Everything you need to know about intermittent fasting!
If you’re here, you’re probably interested in intermittent fasting.
It is a fantastic way to cut fat while retaining muscle, and it comes with the added benefit of increased focus and better-looking skin.
The real question shouldn’t be IF you should intermittent fast, but HOW.
In this blog, we will cover the basics of intermittent fasting. Including:
- What intermittent fasting is
- The science behind intermittent fasting
- The benefits of intermittent fasting
- How to start a fast
- What you can consume during a fast
- How to break a fast
- Best time to workout when intermittent fasting
- How intermittent fasting affects men and women differently
- Common concerns of Intermittent Fasting
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will go deeper on the subject. Feel free to shoot us any questions you have on the subject in our comments or our social media pages.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is when you eat during a specific time of day and fast (refrain from eating) for a longer period of the day.
Intermittent fasting is believed to be a more natural way of eating for the human body. Dating back to prehistoric times, when we were hunter-gatherers we had to go long periods of time without eating because it took a while to hunt for food as well as gather berries and nuts. These activities also took extreme focus and energy, so our bodies were conditioned to operate at peak performance during these periods of fasting.
I know what you’re thinking, “I have trouble writing an email if I skip breakfast”. If you feel a little lightheaded or “off” when you haven’t eaten your regular meals, your body will soon adjust and you’ll wonder how you ever got anything done before intermittent fasting.
This isn’t just prehistoric science, technology such as television and the internet have been great for connecting us and moving business forward but they’ve done a number on our health.
We’re sitting for longer periods of time, staying awake later to catch TV shows and play games; and usually snacking throughout this process. This has put us at higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease as well as many other illnesses. Intermittent fasting can help reverse that trend, by bringing us back to a more natural schedule and diet.
The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting
The science behind intermittent fasting is pretty simple: after hours without food and no insulin response, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat.
With a ‘normal’ diet, the body never has a chance to burn this excess fat because the body is continually receiving new calories to burn.
Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
At its core, intermittent fasting helps you lose fat, without losing muscle which is the holy grail of health.
It also helps focus and even improves your skin health!
While that’s the headline there are several specific benefits associated with intermittent fasting.
Changes the Function of Cells, Genes, and Hormones
By abstaining from food for prolonged periods, your body changes in several ways:
Insulin levels drop significantly which is what initiates the fat burning
Human growth hormone can increase up to 5 times! There are star athletes who were paying big bucks and getting in even bigger trouble for using this naturally occurring substance when all they needed to do was fast! Human growth hormone helps with fat burning, muscle gain, and several other benefits.
The body removes waste material from cells aka cellular rejuvenation which is what improves your skin health among other added benefits
Genes and molecules in your body are better prepared to protect against disease
Aids the Loss of Weight and Belly Fat
We’ve already explained part of the science behind this. Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels, and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy.
Short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories
People also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, which indicates that they lost lots of belly fat, the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that causes disease.
Reduces Insulin Resistance, Lowering the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has become far too common in our culture, and while several drug companies are coming up with ways to fight this debilitating disease, intermittent fasting may be the best way to naturally combat this killer.
Studies show intermittent fasting has an enormous effect on insulin and blood sugar levels.
Reduces Oxidative Stress and Inflammation of the Body
Oxidative stress is what causes a lot of the unwanted effects of aging including chronic disease. Intermittent fasting is literally a fountain of youth.
Intermittent fasting also fights inflammation which is a big cause of common disease.
Improved Heart Health
Early studies on animals conclude intermittent fasting can improve numerous different risk factors, including blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, and blood sugar levels.
Improved Cellular Repair
Fasting causes “cellular rejuvenation” also known as autophagy. People pay big money for this! You can have it for free with intermittent fasting.
Cellular rejuvenation is the process of cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.
Not only does this make our skin look better, but it may also provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some studies have shown intermittent fasting can help prevent cancer.
Improved Brain Function
Intermittent fasting may increase the growth of new nerve cells, which have benefits for brain function.
It also increases levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which if you do not have enough of can cause depression and various other brain problems.
Also, as noted earlier, by fasting your brain naturally focuses better.
May Help You Live Longer
Some studies have shown intermittent fasting can help you live longer, which makes sense, by improving your overall health an increased lifespan should be a natural byproduct.
How to Start Intermittent Fasting
After reading through the benefits, I’m sure you’re ready to get started.
There are several different ways to intermittent fast, we recommend the most popular 16 and 8 method. Meaning you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window.
This can be achieved simply by having your last meal around 10 pm, going to bed, and not eating again until 2 pm the next day.
Eventually, to maximize the benefits of fasting working your way up to an 18 or even 20 hour fast is recommended.
When you start your fast, the best meal to have last should contain a fair amount of fiber, protein, and fat because it will satiate you better through your fast.
What to Consume During Your Fast
Fasting doesn’t mean going without everything.
Don’t worry you can have your morning coffee or tea. In fact, it is recommended because the caffeine helps boost fat loss. Also, without food, you will need to get energy from somewhere.
Just DO NOT add anything to your coffee or tea, this will break your fast; even artificial sweeteners can trigger an insulin spike and metabolic response.
Finally, drink plenty of water.
How to Break your Fast
Break your fast, that sounds a lot like…breakfast! Which is obviously the etymology behind the term. You’ll just be eating yours later than normal.
The key to eating when intermittent fasting, is to still stay within your recommended daily amount of calories and eat clean.
There are a couple of other schools of thought. One being, bone broth, as your first meal allows collagen to restore the gut making for less of a shock to the system.
Best Time to Workout when Intermittent Fasting
To maximize the effect of your intermittent fasting while optimizing your training performance it is best to work out when in your fasted state.
The best time to workout when intermittent fasting is first thing in the morning.
While working out later in your fast will help burn more fat, you will see a performance decline.
While it is not recommended, if you must work out after your fast, make sure you have digested your food otherwise it can make for an unpleasant workout.
How Intermittent Fasting Affects Men and Women Differently
While intermittent fasting generally works the same, women may have a tougher time at first.
The female reproductive system is wired to feed a baby so a woman’s body sends survival responses more aggressively. So that’s why females may be a bit more “hangry”. If you are having trouble, as a female, intermittent fasting; try starting with a 12 or 14 hour fast and work your way up.
Will you lose muscle? No.
Will your metabolism slow down? No, as long as you’re eating the right amount of calories.
When should you take supplements? If the supplement has carbs or calories it breaks a fast, if it’s a soft gel, it breaks a fast. Water-soluble vitamins are okay, but you should still consume them during the eating period for your stomach’s sake.
What about Alcohol? Fat burning is a function that utilizes the liver, so if you’re taxing your liver, it won’t burn as much fat. If you do drink, do so in moderation and stay within the recommended window.
As with any new diet, consult your physician to see if it will affect your medications.
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