What is Intermittent Fasting?
Although it’s commonly marketed as a weight loss solution, intermittent fasting has a wide range of health benefits. This includes mental health, especially when you’re trying to live a more balanced, wholesome lifestyle.
The practice of intermittent fasting is as laid back as it gets. You set aside a period of your day, maybe one to two hours, where you refrain from eating. Generally, this is for breakfast and lunch, or it might encompass your entire day, where you eat all your meals in an eight-hour window.
There are various kinds of intermittent fasting. The most popular of them is the 16/ 8 splitting of the day … 16 hours of fasting and eight hours of eating.
Of course, this doesn’t only apply to those who want to shed a few pounds. This can help pretty much anyone who is looking to get into better physical and mental shape. There are scientific studies showing that it can be good for your overall wellness.
If you’d like to start intermittent fasting, take the following tips into consideration.
The Types of Intermittent Fasting You Can Complete
The 16/8 Approach
Some religions fast for long periods to achieve a clear spiritual goal. You have probably heard about the monks in the Eastern religions who do it for spiritual purposes. Well, intermittent fasting offers the same benefits. In fact, this fasting method of IF is the simplest and easiest to understand and implement.
The “16/8” method means that you fast for 16 hours every day and only eat for the remaining 8 hours.
For example, if you want to fast for 16 hours from 7 AM to 7 PM, you will get your first meal at 7 PM, and your last at 1 PM. You will fast for 15 hours during the day.
Another important thing to remember is that you should eat all your meals in the 8 hours of eating time. It should contain all the nutrients that you need to get throughout the day.
For example, if you want to have dinner at 7 PM, then you should have your breakfast around 9-11 AM and your lunch around 1-3 PM, and have your snack or dinner around 5-7 PM.
Here are the basic guidelines:
- Eat your last meal no later than five to six hours prior to bed
- Eat breakfast before nine hours of fasting
- Eat lunch before three hours of fasting
- Eat dinner before five hours of fasting
- Eat a substantial dinner and snack before bedtime
Eat Stop Eat (EOD) Fast
EOD fasting is a type of healthy intermittent fasting that can be used as a lifestyle.
How does EOD fast work?
You take weekly off days from eating (fasting). You decide how many fasting days to take during the week. It ranges from one fast day to a seven-day fast. This should not be done more than once every week to prevent unhealthy complications.
It is important not to starve yourself or use this method without your doctor’s approval.
Start with a single day fast and work your way up to five days a week.
The purpose is to enjoy your food more when you eat and to get more energy.
If you are just starting EOD fast, you may only be able to handle one day per week.
Don’t plunge into EOD fasting cold-turkey, though. You should start the fasting period after you skip breakfast.
24 Hour Fast
Doubling your fat burning potential is easy with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet, it’s a pattern of eating.
As part of another experiment, he trained with an 8-5 schedule for one week and then switched to a 12 hour fast and 12 hour feed window for the next week. In his month long experiment, Jake lost 18 pounds of fat and gained 17 pounds of muscle.
Besides increasing fat burning, intermittent fasting might also protect your muscles. One small study found that muscle-wasting decreased in older women, and it’s possible that the same effect happens in people who are muscle mass.
Intermittent fasting is not a simple break from your regular eating routine. For your body to burn fat you have to break the pattern that’s been keeping you fat. You need to burn fat, but you also want to build muscle.
You may find that you need to eat at nighttime frequently. Research says that approx. 300 calories is enough to keep your metabolism elevated into the night.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting For Women
Intermittent fasting is the latest in weight loss and nutrition trends. It’s a flexible regimen that can fit all kinds of lifestyles. On the surface, intermittent fasting involves dramatically cutting down your eating hours. Most fasting plans generally specify an eating window of only 8-12 hours, which allows you room for upwards of 14 hours of no eating. This leaves you ample room for sleeping hours.
Human bodies are essentially wired to prefer periods of fasting. We have a circadian clock. It’s the universal biological clock that tells us when we should sleep and when we should eat. For thousands of years, people had to go by this clock. They could only have food at times when food was available, and they needed to fast whenever food was scarce. Although we’ve gotten more advanced, our bodies are still attuned to the same circadian rhythms.
It’s easy to eat too much food. This is especially true when you have access to lots of food, when you work in an environment where there’s always something available to eat, and when you haven’t developed any self-discipline. Fasting trains you to be more conscious about what you’re eating.
If you have tried fasting before only to quit because you felt like you were starving, then fear not. There are several different approaches and strategies that can be used in conjunction with fasting that can help ease your way through the fast more easily. Here are some of them:
Combine a fat/protein shake with your fast. This product can help you get in some of the fat burning protein that your body is craving and help to eliminate the hunger pains.
Eat sensibly. Many people find that regular meals are more satisfying than intake of those same calories in snacks between meals. In intermittent fasting, you’re eating at the same old time or close to it. Eat smaller portions of a healthy diet and make sure that they’re full of lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
Eat at the right time. Snacking before noon can cause you to end up taking in more calories than you would have had you waited until later in the day. This is because a morning snack will normally contain carbohydrates which cause your body to produce extra insulin.
When you practice calorie restriction, you’re not eating as many calories. This is a change because you’re not used to doing it, so it takes some time to get used to.
The goal with intermittent fasting is to get your body used to not having food available so when you do eat, you take in less food overall.
This is why it’s not just a matter of limiting yourself to 500 calories per day. It’s important not to eat too much on the days when you do eat.
Timing Your Meals:
The best thing about intermittent fasting is that you can start the diet at any time of day. That means that you can choose to start at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There is even room to eat your first meal at midnight. This is great because it enables you to do the diet while still pursuing your normal daily routine.
Some people prefer to do the diet at night because it helps you get the bulk of your fasting done while you’re sleeping. This has the added benefits of making the diet easier to stick with by not having to worry about packing your lunch, cooking a meal, or planning what to eat.
If you just starting your journey to a “better” lifestyle, then you’re probably going to be feeling fatigued and sluggish. It’s easier to sit on the couch and order pizza, but the trade-off is bigger health problems down the road followed by more money to be spent on health care.
When you first start intermittent fasting, you will probably be a little woozy and tired. Your body will need to adapt to the new schedule, especially your circadian rhythm.
But after about a week, most people are able to adapt and start feeling better than before. They can focus on work for longer, and they usually have more energy during the day.
Here’s a screenshot of a typical feeling during a round of intermittent fasting. At first, you’ll burn through your glycogen stores. When those are gone, you’ll start using up your own body fat. As time goes on, you’ll start burning the excess fat you have stored and will reach your fat loss goals more quickly.
Carbohydrate Regulation/Insulin Sensitivity
When you eat a meal, some of the energy your body receives is starches or carbohydrates, which are broken down into either glucose or glycogen.
The energy in your liver and muscles storage comes from glycogen. Gaining extra weight is related to the breakdown of glycogen to glucose.
As you eat more food, your glycogen levels increase, but as you become insulin-resistant after following the same diet, your glycogen levels become depleted. It’s at this point that you’re likely to gain weight with a diet that’s high in carbohydrates.
At this point, you’ve depleted your glycogen stores. You’re hungry for more food and you need more energy to reach the next level, so you experience a surge in insulin levels. In a state of insulin resistance, insulin levels rise and the body cannot respond correctly.
After a meal, insulin is released to help the body take in the glucose and energy and transport it into the liver, releasing the fatty acids from the adipose tissue or fat and connecting it with the insulin receptor. Your body is now ready to process that glucose, and when the energy burn is done, the fat cells are filled back up with fat.
Intermittent fasting can also lead to a better lipid profile (i.e. lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and higher HDL cholesterol levels) than regular calorie restriction.
The mechanism of how this occurs is still being studied, but one study suggested that the increase in growth hormone may play a role. The body produces growth hormone in the fasted state, so it’s likely that sufficient numbers of growth hormone receptors in fat tissue are needed for optimal fat burning and fat loss.
Some people also find intermittent fasting helpful for keeping their hunger levels under control. It was the first type of fasting I properly experimented with and the one I found easiest to fit into my daily routine.
I started researching intermittent fasting in January of 2016. I intended to do a three day fast (what most people would call a water fast) for a detox and a reset of my digestive system.
Before beginning, I was nervous about hunger and lack of energy with fast. While I didn’t have any problems with this, I felt like I had to eat really small amounts of food most of the time. Eventually I transitioned into an eating schedule that allowed for more calories, but I found that even if I ate more, I couldn’t gain weight and I still had to eat small, regular meals.
Improved Cognitive Performance
Intermittent fasting may also help you focus better and remember information you have learned in the past. Since fasting has been associated with the release of growth hormones, scientists have theorized that this chemical may help improve your cognitive performance.
In a 2011 study done by the University of Arkansas, a group of rats were fed every third day. The rats consumed three times more food than they needed, but the researchers noticed some unusual results. The rats that were fed every third day performed better on a maze task than the rats that were given food on a regular basis.
Many studies in humans have found a link between fasting and brain function in general. Participants reported feeling more alert after fasting and were able to perform tasks better when their bodies were more awake.
Many people read about the benefits of intermittent fasting and how it can help control weight. But, they’re confused about how to put it in action in a way that makes it work for them.
In order to have the body you want, hunger has to be controlled and fat should be burned. Here’s how you can do that:
Reduce Your Calorie Consumption
Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight by reducing your caloric consumption. You need to take an aggressive approach to weight loss when you are intermittent fasting.
For example, if you reduce your daily calories to below 1500 calories, you will quickly start to lose weight. The best way to do that is to cut out all sugar. Candy, cookies, ice cream, soda … those things are all packed with empty calories that don’t really give you any nutrition. They just make you fat. Even if you eat only lean meat and nothing else, you could be consuming too many calories. That’s why many people like to use a calorie-tracking app to ensure they are staying within a healthy range.
Reduce Your Carb Consumption
It also helps to reduce your carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates make your body produce more insulin. Combining this with reduced calories leads to faster weight loss.
Intermittent fasting has come along way in the last few years. It is now a popular health practice used by many in conjunction with their workouts.
Rather than having many consecutive hours of fasting, intermittent fasting helps you lower your fast from twenty-four hours into multiple shorter periods throughout the day.
This means that you choose times that you normally eat, but you just change when you eat them instead of the length of the period. A good routine would be to eat your last meal at noon and to fast until Sunday at noon, or perhaps fast from 8 PM until 8 AM three days a week.
This doesn’t mean that you starve yourself, it just means that you are changing when you have 30-60 minutes of eating. This is because while your body is in a state of fasting, the body uses its stores of energy to run the body.
This translates into less fat. You can do this in a variety of ways but below is a guide to fasting twice a week.
Decide On Your Fasting Type
Now that you understand how fasting can boost your fat loss efforts, it’s time to figure out how to actually go about it. There are a few different types of intermittent fasting … every single one is guaranteed to be easier for you to follow.
The most popular is probably the 16/8 method, which is where you eat within an eight-hour window of the day, and fast for the remaining 16 hours. For example, you would eat from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. each day, and fast throughout the rest of the day.
Another method is the 20-hour fasting period, where you fast for a window of 20 hours, then eat within a four-hour window. For example, you would eat your last meal on Sunday at 7 p.m., and wouldn’t eat again until 7 p.m. on Monday.
You can also experiment with intermittent fasting combined with a low-calorie eating plan, such as the 5:2 diet. This is where you fast for two 24-hour periods during the week, such as Wednesday and Saturday, and eat within a four-hour window during the other five days.
Try each one of these methods and find the one that works best for your schedule and lifestyle.
Determine Your Calorie Intake and Meal Targets
Select Your Foods
It’s healthy to eat. But it’s unhealthy to stuff yourself with junky food that will only add more fat onto your body.
Improving the way that you eat is an important component of melting your body fat away.
One of the best things that you can do to aid in melting your body fat is to eat nutrient-rich foods.
When you eat fewer calories and an overall healthier diet, your body gets the energy that it needs without it storing any excess fat.
Protein and fiber are both important factors that aid in weight loss. Studies show that some of the best foods to eat are:
Eating three meals a day, seven days a week, can add a little extra pressure to your time and schedule. One of the best ways to melt away weight with the least amount of hassle is to "fast" intermittently.
Intermittent fasting is when you fast for a set period of time and then break the fast.
Studies show that this type of practice not only helps you to shed fat, but it helps to eliminate "bloat" as well.
Fasting is one of the easiest ways to change your lifestyle. Instead of eating a huge breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can recognize that you only need a few small meals spread out over the day.
Many people are looking into intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. Not everyone has the same goal, however, so this article will answer some of the most important questions that women have regarding this particular weight loss strategy.
Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
If you ask many women and men, the answer will be a resounding yes. Intermittent fasting is an effective way to lose weight. That said, some individuals might have trouble dropping pounds using this technique. This tends to be a problem when someone goes on a fast too long without listening to their body’s natural cues. Instead of forcing things to their detriment, pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals.
Another thing to take into account is that some of the weight loss you experience is simple water loss. It’s what you’re left with when the bulk of hunger-inducing, extra-sugary foods are removed from your diet.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?
Many women worry that fasting will damage their health in the long run. The good news is that the health risks associated with intermittent fasting are incredibly small. You will notice the most benefit if you listen to your body’s internal cues instead of simply going on an aggressive fast.
Interestingly, men and women have different hormonal responses to intermittent fasting.
How much weight can you lose with intermittent fasting?
The truth is that there’s no one answer to this question. Different things work for everybody and your mileage will vary depending on if you’re an active person or a couch potato, your age, your gender, food preferences, and many other confounding factors.
On my blog, I post monthly weight-loss progress reports, and I always get emails from people saying that they started following a different method but are not losing weight. The bottom line is most likely that they’re eating too much or exercising too little.
Not all weight loss is created equal. If you’re only losing fat and not muscle, it’s definitely a good thing. That said, there are some people who see very little weight loss regardless of calories consumed.
How much fat your body loses is dependent on the equation of calories in versus calories out. If you don’t see results, you’re likely either overdoing the calories in or not burning enough calories with exercise.
One place where you will see good weight loss results with intermittent fasting is with ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state where you have extremely low insulin levels in the body and rely on burning fat for fuel.
Can I drink coffee when on an intermittent fasting plan?
Intermittent fasting is a type of diet that is done in cycles of a few days heavy feasting, followed by short “refeeds”, which are generally low in both carbs and calories.
The theory behind this diet is that it is easier for the body to burn fat and preserve muscle when there is a short period of time where there is no food constantly coming in.
That being said, weight loss can come from any of the three macronutrients: fat, carbs, or protein.
That is why nutrition experts agree that during days where you fast, you want to try to choose foods that are relatively low in calories but high in nutrients. This can be hard in a coffee-heavy world.
The caffeine in coffee can make you experience the feeling of being hungry, so that you want to eat more. To make matters worse, the sugar in coffee can cause a spike in blood sugar, and even a crash afterward. With the drop in energy after a sugar high crashes, it’s hard to resist the temptation of sugar-laden pastries.
You’ll also want to limit coffee to one or two cups a day, and to drink it black.
Coffee can certainly be a habit, but it’s not hard to break.
What are the side effects of intermittent fasting?
There are different types of intermittent fasting (IF). Many diets impose a fast period, lasting 12 hours or more, but shorter periods of fasting are also frequent.
Some argue that the side effects of intermittent fasting depend on the type of fasting you practice and your pre-existing health condition. A lot of people try IF to lose weight, but not all scientific studies about fasting support the idea that it results in weight loss.
There are two main concerns to worry about when you practice fasting. The first is the loss of muscle mass. When you fast, your body burns fat and converts it into backup energy, specifically, glucose. Some of that glucose is used by your muscles, while the rest is stored as glycogen. When the body does not need glucose, it uses the glycogen instead to supply our systems with energy while fasting.
The second concern is your mental health. People often report feeling anger and frustration when fasting, especially in combination with a diet. If you feel that fasting stresses you out but you still want to give it a try, you can combat these negative emotions through meditation.
There are also some different opinions about the impacts of fasting on your physical health. The reality is that after a period of about 16 hours of fasting, your system kicks into the fat-burning mode. And after 24 hours it burns significantly more body fat, than it would if you were eating regularly.
Does intermittent fasting affect a woman’s hormones?
Intermittent fasting is a practice in which you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. With this approach, you eat fewer calories overall, which results in fat loss.
Many of the intermittent fasting approaches are framed for men, and critics argue that the methods aren’t effective for women. While it’s true that the hormones for men and women are largely different, this doesn’t mean that intermittent fasting is out of the question for ladies.
In fact, there are several female-friendly methods of intermittent fasting that you can use.
At the core, all of these methods revolve around the same idea: triggering your body to burn fat in a fasted state. The more you can accomplish this, the more weight you can lose. In order to trigger fat burning, however, you need to have a so-called “fat-adapted” body.
Basically, your body needs to be able to use your fat stores for energy rather than just burning sugar and carbohydrates. When you eat meals every few hours, you never exhaust your stores, and your body never feels the need to burn fat. Intermittent fasting can change this.
So, can intermittent fasting work for women?
What if I make a mistake and have something to eat during my fast?
Will it ruin everything?
What happens if you eat after a 20-hour fast but before you've consumed your first meal of the day? It won’t cancel everything out nor will it ruin the process. Just remember that the main goal of intermittent fasting is to give your digestive system a break. It gives your body an opportunity to burn through some of the excess fat on your body.
Yes, you can’t get away from that if you cheat a little, but don’t make it a habit. If you’re like me and cheat accidentally, try taking the 30-minute break between the morning and afternoon fast.
So if you’re scheduled to have two meals, you would have your first meal and then continue on with the second meal around two to three hours (more or less) after that. This way, you’re still giving your digestive system a break and you’re not pop-corning in one meal.
Be reasonable. Don’t expect to drop 10 lbs in two weeks just by following this intermittent fasting routine. It takes time for your body to adjust to a new routine. Just enjoy the process and take it one step at a time.
Am I allowed diet soda while on this plan?
No, it is NOT recommended that during any fasting stage you ingest beverages with artificial (diet) sweeteners.
If you must have something sweet… try some Stevia, Yacon Syrup or a little raw honey. These aids are acceptable.
If you prefer your drinks cold… try some Sparkling Mineral Water (Pellegrino, San Pelligrino, Gerolsteiner, etc.)
Hot water should also work okay.
It’s recommended that if you crave sweets that you enjoy them slowly and mindfully (savor them) and pair them with a handful of nuts, seeds or a slice of fresh fruit. This will put your body in satiety mode and actually increase the number of calories your body burns.
If you REALLY need something sweet… it’s much better to eat some real food than drink a soda.
Keep it clean.
Can you use intermittent fasting with supplements?
INTERMITTENT FASTING has become a popular way to lose weight. When combined with a healthy diet and exercise program intermittent fasting is a better way to lose weight.
As with most things there are some questions about the safety of this diet. This article will help you answer those questions.
So can you use/mix intermittent fasting with other supplements?
The answer is YES.
You just need to make sure that you are exercising, have a low carb diet, and eating lean proteins.
The reason you want to do that is because intermittent fasting helps your body burn fat easier.
It should only be part of a good overall diet and exercise program.
Always check with your healthcare professional first if you have any concerns or questions.
These tips to speed up your progress will help you succeed:
While fasting is not a new concept, there is evidence that it was practiced in ancient times by many different cultures. Today there are many health benefits that have been attributed to it.
Fasting can help you achieve weight loss, preserve your health and extend your lifespan. It can also help you prevent a variety of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
You can fast by alternating between periods of eating and periods of abstaining from food. The most popular fasting diets consist of periods of eating or restricting the diet are compressed in time, followed by periods of unrestricted eating.
The most popular methods of fasting include:
- The 5-2 Diet, in which 5 days are used to fast with 2 days of normal eating. This diet describes exactly how many days each week you will fast, but you will not be restricted in the foods you can consume on non-fasting days.
- The Eat-Stop-Eat Diet in which people eat normally for 24 hours, then fast for 24 hours. This means they eat no food from one day until the next day.
- With the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, you can choose to fast any two days of the week, but you are not allowed to eat any food from 6 p.m. until the next day at 6 p.m.