Intermittent fasting has been practiced for generations but it seems like this is a new trend that has come to wow people.
But the truth is that periods of voluntary abstinence from food and drink (i.e., intermittent fasting) has been practiced since the earliest antiquity by peoples around the globe(1).
However, it seems that many people just discovered intermittent fasting. The internet is going crazy with people searching and the ins and out and the guides on how to practice it.
There are many health benefits to intermittent including weight loss, decreased blood pressure and reversal of type 2 diabetes (2).
My goal today is to give all the tools and for you to decide if intermittent fasting is right for you.
Disclaimer: While intermittent fasting has many proven benefits, it’s still very controversial. Please make sure you discuss any changes in medication and lifestyle changes with your doctor(1).
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Let me just start by clarifying that fasting is NOT starving yourself as many people think.
Fasting is the abstinence of all food or some kinds of food for religious, weight loss or health purposes. Fasting should be done by people that have enough stored fat to live off.
When intermittent fasting is done correctly you can see the many health benefits.
Just to clarify; any time that you are not eating you are intermittent fasting.
For example, you may fast between dinner and lunch the next day which many people choose to do including me. I find that this is the easiest way to do it that fits in my schedule and lifestyle.
So I recommend that if you are thinking about starting intermittent fasting that you find a schedule that works the best for you, so you can have success in the long run.
Intermittent Fasting for weight loss
Intermittent fasting for weight loss allows the body to use its stored energy and start burning excess fat in the absence of carbohydrates which is the other source of energy used by the body.
remember that if you do not eat your body is smart enough that it will start consuming/ burning fat for energy.
When we eat, more food energy is ingested than can immediately be used. Some of this energy must be stored away for later use. Insulin is the hormone responsible for storing energy.
this is the way it works:
It’s a proven fact that insulin rises when we eat and that excess energy store broken down into carbohydrates and glucose (sugar). Glucose is then broken into glycogen which is found in the liver and muscles.
Once the liver has excess carbohydrates these are converted into fat. This process a lot more complex but just know that there is no limit to the amount of fat your body can create.
So, two complementary food energy storage systems exist in our bodies. One is easily accessible but with limited storage space (glycogen), and the other is more difficult to access but has almost unlimited storage space (body fat) (3).
One thing I see people doing is that they start eating as soon as they get up in the morning and don’s stop until they go back to sleep again.
But what they fail to realize is that when they do this they don’t allow time for their body to burn its stored energy and over time gain weight they tend to gain weight (4).
In order to lose weight what we have to do is as simple as increasing the amount of time we intermittent fast.
The point of intermittent fasting is to allow our body to use the energy already store and to burn/ use it. It’s the way our bodies are designed, so there is nothing wrong with that.
I remember when I was little and lived in the Dominican Republic we didn’t have the 3 meals of the day, we were lucky to find two. Now thinking back, also realized that we were healthier and more productive having only 1 to 2 meals per day.
Something very important to note is that we are told that in order to lose weight we have to eat every 2 to 3 hours to speed up our metabolism, which is true.
But according to “Eating Two Large Meals per day” article if we eat every 3 hours our body does not have the time to consume the energy already stored. instead what is doing is burning the energy we are consuming every 3 hours. Meaning, that we are not giving enough time to our body to burn the stored fat.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Weight loss!!! this is the benefit many of us are after. but let me just tell you that there are many more potential benefits than this.
Some of the health benefits of intermittent fasting are:
How to Intermittent Fasting
One of the reasons people practice intermittent fasting is because it’s very convenient and very easy to follow. what makes it easy is the fact that you can fast for as long as you please. Note that you should not fast for days without medical supervision.
This is my favorite way to practice intermittent fasting. This way involves fasting for 16 hours with an 8-hour eating window. During the 8 hours, you pretty much eat all your meals. and fast for the rest of the 16 hours.
I am going to put my self as an example. I eat my 2 to 3 meals from 12 pm and 8 pm. This is a very comfortable schedule for me for the days I do not work. since I work nights 3 times per week 12 hours shift.
This means that during the nights that I work I do switch my eating times. I eat from 4 pm to 1 am.
Some people find it easier to just skip dinner. Whatever you choose, choose what works for you.
This is a longer period of fasting where you would fast for 20 hours and have an eating window of 4 hours.
Normally if you follow this fasting schedule you would eat 1 to 2 meals in the four-hour window, for example, eat between 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm every day.
24 hours fast
This way of intermittent fasting involves fasting from lunch to lunch or breakfast to breakfast. Meaning that if you eat lunch today at 1:00 pm then your next meal will be the following day at 1:00 pm. This schedule only allows you to eat once per day.
If you can do this go ahead but to be honest this I cannot do.
In this approach, you really just eat every other day instead of eating every day or having an eating window.
For 5 days of the week you can eat whatever and whenever you want, but for the other 2 days you only eat from 500 to 600 calories.
36 Hour Fast
This fast means that you will not eat anything for the whole day. For example, if you eat dinner on day 1, you would not eat anything on day 2 and not eat again until breakfast on the 3rd day.
This might be more beneficial to those trying to lose weight.
If you’re thinking of trying intermittent fasting for its health benefits or for weight loss, I think the 16/8 fasting schedule is the easiest to do and stick to.
It involves eating only during an 8-hour period and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.
Also, if you want to lose weight, intermittent fasting might work for you since this is one of its powerful benefits.
There is no need to count calories or to follow a specific meal plan. It may also, decrease your blood sugar levels, and improve brain function.
As always if you before you start intermittent fasting consult your doctor.
If you like this blog post or have questions please make sure to leave your comments questions or suggestions below.