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First, what is intermittent fasting?
In simple terms, it is alternating between periods of eating and fasting. Call it feasting and fasting if you like. It’s totally opposite to what we’ve always been told, to ‘never skip a meal’.
So what does the science say about Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?
1. Improves the Metabolism.
Short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories
2. Helps you lose just as much weight as calorie restriction.
We see in multiple studies that when compared to a calorie controlled diet, people tend to lose the same or sometimes more weight with fasting.
3. Targets Fat.
In a study of Italian athletes one group was assigned to intermittent fasting for 8 weeks, while the other consumed a normal daily routine of three meals a day.
After 8 weeks, the intermittent fasting group lost significantly more fat mass than the normal diet group, without losing any muscle mass
Since the more lean muscle tissue you have on your body the more calories you’ll burn naturally, this is a good thing for fat loss.
4. Seems to be easier for people to stick with.
According to the research people find fasting much easier to stick to than traditional, everyday calorie restriction.
Now, there are many different types of intermittent fasting, and I’m going to talk about 4 of the most popular ones right now.
#1 The 5:2 Diet
Founded by Dr Michael Mosley and became extremely popular following his BBC documentary “Eat, Fast, and Live Longer”.
In this method you eat normally five days a week. Then you fast partially for two days a week, eating about ¼ of a normal day’s recommended calories, which translates to about 500-600 calories a day. Not really a true fast, but there you go.
#2 The 16:8 Method (time-restricted diet)
Where you Eat within an 8-hour window every day then fast 16 hours every day. People usually just skip breakfast and eat a later lunch at around 1-2pm.
#3 Alternate day fasting
Where you Fast for 24 hours every other day – alternating days of eating without restrictions with fasting days.
#4. Eat Stop Eat Method
Where you Fast for 24 hours 2 days out of the week, usually from 5pm in the evening until 5pm the next day.
Ok, let’s go through some common questions you may have about intermittent fasting:
Which type of IF is best for weight loss?
It’s really up to you.
The Eat Stop Eat diet is the one with the most research, since most fasting studies performed involve full 24-hour fasts and are usually not done back to back.
The 16:8 method is the most popular because of how convenient it is.
Give both a try and see how you feel.
Is it safe?
Fasting is for the larger majority of the population is safe to do.
The only times Intermittent fasting is NOT recommended if you are:
Pregnant or breast feeding
Experiencing chronic stress
A Type 1 diabetic
On any medication – especially insulin
Also, fasting longer than 24 hours is not as well researched at this time so keep that in mind if you’re thinking about extended fasting.
How do I start?
Choose an intermittent fasting style that fits in your daily and weekly routine, and plan in advance what you are going to eat. I’ll add a couple of the best resources in the description.
Can I exercise on the fasting days?
Yes you can. It’s not for everyone, but you can do it without fear of losing your muscle mass and will likely burn a little more fat training fasted.
What can I drink during my fasts?
Unsweetened tea, water, and black coffee are best. A little dab of cream is fine in your coffee, just don’t turn it into a Frappuccino.