Have you been trying to drop weight over the years and have seemed to try just about every diet under the sun, only to be left frustrated and not seeing any results from your efforts? Generally, these fad diets come and then go just as quickly, but there is one diet that has been hanging around for years now and is providing some great results. Which diet am I referring to? It’s intermittent fasting or IF.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Unlike many other diets, there’s nothing terribly difficult to understand with intermittent fasting. This weight loss strategy is nothing more than cycling between when you can eat and when you are fasting.
One of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 ratio, where you fast for 16 hours, and then you have an eight-hour feeding window where you fit in your meals. Now, many people may think fasting for 16 hours will be about as impossible as climbing Mt. Everest. But I assure you that fasting for 16 hours is incredibly easy to accomplish if you plan out your day wisely.
Here’s a little pro tip for you… utilize your time sleeping as your fasting period. It just makes sense, right? If you sleep for eight hours, you’re already halfway through your fast before you can eat again. The last thing you want to do is have your eating window be during the time when you’re sleeping.
Those who follow intermittent fasting will generally break their fast around noon and then eat up until 8pm before starting their fast again. Some individuals may have a more difficult time than others getting through the morning as they are accustomed to eating breakfast upon waking. In order to get through the morning without breaking your fast, consider drinking water, black coffee, or tea. This will put something in your stomach and trick your brain into thinking you’re satiated until noon rolls around.
You should be aware of one thing, however, and that is for the first week or so, you may feel hunger pangs in the morning. This is relatively common but will subside over time as your body becomes used to not eating in the morning. Simply drink calorie-free liquids to help push you through these early morning hunger pangs.
4 Reasons to Consider Implementing Intermittent Fasting
Now, for the meat and potatoes of intermittent fasting – why should you consider implementing it into your lifestyle? The first thing we should touch on is just how simple intermittent fasting is to follow. While other diets have you removing all carbohydrates or fats, intermittent fasting doesn’t eliminate any macronutrients. In fact, many people can eat all of the same foods they usually eat – so long as they are in a caloric deficit at the end of each day to promote weight loss. Intermittent fasting doesn’t force you to follow a specific diet plan of things you should eat at each meal or even how many meals you should eat per day.
With intermittent fasting, you fit in your meals when you need them during your feeding window. Some people will fit in upwards of six meals a day, while others eat two or three. The key is to ensure you are hitting your daily caloric intake along with your recommended daily macronutrient intake.
Intermittent fasting, unlike other diets, is very lifestyle friendly. Most people fail on diets because what they need to follow is not sustainable over the long-term. They have a list of foods a mile long that they can’t eat, which causes them to cheat on their diet and, ultimately, give up. Intermittent fasting is much easier to follow, and many who utilize it absolutely love it.
Here are some of the ways that intermittent fasting can improve your health and weight loss results.
1. Help Enhance Weight Loss
The whole reason you are considering intermittent fasting is due to its ability to help enhance weight loss, right? Well, it can help you do exactly that. Intermittent fasting can help increase growth hormone levels, decrease insulin levels, and improve the body’s ability to utilize stored body fat as a viable energy source.
It has been found that intermittent fasting can help increase metabolic rate as well as increase weight loss by 3-8% over 3-24 weeks.
Interestingly enough, intermittent fasting has also been shown to help preserve lean muscle tissue while in a caloric deficit. This is important because as you lose lean muscle tissue, it can negatively affect your metabolism and slow it down.
2. It Provides You with More Free Time
This reason for utilizing intermittent fasting is not scientific, but many will find this to be extremely advantageous. When using this weight loss strategy, you will find you have more time to get things done during the day and can be more productive. Why is this? It’s simple, the entire fasting window, you don’t need to worry about preparing a meal, sitting down to eat, and cleaning up. Think of all the free time you’d have by not needing to worry about this.
Fewer breaks for meals means the ability to get more done. This can be anything from work, chores, workouts, self-improvement, relaxation, you can fill in the blank with whatever you want here. It’s truly amazing.
3. Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Keeping your blood sugar and insulin in check is incredibly important. Should things get out of control, it can lead to insulin resistance and put you at risk for type 2 diabetes.
Researchers looked at the implementation of intermittent fasting and found that it was capable of reducing blood sugar levels. Not only was intermittent fasting able to reduce fasting insulin levels by as much as 31%, but research as also found that it can reduce fasting blood sugar by upwards of 6%.
4. Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation in the body can lead to a lot of health issues and diseases. One of the major contributors to inflammation is oxidative stress. This can come in many forms, one of which is free radicals. Free radicals can damage, destroy, or mutate healthy cells in the body. Such a process takes place without us even knowing it’s happening, making it extremely important to maintain your health and do everything you can to maintain your immunity and keep inflammation to a minimum.
Through the use of intermittent fasting, it has been found that the body has a greater ability to fight off and prevent oxidative stress from causing adverse effects. Additionally, those who implement intermittent fasting have been found to be able to better reduce inflammation, which also helps lower their risk for certain diseases.
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