“Intermittent fasting” are buzzy words that are coming up almost every time you hear someone talking about losing weight or dieting lately, so (because we’re always here for you!) we’re giving you the 4-1-1. Read on for everything you need to know about intermittent fasting.
What the heck is “intermittent fasting?”
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating & fasting. It doesn’t say anything about what foods to eat, but instead dictates when you eat. There are several different intermittent fasting methods all of which spit the day or week into eating & fasting periods.
Basically, you pick 8 hours each day & restrict eating to only that window of time… fasting for 16 hour a day… also known as the 16/8 Method. During the 16 fasting hours, you can drink water, black coffee & tea (or, any other noncaloric beverages).
So, how does “intermittent fasting” work?
Well, first of all, by cutting out an entire meal each day, you are consuming fewer calories per week – even if your two meals per day are slightly bigger than before. Overall, you’re still consuming fewer calories per day. (Restricting your eating to an 8-hour window does not mean you can eat whatever the heck you want… making healthy food choices still matter!)
Intermittent Fasting can also help because your body operates differently when “feasting” compared to when “fasting.”
- When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food, burning what it can from what you just consumed. Because it has all of this readily-available, easy to burn energy (thanks to the food you ate), your body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat you have stored. This is especially true if you just consumed carbohydrates/sugar, as your body prefers to burn sugar as energy before any other source. During the “fasted state” (the hours in which your body is not consuming or digesting any food) your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it is more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body as it’s the only energy source readily available. (Burning fat = WIN!)
- The same goes for working out in a “fasted” state. Without a ready supply of glucose and glycogen to pull from (which has been depleted over the course of your fasted state, and hasn’t yet been replenished with a pre-workout meal), your body is forced to adapt and pull from the only source of energy available to it: the fat stored in your cells. (excerpt from Nerd Fitness)
Why in the world does “intermittent fasting” work?
Sticking to healthy foods, restricting your food intake window & tossing in a good ol’ “fast” occasionally can have some pretty compelling health benefits. It is undoubtedly an effective way to lost fat & improve metabolic health, while simplifying your life at the same time. Basically, Intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently, & your body can learn to burn fat as fuel when you deprive it of new calories to constantly pull from (if you eat all day long).
Here are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormones skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss & muscle gain, to name a few .
- Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves & levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.
- Cellular Repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest & remove old & dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
- Gene Expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity & protection against disease.
To summarize & simplify that nerdy stuff: when you fast, human growth hormone levels go up & insulin levels go down. Your body’s cells also change the expression of genes & initiate important cellular repair processes.
Who should try “intermittent fasting?”
While intermittent fasting isn’t something that anyone needs to do, if you feel good while fasting & find it to be a sustainable way of eating, then it can be a super powerful tool to loose weight & improve health.