Have you heard of Intermittent Fasting?
Well, Intermittent Fasting (IF) is becoming increasingly popular. It is a method for loosing fat and building muscle. Most people practicing IF are really into fitness and a very lean look, however you can also use If to accelerate fat loss and start faster muscle growth for the average person.
I see IF mentioned often in other health blogs. Popular health professionals like Dr. Mercola are praising the practice for its health benefits. People have been fasting for religious and medical reasons and for natural health benefits. It is not my goal to give you a dissertation on everything about IF, there are plenty of sources providing that info. I want to bring it to your attention, give you the expert sources and give you enough information to see if it something that you feel may help you.
I do not think IF is for everyone. If you are obese I do not recommend starting with IF. I recommend a different protocol until you have learned how to eat a healthy diet, manage calories and are able to exercise self-control, then it might be for you. There are medical conditions in which care must be given to food and nutrient intake. If you have existing health issues, consult with your Doctor to make sure it is OK for your health to practice IF .
There are several different versions of IF. IF is going without food for an extended period beyond the normal time between meals. IF does not include going without water or electrolytes. Water and electrolytes are very important to stay properly hydrated. IF is typically abstaining from food for 12 to 36 hours. Optimally, the fast is 16 hours. It just depends on the program you decide to use and the health gains you are looking for.
One practitioners description that I think is very easy to understand
“Remember the goal with IF is not about eating nothing (or as people would say “starving yourself” ) to lose weight. It is about just taking a short break in eating to elicit natural hormonal and evolutionary genetic responses at the cellular level for better health (and weight loss does happen in the process). You will still eat that day and you are not doing this every day.”
Potential Benefits of IF
- Weight loss
- Accelerated fat loss
- Muscle growth
- HGH stimulation
- Reduced cravings and hunger
- Improved hormonal balance
- Improved blood sugar balance
- Improved cholesterol balance
- Increased energy
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced free radical damage (oxidation damage)
- Reduction in risk of inflammatory and age related disease and illness.
Calorie Restriction vs IF
Studies with animals have shown that calories restriction of 25% or more can extend life by a decade or more. However there are negative side effects that can come from this much of a restriction everyday. Calories contain nutrients which are important for health. Consistent calorie restriction can result in muscle loss, fatigue, poor mental focus, hormone imbalances and lots of hunger.
IF is not about calories restriction as much as it is about the avoidance of food intake over longer periods of a 24 hour cycle. Eat in an 8 hour window and fast for 16 hours. The IF periods cause the body to make metabolic changes that bring positive benefits.
Nutrition intake is very important for any dietary routine. With IF it is even more important for positive results. You should really limit the intake of empty calories during the practice of IF. Empty calories mean the food is calorie rich but offers very little nutritional value. All refined and processed foods are considered empty calorie foods. Your diet should consist of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and limited whole grains. For meat eaters you should have lean free range meats such as turkey breast and chicken breast and wild caught fish.
Exercise is very important for weight loss, fat loss and overall health. You can exercise during IF. In fact the leading experts have specific exercise protocols for maximizing the benefits of IF.
There are several experts on the subject with supporting websites and even books. So if you decide to give IF a try there is a lot of support available from many sources.
The best resources for IF
LeanGains– Martin Berkhan it seems is the developer of IF. Many people have used his system and tweaked it to make their own system.
Brad Pilon – author of Eat Stop Eat
IF can benefit anyone from a fitness freak that is into body building or a mom just wanting to get her bathing suit body back. It takes discipline, but not as much as you think. Once you do it for a few days the body adjust and IF naturally helps control hunger. My experience with IF although short has been positive. I feel energetic, lighter and muscle is building quicker.
Happy Health Wishes
Wally Bishop C.N.C.
The contents of this blog is not and should not be considered medical advice. This blog is for informational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor before making any dietary or lifestyle changes. Never quit taking prescription medications unless advised to do so by your doctor.