Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a style of eating pattern where you fast for several hours (typically from 16-36 hours) and then you give yourself a period of eating time – typically 4-8 hours.
There are many different kinds of intermittent fasting: Eat Stop Eat, LeanGains, The Fast Diet, The Warrior Diet and many more.
Following an IF Protocol has been shown to:
- Reduced blood glucose and insulin levels (markers of improved health)
- Increased fatty acid oxidation
- Maintenance of lean mass (muscle)
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced oxidative damage
- Increased cellular stress resistance (esp of heart and brain)
- Decreased risks associated with degenerative diseases of aging (cancers, heart diseases, diabetes, Alzheimers)
However – that is for those who can follow IF without any problems.
It will work pretty naturally for those who don’t like breakfast and wait until lunch or even later in the day to eat. Or if you are someone who typically eats a late lunch and are too full for dinner, and then ‘fast’ until breakfast the next day. These folks are pretty much following the IF protocol perhaps without even realizing it. The problem being here is if these folks then gorge themselves after having gone 16+ hours without food. You need to eat normally, but try to get in all your calories spread out over 4-8 hours. This is still not necessarily a long time to do it in, but you’re not supposed to get your days’ worth of calories in 20 minutes either. It also works well with people who travel, are in meetings all day, or have super busy schedules finding it hard to fit in their regular meals.
This will NOT work for those who are binge eaters, have or have had an eating disorder, are in training for a sport, pregnant or nursing, if you have certain diseases (BE SURE to check with your doctor before starting any new diet program), or for those who get headaches when hungry.
It seems to work better for men than it does for women. Many women find that with intermittent fasting comes sleeplessness, anxiety, irregular periods, among other hormonal irregularities including infertility. It also a lifestyle, not a shortcut to losing weight.
There are folks who plan accordingly to follow the IF protocol. They skip breakfast (except for maybe coffee), and often lunch and start eating around 4 pm, and stop at 10 pm. There are some who fast for 2 days and then eat whatever they want (in moderation) for 5 days. There are yet others who fast every other day. There are many ways to do this. One reason IF might be good to experiment with is for people who don’t know what it feels like to be actually hungry and not just having a craving. Many of us do not know the difference between true hunger vs. appetite.
Here are some pros and cons of following an IF lifestyle.
Insulin is kept low during your fasted time, meaning your body will use fat for energy
You give your pancreas a rest during fasted hours
Growth hormone is high during your fasted time
Your digestive system is given a break and therefore circulation increases to other tissues and helps to take fatty acids away from stubborn fat areas and into the bloodstream.
Muscle tissue is spared during the fast (assuming you are a regular weight lifter)
You get to eat more at one time.
You WILL get hungry during the fasted time. You need to keep yourself occupied. This works fine for some and is a disaster for others.
It can be hard to eat all of your calories and get in all of your nutritional needs in just a few meals.
It can be hard to eat enough fruits and veggies.
Some people find it hard not to binge eat.
You’ll have times of bloating from eating a lot at one time, and then times of a super flat stomach when fasting.
Only you can decide if it’s right for you, your body and your lifestyle.
Featured Image Source: http://berkeleycollegeblog.com/2014/09/01/imf-intermittent-fasting/
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