Intermittent fasting has become quite the health craze in the last few years.
People have used the 3 different fasting methods (outlined below) for overall health, weight loss and for life longevity.
The first time I heard of intermittent fasting was from Bob Harper. We were in the hair and makeup room backstage for the Rachael Ray Show and he was sharing his experiences with the 16/8 method.
Since then, I have tried all three of the fasting methods, I have found my favorite and have spent days researching each before trying.
In this article I’ll outline the following aspects of Intermittent fasting:
- Three different intermittent fasting schedules
- Intermittent fasting for weight loss
- Intermittent fasting for women, men and warnings for those who should not try the plans.
- 15 health benefits of intermittent fasting
- More weight loss plans
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting focuses more on when you eat, rather than what you eat.
By cycling between periods of fasting and eating, many people find these methods a great way to splurge a bit without concern of weight gain.
Others believe that it is a way to bring back the ways of our hunter/gather ancestors. Back in the day… way back, back to 12,000 years ago. The original Paleo eating schedule if you will. (1)
There are three popular intermittent fasting schedules, all of which I have outlined below. The 16/8 Plan, Eat Stop Eat, and the 5/2 Method.
Recap: Intermittent fasting consists of three different eating schedules. All three cycle between eating and fasting, focusing more on when you eat than what you eat.
Intermittent fasting schedules
There are three popular intermittent fasting methods.
- The 16/8 method:
This plan involves restricting your eating hours to only 8 hours per day. Fasting for the remaining 16 hours. Many people find skipping breakfast helps limit the hours of eating, they choose to eat from 11am-7pm. Others skip dinner and eat from 7am to 3pm.
My personal favorite is the 16/8 method. I’ve always been a late breakfast eater, having breakfast around 9:30am. With the 16/8 method, I just have to wait another 1.5 hours to eat at 11am.
- The Eat Stop Eat plan:
Perhaps the simplest plan. The Eat Stop Eat plan involves fasting for 24 hours 1-2 days a week. Most people eat only one meal on the fasting days, and they most often choose dinner as that single meal.
I have done the Eat Stop Eat plan twice, it was by far the most difficult for me. I stopped eating at 6pm and did not eat until the next evening at dinner time.
- The 5/2 plan:
This plan limits only two days of your week. On the two chosen days, one will limit their food to 500 calories.
The 5/2 plan was actually first shared with me by my doctor! He knows I write weight loss cookbooks and was sharing a new plan he had been trying for 6 months. I tried it out and found it easy, but something you do have to plan for. I fasted on Tuesdays and Thursdays as he had recommended.
Recap: All three intermittent fasting plans schedule times for eating, and times for fasting. Some more drastic than others.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight loss
It is already well known that when you reduce your calories, you lose weight. So obviously losing weight while intermittent fasting go hand in hand.
A study from 2014 shows that an intermittent fasting schedule facilitates up to an 8% weight loss. It also increases your metabolic rate and can help prevent type 2 diabetes. (2)
Of course, you have to eat healthy while you are in an eating period. If you binged for the entire 8 hours, you could end up gaining weight.
5 Weight Loss Tips while Fasting
- The idea is to reduce calories. Eat just as you would before, less the meals during fasting hours.
- Have 2 snacks ready. I like to eat a snack moments before going into a fast, and immediately after. This helps me make healthy choices. My favorite before and after fast snack is a handful of raw almonds.
- Fill up on water during fasting hours. Not only does it keep your tummy full, but it also flushes toxins and raises your metabolism.
- Eat all-natural food during eating hours! You are doing something healthy, don’t erase all your hard work with processed food and fake sugar.
- Listen to your body! If you feel sick or faint, eat! You can always start a different weight loss plan tomorrow.
Recap: Weight loss can be a happy side effect of intermittent fasting. Just make sure to eat healthy and drink lots of water for maximum benefits.
Intermittent Fasting for Women, Men and Those Who Should Not
Intermittent fasting can be different for everyone, thankfully there are three different plans to choose from to best suit your needs. Still, with that said, on a biological standpoint, these plans can affect men and women differently. (3)
Intermittent Fasting for Women
Many female intermittent fasters find that changing the 16/8 plan to a 14/10 plan is better for their overall health.
There is some scientific research that shows intermittent fasting for women can be very different then for men.
Some women note a disruption in their monthly menstrual cycle while participating in an intermittent fast. However, the regularity returns when they go back to eating a more traditional diet. (4)
This strongly suggests that should you be attempting to conceive; fasting should be avoided for now.
Intermittent Fasting for Men
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting for men is more beneficial than for women.
One study showed insulin improvements for men, but increased blood sugar issues for women. (5)
Those Who Should Not
Fasting can be difficult for some, and dangerous for others. If you have any major health concerns, you should consult your doctor first. Perhaps your physician could pick the best intermittent fasting plan for you.
Those who should avoid intermitting fasting may fall into one or more of these categories.
- Pregnant or nursing mothers
- Low blood pressure
- Heart issues
- Underweight or a past issues with eating disorders
- Blood sugar issues
- Trying to conceive
- If you are taking prescription medication
Again, this is not a blanket “don’t do it!” But one with any of the above categories should not start an intermittent fast without speaking to their doctor first.
Recap: Men and women may experience intermitting fasting differently. Those who have health issues should consult with a doctor first.
10 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are loads of intermittent fasting benefits, here are the 10 most notable:
1. Help you lose belly fat
In a 2014 study, people lost 4-7% of their waist size! Reducing belly fat is not just important for fitting into your clothing, but also for overall health. (6)
2. Reduce inflammation in the body
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause a slew of diseases. With chronic inflammation your body is in a prolonged state of emergency. It can cause brain, organ and heart health issues. (7)
3. May help prevent cancer
4. Reduce oxidative stress in the body
Oxidative stress quickens the ageing process. It also leads to chronic diseases. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidized stress. (12)
5. Reduce insulin resistance
6. Can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes
Just as stated in #5, intermitteing fasting assisted in insulin resistance issues. Fasting also reduced blood sugar levels by 3-6%. (13)
7. May prevent Alzheimer’s disease
8. May aid in heart health
Intermittent fasting can improve cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood triglycerides. (16)
9. It’s good for your brain
Intermittent fasting increases levels of BDNF, a brain hormone. As noted above, fasting also reduces oxidative stress, inflammation and blood sugar levels. All of which are very important for brain health. (17)
10. May help you live longer
Recap: Intermittent fasting can help you live longer and healthier. It also assists in weight loss and brain function.
It’s important to listen to your body while on an intermittent fast. Above all else, if you feel sick or faint, abandon the plan and start a more food centered weight loss plan tomorrow.
I cannot stress this enough, while on an intermittent fast do not binge during eating hours. This will only hurt your progress and possibly make you sick.
As with all diets, not everything will work for everyone! Here are 3 free weight loss plans based on eating more… not less:
Lose Weight By Eating– enjoy your favorite comfort foods, made healthy.
Detox Week– a 7 day weight loss plan full of smoothies and salads.
Three Day Detox– a shorter detox diet with quick results.