If you haven't heard about intermittent fasting by now, you certainly will soon. This type of eating plan has been around for ages, but wasn’t used as a means to lose weight until recently.
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Sometimes called "time restricted feeding", the Eat Stop Eat plan has you fast for 24 hours.
Sometimes called “time restricted feeding”, this plan has you fast for 24 hours. For example, if your last meal is on Monday at 8PM, you don’t eat again until Tuesday at 8PM. Your fasting days do not have to be two days in a row.
This works because your body will expend far more calories during your two day fast than you eat during the other 5 days, so, you end up with a calorie deficit and lose weight. This is assuming, however, that you don't spend the other 5 days wolfing down French fries, ice cream sundaes, and cake!
Absolutely! Let’s talk about how this plan works.
Decreased Insulin Levels & Increased Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin does more than control our blood sugar levels, it’s actually a hormone which tells the body to store fat, rather than burn it. When insulin levels are high, your body will not release the fat that your body has stored.
Intermittent fasting will lower insulin levels
Increased Lipolysis and Fat Burning
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is generally made up of 50-60% carbohydrates (usually simple carbs such as sugar, bread, pasta, and rice). Our bodies see simple carbs, such as bread, the same way it does sugar. Your insulin levels spike as your blood sugar spikes. Your body will use what it needs and then store the remainder.
When we stop eating for short periods of time (often referred to as intermittent fasting), we stop the body from using this food as fuel. This means that the body must now turn to our stored fat for energy. Burning stored fat as our main source of fuel, rather than the simple carbs we eat each day, means losing weight without dieting.
This isn't junk science here. Scientific research supports intermittent fasting as a means of losing weight, as well as maintaining a healthy weight. By limiting when you eat (as well as what you eat) you not only create a calorie deficit (Brad Pilon estimates about a 10% calorie deficit each week) but you keep your body in a state of ketosis, which tells the body to burn stored fat.
One of the interesting phenomenon's about being in a state of ketosis is that you will have more energy than you would on those low calorie diets, as well as cognitive thinking that far outweighs what you are feeling right now.
Unfortunately, this doesn't happen right from the get-go. Think about your last low calorie diet. The first few days, it's not so bad, right? You are motivated, you aren't that hungry, and you start thinking, "I can do this!"" Am I right? That lasts about 3, perhaps 5 days, tops. Then what happens? You start feeling cold and tired and lethargic. You don’t want to do anything except sit on the sofa, wish you had a box of donuts, and think about your next meal.
The Eat Fast Eat plan works the other way around. The first 3 to 7 days, you are wondering if you can do this. Your body isn't used to going without its immediate energy source (that box of donuts) and it certainly isn't used to not eating. Sugar addiction is also very real and the withdrawals can be difficult. However, this only lasts about a week.
As your body adapts to using fat as storage you can feel pretty terrible. Headaches, lethargy, and a bad mood are all common side effects. After the first week or so, however, your body starts to be more adapted to burning fat for fuel, you start to feel better and once you see the pounds start melting off, you feel positively inspired.
You can help your body adapt to fasting by lowering your body's insulin level by consuming a low carb diet, like the Ketogenic Diet. Think of a low carb diet as the 20km training before the full marathon. No one in their right mind will compete in a marathon without training. Low carb diet IS that training.
Although science doesn't seem to have an answer yet as to whether one thing or the other is better for us after fasting (not yet anyway), but many people will tell you from experience that what you eat isn't as important as your attitude when breaking your fast.
When you finish fasting, simply pretend that your fast NEVER HAPPENED. This means no special "reward" for making it through your fast, no special night out, no celebratory beer, just act as if it's another day with another meal.
The minute that it is time to stop fasting, you need to wipe the fast from your memory, and eat the exact way you would normally eat at that specific time of the day (responsibly of course).
For example, if you end your fast at dinner time, have dinner. If you end your fast at 4 PM, and you don't typically have dinner until 6 or 7 PM, then have a light snack, but nothing larger than you would normally have at that time.
There is no magic way to end your fast. The absolute best thing you can do is simply pretend your fast never happened and begin eating in the exact way you would normally eat at that specific time of day.
The idea here is to not undo all the good you did (as well as the weight you lost) by pretending that this is something special and not your new way of eating. Going out to a restaurant and ordering a high calorie meal or wolfing down an entire pizza, is only causing your body to return to its old ways of using your food for fuel and not burning your stored fat.
One of the great things about this diet plan is its flexibility. You get to choose which two days you want to fast. If you have a big presentation at work on Monday, then pick another day. The two days don't have to be together, (for example, Sunday and Monday) but if that works better for you, you can do that as well.
Nothing in this diet plan is restrictive. There is nothing to buy, no weights or measures, no tablets, scales, or special exercise equipment to buy. You simply maintain your normal calorie intake 5 days per week, and don’t eat anything for two days.
Most people find that they are very productive during their fasting days. Since you don’t have to stop to eat, and you want to stay focused on other things besides food, you can actually get quite a bit done on these days.
Let's not forget that this plan saves money! Imagine not buying food for yourself for two days each week! You might want to think about putting that money aside to buy yourself a new wardrobe!
Let's be honest and face the truth. When you first start this plan, you will feel hungry. Your body will adjust over a few weeks and those feelings will pass, but there is no denying that your body will be wondering where the usual 3 hot meals are!
Make plans for this by drinking extra water, find things to keep your mind off food (this is not the time to watch TV and all those pizza commercials) and focus on the benefits.
Others find that this diet plan gives them a headache on their fast days. This is usually due to a lack of caffeine. Try to cut back on caffeine during the other 5 days. You can also drink black coffee or herbal teas, but without sugar or cream. Of course, an over the counter pain reliever works wonders!
Of course, if you feel that you simply can’t go two days each week without food, why not try just one day? You will be surprised how fast that day goes by and you really will only think about food near dinner time. If the one day fast goes well for a few weeks, you can then amp it up to two days. Chances are you will discover that it's not nearly as hard as it sounds.
Be patient and give your body time to adapt to this new eating program. Be consistent with what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat, and you will be surprised at how well this simple plan really works.
The Eat Fast Eat program is a very useful tool for losing weight. By restricting calories and carbohydrates, you will not only lose that excess weight, but you can increase your overall health as well.
Intermittent fasting is one of the most simple, yet effective, ways to lose weight quickly, as well as maintain a healthy weight, over the long term.