What is Intermittent Fasting?
Before we get into the details let’s start by briefly explaining what Intermittent Fasting is. Intermittent Fasting is a form of eating that involves periods of fasting, with short periods of eating. Two common methods of Intermittent fasting are:
- 16 & 8 method: During your 24 hour day you fast for 16 hours, and only eat during an 8-hour window. The most common eating window is 12pm-8pm (skip breakfast).
- Eat stop eat method: This is simply a full day (24 hours) fast each week.
For years it was widely accepted that in order to lose weight we had to eat regular meals to increase our metabolism. But the recent studies on intermittent fasting reveals this is not completely true. Here are 4 ways that Intermittent Fasting can help you lose weight.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
1. Fasting helps reduce calorie intake
Intermittent fasting limits your time of eating each day, which should result in fewer meals if you are eating only when you are hungry during that window.
A scientific literature review conducted in 2014 found that intermittent fasting to result in 3-8% weight loss over 3-24 weeks (1). It was also found that subjects lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, indicating improved overall health due to the highly correlated health risks found in people with high abdominal fat.
It has been shown that short-term fasting can increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, (2, 3), by enhancing your bodies hormone production.
2. Increases your metabolism
In opposition to the ‘5-6 meals a day’ weight loss idea that people had us believing was necessary to increase our metabolism, short-term fasting can actually increase fat burning more effectively.
Two studies have found that fasting for about 48 hours boosts metabolism by 3.6-14% (4, 5). These changes in the body are associated to the hormonal changes that occur when we don’t eat for longer periods of time. Here are some of the hormonal changes that occur:
Insulin level decrease: When we fast our insulin levels drop because insulin is only needed when we eat (6). When our body has lower level of insulin, we are in a more efficient state to burn calories.
Human growth hormone increases(HGH): When we fast our HGH increase up to 5 times (7, 8), which is beneficial as this is a hormone that promotes the use of fat for energy and also increases lean muscle mass (9, 10).
Norepinephrine increases: When we fast our body releases norepinephrine, which also promotes fat cells for energy (11).
3. Intermittent fasting makes weight loss easier
If you are a busy person and find it hard to have the 3 square meals plus snacks necessary to fight hunger through the day than Intermittent Fasting is perfect for you.
Because you are only eating for an 8-hour window, you will generally only have two large meals. This makes it much easier to prepare for, meaning you are more likely to eat healthier meals. As opposed to trying to get 3 or even 4 meals every day, you are prone to grabbing something quick and usually unhealthy if you like most people because you didn’t prepare the night before.
You also find yourself getting used to not eating until lunchtime each day, this means you have more time at the start of your day to allocate to important tasks.
4. Retains muscle during weight loss or cutting
As most bodybuilders and athletes are aware, when you begin losing body fat you also begin the painful process of slowly losing muscle mass too. But, some studies are revealing that Intermittent Fasting may actually help your body hold onto muscle while you are dieting.
One study from the University of Illinois found that Intermittent Fasting was able to burn the same amount of body fat as a traditional calorie restricted diet, but maintained much more muscle mass during the process (12). Traditional dieting saw a reduction in muscle mass of 25%, while Intermittent Fasting saw only 10%
Our Intermittent Fasting Formula for Weight Loss
- When first starting we suggest drinking black coffee until your body gets used to the new fasting regime. This will help you feel energised, while also suppressing your hunger.
- During your 8-hour window of eating we suggest keeping your meals to 2-3, don’t just eat because you are allowed to, try to listen to your body and eat when you are hungry. Calories still count, so you don’t want to go crazy.
- Ensure you are getting highly nutritious food when you break your fast. If you break your fast with unhealthy food, your body will not respond very well and you will find yourself feeling sluggish and tired for a few hours. We suggest health fats and proteins, this will energise you for the rest of the day while keeping your blood sugar level stable.
- If you are doing weight training in the morning and not breaking your fast until after lunchtime, you can sip on BCAA’s to feed your muscles and start the recovery process without affecting the fasting process too much.