If you have been reading our articles here on Hey Mr. Vitamin then you know we are all about the lifestyle change and not the diet. If you are new to our site then let's talk about one thing real quick...All those diets, fads, and quick fixes are not here on this site. Why because they may work for a short time and they will give you the results you are looking for but you can't keep those results. Meaning you will be back at square one. Our goal is to help you achieve lasting results and excel what you thought was possible. After all your body is capable of so much more than you think.
What is Intermittent Fasting and Why Would You Do It?
Why is it worthwhile to change when you’re eating?
Well, mostly it’s a great way to get lean without going on a crazy diet or cutting your calories down to nothing. In fact, most of the time you'll try to keep your calorie intake the same when you start intermittent fasting. Additionally, intermittent fasting is a good way to keep muscle mass on while getting lean. The main reason people try intermittent fasting is to lose fat. Perhaps most importantly, intermittent fasting is one of the simplest strategies we have for taking bad weight off while keeping good weight on because it does not create a barrier between you and other people or your life events. This means intermittent fasting falls into the “simple enough that you'll actually do it, but meaningful enough that it will actually make a difference” category.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Understanding how intermittent fasting helps to create fat loss you first need to understand the difference between the fed state and the fasted state. Your body is in the fed state as soon as you start eating and when it is digesting and absorbing food. This lasts for three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate, the time range depends on what you ate. Some foods take longer to breakdown and adsorb. When you are in the fed state, it's very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are higher.
Absorptive State and Your Weight
After that timespan, your body goes into what is known as the post–absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t digesting a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for you body to burn fat in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low and your body need to pull from your fat stores to give you energy. Since you body is not in a fasting state very often when you eat 3-5 meals a day it is rare that your body is burning the excess fat stores to create energy. This is why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Fat loss is great, but it isn't the only reason to try intermittent fasting.
1. Intermittent fasting makes your day simpler. We're big on lifestyle changes, simplicity, and reducing stress. Intermittent fasting provides additional simplicity to life that you really can enjoy. Some meal plans have excessive meal prep or strange grocery lists that are really pricey. Or the foods they are wanting you to eat are blah, not filling and flat yucky. Intermittent Fasting gives you the ability to eat food you like and keep it as simple or complicated as you want. You also don't have to duck out on your friends and family when there is a invite to dinner or so event that everyone is going to.
2. Intermittent fasting helps you live longer. Scientists have long known that restricting calories is a way of lengthening life. From a logical standpoint, this makes sense. There’s just one problem: who wants to starve themselves in the name of living longer? Life is not worth living if you can't enjoy it. Good news...intermittent fasting activates many of the same mechanisms for extending life as calorie restriction. Live longer without the hassle of starving!
3. Intermittent fasting is much easier than dieting. The reason most diets fail isn’t because we switch to the wrong foods. It’s because we don’t actually follow the diet over the long term for one reason or another. This is where intermittent fasting shines because it's remarkably easy to implement once you get over the idea that you need to eat all the time. Diets are easy in the contemplation, difficult in the execution. Intermittent fasting is just the opposite — it’s difficult in the contemplation but easy in the execution.
Examples of Different Intermittent Fasting Schedules
If you’re considering intermittent fasting as a lifestyle change, there are a few different options for working it into your lifestyle. Daily Intermittent Fasting The Leangains model of intermittent fasting, which uses a 16–hour fast followed by an 8–hour eating period. This model of daily intermittent fasting was popularized by Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com, which is where the name originated. It doesn't matter when you start your 8–hour eating period. You can start at 8am and stop at 4pm. Or you start at 2pm and stop at 10pm. Whatever works for you best.
The graphic below shows one example of how a daily intermittent fast might play out.
Because daily intermittent fasting is done every day it becomes very easy to get into the habit of eating on a schedule. Right now, you're probably eating around the same time every day without thinking about it. It may take a little time to adjust to but before you know it you will eat a the time you choose without thinking about it. One potential disadvantage of this schedule is that because you typically cut out a meal or two out of your day, it becomes more difficult to get the same number of calories in during the week. Put simply, it's tough to teach yourself to eat bigger meals on a consistent basis. The result is that many people who try this style of intermittent fasting end up losing weight. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your goals. Weekly Intermittent Fasting One of the best ways to get started with intermittent fasting is to do it once per week or once per month. The occasional fast has been shown to lead to many of the benefits we've already talked about, so even if you don't use it to cut down on calories consistently there are still many other health benefits. It will also allow you to start getting a feel for the lifestyle change that you are getting ready to enter into.
The graphic below shows one example of how a weekly intermittent fast might play out.
In this example, lunch on Monday is your last meal of the day. You then fast until lunch on Tuesday. This schedule has the advantage of allowing you to eat everyday of the week while still reaping the benefits of fasting for 24 hours. It's less likely that you'll lose weight because you are only cutting out two meals per week. So, if you're looking to bulk up or keep weight on, then this is a great option. Perhaps the biggest benefit of doing a 24–hour fast is getting over the mental barrier of fasting. If you've never fasted before, successfully completing your first one helps you realize that you can do it. Practice makes perfect! Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting Alternate day intermittent fasting incorporates longer fasting periods on alternating days throughout the week. This allows you to get long fast periods on a consistent basis while also eating at least one meal every day of the week.
The graphic below shows one example of how alternate day intermittent fast might play out.
This style of intermittent fasting seems to be used often in research studies. The benefit of alternate day intermittent fasting is that it gives you longer time in the fasted state than the Leangains style of fasting. Hypothetically, this would increase the benefits you receive from fasting.
Frequently Asked Questions, Concerns, and Complaints
I’m a woman. Should I do anything differently? While men will typically fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours, women may find better results by eating for 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours. Your body will give you signals. Follow what your body responds favorably to.
I could never skip breakfast. How do you do it? Breakfast foods are an all time favorite, just eat them at the beginning of your eating cycle. Also, if you eat a big dinner the night before, you’ll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every three hours and so on. The science doesn’t support it and everyone is different. There are no boxes that we are going to try a put you in. You were made unique and we like you that way!
I thought you were supposed to eat every 3 hours? You may have heard people say that you should have six meals per day or eat every 3 hours. Your body burns calories when it's processing food. So the thought behind the more meals strategy was that if you ate more frequently, you would also burn more calories throughout the day. Thus, eating more meals should help you lose weight.....which may work in theory. The amount of calories you burn is proportional to the size of the meal your body is processing. So, digesting six smaller meals that add up to 2000 calories burns the same amount of energy as processing two large meals of 1000 calories each. Calories are calories no matter when or how you take them in!
This is crazy. If I didn't eat for 24 hours, I'd die. Honestly, the mental barrier is the biggest thing that prevents people from fasting. Here are a few reasons why intermittent fasting isn't as crazy as you think it is. First, fasting has been practiced by various religious groups for centuries, it no new or strange. Medical practitioners have also noted the health benefits of fasting for thousands of years. Fasting isn't some new fad or quick fix. It's been around for a long time and it actually works. Second, fasting seems odd to many of us simply because people don't talk about it much. The reason for this is that nobody stands to make much money by telling you to not eat, not take their supplements, or not buy their products/program. In other words, you're not exposed to advertising and marketing on it very often. Resulting in it seeming somewhat extreme or strange, even though its really not. Third, have you ever slept in late on the weekends and then had a late brunch? Most people do this every weekend. In situations like these, we often eat dinner the night before and then don't eat until late in the morning. Well you did a 16–hour fast and you didn't even think about it. So you can do it! Well that's intermittent fasting in a nutshell. A couple changes, a few tweaks of your schedule and you are a fat burning machine.