Story provided by TSET Healthy Living Program
The world today is overflowing with fad diets and nutritional schemes that promise to get you looking slim and ready for swimsuit season; however, a lot of the time these programs are misleading, unhelpful, and frankly just a waste of time and money. There are many proven ways to lose weight and get in better shape from a dietary standpoint; we want to talk about one in particular called intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting, or IF for short, is one of the most popular fitness trends in the world currently. It’s defined by the Harvard School of Public Health as “a diet regimen that cycles between brief periods of fasting, with either no food or significant calorie reduction, and periods of unrestricted eating.” Basically, IF boils down to a “when you eat” diet as opposed to a “what you eat” diet. This means that you can still eat a lot of the foods you enjoy; you just have to change your eating schedule a little bit. Sounds easy enough, right? This article will talk about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting and how you can start doing it today.
First off, let’s discuss what the IF diet has to offer. The big topic to note here is IF’s ability to promote weight loss. This is due to simple science. When you restrict the time you spend eating throughout the day, you end up eating fewer calories. This can easily lead to a caloric deficit which will, in turn, help you lose weight. On top of a caloric deficit, IF also causes changes at a cellular and hormonal level. When you go for a period of time without any caloric intake, you reach lower insulin levels, increased Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels, and increased norepinephrine also known as the fat-burning hormone. As stated by healthline.com, changes in the hormones can result in an increase in your metabolic rate by 3.6 to 14%. So not only does IF help you to eat fewer overall calories, but it also helps your body burn more calories during fasted periods. This leads to increased weight loss results when combined with even little to moderate exercise.
Another notable benefit of IF is its ability to facilitate cellular repair in your body. When you go for an extended period of time without eating, your body will begin a process known as autophagy. This involves your body getting rid of old cells in order to create new ones. Autophagy offers many health benefits such as removing toxic proteins from cells that are attributed to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, recycling residual proteins, and prompting the regeneration of healthy cells (healthline.com). This all leads to a healthier, better functioning body, and it comes down to simply waiting a little longer before you eat your meals.
Now that you know some of the benefits that IF has to offer, let’s talk about how you can actually do it. IF has many variations you can try, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll just list the most popular methods. First up is the 16:8 method. This variation of IF basically just involves skipping breakfast. The 16 in 16:8 refers to the hours in a day that you are fasting. During that 16 hours, you should keep caloric intake to an absolute minimum. This means only drinking low to zero-calorie beverages such as coffee, tea, or water. The 8 refers to the window of time that you can eat. What you eat during those 8 hours is pretty much unrestricted, meaning you can eat whatever you want; however, it’s important to remember that the quality of the foods you eat will directly affect your weight loss results. If you pair IF with a healthy overall diet, you’re sure to succeed. 16:8 is arguably the most popular form of IF simply due to its sustainability. For example, if you’re doing a 16:8 IF method, you would stop eating at 8 pm until the following day at 12pm. Then you could eat from noon to 8 pm and then stop. While this form of IF probably isn’t the most effective, it still offers many benefits and has its fair share of success stories. Another popular IF variation is the 5:2. This version of IF consists of eating a very small amount of calories (about 300-500) on 2 non-consecutive days of the week, and then eating normally on the other 5. This method is popular as well due to its ease of sustainability while still offering many of the health benefits that come with fasting. The last popular IF method we want to mention is OMAD. OMAD stands for One Meal A Day. This is exactly what it sounds like. Fasting for the entire day except for one meal. This may not be feasible for many people, but it comes with the freedom to eat whatever you want for your one meal. Limiting yourself to one meal in a day makes it very easy for you to remain in a caloric deficit, leading to weight loss and the many benefits that IF has to offer.
Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. Some find success in it much more than others, but it’s worth noting that fasting has been a part of human evolution for as long as people have been around. It’s a natural process that our bodies undergo and benefit from, and it doesn’t involve giving up a lot of the enjoyable foods you love. If you’re interested in giving IF a try, do a little research and speak to your healthcare provider to see if it’s right for you. If your goals are to lose weight, get leaner, feel better, and be happier, intermittent fasting may be the answer you’ve been looking for.