An eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
Compared to calorie restriction, IF is not restricted in calories – it simply limits you’re eating windows to just a few hours a day. 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 more accurately described as an eating pattern. Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.
Fasting is also often done for religious or spiritual reasons, including in Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. There are several different ways of doing intermittent fasting — all of which involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods. This is a very common practice and can teach us a lot about fasting, in general.
Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution. Ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators or food available year-round. Sometimes they couldn’t find anything to eat. As a result, humans evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time. In fact, fasting from time to time is more natural than always eating 3–4 (or more) meals per day.
These are the most popular methods:
- The 16/8 method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 12–8 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this methods, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
By reducing your calorie intake, all of these methods should cause weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the eating periods. Many people find the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to. It’s also the most popular.
When you fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Your cells also initiate important repair processes and change the expression of genes.
Here are some other changes that occur in your body when you fast:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few.
- Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.
- Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
- Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
These changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
- Cannot have anything with Calories during a fasting period.
- Main culprits
- Exogenous Ketones
- Bulletproof Coffee
- Calorie Free Drinks – Due to the artificial sweetener.
- Main culprits
- Water, lemon water, or coffee is the safest bet.
- Gray Area – Nicotine, Apple Cider Vinegar, MCT Oil.
- Find what works best for you. I personally fast for 18 hours and eat for 6 hours
You can check out this video by Dr. Berg! This is how I was introduced to IF. Intermittent Fasting for Beginners
Do you practice intermittent fasting? If so, what type? Leave a comment below!