests, is simply made of two words: break and fast. Which means it is the meal that one enjoys to break the fasting state. So, to tell you the truth, even if you get your first “end of the fast” meal at night, it will be your first meal. There is no possibility of your missing out on your first meal.
The magic of intermittent fasting lies in maintaining energy while losing fats. You won’t believe if we told you that the meal you enjoy right after the end of fasting state is bigger than the normal meals that you have, but you still maintain a caloric deficit and eventually manage to reduce a lot of weight.
Role of insulin and glycogen is very interesting in all this. When our body is fed food, it shows a different type of reaction to it; it starts making insulin. As a result, you create more and more insulin, your body does not burn the fats and you do not lose the weight and improve your overall muscle mass. This thing gets more interesting when your body decreases the production of insulin right after a prolonged period of fasting or fasted state. Your body being sensitive to insulin means more and more fats loss and eventually get closer to your goal: the thin and slim bodyline.
Likewise, glycogen works like a miracle in your body. It is actually a starch naturally stored in your liver and muscle mass. In case your body does not find any fuel to burn, it gets this starch to burn and get energy for you. This gets depleted at a very fast rate while we are asleep. Why? Because when we are asleep for, say 8 hours, we do not have anything to eat and restore the energy, and at that time our body depletes this starch to get energy. Same thing happens in a prolonged fasted state.
You wake up in morning after an 8 hours long sleep and decide to skip the breakfast and lunch, but you still need energy for almost 12 hours, so what to do? Well, your body knows what to do. It will burn the glycogen and thus makes you even leaner and thinner. Guess what, if on top of 8 hours long sleep, and then fasting for roughly 12 more hours, you also decide to add massive workouts to your schedule, it will only deplete faster the glycogen, trigger insulin and you will lose weight sooner than you thought.
Now let’s see what happens on a casual day without IF and its magic – well, you stored your body with too much calories and then you went to bed without burning those calories. After an 8 hours sleep you wake up and you do the breakfast first thing in the morning. This only adds to the stored calories, some of which were consumed by your 8 hours long sleep, but you have stored more than consumed calories and your body never starts burning the fats.
When your body will notice that insulin sensitivity is at normal (no fasting to stimulate it) and all the food that you consume finds glycogen at its maximum level and enough glucose in your blood, it turns into fats and get stored instead of getting burnt. On top of this, you have a lengthy lunch, several snack breaks and then a heavy dinner. By the end of 24 hours cycle, you again go to the bed with food turned into fats. It is only a vicious cycle, which keeps adding to your fat reserves and never let your body burn them. You only grow fatter and fatter day by day.
Another important agent is growth hormone – scientific research shows that growth hormone does not only bless you with good height, but it also increases the quality of life. It is the hormone that boosts your health and puts you on the road to glory. Research shows that growth hormone is boosted not only during sleep (and fasting), but also after a fasted state ends.With the increase in GH and decrease in the insulin production, there comes increased insulin sensitivity which you need in order to reduce fat and tune up the muscles.
In a nutshell when you get into intermittent fasting, you start burning fats because IF helps your body learn to burn and use the food that it takes in. The physiological reasons for why IF helps tune up the body, develop the muscles and reduce fats, are more than one. Why it works, because it simply stops you from overeating and it helps you burn your calories.
Let us have a look at
what we do when we do not do intermittent fasting
Well it is very simple. Your routine life is based on eating a lot. Let us examine the food intake that a normal person has in his everyday life. Our food is mainly based on eggs, meat, milk, juices and vegetables. Now, all of these are packed and loaded with nutrition and we simply do not need to eat anything at all, but then come snacks and fast food. When it is tea-time, tea is never enough, and we always end up having a fair share of cookies or bakery items. Then comes fast-food; it is more appropriate if it was called fat-food.
Now compare this lifestyle with a lifestyle with 16 to 24 hours fasting. Obviously, both of them are totally opposite to each other and the results of both are also totally opposite. If obsessive eating only adds to your body fats and makes you fat, IF does the opposite and drains out all the excessive body fats. Thus, there should be no doubt that those who try IF, eventually manage to lose a lot of weight, without compromising over muscle mass and overall energy needed for the day.
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Why Intermittent fasting is so good ?
Because it works at so many different levels, with almost all of them leading towards weight loss. For example, it increases the insulin sensitivity and thus makes the body consume stored fats, including the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver. Also, it offers raised levels of growth hormone; irrespective of whatever is the scientific reason, it is a known fact that raised levels of growth hormone cause weight loss. For your metabolism, fasting is like that phenomenal “Factory Reset” option; you press the button and reboot the system to its factory condition.
A Misconception about Intermittent Fasting
While we are at it, why not talk about one of the biggest misconceptions about IF; it causes muscle mass and thus the price that one pays for weight loss is an inevitable muscle loss. Well, let us discuss this myth and see if IF causes muscle loss or not.
When we talk about energy, it is mostly blood sugar. It provides optimum amount of energy to your organs and cells. While eating carbs is the easiest way to boost blood sugar or glucose, it can still be managed out of eating carbs. For example, glycogen is a source of energy and it is stored in human liver as well as muscles. Then there come body fats and amino acids in previously consumed protein; all of them are sources of energy and they are consumed by the human body, while it is in fasted condition.
The point is, an average person would not lose muscle mass, unless they are totally deprived of their bodily energy. The whole notion that fasting makes body get energy from muscles and thus a muscle mass is necessary, is flawed. An average Joe’s liver stores roughly 100 grams glycogen and it is enough to fuel a human body for as long as 24 fasted hours. So, before ever your body demands the muscles to provide glycogen, you enter the fed state and complete the cycle of intermittent fasting.
Fasted state and fed state
Fasted state and fed state are two terms that you need to understand if you really want to understand how intermittent fasting works, and how you can eat whatever you want and still lose fats. All you need is a good balance between fed and fasted states. As experts say, your body is either in fed state (constant feeding and storing energy) or it is in fasted state (which starts after a few hours of your last meal). Once your body has consumed the last meal, it starts burning the stored fats and thus you lose weight. So you can still eat your favorite meals and yet burn the calories via IF.
Different intermittent fasting models
In this section you will learn about different intermittent fasting models and pick one that is most suitable to you.
- Daily Intermittent Fasting
Remember, daily intermittent fasting does not have to do anything with 24 hours or 16 hours schedule. It can be any of them. All you have to do is to adopt one specific model on daily basis. While some people suggest to do this from one breakfast to another one, some do a modest 16 hours fasting from one dinner to another. This allows them to break bread with family and enjoy some company.
The good thing about daily intermittent fasting is routine; it soon becomes a routine and you definitely enjoy some benefits specific to this routine. First of all, as compared to other models, you see results faster and secondly, it is easy make it a habit. Think of someone who does IF per week; how much time you think they will take to get into a routine and how soon they would notice any apparent weight loss?
However, there is a disadvantage of this type of IF. When you start eating bigger meals to resist hunger during the long terms of daily intermittent fasting, at first it seems easier, but then it becomes kind of a problem. We human beings feel much easier with smaller chunks of food intake throughout the day, as compared to one big meal to resist the day long fasting.
- Weekly Intermittent Fasting
For those who simply cannot resist the temptation to eat every hour or so, there is a modest model of intermittent fasting. This is weekly intermittent fasting. We suggest you to do this on weekends. Why? Because you can save your energy by not paying attention to highly demanding tasks such as job or education. Also, on weekends, you can spice up the fasting with massive workouts and thus enjoy the maximum possible benefits of intermittent fasting. Remember, you are not doing it every day, so you need some extra effort in order to meet the target and lose some considerable amount of fats.
With advantages come some disadvantages. While weekly fasting allows you to take it easy and slowly spruce up the effort, it has a downside; it would not have much effect on your fats unless you do it for a very long period. While you eat every day of the week, your progress is considerably slower as compared to daily intermittent fasting.
- Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting
Since daily intermittent fasting is a considerably tough routine and weekly IF does not seem to be as beneficial as daily IF, the only balanced approach seems to be alternate day intermittent fasting. Although, it varies from person to person, for average Joe who does not want to wage a war on fats, but still wants to see some considerable results, alternate day intermittent fasting sure looks like a solution. In this type of IF, one can fast every alternate day and have a 24 hours fasting cycle from one dinner to another dinner.The biggest benefit of this style is getting to eat every alternate day, with consistent fasting periods.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
When it comes to intermittent fasting, there are many benefits of it. Some of them are as follows:
- The biggest benefit of intermittent fasting is obvious decrease in fats and overall weight.
- Another very important benefit is reshaping the muscles. Since fasting eliminates the fats from human body, muscles and bodyline become more prominent.
- It boosts the growth hormone levels and thus improves the quality of life. If the person who is doing intermittent fasting is still in growing age, they have fair chances to growing taller than their genetic average.
- It saves one from food-related depression and anxiety. Those of you who are aware of this phenomenon will testify that depressed eating is one big reason of obesity and poor health.
- It provides an extensive cellular cleansing and thus rewards one with better cellular health.
- It increases your chances to have a longer life. As per scientific research, restricting the amount of calories lengthens the human life.
- It reduces your risk of having side effects of chemotherapy and it also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- It is easier than dieting. You do not have to get into tasteless food that no one can approve of unless for health benefits. You can always eat whatever you like; you just have to settle for a minimal quantity. Instead of eating a cheese burger or pizza every alternate day, why not eat only a chunk of it?
- Although scientists are not very decisive on this, but research suggests that those who get into intermittent fasting, improve the clarity of mind and overall concentration.
- Another very important benefit is protection from type 2 diabetes. Since intermittent fasting reduces the level of blood sugar, it saves from type 2 diabetes.
- It boosts the gastrointestinal system as well as metabolism. This results in better consumption of food and overall increase in energy.
In this section we have covered the frequently asked questions about intermittent fasting:
1. What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a dieting plan, but a pattern of eating that increases insulin sensitivity and reduces weight. It is a method of scheduling the meals. It does not limit the meals that you can have, but only regulates the timings when you may have them.
2. How it is different than dieting?
In a dieting plan you have to skip your favorite food and choose the meals decided by your nutritionist or as per your plan. However, in intermittent fasting you still eat what you love, but you reduce the quantity and choose when to eat and when not to.
3. How to get started?
There is no set pattern. You can do it daily, weekly, biweekly or every alternate day. The time span can be around 16 to 24 hours. Just make sure to stay hydrated, avoid food with high calories and add some resistance exercises to maximize the results.
4. What is the difference between traditional fasting and intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not same as traditional fasting. While in traditional fasting people consume zero or very little food and water substances, in the intermittent fasting there is no such restriction. You can consume water, tea, coffee and other drinks without sugar.
5. Can you drink water during intermittent fasting?
The rule of thumb is that you can consume all sugar-free drinks, but to make it simple, you can consume water, black tea, coffee, herbal tea, green tea and even diet soda during your intermittent fasting period.
6. Should I go with 16 hours intermittent fasting period or 24 hours?
The period of fasting depends on your capacity to remain fasted as well as your fitness demands. If you can tolerate the fasted state for 24 hours and if you want to reduce optimum weight in minimum time, 24 hours period is best for you.
7. How many days a week should you do intermittent fasting?
This depends on your forbearance and on how soon you want to see some results. Alternate day is a more balanced approach because you get one day to enjoy your favorite meals and on the other day you catchup with your health routine. It is neither too difficult nor too inconsistent.
8. Do you lose muscle mass in the intermittent fasting?
It is not possible for one to lose muscle mass in the intermittent fasting. As a matter of fact, intermittent fasting has been told to have increased and reshaped the muscle mass.
9. What is the difference between fed state and fasted state?
During fed state, we keep eating and thus increasing our insulin level, which leads to fat production. To the contrary, during the fasted state, we have no food reserves in body, insulin level goes down and body has to burn the safe reserves of sugar and fats.
10. Do we enter the fasted state right after we stop eating?
The fasted state does not start right after we stop eating. After we are done with eating, our body starts consuming the food and only once it is completely done (roughly 5 to 6 hours) we enter in the fasted state.
11. Isn’t it bad for health if I skip my breakfast?
This is one big health myth. Breakfast is a word made of two words: “break” and “fast”. This means that whichever meal you have right after the end of fasted state, is your “first meal”; thus you never miss out on the first meal and its health benefits.
12. How to enjoy maximum benefits of intermittent fasting?
Weight loss is all about burning fats. If you add resistance exercises on top of your 24 hour intermittent fasting periods and if you refrain from eating high-calorie meals, you will be able to enjoy the maximum benefits of intermittent fasting.
13. What if I want to do intermittent fasting and also give up on high-calorie diet?
Intermittent fasting along with resistance exercises and balanced meal, can show you best possible results. Instead of high-calorie diet, it is good if you go with “lean and green” diet, consisting of herbs, veggies and fruits.
14. With intermittent fasting how soon will I lose weight?
It varies from person to person. People with a bulky physique may lose as much as 1 to 2 pounds per week, while people with a think and lean physique only lose from 0.5 to 1 pound per week. However, it is not a hard and fast rule.
15. How intermittent fasting affects women?
Women are more insulin sensitive and this is the reason why they burn fats easily as compared to men. Although there is no definitive research on this, women have better chances to lose weights than men, if they tried intermittent fasting.
16. Do I need to take any special supplements?
While reliable supplements can be good for overall health, there has not been known any scientific research that suggests special supplements for intermittent fasting.
17. What are the disadvantages of intermittent fasting?
Hunger is one of the very few disadvantages of intermittent fasting. Also, the temporary lack of energy during the hours of prolonged intermittent fating can also be counted among a few disadvantages. However, both of these situations are temporary and vanish as soon as you consume your daily meal.
18. Isn’t intermittent fasting bad for my metabolism?
The functioning of metabolism is not liked with eating the way people link it. Thus, intermittent fasting does not slow down your metabolism. As long as you are having the minimum number of calories that you need, your metabolism is fine.
19. How intermittent fasting affects my body cells?
When you are in a fasted state, your body cells starts a repair process. This process includes autophagy in which dysfunctional and old proteins are removed from inside the cells. This is how intermittent fasting cures your body cells.
20. Should obese kids get into intermittent fasting?
Kids do not have the same stamina as grownups. Their body is in consistent process of growing and they need good amount of nutrients. Intermittent fasting is a bad idea for kids, unless they are too obese, it is done in adult supervision and at a smaller level.
21. Who should not get into intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a harmless way to lose fats, but people who are underweight, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and kids (unless they are too obese and observed) should not try intermittent fasting.
People who talk about intermittent fasting a lot are not necessarily well-educated on this topic. There are myths, fears, rumors and knowledge all mixed up. Intermittent fasting, however, is not a myth and it is one very effective way of losing fats. As a matter of fact Brad Pilon, the author of Eat Stop Eat, believes that all weight-loss methods are either not very effective or totally fraudulent. He believes that overweight is a situation which is a result of eating more than required. The only way to get rid of this situation and all those fats is to do the opposite – fasting. Why intermittent fasting? Because it is neither too easy not too harsh. This guide was just an effort to help you in your crusade against obesity. Write back to us, give us your feedback; it keeps us moving and writing.