The intermittent fasting is a new diet trend that has received considerable attention over the past year. The internet is strewn with articles and interviews that champion this unique diet trend which promises to deliver magical results. And, the experience has taught us to be skeptic of any diet plan that has any association with the magical word.
So, how accurate is the claim that intermittent fasting can help you build muscles faster and shed fat quickly? How does it actually work? How on earth fasting for 16 hours can be beneficial for your health, let alone fitness? Ease down bud. I know you have tons of questions and queries swirling around in your mind about intermittent fasting. And, the answer to most of your questions will be given in this article. But, one at a time, step by step. So, let’s begin with the basics.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
First of all, intermittent fasting is not a diet, it is type of an eating pattern. The intermittent fasting means scheduling your meals so that you can get most out of them. In short, it is not about what you eat, it is about when you eat. The objective of intermittent fasting is to provide your body with nutrients and building blocks when your body needs it and choosing not to eat during the rest.
The most popular version of the intermittent fasting is to skip breakfast. You will skip one meal and then will consume all the calories in a window of eight hours. Some even go for the extreme versions of intermittent fasting which includes cramming all the food in a window of six hours or eating normally for a whole day and then going 24 hours without eating anything.
The advocates of this special and unique eating pattern claim that intermittent fasting allows you to get lean without starting a crazy diet or having to cut your daily calorie intake to ridiculously small size. In fact, usually the calorie intake remains the same, just the time and way of their consumption is changed. The bigger meals will compensate for the fasting periods. Another benefit of the intermittent fasting touted around is that it allows you to keep muscle mass, while shedding fat. In fact, the most people try intermittent fasting to lose weight. It is the most common and obvious benefit of the intermittent fasting.
The quick-fire success of this eating pattern is down to the fact that it is simple enough to implement and try, but meaningful and logical enough to make a difference. Perhaps, it is one of the simplest strategies that helps in taking bad weight off while keeping the good weight.
How Does It Work?
The subtle working of the intermittent fasting can be better explained by learning how your body behaves in fasted state and fed state, the two main states between which your body oscillates.
The body is in a fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. This state usually starts as soon as you start eating and lasts for around three to five hours as your body breaks down, digests and absorbs the food, you have eaten. Due to high insulin levels, it is very difficult to burn fat while your body is in this state.
Post this state, the body enters into a post-absorptive stage, which means that your body is not processing food. Unless you don’t eat anything else, this stage lasts until eight to ten hours after the last meal, which is when your body enters the fasted state. Now, it is very easy to shed pounds when your body has entered the fasted state as the insulin levels are low. So, during the fasted state, you can easily obliterate the fat stores that were off the limits during the fed state.
As said earlier, on the regular diet plan, the body doesn’t enter the fasted state until eight to twelve hours after the last meal, which means our body rarely enters the fat burning state. And, in all probability when it enters such stage, it is during sleep in the night, at the time when energy consumption is at the lowest. So, unless you are a habitual sleepwalker, you won’t be burning much calories. By intermittent fasting, you can push your body into the fasted state voluntarily. It allows you to burn more fat without changing what you eat, how much you eat and what kind of workout you do.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Finally, getting those stubborn clumps of fat off the body is great. Yes, really. However, the benefits of intermittent fasting aren’t limited to fat loss.
- A Simpler Day
You don’t have to waste time and mental energy on planning countless meals that were necessary for weight loss and muscle gain. No longer, you will have to endure stress and anxiety of missing out on a meal. Also, you won’t have to carry four meals (including the so called healthy snacks) in your office bag. Just get up in the morning and grab a glass of water, and forget about the breakfast.
Even, if you aren’t an avid fan of the diet plans that warrants meal after every two hours, the intermittent fasting will simplify your life. Instead of traditional three meals, you can make it with just two meals, which means the time you were going to spend on cooking one meal can be relocated and used for something meaningful. For example, the time vacated by breakfast preparation can be used for meditation. You can get in touch with the Zen side of yours.
- Live Longer
The intermittent fasting can extend your lifespan. Although it might seem bit puzzling that fasting lengthens your lifespan, but the studies have proved that fasting indeed can be a key to longer life. A study conducted in 1945, found that intermittent fasting extends life in mice. Of course, I know there is a difference between a mice and a human. And, another study conducted recently on humans have also stated that fasting can increase your lifespan and can assist in battling insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, infectious diseases of viral, bacterial and fungal origin.
However, earlier the question was how to fast without compromising on your fitness goals? But, now intermittent fasting has emerged as a viable and excellent fasting mechanism that doesn’t put your fitness goals at risk.
And, the great thing about intermittent fasting is that it activates the benefits of calorie restriction without lowering the actual calorie intake. In short, you get the benefit of a longer life without actually starving yourself.
- Easier Than Dieting
Most diet plans has the habitual tendency of falling apart. The problem isn’t that people usually and very often switch to wrong food, those who do are a minority, the problem is that following diet plans for a longer period of time is difficult. To make the sacrifices that most dieting plans demand, you need a major shift in behavior and habits.
This is why intermittent fasting is a blessing for those looking to lose weight. It is very easy to implement and to adapt if you get along with the idea that you won’t be eating for a specific period of time. A recent study has found that intermittent fasting is an effective strategy for weight loss in obese adults. The same study also revealed that adults can quickly adapt to intermittent fasting and coupled with right factors such as physical activity, caloric intake, it can be very useful in torching unwanted fat.
Different Intermittent Fasting Schedules
So, impressed with this new hot eating pattern? Then, here are the different types of intermittent fasting plans available.
Daily Intermittent Fasting
The most popular and easy intermittent fasting model is that which can be observed on a daily basis. In this model, the 16 hour fasting period is followed by eight hour eating period. It doesn’t matter when you begin your eight hour eating period. You can start at 8 am and stop at 4 pm or can begin at 2 pm and end at 10 pm. So, do whatever works for you and do whatever you find easy to do. The best thing about this intermittent fasting schedule is that it is very easy to adapt. The reason being that you are going to do it on a daily basis, so your body will adapt more easily.
Weekly Intermittent Fasting
One of the best ways to get started with intermittent fasting is by doing it once per week and once per month. Although, you won’t be burning fat as well you would while on daily fasting, but you would find it easier to adapt to the fasting pattern. And, you will still be getting the other usual benefits associated with fasting.
Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting
This fasting method involves fasting for longer periods on the alternate days. For example, you would eat dinner on Monday night and then not eat again until Tuesday evening. However, on Wednesday, you would eat all day and then again start the 24–hour fasting cycle after dinner on Wednesday evening. The benefit of this intermittent fasting schedule is that it ensures you will eat at least one meal every day of the week. Another, hypothetical benefit can be that due to longer fasted state, you could lose weight more efficiently.