Intermittent fasting has become a hot button topic in popular media and with good reason: science has shown that intermittent fasting is effective for weight loss and a number of other benefits.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a way of timing your meals so that you are fasting for most or all of the day, depending on the method you choose. There are two popular methods of intermittent fasting: 16:8 and 24:1.
16:8 is when you fast for 16 hours each day and have an 8-hour feeding window where as 24:1 is when you fast for a full 24 hours one day per week.
Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss
One of the primary reasons that intermittent fasting is getting so much attention is that it has been shown to be an easy-to-follow and highly effective way to promote weight loss.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that all subjects performing intermittent fasting experienced a higher level of fat oxidation. (1)
Another study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine tested if the 16:8 method of intermittent fasting – arguably the most popular – had any benefit for weight loss. The results were as impressive as expected as all subjects reported a decrease in fat mass.
Not only did subjects lose body fat but they did not lose any muscle. The implications for bodybuilders and weight-cutting athletes is that intermittent fasting may be a safe and effective way to achieve weight and physique goals. (2)
Other Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Supports Brain Health
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have a variety of other benefits including increasing the health of our brains.
Studies show that fasting has a unique effect on our bodies, helping to remove waste and repair damaged cells and DNA. When it comes to our minds, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve brain health and fight back against cognitive-based conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. (3)
Lowers Risk of Disease
Continuing with the idea above, intermittent fasting doesn’t just help to decrease the risk of cognitive-based disease; it protects you from a variety of conditions with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and diabetes.
A study published in the International Journal of Health Sciences demonstrated that fasting improved genetic markers to fight off lifestyle and aged-related disease. (4)
How to Use Intermittent Fasting
As mentioned above, 16:8 is the most popular method for intermittent fasting as it is beginner-friendly and most of the fasting is done while asleep.
With 16:8, you will fast for 16 hours. That means no calories for 16 hours. Water, plain tea, and black coffee is okay but no food or calorie-based beverages. Once your fasting time is up, you have an 8-hour feeding window where you can follow your normal diet.
Again, once the feeding window ends, you resume your fast for another 16 hours. An ideal time to start your fast is at 8 p.m. Your fast ends at noon the following day. Most beginners will start with 5 days per week – usually Monday through Friday – and leave the weekend to eat as normal.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? Did you find it challenging? Want to try it? What concerns do you have about intermittent fasting? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Heilbronn LK, Smith SR, Martin CK, Anton SD, Ravussin E. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):69-73.
2. Moro T, Tinsley G, Bianco A, et al. Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance-trained males. Journal of Translational Medicine. 2016;14:290. doi:10.1186/s12967-016-1044-0.
3. Van Praag, Henriette et al. “Exercise, Energy Intake, Glucose Homeostasis, and the Brain.” The Journal of Neuroscience 34.46 (2014): 15139–15149. PMC. Web. 14 Nov. 2017.
4. Aly SM. Role of Intermittent Fasting on Improving Health and Reducing Diseases. International Journal of Health Sciences. 2014;8(3):V-VI.
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