The 5:2 Diet, The Fast Diet, The Warrior Diet, The 8 Hour Diet…….. The success of these diets are all based on the same thing – INTERMITTENT FASTING (IF)
A quick search ‘Intermittent Fasting’ on Google images returns a full array of before and after shots of those that have succeeded with IF.
Let's delve deeper into the world of IF.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It's pretty simple, it is all about taking ‘intermittent’ times of fasting (whereby you eat no food). There are several methods of IF.
Long Fasts (5:2 Diet, Fast Diet, Eat Stop Eat) is based on a 24 hr fast carried 1-2x per week.
Short ‘Daily’ Fasts (8 Hour Diet, Leangains.com) are based on a condensed eating window and can be done 3-7x a week.
‘Warrior Method’ this is a Daily 20 hour fast and 4 hour feeding window – the most intensive of the lot but for some the most successful.
What are the benefits of IF?
The scientific evidence has shown the benefits to reach further than just weight loss. For most people fat loss is the main reason they give IF a go.
It takes about six to eight hours for your body to metabolize your glycogen stores and after that you start to shift to burning fat. However, if you are replenishing your glycogen by eating every eight hours (or sooner), you make it far more difficult for your body to use your fat stores as fuel.
However the multitude of benefits include:
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
- Reducing blood lipids/fat
- Reducing metabolic syndrome (High blood glucose, High Blood Pressure, Abdominal Weight Gain)
- Increasing growth hormone secretion (required to burn fat and increase muscle)
- Normalising appetite (the body readjusts onto a new schedule)
- Anti aging (by promoting autophagy)
- Improves mental clarity
- Increases lifespan (animal studies)
Ok so how do I do it? Does ‘fasting’ mean eating NOTHING AT ALL?
During the fasting phase you can and advised to have lots of water. Tea, coffee and herbal teas are also allowed however no milk/sugar (calories) should be added. NB: the 5:2 diet includes 500-600kcal during fasts which can lead to a slightly slower weight loss but for some is easier to stick to. Others may find it easier to not eat anything at all.
Which IF protocol is right for me?
Which IF protocol you choose is up to you and how you fit it into your lifestyle.
Daily Short Fasts
The aim here is to reduce your feeding window (8-10 hours so you are fasting 16-14 hours respectively). For some this will be only a small change to eating patterns. Don’t forget if you sleep for 8 hours then that is included in your fasting phase.
This method is more consistent and much simpler. Example would be as follows: Skip breakfast (yes I said it, pretty common on a Keto WOE) and start eating around 12pm and finish by 8pm.
Of course you can decide what works best for your lifestyle.
Longer Fasts (20-24hr) – 1-2x per week
This is a great opportunity to give your body some rest and allow it to repair. You can do a 24hr fast and still eat every day. For example finish eating at 6pm on Day 1 and then have a meal at 6pm on Day 2, 24 hours later. An example 20 hour fast would be Day 1 finish eating at 5pm, Day 2 have your first meal at 1pm.
Longer fasts are easier on ‘busy’ days. So look at your weekly schedule and pick a day where you are kept occupied.