How can you practice IF?
“A fast is better than a bad meal.” – Irish Proverb
Among these 6 different techniques, I personally prefer the 16:8 technique as it goes smoothly with my personal and social life. For me, the best way to use intermittent fasting for weight loss is to fast for 12 to 18 hours every day and eat in a shortened time window which is usually 8 to 10 hours. So you can have your last meal of the day at 8 pm and your first meal of the day at 12 noon the next day. Although you can eat anything you want and may eat any snacks and small meals in between, make sure you stay away from junk food.
A typical intermittent fasting plan in this technique may look like this:
- Skip your breakfast.
- Eat your first meal around 12 noon or 1pm (preferably 16 hours after your last meal).
- Eat dinner by 8 pm. You can even eat dessert if you want.
- Don’t eat anything after your dinner.
- Eat again next day at 12 noon or 1pm.
- Repeat the schedule every day.
If you want, you may stick to only 2 meals (lunch and dinner) and avoid eating anything else throughout the day, like I did. However, you may drink tea or coffee while doing it. But make sure you stay away from all the tempting milk, cream and sugar.
You need to understand that intermittent fasting is not a diet. It’s simply an eating schedule that can help you manage your weight and make you a lot healthier over time.
How intermittent fasting works
“Fasting is like spring cleaning for your body.” – Jentezen Franklin
Now that you have a fair idea about IF, let’s take a look at the science of intermittent fasting and how it affects our bodies and hormones.
Your body goes through a lot of things when you eat properly:
- Your sugar or blood glucose levels rise based on what you eat.
- Insulin, which is a hormone, is created by your pancreas.
- Insulin instructs the cells to load up on glucose as the food starts to break down in your gut.
- Hormones such as leptin and CCK (cholecystokinin) are released by your body that tells you when you’re full.
But when you consume food frequently, eat a lot of sugar and carbs and ignore when your body tells you it’s full, your body struggles hard to burn off that energy. The pancreas starts working overtime and any additional glucose is stored as fat. As this cycle keeps repeating over time, your chances of gaining weight increases along with the risk of insulin resistance & other diseases like cancer and diabetes. That can’t be good. Right?
Intermittent fasting allows you the opportunity to reform and reset this. When you fast and there’s a gap between meals, your insulin level reduces, glucose level becomes stable, and the body gets an opportunity to fix things. Your body stores calories (energy) through body fat. When you start fasting, your body goes through a lot of processes to access stored energy.
Here’s how your body and metabolism is affected when you do IF:
- Fasting leads to lower insulin levels which help in fat burning.
- Fasting boosts human growth hormone (HGH) levels almost 5 times that helps in muscle gain and fat loss.
- Your nervous system sends noradrenaline (norepinephrine) to break down fat cells into free fatty acids which are burned as energy.
- Studies have found that short term fasting helps to increase metabolism by almost 3.6 to 14%.
IF results in various changes in your body that leads to better fat burning.
What does the research say?
“The discipline of fasting breaks you out of the world’s routine.” – Jentezen Franklin
A lot of encouraging research has been done on IF on fat rats. No…that’s not a metaphor for anything. IF studies on overweight male rats have shown that the rodents not only lost weight, but their blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure also improved. Human studies on intermittent fasting for weight loss have distinctly shown that it is exceptionally effective and safe for humans. But IF is only as effective as any other healthy diet recommended by experts for weight loss. Moreover, fasting can be really difficult for most of us.