If you’re struggling with weight problems, and have been for some time, intermittent fasting may be just the answer. Losing weight is an ongoing struggle for so many people these days; especially when considering how cheap it is to eat unhealthily. And then we have to take into account our constantly busy schedules of juggling friends, family, school and work. Somehow during the day, we are expected to incorporate health and fitness; to eat healthily and exercise daily. When in reality all we want to do is come home after a long day, throw on Netflix, and order a pizza. What if I told you that you could maintain your current lifestyle, by introducing a few intermittent fasting techniques? Read on to learn about this revolutionary concept of losing weight for the long term.
Diets Don’t Work
I’m sure you had the best intentions this year with you new years resolutions. ‘This is the year I will finally feel confident in my new bikini’ or ‘this is the year I will get that six pack.’ High goals are set, and you are determined to reach them, delving into the newest and greatest diet program. And maybe it works for a time; your stomach becomes flatter, your arms become firmer. You are able to jog a bit further everyday and lift just a little bit more weight at the gym. Maybe you have even undergone a complete diet change- one from fast foods, and frozen meals, to fresh, homemade meals. You feel good, and you’re feeling new confident in your new body, and then the inevitable happens: you take a day off, eat something greasy, and before you know it you’ve fallen back into your old habits.
It all comes back to the simple truth that diets don’t work. So many studies show that although diets can help you lose weight temporarily, within 1-5 years 95% of those who lost weight will have regained it all back, and possibly even gained more! Why is this? Most diets limit the amount of food you can eat daily, which puts your body into starvation mode. Your body is used to eating a certain amount every day and has been for some time, and then you start the diet and your body overcompensates. It thinks you are starving and slows your metabolism to help you conserve as much as possible.
Read More On The Dangers Of Dieting
Intermittent Fasting- Not Just Another Diet
So we’ve determined that dieting isn’t the answer for the majority of those wanting to lose weight. But don’t give up hope just yet on getting that summer bod before hearing me out on the effectiveness of intermittent fasting!
What is intermittent fasting? Like the name suggests, it is an eating pattern that creates a fasting and eating cycle, which you can modify accordingly to fit your lifestyle.
Don’t be deterred or put off by intermittent fasting, thinking that you’re going to be starving yourself of food. This is not the case in the very least; in fact, you are still going to have the freedom to eat whatever you want, as long as you eat within a certain time frame. To put it simply, you can still indulge in the burger and fries, with a root beer float, without the post guilt feelings. And the best part is you will still lose weight! If you think there is a catch, there isn’t. Keep reading!
Popular Intermittent Fasting Methods
The Leangains Protocol (16/8 Method)
This is the most popular type of intermittent fasting and the one I would highly recommend starting out on. The Leangains is a daily fast that restricts your eating times from 12-8pm. After 8 pm you fast until the next morning, eating your first meal again at noon. The times are necessarily as important, as long as you maintain a 16 hour off and 8 hour on time frame. So you could change it to 10-6pm, or 1pm-9pm. It doesn’t matter; just find a time frame that works for you!
The Leangains diet is fantastic for gaining muscle, losing unwanted fat and improving your lean mass to fat ratio.
Finding ways to keep yourself busy in the morning, until it is time to eat. Or remembering that you should refrain from giving in to those late night munchies.
The Eat-Stop-Eat Protocol
This method of intermittent fasting is a bit more challenging because it involves 24-hour fasting. In general, you complete this 1-2 times per week. For example, you don’t eat anything on a Monday or Thursday.
The Eat-Stop-Eat protocol is effective because it helps limit your weekly caloric intake. It is also a proven method to gaining lean muscle mass, especially if you are able to withhold eating on the fasting days.
It can be extremely difficult for people to go an entire day without consuming anything; especially if your days are stressful and packed full of things to do.
The 5:2 Protocol
This protocol encourages you to eat as you normally would for five days out of the week. On the remaining two you limit your caloric intake to 500-600 calories a day.
The best part about this diet is that for 5 days you can eat, and continue your normal eating styles, consuming whatever, whenever you want.
The only cons are that you have to limit you calorie intake for two days, meaning you have to calorie count. For many calorie counting is an annoyance, and a burden to stick to. Increased hunger may be experienced on these days as well.
Benefits and Side Effects (And Some Fasting Hacks)
Health Benefits of Fasting
Weight Loss: Losing weight isn’t the only positive outcome of intermittent fasting, however, it is the largest motive for many individuals. Intermittent fasting is the new ‘diet’ for people who actually don’t like to diet! As mentioned earlier, fasting is a big contributor in losing fat, and gaining lean muscle, all the while eating the foods you enjoy most.
Insulin Resistance- Intermittent fasting also reduces your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and can lead to a great reduction in blood sugar levels. If you have Type 2 diabetes, it is even possible to reverse the diagnosis altogether.
Heart Health- intermittent fasting can decrease your risk for heart disease by reducing key risk factors. The majority of studies have been conducted on animals thus far. The studies show that when the animals were put into a fast mode they showed signs of lower blood pressure, triglycerides (sugars) and even lower cholesterol levels.
Cancer- Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can not only lower your risk for cancer, but it can reduce the side effects seen in chemotherapy.
Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting
Like any big lifestyle change, intermittent fasting has a few side effects. But if you take the necessary precautions and are aware of them, then you will succeed.
Hunger And Food Cravings- This probably seems obvious to most of you reading this, that if you restrict your eating times you will experience periods of increased hunger. The pangs are usually a temporary thing, and before you know it you’ll be fasting until noon without even realizing that you haven’t had your first meal.
Obsession With The Eating Window- Some people may develop a slight obsession of counting down the hours and minutes until they can eat. This is normal when you first start intermittent fasting, as it is a change in your eating schedule. Other’s may find that the window is too easy for them, and believe that by making their eating time even smaller, they will lose weight quicker. This is not true, and could lead to a relapse into old eating habits.
Overeating- When beginning to fast, you may feel the need to eat an excessive amount during the window, in order to hold you off until the morning. Some people eat twice as much as normal in compensation, but this will only lead to a stomach ache, and an increase in hunger the next morning. It is best to continue to eat normally during the window and to only eat when you are actually hungry.
Tips and Tricks for a Successful Intermittent Fasting Experience
1.This first tip is the most important concept to remember: intermittent fasting is not a diet! It’s a new way of life; a lifestyle change, and something that you will continue on for the future to come.
2.Find a method that works for you! These are only three methods of intermittent fasting, but there are so many out there. I personally practice the 16/8 protocol, because I find it the easiest and most liberating to follow. I would recommend trying this method first and then moving onto a different one to see which one you like the most. Intermittent fasting gives you the freedom to take charge of your life!
3.Drink plenty of water! When you wake up in the morning drink a glass of water; if you’re feeling a bit hungry, drink a glass of water. Even getting into the habit of carrying around a water bottle can help in creating new intermittent fasting habits.
4.Stay busy! Go about your day as you normally would, but try to keep your mind occupied. Don’t simply sit in front of a tv, watching commercials with food, or go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Keep your mind busy, and before you know it, it’ll be lunchtime.
5. Intermittent fasting takes time! Don’t give up on this lifestyle change, if, after one day you are feeling too hungry to continue. Give your body time to adapt and adjust to the new eating windows.
6.Enjoy the journey. Hopefully, you will find intermittent fasting as easy as I did, and you will learn to enjoy this new lifestyle change. Continue to enjoy the foods you are eating, and know that the weight loss will come in time.
Check out some more benefits of water
Putting Intermittent Fasting Into Practice
Hopefully, if you are looking to lose weight this article will be an encouraging guide to follow. I personally have been practicing intermittent fasting for over a month now, and love it! Normally I don’t even feel hungry til around 1 pm. It’s fantastic, and I am already seeing the difference in my weight.
Intermittent fasting is an extremely effective way to lose weight, and you will feel great about your new body. I can’t recommend it enough and wish you success on the journey to a new you.