When it comes to fat loss and wanting to get in shape, many people try different methods. These can include the Keto, Paleo, Atkins, and vegan diets, fasting, extended cardio, and even a period on a very low number of calories. However, whatever your method is, you need to make sure that you are consistently in a moderate calorie deficit (burning more calories than you are consuming) to get the best results.
To stick to this over a long period of time, there are several techniques people use, one of which is intermittent fasting. This is an eating protocol in which you only eat or drink between an 8-10-hour window during the day. It includes delaying your first meal until late morning and consuming your last meal at around 7-8 pm. It is known to be a popular strategy around the world, but should you be doing it?
How Do You Do It?
If you are looking to adopt intermittent fasting, make sure that you don’t consume any food or drinks, except water and black coffee/herbal tea, throughout most of the morning, before having your breakfast anytime from 10am to 12pm. You then consume all your meals in the 8-10-hour window during the day, with your last meal coming at around 7-8pm. You then go to sleep and repeat this the next day.
If you struggle to do this initially, start at an earlier time, such as 9-9:30 am, and build up slowly. Your body will then adapt and you will find that you can fast for slightly longer, the more you do it. Have a day or two when you eat breakfast at an earlier time to allow variety into your week and keep your body metabolically flexible.
Fat Loss Benefits
Intermittent fasting itself is not going to be the key factor in fat loss, a consistent calorie deficit is, but it can help you stick to your diet long-term, which is what is going to help get you your desired results. This is because it allows you to feel fuller and more satisfied during the day, due to the fact that your meals are much closer together in a shorter window. Therefore, the more satisfied you are, the less likely you are to eat more and consume foods high in calories that will take you over your recommended calorie intake for the day.
In short, intermittent fasting helps you stick to your calorie target for fat loss over a long period of time. Performing exercise, particularly cardio, in a fasted state does not have a direct effect on the rate of fat loss due to the fact that, although it increases lipolysis (the amount of fat that is broken down and released), it does not increase fat oxidation, which is the amount of fat that you actually burn. When it comes to fat loss, the underlining factor is fat oxidation and not lipolysis. A consistent calorie deficit is what will cause fat oxidation, which is the key to reaching your fat loss goals.
The primary health benefit of fasting is the positive impact it has on your gut health. It gives your body more time to digest the food you have eaten previously and then work on producing new cells that will improve the overall health of your internal organs. This produces autophagy, which is the consumption of the body’s own tissue as a metabolic process occurring in starvation and certain diseases. This helps cleanse waste from the body, which then leads to reduced toxins and lower levels of inflammation – all of which as crucial for preventing disease.
Intermittent fasting can also increase your energy levels. This is because, during the process of using fat for energy, fat is slowly digested and must be sent to the liver for processing (to ketones). Once this occurs, fat can then be used for energy. The benefit of this steady and consistent process is that our blood sugar levels are more stable, meaning that we have more energy and feel better. This process also improves our concentration levels and leads to a higher cognitive function, which can improve productivity at work and with our daily tasks.
Is It for You?
From a health perspective, everyone should try intermittent fasting. Everything from your gut health to your energy, focus, and confidence will be improved. In terms of fat loss, it depends on the individual. If you are someone who can does not have a physically demanding and busy job but struggles with high hunger cravings throughout the day, intermittent fasting could well be for you. This is because you can eat in a shorter eating window of 8-10 hours to help you feel more satisfied, control cravings and reduce the temptation to snack on other foods that will drastically take you over your daily calorie limit.
However, if you are someone who is very busy throughout the day, does not have much time to cook meals and even likes to train in the morning before work, having some food in your system, particularly carbohydrates, is going to help maintain high energy levels and perform your sessions optimally. From a fat loss perspective, it is about finding what is best for you and your situation.
Intermittent fasting has many benefits, both from a fat loss and health perspective. It does not directly lead to fat loss, but it will help you stick to your calorie deficit for a long period of time, particularly if you have high hunger cravings. However, you do not need to do it to see progress and if you can manage your hunger levels throughout the day and stick to your diet, you can still have your first meal at an earlier time if that suits you.
So, it depends on your goals, situation, and your preferences, but intermittent fasting is worth giving a try. It has several health benefits and can aid in diet adherence, which is key to achieving your goal of fat loss, toning and feeling better.
Photo Credits: Envato Elements