Intermittent fasting turns everything I ever read/thought I knew about eating well (and especially about eating breakfast) upside down and inside out. For all the information I have read about not starving the body, intermittent fasting (or IT) says our body needs a rest from eating every now and again and it will do us good.
Not only will IT do the body good but it will also help us to burn fat and maintain essential muscle. Best of all, there is no calorie counting and some people continue to eat the normal foods they do (yes even the bad ones) and still lose weight using intermittent fasting.
So of course I was curious. Vegetable juicing during the summer is great but as it gets cold her in England I need to find another way of maintaining and continuing my current weight loss success. I am particularly looking for something that will allow me to use it for the long-term – forever – so that it can become part of my lifestyle.
So, here is what I have discovered about the power of using intermittent fasting for long term health.
Intermittent Fasting Information
What is intermittent fasting?
The simplest way to describe intermittent fasting is to call it an eating routine where you eat and then you stop eating for several hours (a minimum of 16 is recommended) and then you eat again.
There are different ways to get this 16 hour fast period depending on your preference.
Right now I use the 8 hour eating fast. I stop eating at 7pm and start eating again at 11am. From 11am – 7pm I have 8 hours to eat but I must watch what I eat. This is still a healthy eating program because I must watch the type of food I put in my mouth.
I use vegetable juicing, eating nuts and berries and then having my main evening meal with my family. I eat whatever they are eating and on the days they eat junk food I have something different and healthy.
This form of intermittent fasting together with vegetable juicing has helped me get healthy and shed 29lbs in 6 months.
Now I am wondering what type of intermittent fasting I can use to continue my journey and perhaps even speed it up.
How does intermittent fasting work?
Your body is a clever piece of machinery. When you eat it knows to take that food and burn it as energy so you can go about your day.
However when you fast, and there is no food to burn it starts burning fat that is already stored in your body and cells. So you burn off all that stored fat, which isn’t healthy for you anyway.
The longer you stay on an intermittent fasting eating pattern the better and more efficient your body gets at burning food (rather than storing it) when you eat and burning the fat from your body when you fast.
It is a great process.
A normal day of eating will see a continuous flow of food being eating without a break. As our body does its best to deal with all of this food the only thing it can do is store it as fat. The more we eat the fatter we get.
By introducing a fast period (which we normally get when we sleep) it gives our body time to break down all the extra it has stored.
Different types of intermittent fasting
8 Hour Eating Window
This is the current pattern I follow, as mentioned above, I stop eating at 7pm and start again at 11am. You can choose times to suit you. For example I have a friend who prefers to eat at lunch time. She stops eating at 8pm or 9pm and then eats at mid day or 1pm. Her second meal is in the evening either before 7pm or before 8pm.
As well as the 16 hour fast and 8 hour food routine mentioned above there are two others that are fairly poplar.
Alternate Days – Intermittent fasting for fast weight loss
This is a method that I love because on my non-fasting days I can eat absolutely anything I like. In fact when I watched a BBC program about intermittent fasting the participants on a study following a day on and a day off were eating fast food on their days off.
This is the best intermittent fasting routine for fast weight loss because you are going through a 24 hour fasting day.
You eat normally one day and then you fast then the next. Then you eat normally the following day and you fast the next. And so the routine goes. One day eating and one day fasting.
Intermittent fasting 5:2
The 5 : 2 intermittent fasting program lets me eat normally five days a week and then twice a week I have to fast eating no more than 500 calories on those two days.
The easiest way to get through a fasting day is to eat breakfast around 7.30am and then an evening meal around 7.30pm and nothing else.
During the day drinking water is my main option although I would allow myself green vegetable juices too – but definitely no food.
I can imagine this type of IT routine becoming my longer term eating habit. One that helps me maintain my weight once I am down to my ideal weight for my height.
It can also be used to help me get there of course. People report plenty of great results using the 5:2 method. I can imagine it will be easy enough for me to stick to eating very little only twice a week and would choose weekdays when I am in my office and busy!
Knowing that will give me the weekend free to eat as I please will help me stick to it.
Intermittent Fasting and Research
Research/science is very interested in intermittent fasting because it is showing that short, periodic fasting may improve our ability to burn fat. It speeds it up and it also controls your glucose and insulin reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
Along with the fact that certain hormones in your body change while fasting allowing you to actually gain muscle and lose fat.
Traditionally focusing on weight loss meant I was not taking into consideration that I might just be losing water or even worse losing essential muscle while the fat I want to get rid of stays in me. That is why the industry turned its attention to fat burning instead of just weight loss and building muscle through exercise like strength training. This got far better results.
Now intermittent fasting may actually join the fat loss and fat burning family as something worth doing, which is why I include it along with my vegetable juicing.
You fast every day anyway
Intermittent fasting is not new to you because you actually fast every day of your life? When you go to sleep. You can be fasting anywhere from 6 to 10 hours. Hopefully, you get more than 6 hours sleep a night though but you get what I mean. Every day you go to sleep and then wake up and eat breakfast… or BREAK fast….
So when you start with intermittent fasting the main difference is that you are now fasting while awake during the day because you need around 16 hours for a fast to help you burn fat and make the changes associated with this weight loss method.
Intermittent fasting and women
There are some reports that intermittent fasting is not great for women and I am paying attention to them but I haven’t found any real studies.
It seems the starvation response is not good for our moods! On a more serious note it can also interfere with our monthly cycle and there are physiological changes that take place, we become hyper alert and are energetic during times when she should we asleep.
There is a great article on Paleo for women and when you read the responses you will see many women stating that their mood changes when they eat the IF way
So, maybe its time to look at Paleo instead…