Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss: The Ultimate Guide

INTERMITTENT FASTING 16_8 LEANGAINS, WARRIOR DIET, OMAD

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting or IF as it is also commonly known is simply not eating food during scheduled periods of time.  It is not a considered a diet, but rather a dieting pattern.  It is NOT about starving yourself and restricting yourself or prescribing what foods you should eat; but more importantly, when you
should eat.

If done correctly, intermittent fasting is an incredible
effective approach
, that produces amazing results regardless of diet plan. 

The myth of eating six meals a day to lose weight

The six meal a day myth scares had us all believing that eating six times a day was beneficial for our metabolism.

Claiming that if you don’t eat at regular intervals throughout the day, your metabolism will crash.

Essentially, supporters claim that you burn more calories when you eat more frequently. However, there have been at least eight studies that found this to be untrue. Instead, these studies found that energy expenditure was the same regardless of how many meals eaten in a day 

Further in other studies, researchers measured the effects of meal frequency on fat burning as well as hunger and one’s desire to eat.

And guess what?

They found that eating three meals a day versus six meals produced no difference when it came to fat burning. However, those in the study that ate six meals daily were more likely to feel hungry after their meals. And they reported a stronger desire to eat.

Researchers also reported that participants had a harder time adhering to the six meal a day plan. To be honest who has time to plan and prep six meals a day? 

The truth is there are MANY studies that refute this popular belief. Too many to include in this article and keep it interesting.

Who is Intermittent Fasting For?

Based on the numerous benefits, intermittent fasting is really meant for anyone who is serious about improving their health and perhaps losing weight without overhauling their diet.

Technically, you don’t need to change anything about your diet to benefit from intermittent fasting, which makes it very appealing to many people.

It’s also for those who want that extra edge to burning fat while maintaining their muscle (shouldn’t we all?).

It’s completely safe to do and provides enormous benefits so it’s really just a matter of committing to it, trying it out, and seeing if it’s something you want to do regularly.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

To understand how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss we first need to understand the difference between the fed state and the fasted state.

Your body is in the fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. Typically, the fed state starts when you begin eating and lasts for three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the fed state, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.

After that timespan, your body goes into what is known as the post–absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for the body to burn fat in the fasted state because insulin levels are low.

When you’re in the fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.

Because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Losing weight and belly fat on intermittent fasting

One of the most obvious benefits of intermittent fasting is the loss of weight.  Generally speaking, intermittent fasting will make you eat fewer meals.

Unless you decide to overeat or compensate by eating too much during your eating window, you will eat less calories than if you was eating three regular meals a day.

Intermittent fasting also improves hormone function which also helps weight loss.

Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat.

Thus, short-term fasting can actually increase your metabolic rate up to 14%, helping you burn even more calories.

intermittent fasting boosts your metabolic rate which increases the amount of calories out and reduces the amount of calories consumed.

Intermittent fasting also helps to lose belly fat.

In one study people lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, which is an indication that they lost belly fat. Regardless of your overall weight, having a large amount of belly fat increases your risk of: Cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

All things considered, intermittent fasting can be an incredibly powerful weight loss tool.

Intermittent Fasting is Good For Your Brain

One of the most agreed upon benefits of the IF diet is the fact that it promotes healthy brain function and wards of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. According to research by Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, the act of forgoing food is a challenge to your brain that causes it to take preventative measures against diseases.

 

So how exactly does it work? The fasting period gives your body more time to deplete your body’s glycogen stores and causes you to burn fat instead of sugar (hello, weight loss!). This fat-burning process produces ketones, which boost your energy and banish brain fog. Mattson suggests packing the day’s meals into a short eight-hour period so that your body has time to efficiently deplete glycogen stores and enter ketosis. Intrigued? 

Intermittent Fasting can reverse diabetes

Over 29 million people in America have diabetes, and one in four doesn’t even know it. Diabetes can be managed via diet, exercise, and medication; and according to University of Southern California researchers, intermittent fasting may also be able to stop the disease in its tracks. The study notes that a fasting-like diet triggers the production of new pancreatic cells to replace dysfunctional ones, can control blood sugar, and can reverse insulin resistance and depletion.

Intermittent fasting will make you live longer

 

Nothing says “healthy lifestyle choice” like longevity! A Harvard study shows that IF’s food-free period manipulates the energy-producing mitochondria of your cells and increases your lifespan. As you age, your body is in a natural decline that affects your cells. But the study showed that the lower levels of energy produced during fasting times caused the mitochondria to shift and maintain their functions longer than normal to promote healthy aging and a longer lifespan.

Intermittent fasting simplifies your day

I’m big on behavior change, simplicity, and reducing stress. Intermittent fasting provides additional simplicity to my life that I really enjoy. When I wake up, I don’t worry about breakfast. I just grab a glass of water and start my day.

I enjoy eating and I don’t mind cooking, so eating three meals a day was never a hassle for me. However, intermittent fasting allows me to eat one less meal, which also means planning one less meal, cooking one less meal, and stressing about one less meal. It makes life a bit simpler and I like that.

How intermittent fasting is done

There are six main variations of the diet:

The 16/8 Method: The Leangains Method

This is one of the most popular methods. The 16/8 Method is where you fast for 16 hours of the day and only eat during the other 8 hours known as your ‘eating window.’

This method is also known as the Leangains protocol, and was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan.

Within the eating window, you can fit in 2, 3 or more meals. This may sound like a long time without food but everyone fasts without even knowing.  When we are asleep our body is fasting and this can be anywhere between 7-10 hours.

This is one of the easiest ways to begin intermittent fasting for most people as it includes some of your fasting hours while you are asleep. When you wake up you continue your fast in the morning.

What many people do is skip breakfast in the morning and then have their first meal of the day at noon, and the last meal is at 8 pm.

This technique means that you will only miss breakfast.

The rest of the time, the person on this diet can eat, but it is important that they only eat during their 8 hour window.

You can drink water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages during the fast, and this can help reduce hunger levels.

It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods during your eating window. This won’t work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.

It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods during your eating window. This won’t work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.

The advantage of practicing leangains is that that you can eat as many times as you want during the eight-hour feeding period. You can adjust this window to make it work for your life, so if you don’t like breakfast you can have your first meal early afternoon.  If you are a night owl or work night shifts then your eating window can be anything from 6pm onwards.

The beauty of this method is that you can pick the hours that suit your lifestyle.

If you start eating at: 8am, stop eating and start fasting at 4pm

If you start eating at: noon, stop eating and start fasting at 8pm

If you start eating at: 2pm, stop eating and start fasting at 10pm

If you start eating at: 6pm, stop eating and start fasting at 2am.

There are some variations of this diet, with some people even doing 18 hours of fasting with a 6 hour eating window or even as much as 20 hours of fasting.

The 5:2 Diet

This version of intermittent fasting requires the dieter to only consume a restricted amount of calories twice a week. The other five days they are free to eat what they want.

Women can eat 500 calories two days a week while men can eat up to 600 calories two days a week.

It is not necessary to count calories during the five “feed” days. Just be aware that you are staying roughly within the range of 2,000 or 2,400. Pay attention to hunger cues and the feeling of satiety.

The simplicity of the diet and the fact you can eat pretty much what you like five days a week, are key to its popularity.

There are no restrictions on the types of food you can eat and it is suggested that women can expect to lose about a 1lb a week on the diet with men losing about the same if not a little more.

Eat Stop Eat – The 24 hour Method

In this method, you will have to stop eating completely for 24 hours. Such fasts should ideally be taking place twice a week.

Involves fasting for 24-hour time periods one or two times per week, according to founder Brad Pilon. During the other five or six days, Pilon recommends that you eat “responsibly,” without needing to diet.

The fast usually begin from 5 pm in the evening to 5pm the following day, once the 24 hours are over, you can go back to eating whatever you feel like eating!

If you are doing this to lose weight, then it is very important that you eat normally during the eating periods, it is recommended to eat a big healthy meal.

Even if you eat your favorite foods, you will be able to reduce overall calorie intake.

While you aren’t allowed to eat during the 24 hour fast, you can drink only water, tea, herbal tea and coffee. The tea and coffee should have no milk, sugar or cream.

It is best to choose a time that’s convenient for you. This gives you a better chance of sticking to this routine.

The problem with this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be fairly difficult for many people.

One study published in Obesity Reviews in 2011 found that up to 12 weeks of intermittent calorie restriction was as effective in weight loss and fat loss as daily calorie restriction. Another 2012 study published in Nutrition Journal found that obese women who “severely restricted” their food intake for one day per week through intermittent fasting were able to lose weight effectively; furthermore, it also helped them lower their coronary heart disease risk.

As Pilon puts it, some people do better with this type of fast once per week or twice per week, depending on their schedules and specific weight-loss goals.

It’s worth noting that these plans may not fit every lifestyle, especially if you go out to eat a lot with friends and family or if you have traditions of eating certain meals at specific times with loved ones.

As always, talk to your doctor before you start any new eating plan, including intermittent fasting.

Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast every other day.

Alternate-Day fasting means fasting every other day.

There are several different versions of this. Some of them allow about 500 calories during the fasting days.

Many of the lab studies showing health benefits of intermittent fasting used some version of this.

A full fast every other day seems rather extreme, so I do not recommend this for beginners.

With this method, you will be going to bed very hungry several times per week, which is not very pleasant and probably unsustainable in the long-term.

Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.

Meal skipping

This flexible approach to intermittent fasting may be good for beginners. It involves occasionally skipping meals.

People can decide which meals to skip according to their level of hunger or time restraints. However, it is important to eat healthful foods at each meal.

Meal skipping is likely to be most successful when individuals monitor and respond to their body’s hunger signals. Essentially, people using this style of intermittent fasting will eat when they are hungry and skip meals when they are not.

This may feel more natural for some people than the other fasting methods.

The Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet is a relatively extreme form of intermittent fasting.

 

The Warrior Diet involves eating very little, usually just a few servings of raw fruit and vegetables, during a 20-hour fasting window, then eating one large meal at night. The eating window is usually only around 4 hours.

 

This form of fasting may be best for people who have tried other forms of intermittent fasting already.

 

Supporters of the Warrior Diet claim that humans are natural nocturnal eaters and that eating at night allows the body to gain nutrients in line with its circadian rhythms.

 

During the 4-hour eating phase, people should make sure that they consume plenty of vegetables, proteins, and healthful fats. They should also include some carbohydrates.

 

Although it is possible to eat some foods during the fasting period, it can be challenging to stick to the strict guidelines on when and what to eat in the long term. Also, some people struggle with eating such a large meal so close to bedtime.

 

There is also a risk that people on this diet will not eat enough nutrients, such as fiber. This can increase the risk of cancer and have an adverse effect on digestive and immune health.

OMAD –One Meal A Day

OMAD diet is also known as 23:1 diet. This is the form of intermittent fasting in which you take only one meal a day. This means that you will be fasting for 23 hours and taking a proper meal in just one hour. Make sure that you restrict your entire caloric intake in the fasting hours. However, you can take tea, coffee, water and other low-calorie beverages. Food supplements are also allowed. But it is also equally necessary that you eat properly in your meal hour.

OMAD diet has a simpler course and is easy to follow. There are no complicated rules in it unlike other forms of dieting.

Those who follow the OMAD diet report of greater energy spikes during the fasting periods instead of feeling exhausted or depleted.

Obviously, staying hungry for straight 24 hours is not that easy. Many of us might fail to overcome their cravings and jump back to the taboo diets known to be the culprit in causing excess calories in the body.

Tips for maintaining intermittent fasting

Yoga and light exercise may help to make intermittent fasting easier.

Yoga and light exercise may help to make intermittent fasting easier.

It can be challenging to stick to an intermittent fasting program.

The following tips may help people stay on track and maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting:

Staying hydrated. Drink lots of water and calorie-free drinks, such as herbal teas, throughout the day.

Avoiding obsessing over food. Plan plenty of distractions on fasting days to avoid thinking about food, such as catching up on paperwork or going to see a movie.

Resting and relaxing. Avoid strenuous activities on fasting days, although light exercise such as yoga may be beneficial.

Making every calorie count. If the chosen plan allows some calories during fasting periods, select nutrient-dense foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fats. Examples include beans, lentils, eggs, fish, nuts, and avocado.

Eating high-volume foods. Select filling yet low-calorie foods, which include popcorn, raw vegetables, and fruits with high water content, such as grapes and melon.

Increasing the taste without the calories. Season meals generously with garlic, herbs, spices, or vinegar. These foods are extremely low in calories yet are full of flavor, which may help to reduce feelings of hunger.

Choosing nutrient-dense foods after the fasting period. Eating foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients helps to keep blood sugar levels steady and prevent nutrient deficiencies. A balanced diet will also contribute to weight loss and overall health

 There’s No Forbidden Foods and you won’t have to count calories once you’re done fasting. It also means you don’t have to restrict the kind of foods you are eating.

It’s still a good idea to eat in moderation. For instance, it may okay to eat a slice of cake, but not so good to consume the whole cake!

Summary

In my own experimentation over the past four years, I have found very few negative side effects with Intermittent Fasting.

Like any change the first few days are hard but stick to it and you will see both changes on the scale and your health.

A recent study concluded that “fasting can be prescribed as a safe medical intervention as well as a lifestyle regimen which can improve women’s health in many folds.

There are different ways of intermittent fasting that can help you lose weight.

You’ll need to experiment before you find out the best one for you.

Don’t wait!

What you can eat and drink while fasting.

Studies show that this is the ideal way to lose weight.

Get started today!

There are many variations of intermittent fasting; the best way is to find what works for you. I have never been a huge fan of breakfast

 

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