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Intermittent Fasting: What is it & How Does it Work?

We’ve been reading about a myriad of diets. No-carb, no-fat, six small meals, lemonade, cabbage soup, gluten-free, raw, clean eating diets and so many others have been confusing the crap out of us. For ages, we’ve been told that skipping meals for weight loss leads to starvation and weight gain, but several researches prove that it may lead to the opposite effect. While for some, intermittent fasting means not eating or eating very little for long periods of time, such as 14 to 36 hours but for most, it’s simply about skipping a meal or two every day. Think about it, we are fasting every day anyway while we are sleeping. Extending this fasting period may actually be good for you.

Note that intermittent fasting may not suit everyone, especially those who are pregnant and have any health conditions. Talk to your doctor before making any nutritional changes.

HOW DOES INTERMITTENT FASTING WORK

According to research, it doesn’t matter how you do it, reducing your calorie intake by 30 to 40 percent is most likely going to extend your lifespan. Furthermore, limiting food intake means that you consume fewer health nasties such as sugar and trans fat and you lose weight, both of which are linked to a much lower risk of common illnesses. Intermittent fasting may also increase your body’s insulin sensitivity, thus helping you control your cravings and hunger better.

METHODS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING

Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, it’s simply an eating pattern that’s designed to help you lose weight or reach specific health-related goals. The following are a few types of intermittent fasting that you can incorporate into your daily life:

1. Leangains by Martain Berkhan

This pattern is great for those who want to build muscle and lose fat. It comes with some simple guidelines such as 14 hours of fasting for women and 16 hours for men every day followed by an 8-10 hour window in which you can eat. Although you’re not supposed to consume any calories during the fasting period; water, black coffee, sugar-free gym and calorie-free sweeteners are permitted. Your best bet would be to fast through the night and break your fast 6 hours after waking up. Being consistent is key to keep your hormones in check. Furthermore, you’re supposed to prioritize carbs over fat on workout days for energy and on days when you’re not working out, you’re supposed to have a higher fat intake.

2. The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler

The author divides the diet into two phases, undereating phase and overeating phase. You’re expected to fast, or more specifically “undereat” for 20 hours daily and have one large meal every night. While fasting, you can have raw fruits and vegetables or their fresh juices and some protein. This stage is designed to promote fat burning and boost your energy levels. The overeating, 4 hour window, involves eating in the night to help the body repair itself, recuperate and relax. While eating, be sure to start your meal with vegetables, protein and fat and keep carbs for last so that you can have them only if you’re not full.

3. Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon

You’re expected to fast for 24 hours, once or twice a week with this method. You’re allowed to drink calorie-free drinks such as water, green tea and black coffee while fasting. After you break your fast, you can return to normal eating. This diet allows you to lose weight through a calorie deficit without limiting your food options.

DRAWBACKS

The biggest issues related to intermittent fasting are lower energy levels, lack of focus and hunger during the fasting phases which may affect your workouts. Although jumping to a fasting stage from your normal routine can be quite a shock to your system, with time and consistence, your body will quickly adapt to these changes and learn to function optimally without food.
Furthermore, it can be a huge concern for people with blood sugar problems, diabetes or hypoglycemia. Therefore, make sure you consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet plan.

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