When it comes to diet and nutrition there are so many protocols and opinions on what works best. One article says that you should eat option “A” if you want to burn body fat, one website supports option “B” if you want to lose weight, your favorite health expert says option “C” is the answer and neither “A” nor “B” are any good at all. The truth is maybe they are all effective options or maybe none of them are.
There is plenty peer reviewed research and other legitimate published information out there on nutrition and different eating protocols. The issue is that until you put it into practice it is all anecdotal. What works for you might not work for another and vice versa. Just because there was a study done at some university that showed removing all animal products from your diet could help you live longer or just because your best friend has had tremendous success losing weight getting 90% of their daily calories from fats does not mean that you should put that into practice yourself. With all of that being said, the best way, in my opinion, to determine how you should approach nutrition is by gaining a better understanding of what your options are and what the POTENTIAL benefits are.
Today I want to go over with you one of the many eating practices that I have personally tried and found to be quite effective for the health goals that I have. Some of the information that I am going to share with you relates to the information that initially peaked my interest in this particular eating protocol and some of the information is going to relate to the things that I have experienced personally as a result of eating this way. Today I want to discuss intermittent fasting.
What is intermittent fasting? How does it work? What are the potential benefits of intermittent fasting? Is intermittent fasting for you? These are all questions that I am going to address because they are important questions to consider. So, let’s get to it!
What is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is a fairly simple, not always easy, way of limiting the number of hours you allow yourself to eat during the day. Pretty straight forward right?
How does it work? You have what you call an eating window which relates to the hours of the day that you allow yourself to eat and then you have a fasting window which relates to the hours of the day that you do not eat, your fast. The general recommendations for eating windows are anywhere from 8 to 10 hours which would mean that generally you would fast for anywhere from 14 to 16 hours each day. For example, if you have an eating window of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. That would mean that during the hours of 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. you would not eat and remain in a fasted state. See where I was going with simple but not always easy?
What are the potential benefits of intermittent fasting? Now, here is where we really get to the meat and potatoes…figuratively of course, I am still in my fasting window L. There is a lot of interesting information out there about what intermittent fasting can do for people both physically and mentally. For example, something that many of us struggle with is burning unwanted body fat. It has been shown that intermittent fasting can help you burn body fat in a number of ways. In theory if you spend less time throughout the day eating you will potentially eat fewer calories each day, which when done consistently may help you lose body fat. Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase metabolism, and even improve insulin levels, growth hormone levels and norepinephrine levels all of which can help the body breakdown body fat and use it for fuel.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by improving the body’s response to insulin meaning that your body in more capable of maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Additionally, fasting intermittently has been shown to help the body fight against the aging effects of free radicals as well as reduce the amount of inflammation in the body which is amazing considering the fact that inflammation is a major contributor to just about every illness and disease known to man. In many animal-based studies intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce a number of risk factors that contribute to heart disease including high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. Another potential benefit of intermittent fasting is that it may improve the rate at which a number of cellular repair processes occur which may have implications for playing a role in preventing devastating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer.
Is intermittent fasting for you? When you take all of the above information into consideration, as I did, it is easy to see how intermittent fasting can be so appealing. Personally, I can honestly say that I have experienced a number of benefits since implementing intermittent fasting into my daily life. I feel like I look better, my energy levels are better and more consistent throughout the day, I sleep more soundly and I spend less time and money eating and buying food. If you are interested in intermittent fasting and considering implementing it into your life I would suggest that you do a little bit of research on your own. In addition to that, I would suggest thinking about how intermittent fasting would fit for your style, do you think that it would work for you?
By Vic M.
B.S. Exercise Science, NSCA-CSCS Certified