A phenomenon called intermittent fasting is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends.
It involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.
There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
Most people already “fast” every day, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer.
You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm.
Then you’re technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.
Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually fairly easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast.
Hunger is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be a problem in the beginning, while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time.
No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages.
Some forms of intermittent fasting allow small amounts of low-calorie foods during the fasting period.
Taking supplements is generally allowed while fasting, as long as there are no calories in them.
How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight
There are many different ways to lose weight.
One that has become popular in recent years is called intermittent fasting.
This is a way of eating, that involves regular short-term fasts.
Fasting for short periods helps people eat fewer calories, and also helps optimize some hormones related to weight control.
There are several different intermittent fasting methods. Three popular ones are:
- The 16/8 Method:Skip breakfast every day and eat during an 8-hour feeding window, such as from 12 noon to 8 pm.
- Eat-Stop-Eat:Do one or two 24-hour fasts each week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 Diet:Only eat 500-600 calories on two days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
As long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the non-fasting periods, then these methods will lead to reduced calorie intake and help you lose weight and belly fat.
How Intermittent Fasting Affects Your Hormones
Body fat is the body’s way of storing energy (calories).
When we don’t eat anything, the body changes several things to make the stored energy more accessible.
This has to do with changes in nervous system activity, as well as a major change in several crucial hormones.
Here are some of the things that change in your metabolism when you fast:
- Insulin:Insulin increases when we eat. When we fast, insulin decreases dramatically. Lower levels of insulin facilitate fat burning.
- Human growth hormone (HGH):Levels of growth hormone may skyrocket during a fast, increasing as much as 5-fold. Growth hormone is a hormone that can aid fat loss and muscle gain, among other things.
- Norepinephrine (noradrenaline):The nervous system sends norepinephrine to the fat cells, making them break down body fat into free fatty acids that can be burned for energy.
Interestingly, short-term fasting may actually increase fat burning.
Short-term fasting leads to several changes in the body that make fat burning easier. This includes reduced insulin, increased growth hormone, enhanced epinephrine signalling and a small boost in metabolism.