If you’ve been around the Keto block, chances are you’ve heard of Intermittent Fasting (IF), but perhaps you don’t know what it is or why people choose to do it. That’s ok. Many people will often use Intermittent Fasting in addition to consuming a low carb diet to fortify their bodies and aid in fat loss.
Intermittent Fasting reveals when to eat food, rather than what food to eat, and is a great way to kickstart fat loss. Most people start Intermittent Fasting for short periods of time and build up to longer periods without food to build their tolerance. Your body will put itself into a state of fasting after around 12 hours without food, and to newbies, this can sound daunting.
However, keep in mind that if you eat your last meal at 6 pm, and don’t eat until breakfast at 8 am (when you break-the-fast), you have not eaten for 14 hours. People who use Intermittent Fasting will often eat their last meal earlier, and their breakfast later, to naturally prolong the intensity of their fasting period (plus, no one says you should jump into the deep end to get started).
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Each time you eat, your body kicks into motion. Your body must digest food and will demand more food to bring in energy, to aid in digestion. Intermittent Fasting puts on the breaks to this cycle, and says, “Hold on a minute!” In the Western world, we’ve been told that we need to eat three large meals a day, or 6 smaller meals, which is plenty of opportunities to overeat.
People who start Intermittent Fasting are surprised to find that they function at a higher level when they consume fewer meals. This is because your body is not overwhelmed with messages of when to eat, or burdened by food to digest. It gets regular (intermittent) periods of rest, followed by nutritious, low carb meals that are high in fat, to optimize your energy levels during fasting periods.
Intermittent Fasting also leads to fat loss because, ultimately, the goal is to consume fewer calories. What Intermittent Fasting is not is an excuse to binge eat; this is when you have periods of time with few or no calories that are followed by periods of overeating and high-calorie consumption. When you incorporate Intermittent Fasting correctly, your body will naturally feel satisfied.
What Type of Intermittent Fasting Are There?
Just as there are different types of diets, there are different ways to fast. Below are some of the popular ways that people incorporate IF into their lives:
- Leangains: Women fast for 14 hours, men for 16; you can then “feed” (on a tailored diet) for the remaining 8-10 hours per day. During the fast, no calories are to be consumed.
- Eat Stop Eat: People fast for 24 hours once or twice per week. No food is consumed during these hours, but you can drink calorie-free beverages.
- Warrior Diet: this is a demanding diet whereby people fast for 20 hours per day and only eat one main meal per day. This is a rigorous diet and not recommended for most people.
- Fat Loss Forever: This is a combination of all the above, and includes a cheat day (which many people love to use). Your fast is scheduled over one week, with 36 hours fasting. The remainder of the seven-day cycle is split up between the different fasting protocols.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Intermittent fasting makes your day simpler: imagine having fewer meals to prepare, fewer stops to make, and less time spent thinking about food.
- Intermittent fasting helps you live longer: scientists have proven that people who fast live longer than people who don’t. It’s that simple. You can read about it here.
- Intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of cancer: Scientists are still plugging away at this one in various studies, but for the most part, they agree that IF can help reduce the risk of cancer (they are just not 100% sure if the reduction in time eating or calories are responsible).
How to Start Intermittent Fasting:
You can start fasting at any time, so long as you are fit and healthy. Many people prefer to work out when they will their fast will end, to figure out when to start their fast. This will help you plan what you can eat when the fast is over (something most people who fast recommend since we will be getting progressively hungrier).
For example, if you plan to fast for 16 hours, and want to finish fasting at lunch time, then you will count back 16 hours from noon to work out when your last mealtime will be. A mealtime may be a small snack or regular meal. If you want to prolong your fast, you can slide your window of time around to suit your goals and schedule.
- For beginners: It’s important to start slow and built up your resistance. Start with an early dinner and aim to fast until noon of the following day. You will want to enjoy a fatty breakfast to restore your energy reserves, but be cautious not to overeat.
- For experienced fasters: consider doing a 3-day fast now and then to reboot your system and kickstart your fat loss. You can build to a 5-day fast. During a 3-day or 5-day fast, be cautious of your water intake and stop if you feel any symptoms whatsoever.
- For long-term fasters: incorporating longer daily fasts into your routine, with fewer meals is the most manageable way to get the benefits of IF. Consider lengthening the times between meals if you want serious gains, but be sure to eat one fatty meal a day if you go at it long-term.
Please note: while Intermittent Fasting is widely regarded as the optimal way to eat, you should always talk to a doctor before making dietary decisions, and stop immediately if you do not feel well.
Many people find that they are hungry and enjoy a full meal after their first fast, but with time, they learn to depend on less on food and will only require a small snack. Much of what we learn about food is habitual and with new change comes an opportunity to rewrite our relationship with food. Give Intermittent Fasting a try and see for yourself why thousands of people love to live this way.