Nowadays, a lot of people want to lose weight. More and more people are discovering that weight loss is not just about trying to change one’s lifestyle but also about making sure one stays healthy and lives longer.
Today, the internet is overflowing with various weight loss techniques, but one of them that has gained popularity is Intermittent fasting. This scheme has become one of the most used schemes because many attest to the fact that it has helped them shed pounds of weight faster than any other method.
Although the science of intermittent fasting is not conclusive, associations like the American Heart Association say that intermittent fasting not just causes weight loss but also reduces insulin resistance and lowers the risk of cardiometabolic diseases.
Now the top weight loss program Contra Health Scam recommends is based on intermittent fasting so I’ve decided to provide you, my esteemed reader, with all the information you need concerning this method. So sit back, grab your reading glasses, and happy reading!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
A lot of us know about fasting as a religious rite for spiritual purification. Fasting has been practiced from time immemorial by various cultures and religions, so the idea of fasting isn’t entirely new to most.
However, intermittent fasting is somewhat different. It involves alternating periods of normal eating with periods of fasting. In simpler terms, it is an eating pattern that reduces calorie intake by limiting food consumption to certain specific times. Theoretically, this is supposed to slow down body metabolism thereby decreasing appetite.
One unique feature is that, unlike other weight loss schemes, intermittent fasting does not specify which foods you should eat. Non-caloric or low-caloric drinks can be taken during intermittent fasting, and so in this sense, it is considered less as a dieting technique and more as just an eating pattern.
As with any other phenomenon under the sun, there are both pros and cons to intermittent fasting. But first, we’ll take a look at the benefits, shall we?
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Apart from the obvious (weight loss), intermittent fasting comes with a lot of other significant health benefits:
Better heart health
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting improves cardiovascular health. In 2016, a review showed that it reduces heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides in humans, which are present in the blood and are linked to heart diseases.
Improved brain health
With intermittent fasting, the production of the brain hormone BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is greatly increased. This hormone is responsible for the growth of new nerve cells and also prevents Alzheimer’s disease. However, a lot of the research has been confirmed for animals, and there are still further studies to be done to ascertain if it also applies to humans.
Also, research has shown the following:
- Mice on intermittent fasting had better memory and learning ability than their counterparts with unlimited access to food.
- Intermittent fasting can suppress chronic brain inflammation in animals
Now it’s not known if these impressive results translate to humans but it does confirm that intermittent fasting is good for the brain.
Reduces the risk of Cancer
Intermittent fasting causes weight loss, and since obesity is a risk factor for any cancer, a reduction in weight will definitely reduce the risk of cancer in humans, as some studies have shown. There are also other biological factors linked to cancer like insulin level, and research has also shown that intermittent fasting helps regulate insulin levels and also prevents inflammation.
Studies in animals have also proven that intermittent fasting can delay the onset of tumors.
Reduces Chronic Inflammation
Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting can reduce chronic inflammation, which is fingered as the cause of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. This is done by reducing the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. These cytokines are normally released by immune cells in response to harmful foreign bodies (which can be easily introduced into the body via food).
For example, this study shows that intermittent fasting reduced chronic inflammation in obese people with asthma, improving their symptoms in the process.
Can Increase your Lifespan
As incredible as this sounds, it is true. Several studies have linked intermittent fasting to an increased life span. This is because intermittent fasting is thought to have an anti-aging effect on humans since it aids the body to get rid of free radicals, which are byproducts of body metabolism that are highly reactive and can destroy body cells if not eliminated.
For instance, a Harvard study in 2016 concluded that intermittent fasting can increase the lifespan of humans and promote health. Granted this study was done on worms, but the finding is comparable to how the human body functions so it’s a valid conclusion.
Also, gerontological research published way back in 1981 found that intermittent fasting increased the lifespan of rats by 83%. A similar study published in 2000 also confirmed that mice on intermittent fasting lived significantly longer than their fully-fed counterparts.
So suffice it to say that intermittent fasting can prolong your life.
Below is an image summary of what you just read. You can pin or download it for your personal use.
Common Intermittent Fasting Plans
If you’re looking to get started, there are various types of intermittent fasting plans you can work with. But here are five common plans that can help you get started.
The 5:2 (twice a week) Plan
This plan involves restricting the amount of calorie intake to 500 for two days in a week while eating normally for the remaining five days and maintaining a healthy diet. You can choose any two days of the week. For example, Monday and Tuesday, capping your calories to 500 for those days, while the remaining fasting days should have an average of 250 calories per meal. This kind of plan is also called a fast diet.
The 24-hour Fast (Eat Stop Eat Method)
This method is also called the eat-stop-eat method, which involves fasting for 24 hours and is usually done once or twice a week. It gained popularity from a fitness expert named Brad Pilon and has gained more prominence over the years. You can fast from breakfast of one day to breakfast of the next day, to make 24 hours. This could also be done with lunch or dinner.
After the 24 hours, do not be forced to eat excessively but eat the same amount of food you would eat if you were not fasting.
The problem with this method is that it could cause side effects like hunger, fatigue, and low energy, so it is advisable to start with lower hours and work your way up to 24 hours. Many people that have tried this method have confessed to breaking the fast earlier than 24 hours. It takes true self-discipline to continue.
I’ve actually reviewed the Eat Stop Eat book so if you’re interested, you can read it here.
Time-restricted eating plan (16:8 or 14:10 Method)
This kind of plan involves you fasting for either 14 hours or 16 hours a day and restricting your eating to within 8 hours or 10 hours. This method is also known as the Leangains Protocol and has been used by many because people already fast when they sleep, and this plan fits well into that lifestyle.
This method is as simple as skipping dinner and eating breakfast or eating dinner and not eating breakfast. For example, if it’s a 16/8 plan and you eat dinner by 8 pm, it means you will not be eating anything till 12 noon the next day. If you find it easy to skip breakfast, then this plan might just be perfect for you.
You can always drink water, coffee, and other non-caloric drinks during the fast period and try to refrain from eating junk food.
Many have testified to the ease of this plan. In an interview with UK Times Magazine, Jennifer Aniston even testifies to using the 16/8 eating plan of Intermittent fasting. So, if you are looking to start intermittent fasting on a lighter note, you can try this plan out.
Alternative day fasting
This method of fasting is similar to the twice-a-week plan. It involves fasting every other day.
There are many variations to this method, but a popular one involves the intake of 500 calories during fasting days. For instance, during non-fasting days, you take your normal healthy food, but during the fasting period, you take 500 calories or 25% of your usual calorie intake. In some variations of this method, you might have to have a full fast during fast periods. This might cause you to go to bed very hungry, so it’s not recommended for beginners.
Warrior Diet plan
Another popular way to do intermittent fasting is the Warrior Diet method. This method simply involves eating fruits and vegetables during the fast period and eating a huge meal after, within a 4-hour eating window. Mainly, you eat a little amount of fruit during the day and eat a lot at night.
This method is mainly used by people who feel the need to eat at intervals, therefore, satisfying that want by eating fruits.
The Warrior Diet was created by a man named Ori Hofmekler in 2001 and has gained prominence over time. As the name suggests, it was designed from the eating patterns of ancient warriors who were considered to look and perform better because of this fasting method.
How to Lose Weight with Intermittent Fasting
There are so many tips on how to lose weight with intermittent fasting online, and now that you know the various styles, you can start burning those calories. Here is a simple guide that will help you lose weight with intermittent fasting.
Firstly, determine your goal. It’s not just enough for you to say you want to lose weight. You have to know to what extent so you can decide on the right fasting method. Go through the various fasting methods discussed above and choose the one suitable for you.
The next thing for you to do is determine your caloric needs. Preferably, consult a healthcare provider to determine the number of calories that you will need.
After this, determine your meal plan. With a meal plan, your fasting and non-fasting periods will transition seamlessly because you have already planned all the meals you will eat. And the meals wouldn’t be junk food but a healthy balanced diet.
And then lastly, make those calories count. Don’t just take in many calories, consume high-nutrient foods so that you’ll be taking in all the necessary nutrients for your body.
Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Even with its many benefits, there are also many side effects of intermittent fasting. This is why it is always advisable to see a doctor before carrying out any plan. The following are some negatives you should watch out for:
A major sign of extreme fatigue is excessive tiredness. If by mid-day, you are yawning and making silly mistakes, it’s a huge sign that intermittent fasting isn’t fitting into your lifestyle. During intermittent fasting, it is common to skip breakfast, and once this is done, for someone with a lot of workload, it could cause extreme tiredness.
Fill your body with good food during eating times so you can counteract this fatigue. You can also deal with this fatigue during your fasting period by drinking a cup of tea with or without sugar. Don’t use too much sugar though. A teaspoon is enough.
Obsession with food
A major pitfall for many that start intermittent fasting is the idea that it’s supposed to work like magic, so when they don’t see immediate results, they become more obsessed with eating a certain quantity and quality of food. But scientifically, this can be very harmful and can lead to an eating disorder that is detrimental to the overall well-being of the individual. At the end of the day, it becomes counterproductive to the purpose of intermittent fasting which is to improve the individual’s health.
Loss of hair
Hair loss can be very scary, especially if you are still young. And yes, it can be caused by intermittent fasting.
Hair loss occurs when there is a lack of certain nutrients, and although intermittent fasting doesn’t necessarily cause loss of nutrients, during intermittent fasting, it becomes very hard for many to eat well and get all the necessary nutrients the body needs thereby making hair loss a huge possibility.
Attempting intermittent fasting could cause some psychological issues. The idea that you are mandated to follow a strict regimen to attain a certain goal could cause some mood changes. There is a tendency to start getting isolated because of the new way of life, and adjusting to it may be mentally stressful. So, it is safe to say that it might affect your mood negatively. At this point, it is essential to seek advice from a doctor to help create a better schedule that will suit your body and mind.
Mood swings can also be triggered by a lack of glucose in your system. So for acute relief, you can again drink a cup of tea with a teaspoon of sugar. Remember, no excessive sugar intake!
Bad eating choices
When the human body has been starved of food for a while, there is a tendency for our minds to go on a spree of bad eating choices when suddenly given a chance to eat. This is exactly what occurs during intermittent fasting. Due to the lack of self-discipline and the urgent need to replenish lost energy, people tend to go overboard during non-fasting periods by taking in excess calories, which is unhealthy for their bodies.
Should Women Partake in Intermittent Fasting?
The answer to this question is not straightforward but basically has to do with the manner in which women carry out this fast. Recent studies have shown that intermittent fasting might not be so good for women. In this study, it was revealed that there is increased production of insulin in men but irregular sugar level in women. And there are cases of women whose menstrual periods stopped when they started intermittent fasting. With this said, it is important to follow a women’s guide for intermittent fasting to know the best kinds of intermittent fasting for women. Some examples of these methods are:
- The crescendo method: This involves a 12-16 hours fasting period within two to three days a week.
- Eat-stop-eat: This involves full fasting for 24 hours twice a week. For women, this method varies a little. They are allowed to fast a maximum of two times a week and are advised to start with 14-16 hours and gradually progress to the 24-hour fast.
Can Keto and Intermittent Fasting Work Together?
The ketogenic diet has been around for a very long time and has been all the rage recently. This diet encourages low carbohydrate intake rather than calorie intake. It can be described as a low carbohydrate, high fat intake diet. The goal of the keto diet is to induce the production of ketones instead of glucose to cause a state of ketosis, where the body burns fat instead of carbs for energy.
So how does the keto diet work with intermittent fasting?
Both are quite similar making them fit into each other with ease. They both have similar advantages; hence, bringing them together will only increase the benefits. For example, fasting encourages the usage of fat in the body instead of glucose and so does the keto diet. This means that intermittent fasting will help people following the keto diet achieve ketosis at a faster rate.
There have been several testimonies of people like this 28-year-old firefighter from St. Louis, Missouri, who lost 51 pounds after using this combination. We can thus establish that the keto diet coupled with intermittent fasting can be a powerful weapon for accelerated weight loss.
However, as the saying goes, too much of anything is not good. In my opinion, combining the keto diet with intermittent fasting is a bit of an overkill and unnecessary. This is because now you’ll have to deal with not just the side effects of intermittent fasting, but also the side effects of the keto diet. Not only that, doing keto as a lifestyle has been proven to be unsustainable, while the opposite is true for intermittent fasting. So I don’t see the point in combining the two. Just choose the one you like most. However, I recommend intermittent fasting because it is sustainable.
Intermittent fasting is a method of eating where you skip meals for a designated period of time and then eat whatever you like on non-fasting days. It has been proven to have numerous health benefits, including weight loss, improved heart and brain health, and increased lifespan.
However, this method comes with its share of side effects worth keeping in mind. Therefore, it is advisable that before considering intermittent fasting, you discuss it with a doctor that can help you keep things in check. Being able to fit into those nice jeans or shirts could be a dream come true, but it would be disastrous if it is at the expense of your health. There is still ongoing research on the effects of intermittent fasting, and some of them are still inconclusive, so stay safe.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links to the books mentioned.