Eating healthy but still not seeing the results you desire?
Wanting to shed body fat, gain muscle, and boost the overall health of your body?
Many who’ve been conquering the basics of what to eat to best fuel their body for health and weight loss are finding that when they eat (or rather when they do not eat) has just as much to offer when it comes to aiding their efforts!
Intermittent fasting is taking the world by storm when it comes to a proven, effective method for both losing weight and well…just boosting your health in general.
From setting aside a portion of each day to abstain from eating, to even setting aside a day or two each week for the same, intermittent fasting can boost metabolism, reduce inflammation, and even break down fat cells (and much more)!
But, intermittent fasting can mean a variety of things depending on the method you choose.
- Which IF method is best for you?
- Which method boasts the most benefits?
- How can intermittent fasting help your health and your waistline?
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Before we delve into methods and how-to’s, first, what is fasting?
Fasting describes a period of time in which you abstain from food.
This is best seen in why we call the first meal of the day “breakfast.”
Breakfast gets its name from the fact that this is the meal where you break the period of fasting that you’ve engaged in while sleeping. Hmm, unless you’re a sleep walker who frequents the fridge, I suppose.
But, minus those rare few who engage in sleep-eat-walking…well, you get the picture here.
Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, incorporates cycles or periods of eating and fasting, and most of those methods involve refraining from eating for 16-24 hours.
What’s the point you may ask?
Allowing your body extended periods of rest from eating (other than your typical 7-9 healthy hours of sleep each night) is proven to have multiple benefits to your body!
For the first few hours after you finish eating, your body is still working to digest those foods you just consumed.
During this period of time…
- your body absorbs needed nutrients
- your blood sugar levels increase and insulin is secreted
- extra glucose, or sugar, is stored in your liver and muscles (as glycogen)
- hormones that stimulate hunger and suppress appetite shift
The amount of time that your body needs to accomplish the above actions depends on the size and nutritional content of the meal you’ve just ingested.
After these processes are complete, generally 3-4 hours after eating, your body enters what is known as an “early fasting state.”
The early fasting state can last roughly 18 hours after eating a meal.
During this period of time your body can really get to work (especially in regards to weight loss) as it:
- converts glycogen to sugar to be used as energy
- breaks down fat cells to be used as fuel
- converts amino acids into energy
And, these aren’t the only benefits to be gained through fasting.
Intermittent fasting also promotes processes whereby your body is able to repair itself on the cellular level, taking out the garbage essentially by removing waste from your cells.
Human growth hormone levels within your blood also increase during fasting, which aids in both fat burning and muscle growth.
Your very genes undergo changes during fasting that protect you against disease and may even help you live longer!
Intermittent fasting also facilitates healthy blood sugar levels, can increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and protects your brain.
Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
Possibly the most notable benefit of intermittent fasting for weight loss is this method’s ability to boost your body’s fat burning processes.
When your body runs out of the sugars found within foods to use as fuel, it first breaks down the stored glycogen in your body for energy, and then goes on to breaking down your fat cells to use after that.
This is generally thought to ramp up between 16-24 hours of fasting, making methods that incorporate a 24 hour fasting period highly popular for weight loss.
Leptin levels are also known to decrease during fasting.
Leptin is the hormone responsible for feelings of satiety or fullness. And, since this hormone is stored in fat cells, in obese individuals too much leptin is found within the body. This results in what is known as leptin resistance, making it harder to recognize feelings of fullness.
So, lowered levels of this hormone can lead to less leptin resistance, which translates to fewer feelings of hunger and possibly more weight loss.
Another, more obvious, way that intermittent fasting aids in weight loss is through a reduction in caloric intake.
Done correctly, when incorporating either days within a week (we’ll get to exact methods in a moment), or hours in a day where one refrains from eating, you naturally consume fewer calories, which results in weight loss.
It is, however, important to note those words above *done correctly.* As intermittent fasting is divided into hours spent eating and hours spent fasting, those eating hours do not translate to hours spent binging on unhealthy foods.
During the hours allotted for eating when incorporating IF methods, you should plan to eat normally or sensibly.
So, now that we’re mentioning eating habits and timeframes, let’s get on to the most popular and effective methods of intermittent fasting for weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
The 16:8 Method
This method is noted generally as being the easiest method of intermittent fasting for beginners.
This IF method involves fasting for 16 hours of a given day, and incorporating an eating window of 8 hours in that day.
For example, one may choose to stop eating at 7 pm in the evening, and not resume eating until 11 am the next morning.
Generally, for most people, this would involve skipping an evening snack and then omitting or not having breakfast until around 11 am the next day.
Now, obviously, you can customize the timing to your personal needs with this method, starting and stopping your fasting window as best fits your schedule. (Maybe you work 2nd shift and find it best to fast from 8 pm until noon the next day, which would allow for an eating window between the hours of noon and 8 pm.)
The 5:2 Diet
Some include this in intermittent fasting methods, and some reject this method as it does include some eating, though minimal, on specified fasting days.
Essentially, this method allows for normal, healthy (not binging) eating 5 days a week. Then, two days are dedicated to eating only 500 calories or less.
Those two days in a given week are what would be considered “fasting” days, as even though one isn’t truly abstaining from food completely, caloric intake on those days is very limited.
Eat, Stop, Eat
Not to be confused with the 5:2 “fasting” method, the Eat Stop Eat method is a popular IF method for achieving weight loss and muscle gain.
Eat Stop Eat was created by Brad Pilon and incorporates two non-consecutive days of the week dedicated to 24 hour fasts.
This method ditches the idea of dieting, and instead focuses on 5 days of responsible eating and 2, 24-hour, days of fasting per week. (Though for some, one 24-hour fast per week is effective.)
Like most, Pilon’s philosophy surrounding intermittent fasting involves patience and restraint when it comes to food, stating “we do not have to eat all the time, therefore we are free to choose when we eat.”
Such 24 hour fasts can be beneficial in more ways than even what we’ve discussed above too!
Fasting can serve as a reset, not only for internal body functions, but also to mentally combat destructive eating habits.
And, if you’re worried about going a full day without eating anything, consider that the Eat Stop Eat method, incorporating two 24 hour fasts, actually allows you to eat some food each day of the week.
For example, you may decide to eat normally on Monday, having dinner at 6 pm that evening, and then fast until dinner at 6 pm on Tuesday evening, thus ending your 24 hour fast. You could then repeat this type of fast from Thursday into Friday, for instance.
You’ll then have completed a 24 hour fast two separate times that week, though still eating something each day.
Alternate Day Fasting
Another, often considered more extreme, method of intermittent fasting involves fasting every other day of the week.
It is important to note that this method is not recommended for those beginning their journey with intermittent fasting.
Some allow for consuming 100-200 calories on fasting days in this method, though most opt for a true fast with only water or unsweetened (black) tea or coffee.
On non-fasting days, this method allows for normal, healthy eating.
The biggest concern with this method is sustainability. Though fasting in this manner can certainly offer both weight loss and whole body benefits, this may not be suitable for everyone.
12 Hour Fasting
Often dubbed the easiest method of intermittent fasting, this method can still boast some benefits to weight loss and overall health as some researchers state that those boosts begin after 10 hours of fasting.
The simplest way to get in 12 hours of fasting daily is to skip any late evening snacking.
If, for instance, you begin a fast at 7 pm, sleep through the night, then break your fast with breakfast at 7 am, you will have completed a 12 hour fast.
This method is also seen as a beginning method to ease into a greater number of hours spent fasting to amplify benefits.
No matter your method of choice for intermittent fasting, remember:
- During any fasting period, hydration is key! Water, sparkling water, and unsweetened coffee and tea are best during a fast.
- As stated periodically above, while the eating windows or timeframes in each IF method vary, remember to eat sensibly during those time frames so not to sabotage your body’s gains (when referring to health or losses when considering weight) during the fasting window.
Let’s cut right to the chase — our friends at Eat Stop Eat have developed a unique tea to support your intermittent fasting, and it’s amazing.
Fasting tea is a collection of high “polyphenol” ingredients designed to help accelerate all the positive benefits of intermittent fasting…
From curbing hunger to blocking the synthesis of new fat, and even possibly killing existing fat cells, polyphenols are pretty awesome.
They really do everything… from improving the health of your mitochondria, to helping with inflammation and insulin sensitivity — polyphenols have a wide array or really great health benefits, and that’s why they are the core of fasting tea.
All the best, highest quality, natural sources of polyphenols were sought out. You can see the full list on this page. The result is a blend of high potency, great tasting, not too sweet polyphenols.
Now, if you’re looking for a “magic bullet,” or a 5,000% boost in your metabolism, then fasting tea isn’t for you, but if you’re happy to enjoy the gradual benefits that can improve your health and your body composition, as well as reducing inflammation, neutralizing free radicals and free radical formation, then fasting tea is for you.
Also, I know I called it “fasting tea,” but it’s something I take every day, fasting or not.
Finally, I know you are probably skeptical, you probably see supplements all the time, but I really want you to give this one a try.
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