By now I’m sure you’ve heard of this new dieting trend call intermittent fasting.
It’s a diet intervention that has been taking the health and fitness industry by storm.
Bodybuilders and fitness buffs alike are praising intermittent fasting because of its ability to burn fat and lose weight quickly without counting calories and eating any specific types of foods.
So if you’ve been reading about intermittent fasting but aren’t sure if it’s right for you, or don’t know how to get started, you’ll find answers here.
This beginner’s guide is on what intermittent fasting is and how you can use it to lose weight fast, burn fat, and improve your overall health.
Hence, this is your ultimate beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fast aka IF?
According to Wikipedia, intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and eating.
It’s not about what foods to eat and what macro ratios you should base your diet on.
Rather, it’s about when to eat and when not to.
In a sense, it is more of an eating pattern than a conventional “diet” per se.
In fact, you could eat fast foods during the eating period and not break the IF rules.
There are many variations of IF cycles around, but here is how the most popular one works.
Fast for 12-16 hours a day from dinner to lunch the next day with a schedule like:
- Dinner: 8 pm Mon.
- Fast: 9 pm Mon. to 12 am Tue.
- Lunch: 12 am Tue.
Depending on which method, the period of not eating can be anywhere from a few hours up to a few days.
All depends on which fasting methods you’re following and the purpose of doing the IF.
The takeaway: Intermittent fasting is simply a short-term fasting technique where you limit your eating to a restricted period of time and allow your body to fast for the remaining window of time. It’s not a diet nor a food list. Rather, it’s an eating cycle and pattern that designate when to eat and when not to.
So Why Fast?
People fast for various reasons, and humans have fasted for centuries.
Some out of necessity while others out of religious belief.
When we feel sick, we unintentionally and instinctively fast for a period of time.
So the fasting concept is nothing new.
And our bodies are clearly equipped to handle a short-term fast.
But why try fasting if it’s not for religious reasons, sickness, or lack of food.
It’s because intermittent fasting carries mounts of health benefits.
This is because major shifts happen in your body on the cellular and hormone level when you fast.
To start, fasting allows the body to switch its primary energy source from glucose to fat. This shift singlehandedly produces major health benefits (1).
Your stored fat is merely energy fuel for your body waiting to be used. By fasting and starving your body off on food energy, glucose, you allow your body to burn off the stored fat for energy.
Along with this, there are additional changes that happen internally:
Increased Growth Hormone: Fasting increases human growth hormone level as much as 5 times (2, 3). This aids fat loss as well as muscle gain (4).
Lower Insulin: IF decreases your insulin level and increases lipolysis—the breakdown of fat. This makes excess, stored fat more accessible to use as energy (5).
Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease (6, 7).
All these changes lead to phenomenal health benefits like:
Weight Loss: Weight loss relies on calorie deficits. You lose weight when you simply eat fewer calories than you burn. Intermittent fasting makes it easier to eat fewer calories without counting calories by limiting meal counts and eating time (8).
Prevents Type 2 diabetes: IF reduces insulin resistance by drastically lowering blood sugar levels. This prevents you from developing Type 2 diabetes (9).
Reduces Inflammation: Research shows IF reduces oxidative stress, which leads to reduced inflammation (10).
Reduces cancer risk: Several animal studies have shown a link between reduced breast cancer risk and intermittent fasting.
Anti-aging: In rat studies, IF boosted longevity by up to 83%. Not only that, IF’s effects on oxidative stress also leads to slow down in aging (11).
The takeaway: Due to many cell and hormone level changes IF brings, you can experience countless phenomenal health benefits. By fasting for just 14 hours a day, you can increase your fat burn, lose more weight, boost brain power, prevent major diseases, and slow down aging, all without making any other changes to your lifestyle or counting calories.