Intermittent fasting, or IF, is currently one of the hottest fitness and health trends. Intermittent fasting is claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, and even extend lifespan. Everyone seems to be talking about it, but what is it exactly? With a little help of our personal trainers, we created this beginners guide for intermittent fasting.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Since it doesn’t specify the foods you should eat, you can’t really call it a diet, it’s more of a habit. Intermittent fasting is not about which foods you should eat, but rather when you should eat them.
Normally intermittent fasting means daily 16-hour fasts or fasting 24 hours two times a week. Humans have evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time just because of the circumstances our ancestors had. Many religions include fasting as a spiritual practice as well. Fasting is actually more natural than always eating 3-4 meals per day.
Popular intermittent fasting methods
There are several different ways of doing intermittent fasting. All of them involve cycles of eating and fasting.
Some popular methods are:
- The 16/8 method: This method is also called the Leangains method. In this method, you’ll skip breakfast and only eat for an eight hour period, such as between 1 pm and 9 pm, and then you’ll fast the remaining 16 hours. It doesn’t matter which time you decide to be your eating period, it can also be from 8 am to 4 pm. The only rule is to have 8 hours of eating period and 16 hours of fasting. This is probably the most popular way of doing intermittent fasting.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours a few times a week. The next time you’ll be eating for example after Tuesday dinner is the Wednesday dinner.
- The 5:2 diet: This method is not completely about fasting, you consume only 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, and then you’ll eat normally the other 5 days.
All these methods are reducing your calorie intake and it should help you to lose weight. The most popular method seems to be the 16/8 method as it’s simple and it creates a habit.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting affects your calorie intake, and it should make it easier to lose weight. Besides this, several other things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, the levels of growth hormone increases as much as 5-fold, which will help you to lose fat and gain muscle. Your insulin levels drop also dramatically and this makes stored body fat more accessible. It also increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine. When fasting, your cells initiate cellular repair processes and it cleans old and dysfunctional proteins. Intermittent fasting changes the expression of certain genes, which helps the body protect itself from disease and it promotes longevity. In addition, it lowers blood sugars, blood pressure, and inflammation levels.
Weight loss is usually the most common reason to try intermittent fasting, and no wonder why!
Besides finding the right workouts, Amino App personal trainers can help you find the best diet to reach your goals.