Intermittent fasting (IF)… I’m sure many of you have heard of it before and have had questions like: “Isn’t that just some extreme diet plan?” or “Is that just starving yourself to lose weight?”. In this article I am going to talk about what exactly Intermittent fasting is and how it could be a helpful tool for you.
So what is it? First of all, it is not a diet plan. It’s not even primarily about what you eat. Now let me say this before I go any further… What you fuel your body with is of the upmost importance, we must make sure to give our bodies all of the clean nutrients that it needs; but for the purposes for this article we will be talking mostly about when we eat, as I have several other articles about how we should fuel our bodies. With that said, Intermittent fasting is a tool that we can implement to help us stay lean and make sure that we do not have sensitivities to certain hormones that regulate blood sugar.
There is a state that our body goes into when we eat called the “fed state”. Once we have digested all of the food the energy is either used or put into storage for later; our body then goes into the “fasted state” after several hours which means our body has to start using the storages for fuel. This means that the main time when we can use up those fat storages is when we are in the fasted state. Intermittent fasting allows us to strategically mediate between fed and fasted states. The importance of that is we can get all of the food that we need in a window of time during the day therefore still getting all of the calories and nutrients we need just at the right times.
What exactly does this look like for me? Well I’m not saying to just not eat for a long time so that you can stuff you face with everything in sight. Intermittent fasting is not an excuse to eat a bunch of junk at one time because we are starving ourselves. It actually can help us to control our eating habits in a healthy way. It is a progression that starts off by cutting out snacking and eating all throughout the day, meaning that we are just having breakfast, lunch and dinner (again making sure we are still giving our bodies everything that we need). After a while of getting accustomed to that, the next stage of progression is to acquire all of our food in a window of 8 hours during the day meaning that we will be in the fasted state for 16 hours. This is the stage that I utilize most often. Once we have that down then we can progress to a window of 4 hours of eating and 20 hours of fasting. This final stage may not be feasible for many people over the long run, so I suggest doing the second stage at least a couple times a week. So the different stages are 3 meals, 16:8, and 20:4 represented as ratios.
I have seen this implemented in many people’s lives and the results can be great. You must find the stage that works best for you to do a few days a week. If done right Intermittent fasting can be a great tool along with diet and exercise to help us stay healthy and lean for a lifetime.
What are the benefits? There are many benefits to Intermittent fasting but I will only talk about a couple in this article. First, Intermittent fasting can help us to use up fat storages in our body. Many Americans are never in that fasted state because they are constantly eating throughout the day. By being in the fasted state we are able to let our bodies use up the fat that we have stored. Secondly, we can make sure that our bodies do not have any sensitivities to hormones like insulin and glucagon. When we constantly have a readily supply of food (particularly carbohydrates) our body is constantly secreting insulin. Our bodies can develop insulin insensitivities because there is always so much of it being secreted. This is where type 2 diabetes comes from because our bodies cannot process glucose the way it needs to. Thirdly, for those of us that eating is the hardest part of being healthy we can stay in a routine and stick to what we know we should be eating instead of having those sporadic times of eating too much. If we know exactly what and when we should be eating we will be develop a lifestyle of eating that we can walk out for a lifetime.