Losing weight by intermittent fasting
Food has always been a driving force in my life, which is one of the reasons my weight went up to as high as 130 kg at some point. That time in my life if I wasn’t eating, I was plotting to eat, and never did I diet. But I got a hold of myself and made a complete lifestyle change.
Different people go different routes when it comes to losing weight. I want to discuss one particular style of dieting that is catching on lately – it is Intermittent fasting. It is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting. By fasting and then feasting on purpose, intermittent fasting generally means that you consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time.
Intermittent fasting can be used along with calorie restriction for weight loss. At its very core, fasting simply allows the body to burn off excess body fat. It is important to realize that this is normal and humans have evolved to fast without detrimental health consequences. Body fat is merely food energy that has been stored away. If you don’t eat, your body will simply “eat” its own fat for energy.
It is more a dieting pattern than a diet, science says it can help you lose weight (a smaller eating window means less calories consumed), but even better, research has linked it to improved blood sugar levels, decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, and, it might just help your brain ward off neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
There are a few different ways to take advantage of intermittent fasting. I will list a few.
16/8 Protocol: Fasting for 16 hours and then only eating within a specific 8-hour window. For example, only eating from noon-8 PM. Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or even a 4-hour window. This is “feasting” and “fasting” parts of your days and the most common form of Intermittent Fasting.
You can adjust this window to make it work for your life. For instance, if you start eating at: 7AM, stop eating and start fasting at 3pm. Or if you start eating at: 11AM, stop eating and start fasting at 7pm.
24-hour-protocol: This way of fasting involves skipping two meals one day, where you are taking 24 hours off from eating. For example, eating on a normal schedule (finishing dinner at 8PM) and then not eating again until 8PM the following day. So you would eat your normal 3 meals per day, and then occasionally pick a day to skip breakfast and lunch the next day. If you can only do an 18 hour fast, or a 20 hour fast, or a 22 hour fast – that’s okay! Adjust with different time frames and see how your
5:2 Fast Diet: This involves eating 5 days a week and fasting for the other 2 days, when women can get no more than 500 calories and men no more than 600. That’s a quarter of the amount you likely eat on the days when you don’t fast. Whether you eat those calories in one sitting or spread them across micro-meals throughout the day is up to you.
Intermittent Fasting can also help because your body operates differently when “feasting” compared to when “fasting”. When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food, burning what it can from what you just consumed. Because it has all of this readily-available, easy to burn energy (thanks to the food you ate), your body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat you have stored. This is especially true if you just consumed carbohydrates/sugar, as your body prefers to burn sugar as energy before any other source. During the “fasted state” (the hours in which your body is not consuming or digesting any food) your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it is more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body as it’s the only energy source readily available.
Studies show that intermittent fasting has not been studied in children, the elderly, or the underweight, and could be harmful to any of these. It also suggested that people choosing to fast for periods of time greater than 24 hours should be monitored by a physician, as changes to the gastrointestinal system or circadian rhythm can occur.