Overweight is the biggest problem for our mankind these days. People tend to gain weight due to their lifestyle. There are many weight loss diet plans that help you lose weight, but the results they give are not permanent. Once you get back to your regular lifestyle, you gain all your weight back, let it be the 7 days GM diet, 3 days Military diet or any other diet for that matter. Here, the problem is not with these diet plans, but our lifestyle. So, the only best way to get rid of those pounds permanently is to follow a healthy lifestyle as long as you live. Only that way, you’ll be able to lose weight permanently and keep it off for good. And Yes! We’re talking about the lifestyle that our ancestors used to follow – The Intermittent Fasting or 16/8 Diet.
What is Intermittent Fasting? (Definition)
Despite many people saying it, the Intermittent fasting is actually not a diet, but simply a pattern of eating. It doesn’t change what you eat, but it changes the timings when you eat. Simply put, Intermittent fasting is a way of scheduling your diet or meals so that you get benefited from them completely.
Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work?
To be frank! Yes! It is a great way to shed weight without having to go on some crazy diets where you’ll need to cut your calories. Unlike the other FAD diets, you won’t lose muscle mass here, why because you eat the same amount of food that you eat regularly, but in a specific time frame.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
In order to understand how the IF diet works, you’ll need to first understand the concept behind it. The two terms which you should know here are – fed state and fasted state.
When your body is digesting or absorbing the food, it is said to be in fed state. Generally, the fed state lasts from the time you begin eating until 3 to 5 hours (depending on how much time your body takes to digest & absorb the food. It varies from one person to another). So, when your body is in the fed state, it doesn’t burn any fat why because your insulin levels were high at that time.
Once the 3 to 5 hours time span is finished, your body enters into the post-absorptive state a.k.a fasted state. In this state, your body won’t process any meal. The time-frame will last from 8 to 12 hours after your last meal. In this fasted state, your body will burn fat easily, thanks to lower insulin levels.
If we don’t enter the post-absorptive state or fasted state until 12 hours after our final meal, it becomes very difficult for our body to burn fat (fat burning state). This is the main reason why most people who do Intermittent fasting are likely to lose weight without changing their diet, or even without doing any exercises. Fasting helps your body stay in the fat burning state where you’ll burn more calories than you’re eating normally.
What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Losing weight without changing your diet is highly appreciable, but that is not the only reason to start Intermittent fasting. There are many more benefits to try the IF diet.
1. IF is Easier than Crash Dieting
The main reason why most weight loss diets fail is not because they’re ineffective, but they’re hard to follow for long periods of time. You’ll have to eat only the selected foods for a longer timeframe, which is a bit difficult. But, the IF plan doesn’t tell you to change your diet. All you need to do is to change your eating timeframe.
2. IF reduces risk of Cancer
This comprehensive study on fasting and disease has proved that you can reduce the risk of getting Cancer or cardiovascular disease by simply going on a fast. There is also another study which showed that the Cancer patients who’ve done fast before their chemotherapy treatment showed better improvement than those who’re on a normal diet.
3. IF improves the longevity of life
Scientists have already accepted that, in order to extend your lifespan, there is no better way than restricting the calories. When your body enters the starvation mode, it finds multiple ways to extend your life.
However, no one wants to starve for the sake of living longer. Isn’t it!
For such people, the Intermittent fasting offers the same features for lengthening your life with calorie restriction. In simple words, you get the benefit of improving your lifespan without having to starve.
Here is a study which found that the Intermittent fasting has led to longer lifespans.
4. IF forces your body to burn more fat
The Blood sugar along with the carbs (glycogen) is the main source of energy which our body uses for its functioning (daily activities). As you’re fasting for longer hours, your blood sugar level decreases and in that situation, your body has no other alternative except to burn your body fat to generate energy.
P.S: The stored fat in your body is nothing but the excess calories that come when you overeat. Those extra calories will be stored by your body as a backup source of energy. So, when there is a calorie/energy deficit, your body makes use of those stored fat, thus helps you lose excess weight.
That is the reason why you lose weight when you start the Intermittent fasting. The lower your blood sugar level, the more fat your body burns.
5. IF increases your metabolism
When you fast for longer hours, your body will produce HGH hormone (Human Growth Hormone). This particular fat burning hormone will help you maintain muscle mass while you’re fasting.
Hugh Jackman, aka Wolverine is a big Hollywood celebrity who is fond of the Intermittent fasting and he has been on the fast several times to burn fat and build muscle mass for his roles. Here is what this Wolverine star has to say about the IF diet plan.
6. IF eliminates hunger & cravings
The Intermittent fasting will make you lose weight faster, thanks to the ‘Ghrelin’. It is a hunger hormone which is responsible for our appetite. When you’re on a fast, the ghrelin levels will be lowered, giving you less of an appetite.
7. IF makes your lifestyle simpler
Since the Intermittent fasting doesn’t say anything about breakfast, our life will be very simple. You can simply wake up and just grab a glass of water. You don’t have to eat 3 meals a day. This makes your life a bit simpler.
Intermittent Fasting Example Schedules
If you’re thinking about starting the IF diet, then you should definitely know that there are a few different options like Daily IF, Weekly IF, Alternative Day IF. Each option has its own benefits. Let us now look into each one in detail.
Note: For any of the below 3 schedules, you should eat at least 1200 calories to 1500 calories per day and make sure to not go below that range. In order to find out how many calories you’ll need per day to lose weight, simply use this calorie calculator.
A] Daily Intermittent Fasting (for extreme weight loss)
This is the best IF schedule which I personally prefer. In this model, you’ll fast for 16 hours, followed by an 8 hour eating window. There is a specific time when you design your 8 hour eating period. You can start at 6AM and stop at 2PM, or start at 1PM and end at 9PM. You can plan, whichever works for you best (depending on your lifestyle).
I personal choose 1PM to 8PM as my eating period, because I can plan my lunch at 1PM and dinner at 8PM (last meal). I’ll skip the breakfast as it will be covered during the fasting period (16 Hours: 9PM to 1PM the next day).
Since we’re following the daily intermittent fasting, we’ll be eating around the same time every day. Hence, it will be easy for our body to get into this special routine.
B] Weekly Intermittent Fasting (to stay healthy)
If you’re not looking to lose weight and simply wanted to improve your health, then this weekly IF schedule is just for you. Instead of doing the fasting every day, you can simply do it once a week to stay fit and healthy.
In this model, you’ll fast for just 24 hours or 1 day per week. The fasting day can be any day depending on your feasibility. Say for example, lunch on Saturday is your last meal of the day, then you should fast until lunch on the next day i.e., Sunday. On the remaining days of the week, you can eat normally.
Since you’re just cutting 2 meals per week, it is less likely that you’ll shed weight. Although, the weekly IF plan doesn’t help you lose weight, it still gives you the benefits of fasting for 24 hours.
C] Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting (for moderate weight loss)
In this alternate day IF schedule, you’ll be fasting on alternate days throughout the week or the month (how long you wish to continue). This is perfect for those with less weight loss target.
In this model, you’ll have your dinner on Sunday night and then fast until Monday evening. On Tuesday, however, you’ll eat the whole day and after the last meal (dinner), you should again start the 24 hour cycle of fasting. This plan allows you to eat at least 1 meal every day of the week, at the same time helps you stay on longer fast periods.
P.S: I personally don’t like the alternate day model as it is mostly used in research studies only. If you wanted to lose weight, follow the Daily IF schedule, else follow the Weekly IF schedule to stay healthy.
FAQs about Intermittent Fasting
1. What can I drink during the fasting period?
Ans: The main reason why it is suggested not to eat anything during the fasting period is because it forces your body to burn more fat, thanks to lower insulin levels. However, you can drink water, coffee and green tea as long as they’re ZERO or contains very less calories. It is also good to drink Coffee (without cream) as the caffeine in coffee and green tea improves your metabolism, thus helping your body burn more fat.
2. Can I do any workouts on the IF days?
Ans: Since your insulin levels are less while fasting, you’ll lose weight naturally without doing any diets or exercise. However, if you still wanted to do HIIT workouts, try to eat a small meal and then perform the exercises or else you’ll end up getting fainted. Try to schedule your workouts during your eating window only.
3. Aren’t we supposed to eat 6 small meals a day?
Ans: Yes! Our body burns calories while processing the foods we ate. So, the concept of eating 6 small meals a day has come live. So, by eating more meals frequently, you should lose weight. Isn’t it! No! The problem is –
The number of calories your body burns are exactly proportional to the energy it needs to process them. So, in order to digest 6 small meals of 2000 calories, your body should burn the same energy (in calories) to process those foods. This is the same case even if you eat 2 large meals comprising of 1000 calories each.
Logically speaking, it doesn’t count whether you’re getting those 2000 calories in 10 small meals or 1 large meal, as you’ll finally end up burning at the same pace.
4. What should I eat during the 8 hour eating window?
Ans: You can eat anything you like during the feast time. However, it is advised to eat healthy food, rather than opting for junk foods like Pizzas or Burgers. Before starting the Intermittent fasting plan, use this calculator to find out how many calories you need per day to lose weight.
Intermittent Fasting Results: Before and After Photos
Henchasfk has lost nearly 59 lbs or 27 kgs in just 5 months by following the IF schedule. He also included workouts to his schedule (once every week).
That’s all Friends! Excuse me for the lengthy article as I’ve tried to cover 99.9% of the questions that may come to your mind after getting to know about the Intermittent fasting. In case if you wanted to know anything more, please don’t hesitate to comment below.
Note: Intermittent Fasting is not STARVING! It is just a LIFESTYLE change.