Weight Loss and Other Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Losing weight is difficult and frustrating and, for most, not long-lasting. Most people gain and lose the same ten, twenty or more pounds multiple times over their lifetime. They try one fad or “in” diet or another, find it’s not sustainable long-term and when they go back to eating their “usual” foods they regain any weight they’d lost on the fad diet.

So how can you lose weight and keep it off?

In case you haven’t heard this a million times…

Intermittent FastingCommitting to permanent lifestyle and dietary changes are the only way to lose weight and keep it off. These means a balanced diet, low in processed foods and sugars and high in fresh vegetables, healthy fats and balanced by a moderate amount of protein and some starch. Top it off with nutritional supplements, a more active lifestyle, eight hours of sleep and it will be very difficult to not keep it off.

You simply can’t lose weight if you’re eating ice cream, potato chips, pizza and cheeseburgers, not moving and not getting enough sleep!

Intermittent fasting is a super health enhancing strategy?

As many of you know changing your lifestyle and eating habits isn’t easy for many reasons. Intermittent fasting takes a different approach by focusing on changing your eating patterns so you compress your eating into a shorter time window each day. So instead of eating multiple meals through out the day, you eat 2 to 3 times during a 6 to 8 hour time period.

When you fast intermittently you lose fat because of the difference in the “fasted” and the “fed” states of your body. Rather than counting calories and filling up on “diet” foods, you pay more attention to the time you’re eating because of how your body works during and after the meal.

With intermittent fasting you can make the most of the food you eat without having to count calories or carbs or starting yet another fad diet. Intermittent fasting lets you eat bigger meals, in a shorter time frame. And while you don’t absolutely need to change what you’re eating, at first, it will make it easier to do so once you get started.

In addition, intermittent fasting seems to have the benefit of stimulating fat loss and helps you maintain muscle mass resulting in a leaner more metabolically healthy you.

Here’s how it works.

When you’re eating, your body is in a fed state. It goes into a post-absorptive state before lapsing into the fasted state.

During the fed state, your body is digesting food and absorbing nutrients from it. This state lasts for three to five hours. When you’re in the fed state, your body’s insulin levels are high and that makes it difficult for your body to burn fat. Following the fed state, your body goes into the absorptive state.

Three to five hours after having eaten your body goes into a post-absorptive state which lasts for ten to twelve hours. While your body is in the post-absorptive state it is not processing food.

Following this state, your body goes into its fasted state.

In the fasted state, your body’s insulin levels are low, it’s been about twelve hours since your last meal and your body is now in fat-burning mode. It’s rare that we ever reach the fasted state during our normal eating schedules. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner – perhaps with five to six hours in between – never giving our bodies the chance to get to the fat-burning fasted state.

Your body burns fat quicker during its dormant fasting state.

When you begin intermittent fasting your body burns fat regardless of what you ingest. Again, though if you’re committing to intermittent fasting, commit to eating healthier foods and taking supplements.

How can you fit intermittent fasting into your routine?

Look at your schedule and plan your two large meals for the day. The way many people do this is by skipping breakfast and not eating until noon/lunch time. Eat your last meal of the day no later than 8 p.m. When you’ve done this, your body goes into its fasting state following your last meal, until your next meal at noon the following day.

An added benefit many people find to intermittent fasting is they spend fewer hours a day preparing food and eating meals.

What is the major difference between dieting and intermittent fasting?

Weight LossThe concept of intermittent fasting is easier for most people to grasp as it essentially has nothing to do with changing your eating habits. You don’t have to swap a cheeseburger for carrot sticks. You’re not counting calories. You don’t have to check your step counter to make certain you’re walking 10,000 steps a day.

What you’re doing when you’re intermittently fasting is watching the clock. You’re changing one behavior – eating two meals instead of three, or more per day. However, if you change WHAT you eat while you’re changing WHEN and HOW you eat, you will see greater results.

Other than weight loss does intermittent fasting have other benefits?

1. Cancer benefits. More research is needed but a 2009 study by he US Library of Medicine found that out of ten cancer patients “who fasted before chemotherapy found reduced side effects.” Another study found chemotherapy patients who fasted every other day had better cure rates. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found “alternate fasting days might reduce the risk of cancer in general.”

2. Longevity benefits. It’s been found calorie restriction can prolong life because when you fast intermittently your body “activates mechanisms for extending life.” This means your body is going into “survival mode” while still continuing to live even if you’re hungry. When you’re fasting intermittently you’re not starving yourself, but you are contributing to a more healthful eating pattern.

Are there disadvantages to intermittent fasting?

You may be hungry until your body grows accustomed to the new eating habits. This may lead to feeling weak and tired due to blood sugar issues.
Never let yourself suffer, if you are uncomfortable eat and try again another day.

Make sure to drink lots of water and/or tea. Even some black coffee with no calorie sweetener is fine. This can be very helpful for the first few hours in the morning to keep you satiated.

Don’t give up. Please know it will take a few weeks to a few months for some to time to train your body to be more efficient in burning fat so you can go longer between meals. The more you change your eating patterns and remove sugars and excess carbohydrates from your diet replacing them with healthier fats, the easier it will become. Over time you will be able to go longer each time.

Important: Intermittent fasting is not recommended for people with adrenal or active hyperthyroid conditions or pregnant woman.

Here are some other facts about the benefits of intermittent fasting:

1. Fat loss. Intermittent fasting leads to both fat loss and retention of lean muscle.

2. Improved insulin sensitivity. When you fast it’s been shown to have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity, meaning your body can better tolerate carbohydrates (sugar) than if you hadn’t fasted. It is a powerful tool for those with high blood sugar issues.

3. Better brain function. Intermittent fasting boosts the production of a brain-derived neurotrophic protein and this promotes brain health. This protein can protect your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Appetite regulation. When you fast you’re regulating hormones and this can help signal that you’re full. Obese individuals don’t typically receive the “you’re full” signals and that leads to overeating.

5. Improved immune function. When you fast intermittently you’re improving your immune system because you’re reducing free radical damage and regulating inflammatory conditions.

6. Better eating habits. If you suffer a binge eating disorder or haven’t established a healthy eating pattern, intermittent fasting will help establish set times at which to eat and may prevent eating disorders

The Upshot:

Intermittent fasting is both a more effective and healthier way to get lean then dieting. Make sure to start slowly one or two days a week and then work up to 5 days a week going at least 14 hours after your evening meal before having your first meal the next day.

On days when you are intermittent fasting pay attention to the foods you eat, when you do eat. A commitment to intermittent fasting should be coupled with a commitment to healthier foods, whole foods, low fat proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits and fewer processed and sugar-laden foods.

With in a few months it will be a breeze and wonder how you didn’t follow this healthier and easier eating pattern sooner.