What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is a diet strategy that has been studied for a long time, with more and more benefits coming to light over that course of time. Think of it like dieting, except you aren't told what you can and can't eat.
Instead, with intermittent fasting, you simply do not eat at all during specific periods of the day, or specific days of the week.
Before you get scared off, I will tell you right now that it's not that hard after a kind of tough intro couple of weeks. I have tips to get you through that time as well, so if you have an interest in dieting while still feeling fine about eating a cheeseburger, tag along.
Why Would I Want To Fast?
You may think that this might be a weight loss thing. It isn't, necessarily. Intermittent fasting does target fat quickly, but you can be totally healthy and use intermittent fasting for various other health benefits.
I have lost roughly 35 pounds over the course of a year doing it though, combined with exercise. I have also gotten a better sense of what to eat when I do eat, as well as increasing muscle mass.
Time Magazine also just reported on a study that shows that fasting can also improve joint health, their moods, sleep, as well as sexual function after two years.
Don't stress, I've felt the benefits even in the first few months, and you likely will as well.
A lot of overeating and eating the wrong things can cause inflammation as well as swelling, either from an excess of sugars or sodium.
That's a pretty good reason to let your body be maximally efficient at processing all of that during a period that gives it just enough of a break so that it can recover overnight.
You may also want to fast in this way to avoid those slumps you feel when your body works on processing that heavy breakfast or lunch.
Ok Fine, Sounds Cool, How Do I Do It?
This is the strategy I use. I love it.
For women pick any ten hour period during the day and don't eat anything outside of those ten hours, and for men, you only get eight hours.
If you are normally eating three meals a day, you're basically just cutting one of them out and then cutting out snacking.
I choose to eat from about 2pm-10pm, because I never really ate lunch or breakfast anyway. You might want lunch and breakfast and choose to skip dinner. Whatever it is, be consistent so your body can adapt.
While I have not tried this method, it activates the same benefits in your body as daily fasting, with the added benefit of getting to eat three meals a day... on some days.
But on one or two days a week, you're eating nothing for 24 hours. Either one calendar day, or from noon one day to noon the next day.
To me, this is a lot tougher. Instead of daily consistency, you deal with a much larger period of discomfort because you've trained your brain and your stomach to expect that much more daily before denying it anything.
That said, if you've got killed willpower, this one can be great for totally clearing the body once a week of what you've stored in your gut during the rest of the week.
The 5-2 Diet
For a mix of the two, the 5-2 diet consists of choosing two days during the week back-to-back during which to eat 500-600 calories, and eating normally during the rest of the days.
I have not tried this method, however based on what I know about how fasting functions, you are likely to find the slowest results with this method. I do not believe it is a severe enough fast to really activate a lot of the body's health benefits that come from tricking it into thinking it's starving.
To get through the rough intro to fasting, you might need some help. I have a couple of tips:
Black Coffee - Very low calorie, and it decreases your appetite. If you get heartburn add a little bit of cream.
Chewing Gum - Oh, you know it! Chewing gum can help distract you from the thought of food, as well as help reduce that urge to put something in your mouth if you tend to eat out of boredom. If only there were a type of chewing gum with caffeine too, so it could help you twice over with your fasting...
Toothpicks and Cinnamon Sticks - Another help for those who tend to have an oral fixation, chewing on toothpicks or cinnamon sticks
Water - Stay hydrated. It will help you feel full between meals and clean out your body during the fasting periods.
Ok, so it sounds like a dream come true to have a diet that doesn't tell you what to eat and what not to eat. And it's true that the body is prepared to deal with a lack of nutrition.
But this diet can cut down a lot of variety from your diet if you aren't capable, so you will need to put some amount of care into what you are eating to be sure you actually get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy while fasting. Look into multivitamins and consider starting to track your nutrition. It's not about avoiding stuff, it's about being sure the good stuff is all there with it.
That's it from me, thanks for reading, and let us know in the comments if you find any success from these methods!