What is it?
Intermittent fasting isn’t necessarily a diet, but instead a way of eating. While following this way of eating, you go through periods of fasting and periods of eating. Humans having been following this pattern throughout evolution. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, so a lot of the time they couldn’t find something to eat and would go without food for extended periods of time. As a result, our bodies evolved to function this way. Fasting was also common in many religious rituals, according to Trepanowski and Bloomer in The impact of religious fasting on human health.
Having periods of fasting is actually more natural than eating every few hours. It has been shown again and again to help people lose weight, improve metabolic health, and protect against diseases. When you restrict your calories over a long period of time, you risk losing a bit of muscle along with the fat you’re intending to lose. By simply changing the period of time in which you eat, you are preserving muscle while promoting fat loss.
While it has been preached over and over again that eating every few hours is essential to fat loss, it is also beneficial to allow our bodies and digestive systems to have a break. When you eat every few hours, your digestive system is constantly working to break down foods. Giving it a break during the fasting period helps to reset and recharge so it can operate optimally.
How to do it
A few of the more popular ways to practice intermittent fasting are as follows:
The 16/8 method: eat during an 8 hour period, then fast for 16. A common way to do this method is to eat during a selected time period (example: 12pm-8pm), then fast until the same time the following day (8pm-12pm). During your fasting period, you can still drink things such as water, coffee, and tea, but try your best not to consume any calories.
24 hour Fasting: incorporate one fast day per week, while eating healthy, whole foods for the rest of the week. During the fast day, you can drink water, coffee, or herbal tea. Some companies like Isagenix has a Cleanse For Life drink that is sipped on every 4 hours that helps reduce the damage done to the body when toxins begin circulating because of the body burning fat for fuel. You can have zero calories for 24hours or try a nutritional cellular cleansing model like Isagenix that allows up to 500 calories on a “modified fast day” one to two days per week, while allowing the rest of the week to be normal in caloric intake.
4:3 diet: for 3 days of the week to kickstart a weight loss program, only consume about 500-600 calories, then eat your normal amount of calories the rest of the week. A sample day of 500-600 calories is listed at the end of this document. After this first week you could go to a 5:2 program similar to this or one 24 hour fast a week.
While intermittent fasting may not be for everyone, it might be worth giving it a shot. It can help to improve your metabolism, therefore promoting more fat loss (especially visceral fat), or it may be worth trying simply for convenience purposes with your schedule. If you have certain days of the week, or even certain times of the day that are busier than others, those may be good times to fast so you don’t have to concern yourself with prepping food and eating.
The sample menu below is part of my Fat Loss for Busy Woman program where I start all the ladies off with a 3 day detox. All recipes can be found by signing up for the program. You will also get a full meal plan and Healthy Eating guide to follow for a 9 week period. Women who watch my webinar on Thursday nights at 6pm are emailed a special price for the Fat Loss for Busy Woman program.