Fasting and weight loss have been closely related to each other since the day scientists revealed the fact that skipping meals can actually lead to reduced calories. Researches have also found that limiting food intake to some extent is good for keeping food cravings or hunger pangs away, thereby making weight management easier than ever. In fact, fasting has become the biggest weight loss diet trend these days and among all those so-called effective approaches, intermittent fasting is topping the chart. Today, we‘ll be discussing this much-hyped weight loss strategy. Let’s start:
What Is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
The name of this fasting approach is quite self-explanatory. It is basically a short-term fasting – a unique eating style in which a person needs to extend the time between two successive meals. The simple to understand and easy to follow procedures of intermittent fasting ensure that one can reach a calorie deficit without doing too much struggles. It neither slows down our metabolism nor gives us a feel of being deprived of food. Rather, it can turn out to be a safe and effective weight loss strategy having some measurable health benefits if done the right way.
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Why Follow Intermittent Fasting?
Now the question is, how does intermittent fasting help our body lose unwanted weight? Let’s dig a bit deeper into it:
- During intermittent fasting, our endocrine system goes through major changes in order to make the energy stored in our fat tissues more accessible. As we don’t eat food, our insulin level decreases drastically to make fat burning easier, the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) secretion goes as much as 5 times up to aid in fat loss, epinephrine signaling gets enhanced causing breakdown of more adipose tissues into free fatty acids for energy production, and our bodily metabolism increases anywhere between 3.6% and 14% to perk up overall weight loss.
- In intermittent fasting, skipping meals throughout the periods of fasting facilitates calorie reduction, which is essential for successful weight loss. It makes sure that you eat fewer calories without being too conscious about calorie counting. This calorie restriction considerably contributes to abdominal fat reduction.
- Unlike other weight loss diet programs, intermittent fasting holds on to muscles while breaking down fatty tissues. In other words, it focuses only on the elimination of unnecessary body fat without taking a toll on our muscle mass.
- Above all, intermittent fasting makes healthy eating possible even when following a weight loss diet, which is highly beneficial for our weight management and overall well-being.
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How To Follow Intermittent Fasting?
There are 5 different protocols for intermittent fasting. Each of them has its own guidelines and advantages. For long-term and sustainable benefits, it is important to choose one that makes the life of a person smoother. Here are the details:
Fasting time: 14 to 16 hours/day (zero calorie consumption including black coffee, sugar-free items, calorie-free sweeteners, etc.)
Feeding time: 8 to 10 hours/day (high protein intake, moderate to high consumption of carbs and fats, lots of unprocessed foods for calorie)
This protocol is perfect for building muscle mass while losing extra layers of fat. However, it might be a little tough to follow due to the strict nutrition plan and timings.
- Eat Stop Eat
Fasting time: 24 hours at a stretch for once or twice/week (no food intake, only calorie-free beverages)
Feeding time: Rest of the week (back to normal eating plan)
This is good for people who otherwise eat healthy, but are looking for some added health boost. The program can be made flexible to synchronize with your schedule. It does not have any ‘forbidden foods’. However, ‘moderation’ is the key here.
- The Warrior Diet
Fasting time: 20 hours/day (under-eating – limited servings of proteins, raw fruits, boiled veggies, fresh juice, etc.)
Feeding time: Rest 4 hours at night (overeating – one large meal containing veggies, proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the exact order)
This is a nice choice for people who can follow rules religiously. It allows eating in small portions during the fasting time, which is a bonus for food lovers. But the meal plan and schedule are difficult enough to stick to for many people.
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- Fat Loss Forever
Fasting and Feeding Time: 36 hours fast after 1 cheat day. Remaining hours of the week is divided into various other fasting protocols.
Although this approach makes the fasting organized and helps us reap the optimum benefits, it can turn out to be a little confusing to follow at times.
- Alternate-Day Fasting
Fasting Time: 24 hours (low-calorie days – almost 1/5th of normal calorie intake, meal replacement shakes or real low-calorie foods)
Feeding Time: Next 24 hours (back to normal eating)
If you have a specific weight goal, this fasting protocol will be a sure bet for you. However, make sure that you plan your meal for the ‘normal days’ ahead, or you might end up indulging in too many calories.
In the end, it must be remembered that intermittent fasting is not just for everybody who is on a weight loss spree. It should be avoided while pregnant, breastfeeding, stressed out, sleep deprived, suffering from any medical condition, and so on. Consult with a pro prior to starting your intermittent fasting program and stay away from unexpected side effects.