If you’re looking to lose weight without giving up all your favorite foods, intermittent fasting might be perfect for you.
Most of us like to enjoy life and our favorite foods, but that can also keep you from getting and maintaining the lean body that you desire. There are countless numbers of diets out there, but many of them take out the fun out of eating and socializing. Next thing you know, you’ll find yourself counting calories every time you eat instead of enjoying the meal that’s in front of you.
Intermittent fasting allows you to reach your fitness goals without having to give up all the foods you love the most. It’s all about moderation. Intermittent fasting involves going an extended period of time before consuming any calories.
How intermittent fasting works
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There are different variations of intermittent fasting, but the traditional way is to fast for 16 hours, then eat all of the calories you will have that day during an eight-hour window known as your feeding window. This method is also known as 16:8 fasting. The eight hours you spend sleeping counts towards your fasting time, so you can starting eating eight hours after you wake up. That means you’re only really missing breakfast when you fast.
What’s allowed when fasting?
This depends on how strict you want to be. To ensure a strict 100% fast, you should not consume anything other than water during your fast. This will ensure no metabolic processes are activated. Other less-strict guidelines for fasting advise you to stay away from anything that contains calories during your fasting hours. That means no food, snacks, or sweetened beverages of any kind. Drink water, black coffee, unsweetened teas, and other similar beverages during your fast.
You should also avoid any drinks that contain artificial sweeteners. While many of these beverages are indeed sugar-free, the chemicals in these sweeteners trick your body into thinking it’s getting real sugar which leads to insulin release. That diminishes your ability to burn fat and regulate your appetite.
While the data is yet to be conclusive regarding the negative effects of artificial sweeteners, it’s best to stay away from them and just stick to sugar-free drinks.
Eating during the feeding window
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Your feeding period is the time of the day when you finally get to eat. Your goal during each feeding period is to consume as many calories as you need to reach the lean physique you want. You want to give your body all the nutrients it needs to be healthy during that period.
Undereating during your feeding period doesn’t help you in any way. It’ll actually be detrimental to your fitness goals since it compromises your ability to maintain or build muscle mass and your energy level at the gym. Figure out what your daily caloric intake should be and make sure you hit it every day. You should also be consuming lots of protein when you diet. A protein shake is a good way to get much-needed nutrients quickly.
What makes intermittent fasting effective?
Intermittent fasting increases genes that increase the calories and fat your body burns. Fasting causes your body to turn on these genes that uncouple enzymes and proteins that aid in fat oxidation. In simpler words, fasting turns on your body’s fat burning mechanism.
The proteins create holes in your mitochondria – which is where the energy you use is created especially when you rest. By creating these holes, your mitochondria produce less energy. That means your body needs to burn more calories to produce the same amount of energy. Therefore, when you fast, you don’t just deprive your body of nutrients for 16 hours, you increase your caloric burn for the entire day.
When intermittent fasting is done properly, you may end up consuming the same number of macros and calories every day. The only thing that changes is your meal schedule. You consume all your calories in a short eight-hour window which allows you to eat all of your favorite foods in moderation.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
A few of the main benefits of intermittent fasting are:
1) Increased fat burn
Research shows that fasting for long periods might lead to increased fat loss and a higher capacity to burn fat even when your total daily food consumption remains the same. With IF, many people are able to enjoy their favorite foods more often during their feeding period. That’s one of the things that make intermittent fasting so popular. It allows you to eat the things you enjoy without paying for it with your waistline.
2) Easy to stick to
The simplicity of IF makes it an easy dieting style to stick with. It typically only involves missing the first meal of the day and avoiding any drinks that contain calories. Once your fasting period is over, you get to enjoy food like everyone else. Intermittent fasting is also good for your health. There are no negative side effects, and it actually makes you healthier.
3) Reduces insulin resistance
IF reduces the odds of you developing one of the most common health issues: type 2 diabetes. During your fasting period, your blood sugar levels are lower since you aren’t consuming any calories, and your insulin production is lowered by as much as 30 percent.
4) Good for your brain
Intermittent fasting has a positive effect on your brain. It improves metabolic processes that are vital for brain function, and it promotes the growth of new nerve cells. Intermittent fasting may also reduce the odds of you developing brain health issues like strokes.
Eating before and after your fasting period
While intermittent fasting allows you to become looser with your eating patterns, making sure you get enough protein is essential, especially when you’re trying to build or maintain muscle. It’s often recommended that you consume a protein shake before and after your fasting period. This ensures your body always has enough proteins to build and repair muscles at all times.
Protein-rich, low carb diets are also recommended after fasting periods, and these increase your fat-burning ability, while high-carb meals reduce your fat-burning ability. This is especially important if you’re trying to lose weight.
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Intermittent fasting is a good way to increase your body’s ability to burn fat. It allows you to lose weight and become leaner while still getting to enjoy all your favorite meals. For best results, IF should always be combined with a good workout program. As with any diet or eating pattern, IF may work differently for different people. If you decide to try out IF, make sure to monitor the results and see how it works for you.
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