Intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that involves regular short fasts, where you significantly cut back on your calories and don’t eat anything for a set period.
It’s not just another diet fad; research has shown that Intermittent fasting (IF) can help you lose weight faster and keep it off.
This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of intermittent fasting so you can be successful with this method. Read on to get started today with this proven weight loss strategy!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a diet that involves eating all of your meals in an 8-hour window, with no food consumed after the last meal at night and before you wake up in the morning.
This means you only consume calories for 8 hours out of every 24 hours.
The reason this works so well is that it allows your body to go into ‘fasting’ mode, where it burns fat as its primary source of energy. It also helps regulate hormones such as insulin and leptin, which can help control appetite and weight.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Our bodies enter into a state called “fasting mode” when we fast. During this time, our body’s metabolism slows down, and we burn more calories than usual.
Our bodies also produce less insulin which helps us to regulate blood sugar levels better. We also tend to feel hungrier during this time because our hormones tell us that we need to eat.
When we break our fast, we begin to eat again. Our bodies start producing insulin again, and our metabolism speeds up. As a result, we will typically lose weight as our body burns off stored fat.
Why Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss?
Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight by creating a calorie deficit. This means your body is burning more calories than you are consuming. You will lose weight if you consume fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight.
In order to lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. This means that you need to consume fewer calories than your body burns.
Intermittent fasting is a proven way to create a calorie deficit by increasing your daily fasting duration. When you fast, your body doesn’t have any food coming in, so it has to use its stored energy.
When you eat, your body uses some of that stored energy, but it also creates more by breaking down food. So when you fast, you’re actually burning off more calories than you would if you were eating.
How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
The best way to start intermittent fasting is to ease into it slowly. You’ll have a better chance of sticking with it if it’s not an overwhelming experience.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Try fasting once a week to start: This is a great way to ease into it and figure out how your body responds.
- Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can cause headaches, be easily corrected by drinking more water.
- Take a multivitamin: Your body will use a lot of energy during fasting, so it’s important to take a multivitamin to ensure you get all the essential nutrients
- Take small steps toward your goal: If you try to take on too much too soon, it will be harder to stick with it.
- Talk to your doctor: Make sure that you’re healthy enough to start fasting.
There are several different ways to implement intermittent fasting. As long as you get all your calories in for the day, you can pick any schedule that works for you.
Here are some of the most popular plans for intermittent fasting:
The 16/8 Fasting Plan
For this plan, you eat 16 hours per day and fast for the remaining 8 hours. This is the most common form of intermittent fasting.
It is recommended that you eat your last meal by 5 pm. Then it would be best to wait until you ate your first meal again at 9 am the following morning.
This is a great way to start fasting. You can slowly increase the amount of time you fast in the coming weeks. If you find 16 hours too easy, try extending the time to 20 hours.
The 5/2 Fasting Plan
The 5/2 diet is one of the most popular intermittent fasting protocols. It involves eating as normal for five days and then limiting your calories for two days. For the two fast days, you can consume liquids only.
On fasting days, you can drink water, coffee, and tea. You can also eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Popular foods for fasting days include eggs, fish, and chicken breast. If you do this for two weeks, you’ll transition to a standard 16-hour fast.
The 3/1 Fasting Plan
For this plan, you eat normally three days per week and fast for one day. On fasting days, you consume only liquids.
The 3/1 protocol is similar to a 5/2 diet. It involves having a standard 16-hour fast for three days and a one-day fast for the remaining four days.
This is pretty intense and should be done carefully. It’s best to start with a 3/1 protocol and move to a 5/2 diet if you find it too challenging.
The OMAD Diet
The OMAD diet is very similar to a standard 5/2 diet. OMAD stands for “One Meal a Day.”
With this plan, you eat one large meal while fasting for the rest of the day.
You’ll be fasting for 24 hours and then eating only one meal during the day. OMAD is a great way to jump in and really experience the benefits of fasting. However, make sure to drink plenty of water, especially during the fasting period.
This is a special kind of fast where you abstain entirely from eating for one whole day per week.
Eat-Stop-Eat fasting is a popular method of fasting for one or two days per week. On the days that you fast, you consume no food at all. Then, you can eat normally for the rest of the week.
This is a great way to start fasting because it’s easy to follow.
How to Fast Safely for Weight Loss
To be successful with intermittent fasting, you have to do it safely. This means you need to make sure you don’t go too long without eating and cause your body to go into starvation mode. You also need to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients.
Here are some tips to fast safely for weight loss:
- Eat healthily: Eating a healthy diet while fasting is important for your overall health. It will also help you maintain the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.
- Stay hydrated: While fasting, you should make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Eat protein-rich snacks: While it’s important to eat healthily, you don’t want to go overboard on calories. Protein-rich snacks like nuts and seeds, eggs, beans, and fish are healthy choices that are lower in calories.
What to Eat While Intermittent Fasting?
When you’re fasting, you need to cut down on the amount of food you eat. This is especially true if you’re doing extended fasts.
You may want to avoid the following foods:
- Grains: Wheat, rice, corn, etc. These foods spike your blood sugar, so they’re best to avoid while fasting.
- Dairy: Milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. These are good to avoid because they are high in protein and may not be very helpful when fasting.
- Legumes: Soybeans, beans, peanuts, etc. Legumes are high in protein and should be avoided during extended fasts.
- Oils: Coconut oil, vegetable oil, etc. These are high in fats and should be avoided.
- Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. Seeds have lots of fat and protein, so you should avoid them during extended fasts.
- Fruits: Oranges, apples, bananas, etc. These are high in sugar and cannot be consumed during extended fasts.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, asparagus, etc. Vegetables are great to eat while fasting.
- Nuts: Almonds, peanuts, etc. Nuts also contain lots of protein, so they should be avoided while fasting.
- Sugars: Honey, maple syrup, etc. You should avoid sugar while fasting and during the rest of your day.
Three Ways to Fast Intermittently for Weight Loss
1. Eat fewer calories, but more often
You can eat all your calories for the day in one sitting or spread them out into multiple small meals. It’s been shown that eating smaller meals more often increases metabolic rate and helps with weight loss.
2. Drink low-calorie beverages
Water is a great beverage choice, but it doesn’t have many calories. If you’d like something with a little extra, try unsweetened tea or coffee.
3. Use intermittent fasting supplements
There are several different supplements on the market that help you fast easier.
5 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has many benefits, including weight loss, lower blood pressure, improved blood sugar, and reduced inflammation.
1. Weight Loss
Several studies show intermittent fasting can help you lose weight faster than traditional calorie restriction.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that intermittent fasting can lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that fasting also reduces LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
3. Improved Blood Sugar
A study in the Journal of American Nutrition and Metabolism showed that intermittent fasting helps regulate blood sugar and reduces insulin levels.
4. Reduced Inflammation
A study in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Medicine found that fasting reduces inflammation in the body.
5. Increased Energy
A study in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry found that fasting increases energy expenditure and oxygen consumption in both animals and humans.
Other Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
In addition to helping you lose weight, intermittent fasting has been shown to improve your health in other ways, including:
- Improved blood sugar levels: As we mentioned above, intermittent fasting helps reduce blood sugar levels. This can be beneficial for those with diabetes.
- Improved insulin sensitivity: This means your body is better able to use the insulin it naturally produces.
- Improved gut health: A healthy gut can help with proper digestion.
- Better sleep: Insufficient sleep can lead to a myriad of health issues. Intermittent fasting has been shown to help improve sleep.
- Reduced risk of heart disease: Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world. A healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a proven way to create a calorie deficit and lose weight faster than with traditional dieting. IF has also been shown to improve your health in many ways, including lowering your blood sugar.
However, it’s important to note that intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. You should speak with your doctor before attempting any diet or exercise program if you have an underlying health condition. They can help you decide if intermittent fasting is right for you.
If you are healthy and have no medical conditions, intermittent fasting might just be the weight loss solution you’ve been searching for. And best of all, it’s simple, easy to follow, and completely sustainable.