Intermittent fasting is something that has become extremely popular over the years. It is promoted as a cool new way to lose weight, that is much more simple and pleasant than traditional dieting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a concept that involves alternating eating periods with fasting periods. It has nothing to do with what you eat or how much, but rather in what period of time you are allowed to eat.
It’s basically a fasting with a plan.
Considering that weight loss occurs by having a lowered calorie intake over long periods, fasting helps you reduce the weekly amounts of calories you consume in a simpler and better way.
Fasting has been practiced since the start of human evolution, as we would do fasting first as a necessity, and then as a cleansing spiritual ritual.
The necessity part of fasting is pretty obvious, as our ancestors didn’t have food available in stores as we do now. In fact, our modern society where we can get food whenever we want is a very small percentage of our overall history.
Our ancestors would go long periods of times without eating, and our bodies evolved in such a way that we still have a boost of energy from fat deposits that allow us to hunt or gather our next meal.
Fasting has also been considered a cleansing ritual, being mentioned even in the Bible. People have noticed the clarity they get when they fast and how energized they felt, and they used it as a way to connect with God. Fasting is still practiced in many religions to this day.
So, there is nothing “unnatural” about fasting. Eating all the time while we are awake is something that can cause inflammation, bloating and other digestive issues.
Can I Eat Anything I Want During IF?
The answer is YES and NO.
While intermittent fasting deals with the periods in which you are supposed to eat and not what you should eat, that doesn’t mean we can eat fried fat every day and be healthy.
Proper nutrition is the foundation on which our health is built, so you need to eat foods that give your body the nutrients it needs no matter what dieting approach you take.
The good news is that you can still eat your favorite unhealthy foods at a percentage of 20% and be healthy. If you eat 80% of the time healthy foods, there will be no problems in indulging in delicious foods for the rest of the time. After all, what you do in the majority is what counts.
My recommendation is to always eat 80% healthy, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. This way you can be sure that your intermittent fasting will have visible and positive results.
No diet can help you lose weight if you eat unhealthy all the time. It’s basic chemistry.
If you want to make a cake, you need the right ingredients. You can’t make a cake with cement. To build a healthy body you need healthy nutrition.
While intermittent fasting won’t allow you to eat unhealthy 100% of the time and still look good, it has other awesome benefits like not having to worry about how much you eat.
What Are The Types of Intermittent Fasting?
Now, let’s talk about some of the most popular ways to practice intermittent fasting.
5:2 Diet or Eat Stop Eat
This is an intermittent fasting diet that involved eating 5 days normally and fasting for 2 days. The book I reviewed, Eat Stop Eat, is based on this type of IF.
Basically, you just fast for 24 hours, 2 times per week. That’s all you have to do to reduce your daily calorie intake by 25%, which is huge. That is pretty amazing.
And you also place the fasting times in such a way that each day has at least one meal. Let me explain it. If you start fasting on Monday, for example, you start it at 12 pm, and you keep the fasting until the next day at 12 pm. This way, you can eat on Monday before 12 pm, and the next day after 12 pm.
It’s pretty easy to do and extremely powerful in terms of reducing the total amount of calories you take in. Using a well-researched guide to do it, like the Eat Stop Eat book, will guarantee that you will do intermittent fasting in the most effective and easy way.
The 16:8 method
This fasting method involves fasting for 16 hours and eating only 8 hours every day. While it may sound easier to do, this fasting needs to be done every day to be effective.
Some people eat in the 12 pm – 8 pm window, but you can adjust this time to whatever you find more suitable for you.
This can be tried if you do it for the first time, as it can help you see how well your body will adjust to the fasting. It’s fairly easy to do, and it’s nothing wrong if in some days you can only fast for 14 or 12 hours.
Eating only in an 8 hour period while eating as you normally would, is supposed to reduce the number of calories you take in by 20 to 30% each day. That’s a great way to lose weight and still enjoy life!
The Warrior Diet
This fasting method is not for beginners, as it is extremely hard. It involves fasting for 20 hours and eating only on a 4-hour window every day. The difference between this intermittent fasting diet and others is that this one encourages small snacks of hard-boiled eggs, dairy products, and raw fruits and vegetables.
But I understand the reason for allowing small snacks since this way of IF is pretty extreme. And you have to do it every day, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a simpler way to eat that you can practice your entire life.
This diet was created in 2001 by a former member of the Israeli Special Forces, Ori Hofmekler. His diet contains 3 phases, one for detoxing, one that is high in fats, and the last one for weight loss.
This diet is extremely complicated, vague in details regarding what you should eat, and it doesn’t have any scientific proof behind it. Therefore, I don’t recommend it at all.
My recommendation is to use the Eat Stop Eat book, because fasting 2 days per week is much easier than anything else that you have to do every single day. You can also start with the 16:8 method to try and see how fasting is, to get your feet wet with the concept.
The Warrior Diet and other extreme intermittent fasting diets are something that I wouldn’t recommend. If you can’t keep it your entire life without making it harder for you, then it’s not really a supporting diet that can help you increase your health state. Extreme diets work in the short-term, but damage your body in the long run. Avoid them at all costs!
Why Would You Prefer Intermittent Fasting Instead of Eating Less?
Intermittent fasting is an amazing way to reduce the overall calorie intake and to reduce the stress of dieting, while eating less is simply awful.
When I first tried to lose weight, many years ago, I did not know what means to lose weight in a healthy manner. Like many of us think, I believed the answer was starving myself. And I have to say that eating less was the most awful thing I had to do my entire life.
I remember feeling totally drained, hungry all the time and I didn’t have the energy to save my life in a sprint. And the hunger was simply ravishing. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a hunger so big and numbing like the one I felt when I tried to lose weight by eating fewer calories.
I think we can all relate to these symptoms. There’s no wonder almost everyone sees dieting as a curse. Who wants to do this awful thing all the time?
Who wants to live with hunger so big that it makes you lose interest in anything else but food?
Who wants to live so emptied of energy that you cannot enjoy life?
Who wants to live with a hate-love relationship regarding food?
Who wants to live with dizziness, lack of concentration and depression?
These are just some of the severe effects of eating less on a consistent basis.
Maybe you’ve felt them on your own skin too, at some point in time. Or maybe you are feeling them know. The bright side is that there is a better way!
Let’s see the differences between intermittent fasting and eating less.
|– During fasting, your body starts to burn fat. It’s the natural response of having no food at all.
||– When you eat less, your body doesn’t get enough calories to function properly, but it still gets small amounts of foods that keep your digestive system activated. This makes your body constantly hungry, inflamed, and looking forward to depositing everything you eat as fat.
|– It makes your life easier. You have fewer meals to worry about, you don’t have to count calories and you can eat your favorite foods.
||– Your life will be miserable. You will feel constantly stressed, depressed, thinking about food and worrying about eating too much.
|– It’s something natural. Your body loves it, and it pumps an increased amount of HGH and noradrenaline.
||– It’s something damaging and hurtful. Your body is under extreme stress, as you don’t get enough nutrients, and there’s an abundance of stress hormones.
|– You can still have a social life and enjoy time spent with those that are important for you, without having to worry about what you eat and drink.
||– You won’t be able to have a social life anymore. Not being able to eat anything unhealthy and being under constant stress will make you incapable of enjoying time spent with other people.
|– Your body will grow in vitality and energy.
||– Your body will degrade and crumble under your own eyes.
|– Science proved multiple benefits to our health, including but not limited to reduced levels of insulin, increased amounts of HGH and noradrenaline, cellular repair, increased metabolic rate, reduced oxidative stress and inflammation, increased lifespan.
||– Science proved eating less has negative effects on our health, like slowed metabolism, muscle mass loss, boosted hunger, bone loss, increased levels of stress and anxiety, increased levels of depression.
|– You can easily remove 25% of calories.
||– You can hardly remove 25% of calories.
As you can see, intermittent fasting is the clear winner of this debate. You drop calories without having to feel awful. You fast, allowing your body to burn the extra fat, and then you fuel your body with nutritious and delicious foods.
My Final Take on Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is so great that I feel bad for not knowing about it from day 1 of starting my journey of improved health. It’s simple, natural, easy to do, and has extra health benefits besides the fact of helping you lose weight.
There is the wrong belief system that makes most of us think that not eating for 24 hours is going to be bad for us. But it takes just one day of trying to see that it’s refreshing for our vitality.
Having a fast where your digestive system can clean and rest, while you burn off the extra calories deposited, it’s extremely beneficial for the body.
You don’t even have to start big. First of all, we all fast while sleeping, at least 7 hours each day. Add only 5 extra hours to it and you fast for 12 hours. Then you can try 14 hours, 16 hours and 18.
As your body gets used to it, 24 hours of fasting will be amazingly easy to do.
IF is really great. I love it, and I recommend it to anyone that is looking to lose weight without having to give up their favorite foods and without starving.