We know, when setting your New Year’s Resolutions, you always have the best of intentions. In 2018, the most popular New Year’s resolution was to lose weight and eat healthier. However, statistics show that less than 10% of all people who set resolutions actually reported accomplishing what they set out to.
If weight loss and a healthier lifestyle are what you have set yourself for this year then Intermittent Fasting may be just the thing for you with the addition of huge health benefits if it is done right: weight loss, increased energy, reversal of type 2 diabetes and many other things.
Intermittent fasting is the ancient secret of health. It is ancient because it has been practised throughout all of human history. It’s a secret because this powerful habit has been virtually forgotten.
But now many people are re-discovering this dietary intervention as there is a huge correlation between Intermittent Fasting and weight loss. It can carry huge benefits if it is done right: which is why Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. People are using it to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lifestyles.
Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and incredibly effective. It can have powerful effects on your body and brain and may even help you live longer. Intermittent fasting IF is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and not eating. Although people do experience weight loss with intermittent fasting, it is less of a diet plan and more of a lifestyle choice to reap some incredible health benefits.
Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss: Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting’s most obvious benefit is weight loss. However, there is a myriad of benefits beyond this, many of which were widely known in ancient times.
The fasting periods were often called ‘cleanses’, ‘detoxifications’, or ‘purifications’, but the idea is the same – to abstain from eating food for a certain period of time for health reasons. People imagined that this period of abstinence from food would clear their bodies’ systems of toxins and rejuvenate them. They were more correct than they knew.
Some of the purported physical benefits of fasting include:
- Improved mental clarity and concentration
- Weight and body fat loss
- Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels
- Reversal of type 2 diabetes
- Increased energy
- Improved fat burning
- Increased growth hormone
- Lowered blood cholesterol
- Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (potential)
- Longer life (potential)
- Activation of cellular cleansing (potential) by stimulating autophagy (a discovery that was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in medicine)
- Reduction of inflammation
Some research suggests that Intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as men, and it may also be a poor choice for people who are prone to eating disorders.
Growing research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention.
It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. For many people, this works as there is no meal prepping or if you are responsible for cooking for a family it means you can eat what they eat, so it’s a more sustainable lifestyle change. In essence, not eating for a certain period of the day naturally restricts calories. In this respect, it’s not a diet in the conventional sense but more accurately described as an eating pattern.
Not surprisingly given the popularity, several different types/methods of intermittent fasting have been devised.
All of them can be effective, but which one fits best will depend on the individual.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Here are 3 of the most popular ways to do intermittent fasting:
1. The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 2 days per week eat normally for 5
The 5:2 diet involves eating normally 5 days of the week, while restricting calories to 500-600 on two days of the week. British journalist and Doctor Michael Mosley popularised this diet. On the fasting days, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, and men 600 calories.
For example, you might eat normally on all days except Mondays and Thursdays, where you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women, and 300 for men). Some people prefer to eat a smaller meal earlier in the day and leave a larger portion of the calories for their main evening meal. How you split the calories is entirely up to you.
BOTTOM LINE: The 5:2 diet, involves eating 500-600 calories for two days of the week, but eating normally the other 5 days.
2. The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day
The 16/8 Method involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours, and restricting your daily “eating window” to 8-10 hours. Within the eating window, you can fit in 2, 3 or more meals. This method is also known as the Leangains protocol, and was popularised by fitness expert Martin Berkhan. Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.
For example, if you finish your last meal at 7 pm and then don’t eat until 11 am the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals. It is generally recommended that women only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.
For people who get hungry in the morning and like to eat breakfast, then this can be hard to get used to at first. However, many breakfast skippers actually instinctively eat this way. You can drink water, tea and coffee without milk or sugar (sweetener is permissible) and other non-calorie beverages during the fast; this can help reduce hunger levels.
Eating mostly healthy foods during your eating window is essential. This won’t work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories within the 8-hour window. The beauty is that you don’t need to meal prep or worry about individual shopping list just for you. You eat what the rest is the family are eating, so it really does become a lifestyle change. Most people find this to be the most “natural” way to do intermittent fasting.
BOTTOM LINE: The 16/8 method involves daily fasts of 16 hours for men, and 14-15 hours for women. On each day, you restrict your eating to an 8-10 hour “eating window”.
3. Eat-Stop-Eat – this involves a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week
This method was popularised by fitness expert Brad Pilon, and has been quite popular for a few years. By fasting from dinner one day, to dinner the next, this amounts to a 24-hour fast.
For example, if you finish dinner on Monday at 6 pm, and don’t eat until dinner the next day at 6 pm, then you’ve just done a full 24-hour fast. You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch. The end result is the same.
Water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food. If you are doing this to lose weight, then it is imperative that you eat normally during the eating periods. As in, eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all.
The problem with this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be fairly difficult for many people. However, you don’t need to go all-in right away, starting with 12-16 hours and then moving upwards from there is fine. Doing this when you are busy helps as you don’t have time to think about food.
BOTTOM LINE: Eat-Stop-Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week.
Intermittent Fasting Alongside Fat Loss Treatments
Opting to participate in Intermittent Fasting is an effective way to push the results achieved through a variety of fat loss treatments; particularly 3D Lipomed.
3D Lipomed is a non-surgical alternative to liposuction, used to remove stubborn pockets of fat and tighten the skin. As opposed to cutting away excess fat, 3D Lipo instead destroys the fat cells through freezing or melting, which are then broken up and naturally released into the body.
As 3D Lipo is a relatively new, revolutionary treatment, it is only available at medically led clinics. Here at LasaDerm, we are lucky to have the latest medical machinery to provide our clients with 3D liposuction in Milton Keynes. Before Cavitation (Fat Melting) or Cryolipolysis (Fat Freezing), we always advise clients to encourage a healthy lifestyle, remaining active and avoiding fatty foods.
Intermittent Fasting is fantastic for slowly easing yourself into gaining a more controlled mindset towards food, so is an ideal option when considering 3D Lipo or to push your results after your treatment. As you will be relying on water and low-calorie drinks to keep you going outside of your eating window, your body will find it easier to process any excess triglycerides and fatty substances released during the procedure. Therefore, increasing fat loss.
Take Home Message
There are a lot of people getting great results with some of these intermittent fasting methods. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. If you decide to try this out, then keep in mind that you need to eat healthy as well. Calories still count, and food quality is still absolutely crucial. It is not something that anyone needs to do; it is just another tool in the toolbox that can be useful for some people.
Fasting offers many important unique advantages that are not available in typical diets. Where diets complicate life, fasting simplifies. Where diets are expensive, intermittent fasting is free. Where diets can take time, fasting saves time. Where diets are limited, fasting is available anywhere. There is no more powerful method for lowering insulin and decreasing body weight.
Please Note: While intermittent fasting has many proven benefits, it’s still controversial. A potential danger regards medications, especially for diabetes, where doses often need to be adapted. Discuss any changes in medication and relevant lifestyle changes with your doctor. This article is written for healthy overweight adults that could benefit from intermittent fasting. People who should NOT fast include people who are underweight or have eating disorders, pregnant or breastfeeding women, women trying to conceive and people under the age of 18. Some studies have indicated that IF is more beneficial in men than women.