Intermittent Fasting – Is it just a weight loss strategy?

Intermittent Fasting – where is the evidence? 

There is a lot of talk about intermittent fasting – and the benefits it has for everyone.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

“Intermittent fasting (or “IF”) is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.”(1)
 
People have been intermittent fasting for thousands of years, and the benefits of fasting include a wide range of health implications including the following two, that relate specifically to trying to lose body fat:
  1. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) – levels of this hormone are said to increase, which has significant benefits for fat loss and lean body mass increase. (2,3,4,5)
  2. Insulin – Insulin Sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop.  Lowering your insulin levels means that your body is more likely to utilise stored body fat as energy rather than glycogen, which, if you are losing weight, makes this a very good benefit! (6).
There are a variety of health implications that can be found in various articles available.

How do I do Intermittent Fasting?

So, there are a few popular methods.  The 5:2 method has been widely publicised by Michael Mosely, and involves eating normally for 5 days per week and then on 2 days of the week, you eat only 500 calories with approximately 50g of protein (200 calories) included to help maintain muscle mass.
There is the 16/8 method, which involves fasting for around 16 hours of the day and then only eating over an 8 hour period.
Or, you can start to use a combination of the 2 and use trial and error with your body, and lifestyle to see what works the best for you!

FIRSTLY – WHO SHOULD NOT DO INTERMITTENT FASTING 

  1. Children – because they are still growing so theory would state that energy is something that they need from food.
  2. Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  3. People with certain medical conditions, which is why we suggest to check with your doctor if you are wanting to begin intermittent fasting for fat loss.

How to start Intermittent Fasting 

 
This is purely based on my experience of doing some intermittent fasting with some quiet reasonable results.
For active people, from all the reading I have personally done, I think its important to maintain a good protein content as part of your diet, so I recommend fasting on the days you are not tending to pursue heavy or high intensity training that is going to cause muscle damage.  And training can tend to make you hungry so fasting on these days can be really mentally challenging.
Also, keeping yourself busy whilst fasting and active through the fasting period, or doing the majority of fasting either just before and after you sleep period for the day/night.  This then tends to help as you are utilising your sleep period as one of the main periods where you are asking your body to feed on stored fat.
My suggestion is to try the following:
After you eat dinner, do not eat any more food, or consume liquid calories for the rest of the night.  Instead of eating, keep yourself busy preparing your food for the next day.
Then sleep the night, and when you wake up, consume between 250-1000ml of water throughout the first hour of waking and maybe coffee if you so desire to help you re-energise.
Then, this is your main waking fasting period, you can start doing from when you wake to say a 4 hour window of not consuming any food as such. Then a light snack, a light lunch but with both meals you are looking at 20g and 35g of protein to help fill you up, plus plenty of greens.
Then light snack in arvo with protein content of about 20g and then eating dinner between 6-8pm where this is a good meal that satisfies you.
I find on fasting periods, I make sure I take a multi-vitamin, it is my “psychological” protector to make sure I get what I need during the lighter calorie days.
The fasting works for me this way, where as in my job, I find it hard to go a whole day with no food.  I find I can do 2-3 even 4 days in a row like this with no problem.  I try to stretch out one of the fasting days if I can to 1-3pm before eating a meal though.

What has fasting done for me? 

 
I believe that it changes your relationship with food, or with how you consume and provide your body with the energy to function.  You realise how little food you can work on to survive and to thrive.  More food is not necessarily the answer.
It makes you really look for the absolute best quality nutrients and most natural food to give you the BEST nutrients possible.
I have purposely ended fasts so far with two types of junk food.  I did this on purpose in the last 2 weeks so I can provide practical and personal experience of what this feels like.  Its the common thing on Instagram. It seems if you are a weightlifter, powerlifter or any particular athlete who likes to lift heavy things that you can consume endless quantities of junk food without consequence!  Not true in my account.
  1. Burger orientated – ended up feeling really sick for a number of hours and that will never happen again.
  2. Chicken orientated – just ate a chicken wrap and this actually felt ok, although will say that it did not satisfy my hunger although calories were much higher than my normal break meal.
My normal break meal for a fast is either:
Cauliflower and Brocholi Rice (Food processor blended broccoli and cauliflower) eaten raw, with either two cans of tuna in Olive Oil, or Chicken with either crushed almonds, snow peas, sour cream or cream cheese.
This meal is less calories, but higher in protein, and good fats and micronutrients than any junk meal, and it is a lot cheaper.
Disclaimer 
 
I understand that some people cannot go about and just do this, and this is not advice or instructions in anyway at all. It is my personal account from reading a lot of web-based and research based articles, and now personal experience.  If you want to begin intermittent fasting, I suggest you come and see us to discuss further and if necessary a qualified dietitian, or General Practitioner for more personalised advice.
Everyone is different, not everyone suits fasting, not everyone suits low carb or high carb etc etc.  I recommend you try the fasting approach for a period of between 4-6 weeks though as it takes this long to get used to it.
REFERENCES 
I looked at a mix between research oriented articles and then web-based articles as resources for this article.  Sometimes the science is really useful, but there is also the factor of listening or reading about people’s experiences with fasting that is just as useful when deciding whether to try it, or whether its going to be good for you.
  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-intermittent-fasting
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1548337

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