Ultimate guide: intermittent fasting
You’ve heard of intermittent fasting. But you’re not sure what it is, or why it’s become one of the most popular trends in the health and fitness world. Not to worry. In this Ultimate Guide: Intermittent Fasting, we’ll go over what it is, what the different methods to intermittent fasting are, the pros and cons, and whether it works for weight loss. Enjoy.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating. Contrary to belief, it’s not a diet. People who choose to do intermittent fasting skip meals on purpose. It’s become popular because it can help people lose weight (although it can be used for people who are bulking up), and because it helps people improve their health, and simplify their lives.
What are the different methods?
”What? Are there different ways to do intermittent fasting?” Indeed.
The most common method is the Leangains method, which is also referred to as 16/8. It involves skipping breakfast, and only eating during an 8 hour window, usually around 12:00pm to 8:00pm, or 1:00pm to 9:00pm. Once that time is up, you fast for the next 16 hours, and repeat.
The next method is the 5:2 method, which you may have heard of before. This is where you have 5 days in the week of normal eating, and 2 days where you eat at around 500 or 600 calories. The 2 fasting days can be any two days you choose, although they shouldn’t be consecutive days.
The final method is fasting for 24 hours in a row, usually once or twice a week. You read that right! A whole 24 hours. Usually, people who do this eat dinner one night, and then don’t eat until dinner the next day. Because this is probably the most difficult of the 3 methods, we’d recommend trying the Leangains method first, before you go into a 24 hour fast (if this is even something you would want to consider – most wouldn’t!).
During your fasting window in all of the above methods, you consume minimal calories (that’s why it’s called a fast, of course!). Water is allowed, and maybe a splash of milk in your coffee or tea (no sugar, unfortunately). That’s all.
What are the benefits?
Aside from the potential benefits of weight loss (described below), there are other benefits of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can have a positive effect on your brain and the heart, although studies around this are relatively new.
Intermittent fasting makes life simpler. Instead of having the traditional 3 meals a day, or even more that’s sometimes recommended for weight loss (some people recommend 6 a day!), you’re eating less meals throughout the week when using any of the 3 methods above. This means less time cooking, less time shopping, and less time eating. You may also be able to enjoy bigger meals during your feeding window, especially compared to if you’re used to having more than 3 meals a day.
What are the negatives?
For most people, the transition from eating 3 or more meals a day at regular intervals to start intermittent fasting using one of the above methods is difficult. You may get headaches or feel weak, especially within the first few days. You’re also going to feel hungry. Speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about the possible side effects of intermittent fasting.
Does intermittent fasting work for weight loss?
In order to lose weight, you have to be in a calorie deficit. As mentioned above, intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. That being said, when you skip a meal, you eat no calories. Throughout the day, you’re now eating less calories (provided you don’t overeat in the other two meals). This is a calorie deficit, and you will lose weight if you do this. However, it can be easy to indulge significantly in your feeding window when doing intermittent fasting, so it’s essential you stay on top of this at all times. If you do this, you may not be in a calorie deficit that day or week, which means weight loss won’t occur, even if you are doing intermittent fasting.
Short-term fasting may also improve your metabolism, so intermittent fasting could be a win-win situation for weight loss.
Even if you don’t think intermittent fasting is for you, it’s worth trying out for a period of time. Plenty of people never believed they could fast, and they eventually grew to love it. That being said, there are some initial negatives to intermittent fasting, so it’s worth bearing this in mind. We’d especially recommend trying it if weight loss is your goal, as it means you could enjoy bigger meals when you do feed (rather than the traditional 6 meals a day), or potentially lose weight as a quicker rate if you keep your meal sizes the same. If you’re curious, the Leangains method (16/8) is the most popular, and easiest to stick to, so it’s worth giving this one a try first.
About the author
I’m Ravi – a qualified personal trainer and fitness blogger, who teaches people how to transform their bodies and lives through fitness and nutrition. I’m also the CEO of Sports Samurai, an online store selling high quality gym bags and backpacks – you don’t want to miss these, so click the link. Feel free to like us on Facebook here for more articles, tips, and product information.