If you have never heard of intermittent fasting before, you must be living under a rock! This is one of the biggest diet concepts floating around on the internet today.
What makes intermittent fasting so different? It’s certainly not new; people have been practicing this (although for a different reason) for thousands of years. What makes this program different is that it causes you to rethink your entire life, not just what you are putting in your mouth!
Studies have shown that going for long periods without eating causes the body to want less food.
It might sound complicated, but it isn’t. Intermittent fasting means that at certain times or on certain days, you don’t eat.
There is a wide range to the manner in which this is done. The two most common types are the limited hour eating plan, where you only eat 8 hours out of every day, and what has come to be known as the 5/2 plan, where you eat as you normally do for 5 days, then fast for two days.
Although you have probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, this isn’t actually true.
Take a look at the facts; more than 90 percent of Americans eat breakfast and more than 50 percent of Americans are overweight. If eating breakfast helped you to lose weight, then why all the overweight people? Studies back up the truth that breakfast has nothing to do with losing weight.
Another myth is that you need to eat 5 or 6 small meals a day to “stoke the fire of your metabolism.” Again, there are plenty of studies showing that this isn’t true either.
While other dieting ideas, such as eating breakfast, appear to be a myth, then how does intermittent fasting work? Studies have shown, first off, that going for long periods without eating causes the body to want less food.
Have you ever eaten a really, really big meal before bedtime, then been surprised when your stomach starts growling before you even get out of bed? This is because the more calories you consume, the more your body wants.
By limiting the hours or days that you eat, you make an automatic calorie deficit, which leads to weight loss.
The benefits to intermittent fasting are enormous and far more than people realize!
First, Studies have found that those who follow an intermittent fasting program feel less hungry overall than those who simply cut calories. One study found that those who practiced the 5/2 plan ate 30 percent fewer calories in a 7 day period.
More studies show that intermittent fasting changes the function of genes and hormones, right down to the cellular level, including:
Simplify Your Day
This program also frees up valuable time and cash. Imagine the time (and money) saved by not eating for certain periods. This means less time spent shopping, preparing, cooking, and cleaning. That time can be spent elsewhere.
Lose More Belly Fat
Intermittent fasting will help you lose more belly fat. Lower insulin levels and higher levels of HGH, all work to break down stubborn belly fat and reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes us to put on fat right at the waistline. Less cortisol means less belly fat, which is why intermittent fasting programs are so popular among models, professional athletes, and body builders.
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to increase the metabolic rate by as much as 14%, which means you burn more calories without doing a thing.
If you are one of the millions of people worldwide at a higher risk for developing diabetes, you can dramatically lower that risk by practicing intermittent fasting. In human studies, blood sugar levels during the fasting period were reduced by as much as 6%, while dropping insulin levels as much as 31%. Lower blood sugar and lower insulin levels equal a lower risk of developing diabetes.
For those interested in lowering their risk of disease, you should know that intermittent fasting has been shown in numerous studies to improve our resistance to oxidative stress, remove free radicals in the body (which damage our DNA), while fighting inflammation, which is a marker for many diseases, such as arthritis and obesity.
Heart disease remains the world’s number one killer. You can fight it by practicing intermittent fasting, which lowers blood pressure, total cholesterol, inflammation markers, and keeping blood sugar levels lower.
It's not enough to be good for the body, where would we be if it were not for our brains?! Intermittent fasting can help here as well! Studies involving animals show that fasting protected the brain from damage that was caused by stroke, increased the growth of new cells, and increased important levels of a hormone in the brain called BDNF, which has been linked to depression and other brain disorders.
Speaking of the brain, the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world is Alzheimer’s. As of today, there is no cure. However, you can help to prevent it with intermittent fasting, which has been shown in animal studies to not only prevent it, but in real life, human cases, it helped to improve the symptoms of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
The simple practice of time controlled eating can also help to actually increase your lifespan. In one dramatic study involving rats, those who fasted every other day lived an incredible 83% longer than those who did not!
If this were not enough, several animal based studies have found that intermittent fasting can help prevent cancer. Studies involving humans who were already afflicted with cancer found that intermittent fasting helped to reduce the various side effects of chemo.
Like everything in life, this diet plan isn’t for everyone. Please check with your doctor before starting this program to be certain that it’s good for your particular physical situation.
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should probably avoid this eating plan. Although some diabetics have found success with this eating plan, you should clear it with your doctor before trying it.
If you live a stressful life and find that intermittent fasting only adds to your stress, do not continue the program. Stress is as dangerous to the body as smoking.
Some temporary problems are normal in the beginning. Headaches, feelings of being tired, or being cranky, however, these should pass within a few hours or days. If you find that, after 3 weeks or so, you still experience these symptoms, intermittent fasting is not for you.
There are 4 basic types of intermittent fasting. They are the same, but different. Let’s take a quick look at each type so you can choose which is best for you.
The two most popular intermittent fasting styles are the LeanGains and Eat Stop Eat.
How It Works: This is perhaps the best known program on the internet today. Shorter than the Warrior Diet, Lean Gains calls for a 16 hour fast (this means skipping breakfast, basically), and then eating as you normally would during the remaining 8 hours.
This is a popular plan as it mimics a lot of people’s daily habits. Many people simply have coffee in the morning and wait until 10 or 11 o’clock break to eat, so all you need to is wait a bit longer.
Eating between 12 noon and 8 PM seems perfectly reasonable and most people don’t have a problem waiting an extra hour or two to eat in the morning.
You don’t have to skip breakfast, by the way. If you prefer, you can skip dinner. Some people find that they need breakfast to feel good during the day, but they really can do without dinner.
How It Works: This is where people choose from between 1 and 3 days to stop eating. This plan, however, uses a longer time frame. For example, you eat on Sunday as you normally would and you plan to fast on Monday.
If your bedtime is 10PM, this means you would stop eating at 8PM Sunday night. Since you aren’t eating Monday, this means your next meal will be Tuesday at breakfast, which let’s say will be at 8AM. This means 36 hours without eating, not 24.
People usually do this twice per week, but you can start off once each week to see how it works for you. You will be sleeping for a great deal of that time, but it can still take you a while to feel comfortable with it.
How It Works: This is a very basic plan where you simply go 24 hours without eating. So if your last meal is at 8PM on Sunday, which means you don’t eat again until 8PM on Monday. This is often done twice per week.
This program has been around for ages, although in the past it was mainly done for religious purposes. This program is effective and, for many people, easy to follow. One of the best parts is that you can change the days around to suit your schedule.
How It Works: Similar to the Eat Stop Eat plan, the Warrior diet uses a 20 hour fasting period, followed by a 4 hour eating period. This usually means that you eat only one large meal and perhaps a smaller one just before your fast is about to begin.
This program appears to be just as effective as the Eat Stop Eat plan. Perhaps the only drawback to this plan is that many people try to “stuff” in as much food as possible during their 4 hour eating window, which can lead to some pretty overfull and uncomfortable tummies.
If you have had a problem with binge eating in the past, this plan might not be for you.
Intermittent fasting is super popular right now because it’s easy and it works!