What is Intermittent Fasting?
INTERMITTENT FASTING may well be the most discussed dietary concept on the Internet right now. Many people are interested in intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. Although it is controversial and challenges many existing beliefs, the intermittent fasting diet is gaining popularity.
I.F. is a way of eating that goes against the assumptions most people have about food, and people are talking about it because it produces results. Before we discuss the reasons and methods, let’s first go over the basics of the topic.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
I.F. is defined as periods of not eating (fasting) alternated with periods when you are allowed to eat. In other words, you eat all your meals within a restricted time period, say, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and then go without food for the remaining 14 hours. You alternate between fasting for 14 hours and eating all your meals within a restricted time period. The length of time will vary depending on which intermittent fasting protocol you select.
The amount of time you fast for on different diets can vary significantly, with some as short as 16 hours and others as long as 36 hours. Each of these fasting periods has its own advantages.
It’s important to realize that every one of us fasts to some degree, whether we are aware of it or not. When you are not eating, you are fasting. We aren’t fasting intermittently in a structured way most of the time, so we are fasting haphazardly instead. There is no benefit to this.
The exception for most people is sleep. When you are sleeping you are not eating, so most people have a fasting period of 6 to 8 hours at night until they eat in the morning. The meal eaten in the morning is called breakfast because you are breaking the fast you have kept overnight.
I would like to state very clearly that intermittent fasting (I.F.) is not at all similar to anorexia. Specifically, intermittent fasting is, by nature, intermittent. This means that it is only done for a short amount of time and that it is done in a way that is controlled. Some of the best examples of intermittent fasting are those that are associated with religious practices.
An example of this would be the 4-week period of Ramadan where practicing Muslims don’t have anything to eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. They can eat at night, and some eat a lot, but during the day they only eat intermittently. Anorexia is when someone doesn’t eat enough food to get the energy they need, and they do this on purpose to lose weight quickly.
What Research Says About Intermittent Fasting
It is not my intention to say that intermittent fasting and skipping breakfast is the only way to lose fat. I am merely offering another viewpoint. I would argue that not eating breakfast makes sense from a metabolism standpoint. But wait! You may be wondering if this strategy is only effective for losing fat. Not at all. In fact, there are many additional health benefits.
The research on intermittent fasting is positive from many perspectives, not just from a fat loss perspective. A few recent studies have found I.F. could help:
- Reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, as well as employ significant, positive changes to blood cholesterol in healthy and pre-diabetic populations.
- Improve markers of longevity that could contribute to a longer lifespan.
- Benefit children with severe epilepsy, reducing seizures beyond the reductions seen using a ketogenic diet alone.
- Override the harmful effects of a high-fat diet by preventing obesity and liver disease.
- Improve brain health and help stave off Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Protect cells, slow tumor growth, and reduce side effects of chemotherapy treatment in cancer patients.
- Give the stomach and pancreas a break from constantly secreting digestive juices (Hydrochloric acid and bicarbonate). Both aid in killing bacteria, mashing food particles, and neutralizing gut pH. The result is a healthier flow of juices and movement of food from point A to B.
- Give the pancreas an opportunity to recharge from secreting digestive enzymes and hormones. This rest aids in optimal enzyme secretion, food breakdown, and improved blood sugar regulation.
- Aid in “re-sensitizing” cells in utilizing glucose. In other words, cells become more efficient at using glucose (carbs, sugar) and converting it into potential energy.
- Improve hunger control. Most people eat immediately once they hear or feel their stomach growling. Skipping breakfast will help control or reduce your hunger. Thus you only eat when your body is truly craving nutrition.
In other words, I.F. is pretty amazing. Researchers are trying to find out why the plant is so amazing, but they have found a few contributing factors. A study from 2015 at the Yale School of Medicine found that fasting boosts the release of the compound beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
BHB inhibits the inflammasome protein complex, which drives the inflammatory response in disorders including autoimmune diseases, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and autoinflammatory disorders. Inflammation is a problem for the body and fasting can help to prevent it and the diseases that come with it.
Most of the studies that have been done so far have been conducted on animals such as mice. Though there have been fewer studies done on humans, it is less clear what the benefits for the human population would be.
There are many benefits to Intermittent Fasting which make it popular, such as debunking long-believed myths.
I.F. stands for intermittent fasting, which means people who practice it eat less frequently than people who don’t. Additionally, people who eat less often feel more full when they do eat and benefit practically and logistically.
Eating fewer meals means spending less money on food. This also saves you time and money and keeps you from exposure to flavors that would otherwise bore you and make you eat something you should not.
It’s worth mentioning again that reducing how often you eat can lead to eating fewer calories in general.
We were just discussing the benefits of caloric restriction and how it can improve your health. If you are doing intermittent fasting where you have to fast for 24 hours twice a week, you are reducing your food intake by about 30%. When you reduce the number of calories you consume, it is natural to lose weight.
If you limit the number of calories you consume, your body will have to look for energy from sources other than food. This can help encourage your body to repair itself. In other words, a cell will use its own damaged proteins for energy.
While that cycle would not be good in the long term, keep in mind you’re only fasting for “brief” periods. When you eat again, the cell will consume the new nutrients to replace the old ones that have been used up.
This phenomenon, which is caused by caloric restriction, can usually help slow down both disease and the aging process.
One study showed that people who fast one day per month are less likely to suffer from clogged arteries.
While it is true that reducing calorie intake has many benefits, it is also important to remember that intermittent fasting has other benefits as well that lead to better body composition. These benefits come from the improved hormone levels that come with fasting.
Fasting, especially when combined with exercise, can improve insulin sensitivity. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, fasting also has the hormonal benefit of increasing the secretion of growth hormones.
There are many benefits to Growth Hormone, but we will just focus on how it can help you lose fat and gain muscle. The more GH you produce, the better your chances are of losing fat and gaining muscle quickly. GH also counteracts cortisol, which helps to store fat in the belly. Based on the evidence, fasting can help you lose weight indirectly, especially when it comes to stomach fat.
Still not satisfied? prize Another potential benefit of fasting is that it may help to reduce inflammation, which can have positive impacts on immunity and weight loss.
The Warrior Diet, Explained
Could this type of intermittent fasting be right for you?
The Warrior Diet is not about rationing food to survive on a battlefield or eating whatever can be found in the wild.
The premise of the diet is to have a 20-hour daily fast, and then have an “unlimited” feeding window for the remaining four hours.
You’re essentially fasting for 12 of your 16 waking hours every day.
According to Ori Hofmekler’s Warrior Diet, eating habits detailed in his books, blogs, and online content can supposedly make athletes more robust, and biologically resilient, and improve their hormones.
Though the Warrior Diet is not meant to help you gain or lose weight, it is a set-in-stone diet plan. This is a more general way of eating that could have some advantages.
Benefits of the Warrior Diet
Yes, intermittent fasting has been around for a while and has shown to be an effective weight loss strategy, but Hofmekler has taken it a step further with his Warrior Diet.
There is still no clear consensus about whether or not controlled fasts are actually beneficial for your health or performance, even though intermittent fasting has become popular in the health & fitness industry.
It May Help You Lose Fat
There are many special diets people try in order to lose fat. There are many different diets that all claim to have found the key to energy balance.
One-meal-per-day protocols appear to be more effective for fat loss than diets containing multiple daily meals, according to some research. Regardless, this kind of finding hasn’t been widely replicated.
It Might Be Effective for Countering Obesity
Diets work differently for everyone. Papers have noted that dietary interventions are more effective for overweight or obese populations than for people at “healthy” body weights.
The ability to fast to curb uncontrolled eating habits and other negative behaviors associated with obesity has been attributed to this phenomenon. However, these claims are far from comprehensive.
It Could Improve Your Memory
Some researchers have studied how an intermittent fasting protocol affects animals’ brains and found that it might help prevent harmful effects such as decreased cognitive function, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Many of these studies are conducted on animal subjects and may not be applicable to human needs.
It May Reduce Inflammation
There are some inflammatory responses that are beneficial, like when it helps certain tissues heal. But there are also some negative effects of inflammation.
Fasting for prolonged periods of time may help to reduce inflammation in the body by limiting the accumulation of markers like IL-6 (interleukin-6) and homocysteine.
The levels of these biomarkers can show that someone is more likely to have inflammation or cardiovascular disease.
The study found that those who practiced Ramadan lost weight, even though they were not following the Warrior Diet protocol.
It Saves Time
The Warrior diet’s simplicity is one of its strongest assets. If you limit your food intake to four hours, you will have more time for other activities during the day.
This could mean using your lunch break to exercise rather than ordering takeout, or hitting the gym in the early hours instead of making breakfast from scratch.
Drawbacks of the Warrior Diet
Although it might not make you look like one, eating like a warrior can have benefits. More realistically, the Warrior Diet does not live up to all of its purported benefits.
It’s Not Conclusively Supported by Science
The scientific community has not yet reached a consensus on the matter of intermittent fasting protocols, such as the Warrior Diet, despite there being many papers discussing and studying the acute effects of these protocols.
The majority of the research surrounding the Warrior Diet is inconclusive, with most studies being described as “suggestive.” Many experts believe that more comprehensive, science-based experimentation is necessary before any definitive conclusions can be made about the diet.
It Doesn’t Work Better Than “Regular” Diets
Although weight loss is a possible side effect of the Warrior Diet, it is not the primary focus of the diet. A lot of discussion among scientists is about how intermittent fasting affects weight loss.
So far, there is not much reliable evidence that eating once a day is better for weight loss than eating three or five times a day, provided that you eat the same number of calories each time.
The benefits of a fasting protocol like the Warrior Diet come from sticking to the schedule better, rather than anything that happens in the body.
It Can Increase Blood Pressure
There have been some studies that have found that fasting protocols, such as the Warrior Diet, can lead to sharp increases in blood cholesterol and blood pressure. This may not be ideal depending on your overall health.