As popular as intermittent fasting has become over the last decade, fasting has actually been around for thousands of years and is practiced by many across different cultures and religions all over the world.
Proponents for intermittent fasting claim that it is an effective and sustainable way to lose weight and burn body fat. While there is more research to be done, other alleged health benefits include:
- Boost metabolism for fat loss
- Reduce inflammation in the body
- Lower insulin levels, increase human growth hormone (HGH)
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Reduce risk of heart disease
- Reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
- Remove waste material from cells
- Increase testosterone
- Extend lifespan
A few years ago, after hearing “intermittent fasting” being referenced more and more often by people in the fitness industry, I decided to do a short 5-week experiment on myself first before coming to any conclusions. I went with the 16/8 protocol, which calls for an 8 hour period of eating, followed by a 16 hour period of fasting. So for example, you eat your meals from 12pm to 8pm, then fast until 12pm the next day.
There are a couple of things I can tell you from my 5-week experiment:
First, I dropped almost 1% body fat per week. My diet (primarily Paleo) and my workouts (strength training, never more than an hour total, 5 per week) were Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday I took off to rest and recover.
Second, you may be a little moody during the first week because you will be hungry and low on fuel in the mornings. However, I noticed that this moodiness went away after the first week or so as my body adjusted.
So, for those of you who really want to push it for 2 weeks and accelerate your fat loss results, this challenge is for you.
Choose an 8-hour window of the day to be your “feeding period”. For most people, it’s easier to push back breakfast and eat from 11am-7pm or 12pm-8pm versus having to stop eating early in the day and go to bed hungry, but this is totally up to you.
If your schedule allows for it, do your workouts on an empty stomach, ideally in the morning.
During your feeding period, keep your meals high protein and high vegetable. Usually the first meal tends to be the biggest meal of the day.
Keep in mind that if you are tracking calories, you still need to keep these within your daily targets. A restricted eating window is not a free pass to go over your daily calories. You still need to be in a deficit in order to lose fat.
A Little More On Intermittent Fasting
The concept of intermittent fasting in my opinion is fairly inline with the Primal Theory and the Paleo Diet. Thousands of years ago, hunter/gatherers didn’t have the luxury of being able to have 3 square meals or 6 small timed out meals a day. They ate when they found food. Sometimes that meant going for long fasted periods. Sometimes it didn’t. Research shows our ancestors were most likely in much better physical shape than we are now. They had to move, walk, run, climb, sprint for their survival or to catch dinner, and lift heavy things for short amounts of time at high intensities in order to build, and get where they needed to go. Foods available to them were animal meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit.
Today our culture is much different. We don’t move all day to get to and from places. We commute on trains and buses, we take elevators and escalators, we sit and stare at computers, we go home and sit and stare at TV’s. Much of our food is processed, injected, genetically modified, and has all kinds of toxins and preservatives in it.
Combining this challenge with whole nutritious foods with yield the best results. Good luck!
Committed To Your Health,
Brian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personalized training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, Bach Performance, and The Personal Trainer Development Center (PTDC).
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