Losing weight is hard.
There are a lot of different diets and exercise routines out there, and it can be tough to know which one to choose. Intermittent fasting has become a popular weight-loss method in recent years, but does it actually work?
In this blog post, we will explore the science behind intermittent fasting and whether or not it is an effective weight-loss strategy.
I will also provide some tips on how to intermittent fast if you decide it is right for you.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. In this respect, it’s not a diet in the conventional sense but rather a way of scheduling your meals.
Personally I think of intermittent fasting as more of a productivity tool than a health-outcome-oriented tool.
There are a number of different ways to do intermittent fasting, but the most common is the 16:8 method. This involves fasting for 16 hours each day and restricting your eating to an 8-hour window. For example, you might choose to eat all your meals between 12pm and 8pm. This would mean that you would fast from 8pm until 12pm the following day.
Fasting for long periods of time can be difficult, so it’s important to make sure that you’re still getting all the nutrients your body needs. When done correctly, intermittent fasting may help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
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Types of intermittent fasting schedules
There are several types of intermittent fasting schedules that you can follow.
The most popular ones are the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat only during an 8-hour window; the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for 5 days out of the week and restrict your calories to 500-600 on the other 2 days; and the warrior diet, where you eat small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and then have a large feast at night.
Which schedule you choose will depend on your goals and lifestyle.
I don’t recommend picking a method that’s too extreme and unsustainable in the long-run. For most people the 16/8 method is doable without needing to make drastic changes.
If 16 hours of fasting seems to be a lot, you can start off with something like a 12-hour fasting schedule and work your way up to 16 hours.
The benefits of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is often viewed as a diet that allows people to lose weight and improve their health, but many of the benefits of intermittent fasting have not been researched or studied at all in humans.
There are multiple reasons why people like intermittent fasting— the flexible eating schedule for example, helps them make sure they’re getting enough nutrients throughout the day without constantly worrying about when they will next eat.
It is not magic that people lose weight on an intermittent fasting diet.
Restricting eating to a fixed window enforces discipline around food habits which is often lacking in people who struggle with frequent snacking.
So it is more the behavioural benefits which help with weight loss rather than anything significant to do with hormones or metabolism.
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The risks of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone and comes with certain risks. These risks include:
1) Blood Sugar Levels: When you fast, your blood sugar levels drop. This can cause feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, and fatigue. If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels can drop too low, which can be dangerous.
2) Dehydration: When you fast, you are at risk for dehydration if you are not taking in fluids. This can cause headaches, constipation, and dizziness. It’s not recommended to cut out water intake during the fasting window.
3) Eating Disorders: People who are prone to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia may use intermittent fasting as a way to restrict their food intake. This can lead to serious health problems.
4) Pregnancy: Intermittent fasting is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is insufficient research in this area and the risks outweigh the potential benefits.
5) Stress: Fasting can put stress on your body and mind. This can make it harder to concentrate, sleep, and handle everyday tasks. It is recommended you build up stress tolerance to periods of fasting in a progressive manner to avoid these negatives.
However some people report performing better when they’re in a fasted state. Personally I don’t like eating frequently and find it distracting. I prefer working uninterrupted and intermittent fasting aligns well with this way of functioning.
Test it out for yourself and see how you feel. Your mileage may vary.
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How to start intermittent fasting
If you’re currently used to grazing on foods throughout the day, start with a 12-hour fasting window and by cutting down on impulsive snacking.
Whichever method you choose (16/8, 14/10, 5:2, etc), it’s important to stick to it for at least a few weeks in order to see if it’s sustainable in the long run.
Plan your meals in advance to make it easy to adhere to your schedule. This will also prevent overwhelm and decision fatigue around picking what to eat.
Intermittent fasting won’t work if you only do it occasionally or cheat by going off your plan every once in a while. It’s not a magical solution that will kickstart your weight loss progress.
It’s just a tool which may or may not fit into your overall weight loss strategy.
Is intermittent fasting the best approach to achieve your weight loss goals?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as intermittent fasting may work for some people but not for others.
However, if you are looking to lose weight, intermittent fasting could be a helpful tool to try. By giving your body a break from constant eating, you can allow it to function more efficiently. It may also help inculcate discipline around your current food habits.
If you do decide to give intermittent fasting a try, be sure to speak with your doctor first and start slowly by fasting for only 12 hours at a time.
If you have been trying to reach your weight loss goals for a while now, but are struggling a bit in the process.
It’s probably because of a lack of consistency, a lack of guidance or a lack of support.
If you’d like a 24×7 support system to hold your hand and guide you through the process till you get to your goals, you should consider 1-on-1 coaching with Workday Physique.