We know the drill with fad diets. The no-fat, no-carb, gluten-free, veggie only cabbage soup and others have made big promises about helping you lose weight fast. Despite having the best intentions about feeding your body with only what’s good for us, we give into these diets and eventually give up with a large slice of chocolate fudge cake and wine. Fortunately, there are better and healthier ways of losing weight, enhancing your body’s composition and just feel good about your meals. We’re talking about skipping meals once in a while, also called intermittent fasting. There are several intermittent fasting methods out there, you just need to find out what works best for you.
We’d also like to emphasize that you are already fasting every day, so intermittent fasting isn’t a novel phenomenon. We call this sleeping. You’re practically going without food or water. Intermittent fasting just involves extending this fast, allowing you to gain more consciousness over your eating habits.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
New research shows that intermittent fasting can help overweight and obese individuals and those with type-2 diabetes, in losing weight and improving cardiovascular health . The study also showed that even with no changes in total calorie intake or minor reductions, intermittent fasting can help you. This indicates that intermittent fasting can have the following benefits in your body:
• Reduced blood pressure
• Metabolism boost
• Better muscle-to-fat ratio
• Improved lipid and glucose levels
• Reduced inflammation
• Weight loss
• Reduction in visceral fat – the dangerous kind responsible for many Western diseases (diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer etc.)
• Improved insulin sensitivity and insulin levels
• Improvement in type-2 diabetes
• Improved heart function. Reduction in LDL (bad cholesterol) levels
• Improved pancreatic function
How can I start intermittent fasting?
There are many intermittent fasting methods out there, each providing weight loss and other benefits mentioned above. Choose a fasting protocol based on your own personal preference and what suits your body and lifestyle.
1. Leangains or the 16/18 intermittent fasting method
This one is pretty straight forward. Fast for 14 to 16 hours a day and restrict your eating period to 8 to 10 hours, fitting 2 to 3 meals in there. While 16 hours may sound like a lot, it’s actually as simple as having dinner at 8 pm and not eat after. You’ll sleep for 7-8 hours, so you won’t really feel anything during this time. Continue fast till 12 noon and you have 16 hours of fasting right there. Women are advised to fast for 14 to 15 hours only.
Here’s the good news, you can drink water, plain black coffee (without sugar or creamer), green tea and other non-caloric drinks while fasting. Make sure you eat only clean, healthy foods during your 8 hour eating window and the fast will be ineffective if you consume excessive calories and unhealthy junk. Limiting your carb intake by skipping sugar, fast food and processed food can also help curb your appetite, making this fast a breeze.
2. Eat stop eat – the 24 hour per week fast
This is a great method for those who have certain days per week in which they have no food-related obligations and are total busy and distracted. The technique allows you to fast 24 hours or one day, once or twice per week. You can drink calorie-free beverages, as mentioned in the previous fast. The technique is flexible and allows you to start and end at any time, provided that you get 24 hours of fasting in there.
3. Alternate day fasting
As the name implies, you have to fast every other day, 24 hours each fasting period. There are several versions of this intermittent fasting plan, some of them allowing you to have 500 calories during the fasting period. Most studies that show the health benefits of intermittent fasting use similar versions of this fasting method. Beginners are discouraged from doing an extreme fast and we think this applies to every other fitness level too.
4. Fast and feast or the Warrior Diet
This involves fasting all day and going on an all-you-can eat during 4 non-fasting hours. The Warrior Diet encourages individuals to have a paleo-like eating plan with natural, unprocessed whole foods.
5. 5:2 diet or the Fast Diet
The diet allows you to eat normally for 5 days every week and restrict your calories to 500 to 600 calories two days per week. Women are encouraged to stick to 500 calories on fasting days, and men, 600 calories.
6. Spontaneous skipping
Skipping meals from time to time without following a proper intermittent fasting plan can also help you reap benefits. This is great technique to follow if you do not want to cook or eat at times. The human body is designed to withstand long periods or deprivation; therefore, skipping 1-2 meals will not harm you in any way.
Thailand fitness bootcamp is on a quest to educate everyone on the endless benefits of positive, healthy living. Body positivity, self-encouragement and feeling great about oneself are integral parts of our agenda along with a wide array of healthy eating choices and fitness plans. Feel to drop us a line or join our bootcamp to kickstart a fun and energetic fitness journey.
1. Intermittent fasting: a dietary intervention for prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease? doi: 10.1177/1474651413486496British Journal of Diabetes & Vascular Disease March/April 2013 vol. 13 no. 2 68-72