Over the past few years, no movement has been talked about more in the health world than intermittent fasting (IF). Everyone from health coaches, celebrities and even your family chiropractors have been recommending this approach to eating and raving about the benefits.
And while a lot of people have heard about intermittent fasting, there is still a lot of confusion about what it is and most importantly what it is not.
So, if you have been considering intermittent fasting for your personal health goals—we have made it easy for you.
This guide will help walk you through all of the basics of intermittent fasting so you can see for yourself how easy it is to make IF part of your everyday routine.
Intermittent Fasting 101: Getting Down to Basics
So, what exactly is intermittent fasting?
Simply put, intermittent fasting is an eating cycle that rotates between periods of eating and periods of fasting.
A lot of the confusion, and trepidation, surrounding intermittent fasting has to do with the word fasting, which can make IF seem overly restrictive.
However, intermittent fasting is not a diet.
It does not restrict the foods you can eat, or even how much you can eat. It is all about when you eat and the time of your designated “eating window.”
And while you are technically “fasting” as part of this eating cycle, you don’t have to worry about going hungry or fasting for long—this is not a 3-day juice cleanse. The fasting windows are quite short, depending on the schedule that you choose, and very manageable.
There are actually a handful of different types of intermittent fasting schedules including the eat-stop-eat method, the 5:2 diet and the most popular type of intermittent fasting; the 16/8 Method or the Leangains Approach.
This method moves your daily eating period to an 8-hour window (such as between 12-8) and has you fasting for the 16 hours in-between.
If you are new to intermittent fasting we recommend the 16/8 Method, which is what we will focus on with this guide. Once you have mastered the cycling for the 16/8 Method and you want to change your routine, you can start exploring other intermittent fasting schedules.
How Exactly Does the Intermittent Fasting Schedule Work?
The 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule is by far the most popular way to explore intermittent fasting. It is easy-to-follow, practical for most working adults and it works.
With this type of intermittent fasting approach, you have an eight-hour eating window, where you can eat a normal, balanced, healthy meal. You also have a 16-hour fasting window where you refrain from eating. Most of this fasting window happens while you are asleep. You can still eat the same foods that you love, you just need to be more cautious about your timing.
Here’s how a sample of how an intermittent fasting schedule would look:
For some people, this is as easy as skipping breakfast every day, but in order to really benefit from intermittent fasting, there needs to be a little more thought and purpose behind your intentions, you can really understand how it is working.
The Impact of Fasting, Why it Works
So, why regular fasting? What is the actual scientific benefit behind withholding food for extended periods of time?
When we fast for a period, our insulin levels get low and stay low for an extended period, which encourages the body to release stored glucose to use as energy. Fasting also gives your GI tract and other systems in your body, some time to rest and repair. During this time, with no additional food intake, your body will start using the fat stored in your cells as energy.
The best part is, when you repeat this fasting process over and over every day, you are consistently giving your body time to rest, recovery and get healthier as it starts to use that unwanted fat as energy instead of just storing it on your body.
This is why so many people turn to intermittent fasting for weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
Perhaps the most common reason people start intermittent fasting is for weight loss—this is because studies find it works.
Research shows that consistent, intermittent fasting can:
- Burn belly fat
- Enhance hormonal function that facilitates weight loss
- Increase your metabolic rate, which burns calories
- Help you use more fat for energy
In addition to the proven scientific benefits behind intermittent fasting and weight loss, many people find that this is a much more sustainable approach to healthy eating than dieting. It is not as restrictive, it is easy to maintain with most schedules, and most people find it helps them eat fewer meals throughout the day.
The key is to stay diligent, only eat within the allotted time and make sure you aren’t making up the calories by eating much larger meals than normal during your window.
Other Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
The key to success with intermittent fasting, just like any healthy lifestyle change, is consistency. If you are diligent and consistent with your approach to IF, you will start to see some other health benefits in addition to weight loss.
Changing Hormonal Functions- Intermittent fasting can help lower insulin levels and increase the production of growth hormones, which can facilitate fat burning. An increase in the grown hormone can also help build muscle.
Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes- Since intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar levels—this eating plan is great for those worried about their risk of type 2 diabetes.
Reducing Inflammation- Inflammation can be a driver in many common diseases, and studies on the impact of regular fasting have found that it drastically decreases inflammation levels.
Improving Heart Health- Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve different risk factors related to blood pressure like total and LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Armed with the right information on intermittent fasting, you can start adopting this proven eating approach into your everyday routine. Remember, it may take a few days to get used to your new eating cycle, so if you are feeling fatigued, dizzy or lightheaded, we recommend stopping your fasting period and eat something.
Some people do best by gradually working up to a smaller eating window, one hour at a time until they have reached the full 16/8 balance.
Of course, if you have any additional questions about the benefits of intermittent fasting or the best way to get started, contact your family chiropractors here at McAuliffe Chiropractic. You can give us a call at 301-776-0755 or schedule an appointment with us today.