WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent Fasting is a broad term used to describe a pattern of eating in which you restrict your food intake to a specified time period. Many of us start the day with breakfast and end with an after-dinner snack in the evening, which creates about a 13-hour window of eating. Intermittent fasting refers to cutting down that amount of time.
There is some misinformation behind the idea of intermittent fasting. Some sources claim it is the best way to pursue weight loss, while others misconstrue the concept as simply skipping breakfast to get a six-pack. The truth is that we all practice intermittent fasting to some extent; when we sleep, we are fasting! This normal period of fasting is important for many regular processes in our bodies, such as regulating blood lipids, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. The claim that intermittent fasting is a helpful weight-loss strategy stems from these benefits. However, that does not mean it is a magic pill.
HOW IT WORKS
Weight loss requires a calorie deficit, which is eating fewer calories than you burn each day through exercise and daily activity. This is how all diets function. Anyone that experiences successful weight loss by following a certain diet does so because they are reducing the number of calories they eat to create a calorie deficit. This is the pattern for Paleo; Keto; Weight Watchers; gluten-free, vegan, and primal diets; and intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting can be considered a tool for weight loss because when you eat fewer times during the day, there’s a good chance that you take in fewer calories to create a calorie deficit. It can be a helpful strategy for managing hunger and improving appetite control, making it easier to stick to a calorie deficit.
HOW TO DO IT
There are many different intermittent fasting strategies out there. While they differ in time-restricted eating windows, the principles are the same: restrict your hours spent eating, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during fasting periods, and fill your eating period with high-quality, healthy foods.
Nutrition looks different for each person, so whatever works for a friend, a family member, or someone you saw online may not be the answer for you! Intermittent fasting is another tool in the weight loss toolbox and can be a helpful strategy if you already feel confident that you are making good food choices and have positive eating habits. It may not be right for you if you haven’t already mastered the basics of a healthy diet. If you want to give intermittent fasting a shot, don’t stress about the details and the rules. Find an eating window that works for you and your lifestyle and give it a try!
INTERMITTENT FASTING STRATEGIES
Alternating Day Fasting: This approach refers to alternating between 36 hours of fasting and 12 hours of eating. This approach can be challenging if you train heavily throughout the week.
Leangains Protocol: This approach recommends a 16-hour fast and an 8-hour eating window each day. It is less restrictive and can be a helpful way to moderate intake without drastically changing your eating habits.
24-Hour Fasts: This approach refers to fasting for a 24-hour period once or twice a week.
Warrior Diet: This approach promotes a 20-hour fast and 4-hour eating window.
For all approaches, remember that it is the restricted intake and consequent calorie deficit, not the specific meal timing, that produces successful weight loss.