We all have personal issues, be it family problems, romantic frustrations, career confusions, etc. Among all these, weight loss is an issue that most of us can relate to. It can either be the lamentations of an avid fitness freak over a poor dinner decision in holiday season or the wailing of a physique conscious teen over her “morbidly” average waistline. However, one thing is certain – we, all, have been down this road and for those of you who wish to wave goodbye to their abundant adipose absurdity, there is yet a little sliver of hope. We will see how Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss have been nearly synonymous in the fitness industry.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
We all go through a certain stretch of time in a day when we don’t consume anything. And for most of us, that is when we sleep at night (I hope my vampire following won’t mind being left off here) . We are basically fasting for about 6-8 hours every night without even thinking of doing so. Granted we aren’t doing a full fast but nonetheless we are fasting intermittently. That is the very essence of Intermittent Fasting.
In other words, we are going to restrict our eating periods to about 16 hours or fewer. Over the course of human evolution, we have grown complacent with the immense advancement of technology and the control we have over the environment. However, men weren’t meant to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day. We had to traverse perilous terrain and clash with the aggressive elements of the wild to get our daily morsel. In fact, we have been hard-wired to fast intermittently and eat big meals when the chance arrived.
So, how come this can produce magic in our body? Or did I leave out a certain important detail, involving wolfs bane, hemlock, the scale of Toothless and countless chants in Latin?
Types of Intermittent Fasting
As Intermittent Fasting becomes more and more popular, it has branched out into a plethora of methods or protocols. We have about 6 different protocols as shown below:
- The 16-8 Method – This method was popularized by fitness industry veteran, Martin Berkhan. He called this ‘The Leangains Method’. As in the title, the Fasting period will be 16 hours and the Feeding window is 8 hours. During the Feeding window, two or three big meals can be taken, all within the range of a reasonable calorie count. It’s a relatively simple concept and arguably the best protocol in either Intermittent Fasting or any Eating plan. I personally find this to be my favorite as well since all I have to do is skip breakfast.
- The Warrior Diet – It was popularized by fitness visionary Ori Hofmekler. Basically, one has to go through an entire day of fasting to eat a huge, well-earned meal at night. This follows a 20:4 fasting-feeding pattern. Small amounts of veggies and fruits are permitted throughout the day to keep the metabolic furnace stoked for the feast at night.
- OMAD – It stands for One Meal a Day. And yes, it can be grueling for those well-versed in the art of snacking every now and then. To go through an entire day of fasting (with no relaxation like The Warrior Diet) only to be rewarded with a sumptuous meal once every 24 hours is the stuff of nightmares for those starting out. And yet, this advanced technique can yield amazing results.
- The 5:2 Diet – This protocol, also called The Fast Diet, was popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley. It’s a pretty simple concept of fasting where one eats normally 5 days a week and restrict their calories to 500-600 on two days.
- Eat-Stop-Eat – This was structured by fitness expert Brad Pilon. This method involves fasting for 24 hours, twice a week. The remaining 5 days will ne normal days of responsible eating.
- Convenient Eating – This has no structure and simply states that one has to eat only when hungry and not obsess over meal timing.
Effects of Intermittent Fasting
There is a reason why Intermittent Fasting has garnered so many followers in such a short span of time. Here are some of the benefits –
1. Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting causes weight loss through two methods- by restricting calories and by lowering insulin levels.
Using a specific pattern of eating and having a restrictive window of eating can drastically cut down the overall calorie count and prevent excessive consumption. This is the magic of Intermittent Fasting. Without feeling severe deprivation, one can eat as much as reasonably possible and still lose weight. It takes a bit of getting used to at the start but once it gets rolling it becomes easy and very manageable.
The food we eat is broken down into simpler molecules by enzymes in the gut. When we consume carbohydrates, it is broken down into sugar, which is used by the body for energy. If it remains unused, it will be stored as fat. This is where Insulin comes into play for it is the hormone that allows our fat cells to store sugar. Only when our insulin levels are down can the cells release sugar as energy and the fasting period of Intermittent fasting are excellent stretches of time when our body can effectively use the fat cells, aiding in weight loss. In a way, we are setting up our body in such a way as to be able to regulate Insulin and burn off fat at the same time.
2. It can reduce the chances of getting type 2 Diabetes.
Because of the aforementioned benefits of excellent insulin regulation and reduction of body fat, Intermittent Fasting can be powerful tool to ward off the dangers of type 2 diabetes. As we all know, type 2 Diabetes is closely associated with either excessive body fat or poor insulin regulation. And Intermittent Fasting is the answer to both.
3. It can positively impact our heart health.
At this point, we are all aware of the magical touch of just a few hours of seemingly innocent fasting that hides a potent angel of healing behind its shadow. In fact, researchers in 2016 have provided solid reports of the cardiovascular impacts of Intermittent Fasting through the reduction of blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.
4. It improves our brains.
Animal research have provided evidence of how intermittent fasting can reduce brain inflammation, increase cognition and active learning and decrease the chances of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. However, it’s still arguable if this will have the same effects in humans as well.
5. It can reduce the chances of cancer.
Animal research studies have given positive results of how Intermittent Fasting can delay the onset of cancer.
Charting out a successful route
Even though we have learned a lot about how beneficial Intermittent Fasting can be to the human body, we have yet to apply it in our daily lives, without which it is of no consequence. So, let’s chart out a successful route to optimum health by following these four steps as given below-
- Stay within the daily calorie management levels. The only solution to sustainable weight loss doesn’t lie in magic pills or spells or complex dieting but in two words CALORIE RESTRICTION.
- Stay hydrated throughout the fasting period to suppress false flags of hunger and cravings.
- Avoid snacking at all costs during the fasting period, This is an excellent way of building up your self-discipline
- Follow a well-structured exercise regimen to build up your muscles, which not only provides an aesthetic perspective to health but also aids in fat loss eventually.
There we have it, folks. Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss come hand in hand and can often be undertaken in an easy and fun manner without the need to experience the harrowing cravings of severe calorie restriction or the daunting clanging of 500 lbs of weight plates in a sweaty gym. However, this doesn’t mean a fitness model or a hardcore lifter can’t get the benefits of Intermittent Fasting. It’s just a simple way of living lives comfortably and healthily. We all deserve that, at the very least.