Intermittent fasting (IF) is a different way to schedule your meals throughout the day. It’s NOT a diet, it’s just a different way to eat what you are already eating. The main reason most people do it is to lose fat with relatively little changes to their daily activities.
How does it work?
The general idea behind IF is that after eating carbohydrates our body breaks it down into glucose which is then absorbed in the bloodstream. High levels of glucose can have a dangerous impact on the body. In order to counteract this the pancreas starts secreting insulin which triggers cells to either absorb the glucose as glycogen in muscle tissue or store the surplus as fat to be used later.
Phew, that was a mouthful. Basically, as long as there is insulin in one’s bloodstream the body will be trying to push glucose out of the bloodstream instead of using fat for energy.
How about eating multiple meals a day?
The idea of eating multiple meals a day gained traction with the belief that your body will burn calories when digesting food. While this is true the math does not always add up and most importantly your insulin will always be high thus preventing proper fat burn.
Eating multiple times a day would help in case you are bulking. However, do a clean bulk instead of a dirty bulk! It helps keep your body fat percentage low, while you still gain muscle mass.
Benefits of IF
IF can help you increase & maintain your focus throughout the day and not fall in dips after you had your meals, which is something that we notice a lot. Try getting back into your work after you had lunch. The first hour or two after lunch are usually the most inefficient hours where it’s difficult to focus and concentrate on work or study out of focus.
Different view on food
You will start having a different view on food. People tend to be “afraid” of eating carbs and try to cut all of these from their daily diet. Carbs are actually not that bad, depending on where you get them from and how you incorporate them into your meal. IF can definitely help in changing on how you view food.
It’s easy to do
As human beings we’d like to still continue eating all the flavory food we are used to, so maintaining a strict diet will not last long. By doing IF and changing the times you eat, you can still enjoy the food that you love
It’s great for travellers
There are two types of travellers: Those who are always on the move and like to keep active and those who prefer to relax the whole day and not do much. For both groups IF works great. The first group might not have enough time to eat 3 meals a day so IF can help by scheduling less meals per day, but still getting in the amount of nutritions that the body needs. The second group might have all of the time to enjoy as many meals as they like, but by doing IF they are still able to lose fat while on holidays.
The bad stuff
There isn’t much bad about intermittent fasting to be honest. Research has also shown it to not have any negative impact on the body when done properly, and there’s the catch. Often times what happens is that people skip breakfast and lunch and they feast at dinner. However, this feast should still comply with the daily necessary macro intake.
I have tried intermittent fasting for close to a year. And in my humble experience it works!
I started by skipping breakfast every morning. For me this was easy as it is the one meal of the day which I don’t really enjoy anyway. My first meal I ate at around noon to 1pm, depending on my work schedule, and I would have a dinner at around 7 to 8 o’clock. Afterwards I’d fast for 16 hours until the next day noon when I’d eat again. This is called the 16/8 schedule.
After a couple of months I went to a 20/4 schedule which means I’d eat in a 4-hour time window in the evening while fasting the rest of the day.
I found my IF schedule of skipping breakfast an easy one to do. As said earlier I never really enjoyed breakfast and I enjoy dinner the most. Furthermore, the hours spend asleep also count in the total!
However, after a number of months my body got used to it and I was cheating too much through it by eating a very high amount of carbs. I “blame” the dark winter months and holidays for this. Now I’m back on the 16/8 schedule and keeping track of my macro’s.
Start by choosing your frequency
Will you be doing IF every single day? Every other day? Once a week? A few times a week? It’s completely up to you how you want to schedule it and start with IF. Perhaps you can combine it with your work schedule and do IF during the week and skip the weekends. Or the other way around.
Don’t jump in directly in IF
Start by pushing your first meal of the day at least 4-5 hours later and then slowly built it up until you reach the time window that you are comfortable with.
It is extremely important that you stay hydrated while doing IF. Actually every single day, whether you’re doing IF or not. Try to drink at least 3 litres of water per day and, if possible, push it to a bit more while doing IF. Most of the time that we feel hungry we’re actually just thirsty.
Drink black coffee (but don’t overdo it)
Coffee helps in suppressing hunger. If you’re starting to feel hungry grab a coffee and you’ll be good for the next couple of hours. Black coffee (without sugar) is also quite an effective way to stimulate fat burn in your body.
Keep your mind active when you start to feel hungry
Last tip is to keep your mind active when you start to feel hungry. Go for a walk, have a coffee with a friend/colleague/family, write a blog, work on a project. When we keep our minds busy we don’t allow it to wander and start “telling” our body that it needs something to munch on.