While the entire world is busy consuming small and frequent meals in order to lose weight, some individuals are busy with intermittent fasting and still losing good weight. Want to know more? Please read on to understand what is Intermittent fasting and how it can help you shed some weight.
What? These days, you are having just 2 meals a day? You are skipping breakfast? You are fasting for 16 hours till you have your next meal, and you are claiming that you have gained muscle mass even though you have reduced your training hours drastically? And you are saying that you have become leaner, stronger, and more energetic? Are you crazy? Are you kidding me? No, you are not crazy! No, you are not kidding me! I know what you are doing and I am going to let all my readers know what this eating pattern is referred to, how it works, and how one can benefit from it.
This pattern of eating is called intermittent fasting and it refers to a way of meal planning that allows you to get the maximum benefits out of your meals. When you undergo intermittent fasting, you don’t need to change what you eat, but you need to change when you eat.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting opposes the general belief that supports the idea of having 6 small meals in a day. People undergoing intermittent fasting may have 2 big meals in a day without having to cut down on calorie intake or going on a crazy diet. Intermittent fasting has been found to be a great way to retain lean muscle mass and lose body fat. This is mainly due to the simplistic nature that allows you to actually practice it with just a little bit of behavior change. And I’m sure, most of you would find it easy to arrange for 2 meals a day rather than taking on the responsibility to plan 6 low-calorie yet highly nutritious meals daily.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
We need to understand what happens when the body remains in the fed state and the fasting state in order to understand how intermittent fasting works.
- Your body is in a fed state when it is undergoing the processes of digestion and absorption. Normally, this state starts when you eat and lasts for 3 to 5 hours until the digestion and absorption get completed. In this state, your body finds it difficult to burn fat as your insulin levels remain high.
- After this period, your body comes to a state where it is not absorbing any meal. This post-absorptive state lasts for 8 to 12 hours, after which your body enters the fasting mode. You will find it easier to burn fat in the fasting stage as your insulin levels remain low.
- Since our body enters this fasting stage only 12 hours after the previous meal, it’s not likely that our bodies remain in the fat burning stage at other times. This explains why many people who undergo intermittent fasting will lose body fat without having to change what they consume, how much they consume, and how many hours of exercising effort they put in.
- This type of fasting brings your body to an automatic fat burning state that you cannot experience while following a normal eating schedule. I know that seems to be bizarre, but I explained the science to you.
- This contradicts a lot of studies on weight loss, like the eat your breakfast theory, small frequent meal theory, Body going into famine state theory. But this actually works on a lot of obese people. Hence can be practiced for a while if your body responds positively to intermittent fasting.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
While most people undergo intermittent fasting to lose body fat, intermittent fasting provides other benefits as well:
1. Enjoy a simpler day:
Intermittent fasting makes your life simpler as you do not need to worry about making breakfast. You can just drink a glass of lemon water and kickstart your day. By not having to worry about the morning meal, you feel less stressed and you can save your time and energy to do other things.
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2. Live longer:
Yes, that’s true. Intermittent fasting can make you live longer. Scientific research has proved that calorie restriction is a way of lengthening life-span. When your body enters into the starving mode, it tries to find ways to lengthen your life. In research conducted in 1945, it was found that intermittent fasting extended the life in mice. In recent research, alternate day intermittent fasting was found to lengthen lifespan.
3. Reduce the risk of cancer:
Several studies have been conducted to understand the link between cancer and fasting. Early reports suggest that fasting has a positive effect on cancer patients. A study was conducted with 10 cancer patients and it was found that the harmful effects of chemotherapy could be reduced through fasting before undergoing treatment. This study is further supported by another study which suggested that alternate day fasting before chemotherapy could increase the cure rates and decrease the risk of deaths. Many studies on fasting and disease have found that fasting not only reduces the risk of cancer, but it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease as well.
4. It’s so easy to follow:
Intermittent fasting is easier than dieting. Most dieters fail to achieve their objectives as “diets” are associated with strict regimens and foods that do not appeal much to taste buds. So in the long run, most people are bound to come back to their normal dietary plan which may reverse their weight loss effects. So we see that most diets are difficult to implement due to the behavioral change that dieters need to undergo. This is where intermittent fasting seems to be an easy-to-implement task for people who find diet control very difficult.
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In a study conducted with obese adults, it was found that the subjects were able to adapt more quickly to intermittent fasting and were able to lose weight faster.
Most diets seem to be easy to implement initially, but they turn up to be something different later. On the other side, intermittent fasting seems to be very difficult to implement initially. But once you start following it, you feel relaxed. It might seem to be a terrible idea to go without food for several hours. But once you start doing it, you won’t feel much of a trouble.
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How to Begin With Intermittent Fasting:
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Try out the Leangains Model. This model is characterized by a 16-hour fast which is followed by an 8-hour eating period. This pattern was developed by Martin Berkhan. It does not require you to start the 8-hour eating period at any particular time of the day. For example, you can start at 8:00 am and stop at 4:00 pm. Or you may start at 2 pm and continue till 10 pm. Try out whatever suits you the most and matches with the meal timings of your family. It is really easy to get into the habit of intermittent fasting as you learn to avoid eating at certain times.
Here is a complete sample menu of an Indian version of Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan for Weight Loss
However, there is one disadvantage that may make you re-think. When you cut meals, you may find it very difficult to meet your calorie requirements. And you may find it very hard to train yourself to eat bigger meals on a daily basis. You may end up losing too much weight which may be good or bad depending on your goals. Choose wisely.
I have observed among my Indian clients that a lot of women, especially the homemakers unknowingly follow a 2 meal pattern through the day. If you are one of them and wondering why you aren’t losing weight, Its time to change your routine. Come out of this intermittent fasting and you will see the difference. While those on a frequent meal routine can benefit if they change to intermittent fasting. Please seek advice from an expert before you plan out your weight loss regime.