Intermittent fasting is something that I’ve been seeing a lot these days, from people I follow and have been speaking to recently, the topic of intermittent fasting has been pretty big, especially with regards to losing fat. It is a type of eating pattern in which you would have periods of eating and fasting throughout the day.
The purpose of it is to ensure a calorie deficit by having your eating period being short, since there’s less time to eat, you’re meant to eat less calories, not taking away the fact that you can still eat in a calorie surplus, if what you eat is not of healthy and quality food or just not low in calories.
I have done it myself when I feel that I’ve overeaten the day before or even on the same day and just fill up with water or coffee or both. This is because I count my calories, therefore if I am trying to reach a certain goal, I want to ensure that I reach it during the week, not exactly, but approximately.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
16/8 Method: This method is the one which I’ve tried before in which you fast for 16 hours and then eat in between an 8 hour period. You’d wake up, not eat breakfast and then start eating from 1-2 pm to 9-10 pm so that you can ensure you’ve got energy to use during most of the day and prevent sleeping hungry.
The 24-Hour Fast: This method involves fasting for 24 hours, this could be done on 1-2 days during the week on which you decide to eat all your meals on the one day, until your last meal and only eat again the next day on the last meal time i.e. fasting from the end of dinner of the previous evening and only eating again at dinner the following evening.
How to Start
- Decide what method you’ll be using, I’ve presented two which I know and have used myself before, but there are more methods out there which could work for you. I recommend starting with the 16/8 method since it is easier.
- Decide the time or time period you’ll be eating to ensure that it can be achieved daily, because consistency is more important than anything in achieving your fitness goals. I recommend fasting from the morning until lunch time and have your eating period for the next 8 hours from that time e.g. fasting from 9pm to 1pm the following and eating between 1-9pm of the same day.
- Meal prep is important I think, because planning and knowing what you’ll be eating every day can ensure that you are not searching for scraps to put together that may leave you too hungry the next day or realize that you don’t have food and binge eating on fast food which kills the purpose of you being in the fast anyway. Meal prep can be don any time, but I recommend Sunday as it is usually the most relaxed day and where you have the most time.
- Repeat – Work hard, be patient and consistent because this is how you will ensure the effectiveness of it.
How to Optimize Fasting
There are many ways to make the most out of your fasting, usually people fast to lose fat, there are obviously hunger pangs that you’d have because you’re not eating.
- Drink non-caloric beverages like water and coffee (you can add a bit of sugar and milk for your taste, even though they may add a bit of calories to your drink), because these are appetite suppressants and can ensure that you’re not that hungry when you’re going to eat as it may cause you to binge or overeat, which is a very uncomfortable afterwards.
- Keeping yourself busy is also another way to ensure that you do not feel the hunger pangs, because you’re too focused on what you’re doing to worry about your stomach as further explained in How to Eat Less
- Make sure that during the period that you’re eating, you should try reach a calorie or macros target to actually see results and ensure that you don’t overextend yourself on being in a calorie deficit or surplus as this can lead to bad eating behavior like being too hungry the next morning causing binge eating or feeling bad due to overeating, respectively.
- Sleeping enough allows for the fast to feel a lot shorter and also ensures that your progress made in nutrition and training can be achieved since hormones are released during sleep that enhance fat loss and muscle gain. Sleeping at least 8 hours to achieve this, just that alone means that you’ve already completed 8 hours of your fast and have got x-8 hours to go!
- This brings me to exercise, working out is another way to maximize your fasting results because your body will look to burn whatever is in your body while you working out, the usual case would be fat burn if there’s no contents in your digestive system. Otherwise, I never train fasted, unless it’s in the morning, as I have intense sessions, so if I were to have an intense one after work having nothing to eat, I feel it would be dangerous, so that’s why the 16/8 method usually works for me. Working out can also kill time and have the same effects of being busy, making you feel busy and forgetting about your stomach for a moment, but you will feel hunger a bit, no lie, but that’s what the water is for or coffee pre-workout.
You’ve probably fasted before in your life, I know that I have intentionally and unintentionally, where I have had dinner and a late night, then end up sleeping in late to wake up and only eat lunch midday as my first meal, is a kind of intermittent fasting, not a very healthy one because the of the late night.
If it is for you is a question only you can answer, because that is the most important thing to acknowledge. Don’t do it because someone says you must and before you try any change in nutrition that you’re not used to, always consult a physician/doctor, especially if you have a health condition.
There are many other health benefits that fasting provides, which I don’t have knowledge of, since I’m no doctor or anatomy specialist. There are websites out there that can provide this information, such as Healthline and Medical News Today.