What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods. Most people already "fast" every day, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer.
You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm. Then you're technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.
Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually fairly easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast. Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time.
No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages. Some forms of intermittent fasting allow small amounts of low-calorie foods during the fasting period. Taking supplements is generally allowed while fasting, as long as there are no calories in them.
Top 8 Benefits of Fasting
" Purging of Cancerous or Precancerous cells
" A rapid shift into Nutritional Ketosis
" Decrease in fat tissue
" Increased gene expression for longevity and healthspan
" Autophagy and Apoptotic cellular clearing/repair
" Improved sensitivity
" Decrease in Oxidative stress and inflammation
" Enhanced cognitive effects and neuroprotection
Intermittent fasting helps your body become better adapted to oxidizing fat for energy.
Because of the decreased window of time for eating, insulin levels are lower, allowing
Adipocytes (fat cells) to release fatty acids.
The lower levels of glucose and glycogen encourage the body to use these fatty acids to generate energy for the body and brain rather than store the fatty acids in fat cells.
You use up fat instead of storing it and soon burn what you've already stored.
Adherence is another important factor for IF as a tool for weight loss.
Studies confirm that people regain their previous weight or more, several years after a diet.
Why? They fail to adhere to their diets. That's not surprising, since most diets make long term adherence nearly impossible.
Intermittent fasting is comparably effortless to sustain, reducing calorie intake, inducing ketosis, lipolysis, autophagy and other positive bodily responses that work together toward weight loss.
The Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are seven types of intermittent fasting you can follow. Experiment with a few types to ?nd out which works for you.
Here are the most popular four types:
#1: 16/8 (16 Hours Off, 8 Hours On) Fasting
Also known as the daily window fasting, or simply skipping a meal!
This is the easiest and most commonly followed method of IF, where you eat for a period of eight hours and fast for 16 hours. You either eat later in the day, skipping breakfast, or eat an early dinner and not eat again until breakfast the next day.
IF veterans may reduce the eating window to less than 8 hours. When you read about 23/1 or 20/4 splits that means they only eat within 1 or 4 hours during the day.
Fasting for 20 hours or more is also known as The Warrior Diet.
#2: Alternate Day (24hr Fasting) and 5/2
Alternate day fasting, also known as Eat-Stop-Eat and the UpDayDownDay diet, involve fasting on alternate days of the week and eating unrestricted the other days.
For example, Mon-Wed-Fri-Sun are eating days and Tue-Thurs-Sat are fasting days. This means your last meal for Friday would be dinner, and you won't eat again until Saturday dinner or Sunday breakfast.
For 5/2 fasting, you choose 2 days of the week where you reduce your caloric intake to a quarter of your usual daily intake. Someone who typically eats 2000 calories would instead consume 500 calories for two days per week.
Many find it easier to simply fast, doing the alternate day fasting, so to speak, than restricting their calories.
#3: Water Fasting
Water fasting is the most difficult type of fasting, and shouldn't be done without supervision or support from an expert.
Some consider water fasting as the only true fast. For a period of a few days, you eat and drink nothing but water. Zero calories. This means you'd be missing out on crucial vitamins and minerals. We don't recommend strict water fasting for this reason.
The usual goal of a water fast is detoxing and fat reduction.
For someone coming from an entirely non-fat-adapted state, ketosis happens at the second or third day mark of a water fast, when your body turns to stored fats for energy.
Overweight people with a lot of excess body fat may feel energized during a water fast, while leaner people may feel lethargic because their bodies are trying to conserve energy at all costs.
Be warned: Because of the complete lack of food, water fasting can be extremely uncomfortable, aside from the risks of electrolyte imbalances. If you choose this type of IF, start slow with manageable fasting patterns like 16/8 or alternate day fasting, before going full-tilt with a water fast.
Alternatives: Juice fasting and broth fasting
Broth fasting includes sipping on bone broth potentially mixed with fats which would provide small amounts of protein, nutrients and electrolytes.
Juice fasting may have the vitamins and minerals absent in water fasting. People juice vegetables for a reason: if you use fruit juice by itself or as a ?avor enhancer for your green juice, the natural sugars in the fruit make it basically the same as sugar water, highly un?t if you want to achieve ketosis.
#4: Fat Fasting (Fast Mimicking)
True to its name, fast mimicking mimics a fast-- particularly the effects of a water fast-- but you eat healthy fats during the fast, hence the name fat fasting.
Your body doesn't distinguish dietary fat from metabolizing dietary fat, and therefore remains in the fasted state. This gives you the bene?ts of fasting while allowing you the macro and micronutrients your body needs to get into ketosis and all the bene?ts from brain and body fueled by ketones.
What to Eat When Intermittent Fasting
Eating while fasting sure sounds like an oxymoron, but not so! What you eat during your eating windows matter:
You need to make sure you get enough calories for the day.
Avoid high carb intake because it only makes fasting unbearable, resulting in blood sugar spikes, brain fog, lethargy and low mood.
You want a supply of good fats so that your body burns fat and not muscle protein, which can ruin your muscle mass.
Aside from the Ketogenic diet and healthy drinks forti?ed with fat sources and ketones , some find that eating nutritious greens and natural, complex carbs like sweet potatoes gives them energy and endurance for exercise, and help them stick to their fast.
Do I Need Carbs?
Keto-ers know that you don't really need to consume carbs to function.
In the absence of carbs, your brain and body can use an alternate energy source: ketones.
If you're going Keto, turn to leafy greens for the most nutritious carbohydrates that are filled with fiber, the type of carbs that won't take you away from the benefits of ketosis.
Avoid sugary and starchy foods.
The Safety of Intermittent Fasting
Talk to your doctor before starting any type of fast.
Intermittent fasting may not be advisable for you for any number of reasons, like if you are hypoglycemic, or don't have enough fat stores your body can burn.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?
Fasting is natural -- humans and most other species have been doing it forever.
The benefits of fasting greatly outweigh the downsides and potential dangers. These dangers happen when you undertake fasting without ample knowledge about how everything works together to be beneficial rather than harmful.
To stay healthy and maintain physical and mental performance when you fast:
First, consult your doctor, especially if you have conditions for which fasting is not advisable.
Take supplements or a greens powder to compensate for vitamins and minerals you may be missing.
Calculate your ideal caloric intake and eat that amount during your eating windows.
Take exogenous ketones.
These steps help you avoid the dangers of fasting done wrong.
The Dangers of Fasting
Electrolyte imbalances: Your body needs electrolytes for normal organ function: sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphate. These essential electrolytes are present in supplements and exogenous ketones, and of course, in food. Make sure you replenish these even during your fast.
Any imbalance and you'd start to see negative effects like insomnia, irritability and fatigue.
Yo-yo dieting results: Fasting may not be ideal if you're prone to binge-eating. Fasting aids weight loss, but unless you accompany it with a good, balanced food intake on your eating windows, you could gain all the weight back, or even add to it.
Overtraining: Seeing the results of fasting can motivate some people so much that they also decide to exercise, aiming to compound their results that way. This can result in electrolyte imbalances and stress, both of which lead to serious issues like blood sugar spikes and even collapse.
Ketoacidosis: As we mentioned above, we don't recommend water fasting because you don't get calories, vitamins and minerals your body needs to function everyday: this is starvation.
People who starve their bodies are at risk for ketoacidosis, where the ketone levels in the blood are extremely high, making the blood acidic. But fasting per se doesn't cause ketoacidosis.
A lot of other factors combined may lead to it, which is why you should consult your doctor before doing a fast.
Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis
Ketosis is natural, while ketoacidosis is not. It's also called diabetic ketoacidosis because it's commonly found among diabetics. It can be a sign of poorly managed insulin and diet, commonly seen in those with Type 1 diabetes, and less common in those with Type 2.
It also occurs among alcoholics and people who are absolutely starving.
Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a method with various formulas you can try to take advantage of the many proven bene?ts: weight loss, disease prevention/treatment, ketosis, better mental and physical performance and overall health and ?tness.
How much and how fast results manifest may vary, and what you do eat during your eating windows should be optimal for your own unique body composition and daily caloric needs.
Be mindful and get a read of your tendencies toward food and what your body likes.
If you fast for 24 hours to justify an unhealthy binge before or after-- that's a picture you don't want to be in.
Here are the lists of foods to get into Ketosis (Fat Burning)
" Alfalfa sprouts
" Snow peas
" Bamboo shoots
" String beans
" Swiss chard
" Bok Choy
" Ginger root
" Collard greens
" Salsa(w/o sugar)
" Pickles(w/o sugar)
" Brussels sprouts
" Beef (grass fed)
" Chick with skin and fat
" Duck or goose
" Pork chops
" Pork rinds
" Fatty fish and sea food
" Tuna fish with oil
" All nuts (esp. macadamia nuts)
" Macadamia nuts raw unsalted halves and pieces
" Nut butters without sugar
" Coconut oil-very important
" Coconut probiotic
" Fish oil
" European chees
" Flax seeds and flax oil
" Olives and olive oil
" Coconut Cream