Weight loss: the highs and lows of intermittent fasting

Simply put, intermittent fasting is making a conscious decision to skip a meal (or more!) on purpose. That’s different to you skipping lunch because you didn’t have time, or breakfast because you were running late for work. Rather, intermittent fasting is a planned dietary intervention 커플 각서 다운로드.

The practice of intermittent fasting has been around for many years, but only recently gained popularity. Done correctly, this way of eating (or not eating in this case!) has several health benefits, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved glucose control and lowered diabetes risk
  • Improved mental clarity and concentration
  • Increased energy levels

How does it work?
Not surprisingly, your body operates differently when it’s “feasting” to when its “fasting”. When “feasting”, your body gets its energy directly from what you eat (it likes to take the easy way out). Because it has all this readily-available, easy to burn energy (thanks to the food you ate), your body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat you have stored. This is especially true if you just ate carbohydrates or sugar, as your body prefers to burn sugar as energy before anything else.

When “fasting”, you don’t have all that free energy floating around, so your body must pull energy from fat stores around your body.

It’s all about the hormones!
Working behind the scenes in both scenarios is the hormone insulin. Insulin’s job is to help cells absorb and use energy (glucose). Once the cells have had their full of energy, insulin then stores left-over glucose as fat. The more sensitive your cells are to insulin the more efficient they are at breaking down food and using it for energy, and therefore less is stored as fat (everyone’s ultimate goal!).

On a normal (i.e. non-fasting) day, insulin sensitivity is low because cells will notice enough glucose in the blood stream. Therefore, this glucose is more likely to get stored as fat.

After intermittent fasting, however, your cells immediately become more sensitive to insulin. In other words, intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently, and, as a bonus, helps teach your body to burn fat as fuel.

Are there any lows to intermittent fasting?
There are a few things you should be aware of before considering fasting:

  • Hunger! Initially this will be your biggest problem! If you eat every three hours normally, your body will start to get hungry every three hours as it learns and becomes used to expecting (and receiving) food every three hours. Once you retrain your body to NOT expect food all day every day (or first thing in the morning), these side-effects become less of an issue.
  • Less going in means less to come out! This is something your body adapts to quickly.
  • Headaches and dizziness are common but disappear as your body adapts.
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Drinking water, sugar-free coffee or tea (without milk!), staying busy and staying away from easy-to-reach snacks can all help get you through these niggles.

 

How to get started
There are various types of fasting. You would need to use yourself as a test guinea pig and give a few a try before finding one that works for you. There are both short term and long term fasting options:

  • 16:8. This involves daily fasting for 16 hours. You eat all your meals within an 8-hour time period and fast for the remaining 16 hours. For example, fast from 8pm to 12pm the next day, essentially skipping breakfast. Done daily or almost daily.
  • 20:4. This involves a 4-hour eating window and a 20-hour fast. For example, eat between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm every day and fast for the other 20 hours. Generally, this would involve eating either one meal or two smaller meals within this period
  • 24hr fasts: fast from dinner to dinner (or lunch to lunch). Done 2-3 times a week
  • 36hr fasts: fasting for an entire day. For example, eat dinner on day 1, fast for all of day 2 and not eat again until breakfast on day 3.

The real key is to make smart food choices when you DO eat. Nutrient dense options, including nuts, eggs, cheese, green veggies and protein are your best choices, because these don’t cause any radical blood sugar changes that also cause your appetite to spike. Bingeing on unhealthy carbs during this time, will only cause your glucose-levels to roller-coaster, and make you feel worse.

Is it for everyone?
No. Fasting works well for most people, but there are a few groups who should stick to regular meal times. You should not fast if you are:

  • Underweight
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding – you need extra nutrients for your child.
  • A child under 18 – you need extra nutrients to grow
  • Suffering from an existing condition (e.g. diabetes) or take chronic medication. Always talk to a doctor before making any tweaks to your existing diet.

Changing up your diet in this way requires a fair bit of willpower. Don’t fool yourself that by skipping breakfast you’ll be able to “catch up” by eating 17 pieces of bread for lunch! You need to ensure that your meals continue to be balanced… regardless of what time of the day it is when you do eat!

References
https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/
https://www.dietdoctor.com/intermittent-fasting
http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/102/2/464.long