What is Intermittent Fasting?
This article will review what intermittent fast is and is not. The different types of fasting. How to start and stay with the program. Why it is not a new fad but rather been around for millions of years. Why intermittent fasting works and how it can help you.
Intermittent Fasting Defined
Intermittent fasting is when food, calories are the key, is not consumed for a specific amount of time, which is also called time restricted eating. It is that simple, a change in the daily eating pattern. This is not starvation, a diet or punishment, or anything negative with food; it is merely withholding food for a defined amount of time, sometimes called an eating window, fasting window, or fasting phase, to achieve a specific outcome. By doing this, calorie restriction becomes much more straightforward because calorie intake is reduced by one or more meals a day, allowing for fewer calories. This process is natural, has been around for millions of years, has many benefits, and has many different variations.
There are many different types of intermittent fasting program, so choosing one that fits should not be a problem.
12:12 is eating in a 12-hour window and a fasting period of 12 hours.
10:14 is eating in a 10-hour window and a fasting period of 14 hours.
8:16 is eating in an 8-hour window and a fasting period of 16 hours.
4:20, sometimes called the warrior diet, is eating in a 4-hour window and a fasting period of 20 hours.
OMAD is one meal a day.
24 hour fast, a fasting period of 24 continuous hours.
36 hour fast, a fasting period of 36 continuous hours.
48 hour fast, a fasting period of 48 continuous hours.
Anything over 48 hours is not recommended, as this can have adverse health effects.
Some variations can also be incorporated with days like alternate day fasting, which is a fasting day, and the next off or fast for two days and one day off. There are many fasting types and mixed with fasting days, and non fasting days open up endless combinations. Therefore finding an intermittent fasting schedule that fits should not be difficult. The point is these combinations can be changed up to fix and meet your particular needs.
How To Start
Jumping into the fasting world can take time as most people eat three times a day, and some include snakes in between meals. To make the adjustment from continuous eating to fasting takes time to have the body adjust. One of the areas of concern is skipping breakfast and how that can impact the day. There are no set rules for which meal to skip, so you can try skipping breakfast or skipping diner.
Many people will start with a simple intermittent fasting plan like 12:12 every other day, get comfortable with that, then move to two days of 12:12 fasting, and one day off once the body is adjusted, move up to 10:14, then 8:16, and so on, allowing the body to adapt each time. The main goal is to build up to a comfortable level of fasting time. The end goal is more is better, so look to build into 8:16 or 4:20 seven days a week if possible.
Trying to start with a higher level of fasting for many will generally not work out well as the body will not have enough time to adjust. This can produce hunger feelings, fatigue, foggy decision-making, and others, forcing one to stop rapidly. Like anything else that is new, showing up to start is critical. Building each day/week will produce the best and long-lasting results. This is a lifestyle change, so making this change requires planning and dedication. Once you develop a pattern or habit of this lifestyle, it will be second nature, and the thought process will be less involved after a few months.
Intermittent Fasting Is Evolutionary
For 99.8% of the time that humans in our current form and ancestors going back in time have been on this planet, meal consumption is one or less per day. This is how we evolved! As hunter-gathers, humans would collect, try to, food all day, eat whatever was collected, and then start the process again. So eating in an intermittent fast format is actually built into our evolutionary markup. This is why intermittent fast is not a fad but rather in our history, and by doing so, we as humans are getting back to our roots.
Technology and other advancements changed eating behaviors and placed us on a completely different trajectory. In 1834 the refrigerator was invented, which allowed for food storage and the ability to have and consume food at any time. This completely changed eating habits forever. No longer having to hunt or gather food to consume immediately; instead, food can now be stored for later consumption. Around this point in time, a significant change occurred in the way we eat, the amount we eat, and the number of times we eat.
Why Intermittent Fasting Works
Intermittent fasting works for weight loss on a couple of different levels. It is not a starvation concept but allowing the body to work as it was built for over millions of years. The most significant idea around intermittent fasting is the reduction and insulin level for long periods. Insulin is released into the body when food is consumed for two reasons. The first reason, the more commonly known, is to maintain blood sugar levels. The second reason is to place the body into fat retention mode.
To survive on one meal a day or less over millions of years, the body had to build in a mechanism to store food away for you later. Insulin is the trigger for the body to take some of the food consumed and store for later use. This is an evolutionary process built into all of us to survive on one meal a day or less. Without this mechanism for food, storage humans would have had a much more difficult time surviving. Going extended periods without food can be difficult on the body. With no reserve energy, we could have easily starved.
By intermittent fasting, insulin levels are lowered, which then puts the body into fat-burning mode. The body is always requiring a certain amount of energy, and with no food in the system, the body will go to stored energy reserves using them until the food is consumed again. By eating three meals a day plus snacks, insulin level remains high, which keeps the body in fat retention mode, which equates to packing on pounds for future use. The body is just doing its job store fat away for future energy needs. In today’s world, we can continuously consume food keeping insulin levels high, keeping the body in a constant fat retention mode. We are essentially defining evolution at the flip of a switch that is not working out well as the obesity rate is currently at 42.4%.
The human body was never built to consume three plus meals a day. The evolution process has made the body to consume one meal a day, which has rapidly changed to today’s lifestyles.
The calorie consumption must be less than the calorie burned to lose weight, the old saying of calorie in vs. calorie out, or sometimes called caloric restriction. This is true, but the timing of calorie intake is also as important. Food intake is a must, but the timing can make a significant difference in the ability to lose weight. So set a simple fasting schedule based on the fasting method that best suits you with a reduction in caloric intake and see the results.
Intermittent fasting is a simple process of restricting food consumption within a defined window of time. It has tremendous benefits for the body, mostly noticed and weight loss or weight maintenance. This process is evolutionary and has been with us for millions of years. There is no cost or downside to intermittent fasting. Give it a try, and you will be surprised by all the goodness and benefits you receive from this simple lifestyle change that brings us back to our roots.