Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight while maintaining/gaining muscle mass. It creates many of the same benefits as intense exercise on weight loss…more on this later.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It is a way of fasting to lose weight that involves cycles of feeding and fasting.
1. Intermittent fasting will not slow down your metabolism, instead it will speed up your metabolism for the duration of the fast. In order for your metabolism to slow down, you will have to fast for 3 days straight (this is not recommended). To read about this study, click here.
2. Intermittent fasting will not cause muscle loss. Instead, you will have more strength during a workout when you are in a fasted state. You will also experience more muscle grains as a result if your diet is structured properly. This is very counter-intuitive.
3. When you go on an intermittent fast, workout, and then eat after, your body will integrate protein and carbs more efficiently. This allows your muscles to recover and grow faster. Check out the study here.
How Long Should You Fast For?
It depends on which method you are following. 24 hours of fasting will give you the most weight loss results. It is not recommended that you fast longer than a 24 hour period. The Eat Stop Eat method involves fasting once to twice a week for 24 hours each time.
Fasting reduces your total weekly calorie intake. This takes off the pressure of counting calories during each meal. It is a very simple method to weight loss that is easy to maintain for the long term.
You don’t have to worry about the yo-yo diet effect that most diets have. Most diets are hard to maintain, once you get off the diet, you lose the results. Intermittent fasting is also a powerful way to break through your weight loss plateau.
Intermittent Fasting Is Natural
From an evolutionary stand point, our ancestors fasted when food was scarce or if they returned from a failed hunting trip. So it’s very possible that our bodies are actually designed to fast occasionally. There are many health benefits to intermittent fasting that suggests this, such as:
- Slows down aging
- Reduces oxidative stress
- Lowers insulin levels
- Reduces the risk of various diseases such as diabetes and alzheimer’s
Cycled fasting to lose weight and to improve your health is not a new concept. There have been many human and animal studies on intermittent fasting over the last 18 years. Animal studies began as early as 1943. There was a recent article (2007) by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that explained a lot of these benefits, it was a summary review of 44 different studies.
Intermittent Fasting To Lose Weight is similar To Intense Exercise?
During intense exercise, your body goes into a state that burns fat for energy. The fat in your fat cells turn into free-fatty-acids which are then used as fuel for your body. This process depletes your fat cells and causes weight loss.
During intermittent fasting, your body goes into the same state where you body starts burning fat for energy. Doing cardio on a fast will help you lose weight even weight faster. The video below talks more about this:
Why Fast Once To Twice a Week?
Fasting to lose weight once to twice a week keeps things flexible. You can look good and still enjoy eating out with your friends.
Intermittent Fasting, Meal Frequency and Metabolism
There is a fitness myth about meal frequency. Eating more frequently has no effect on your metabolism.
There was a study conducted in 1997 that tested meal frequencies of 1-17 meals a day. Up to this day, it is still the most extensive study on the topic of meal frequency. To summarize their findings, meal frequency had no effect on your metabolism; whether you binge eat everything in a single meal or spread it out into 17 meals throughout the day. You can check out the study here.
Intermittent Fasting Preserves Muscle
Intermittent fasting is superior to regular calorie restriction during a ‘cut’.
Here is an interesting review of a few studies comparing regular calorie restriction and intermittent fasting. They found that regular calorie restriction leads to more muscle loss while intermittent fasting preserves more muscle.
The same rules apply when you’re using Eat Stop Eat on a cut, aim for a weekly calorie restriction instead of a daily calorie restriction.
More Benefits to Intermittent Fasting
- Saves money
- Burns fat easily
- Increases your body’s growth hormone production (burns fat and keeps you young)
- Improves skin qualities (reduce acne)
- You can continue to enjoy your favorite foods
- Benefit from fat burning and muscle building workouts
- Lowers insulin levels and increases insulin sensitivity (makes it more difficult to gain weight)
- You will have energy and continue to be productive. Fasting releases norepinephrine and epinephrine, which makes you more alert.
Lose The Fat And Keep It Off
The biggest benefit is that intermittent fasting helps you keep the weight off once you lose it. As I mentioned previously, intermittent fasting cultivates insulin sensitivity. It changes your body chemistry so that your body stores less fat. Here is how this works:
Insulin helps your body process carbs and fats, but it also stores excess calories as fat. Over time, your body develops more and more insulin resistance. When this happens, your body needs to release more insulin to process the same amount of sugars/carbs. As a result, the higher level of insulin will cause your body to store more fat.
Cultivating insulin sensitivity causes your body to release less insulin to process carbs and fats. Less insulin means that less fat will be stored. With higher insulin sensitivity, it will be more difficult for your to gain weight in the future.
The Best Resource On Intermittent Fasting To Lose Weight
The best resource on intermittent fasting is a book called Eat Stop Eat. It explains in detail how to use intermittent fasting to successfully lose weight and also how to incorporate it into your lifestyle, this includes:
- What to eat and how much to eat after intermittent fasting for optimal results
- What to do while fasting
- When/How to exercise while fasting (Weight Lifting and/or Cardio)
- How to keep it off
- And much more…
For the complete method and exact guidelines, check out Eat Stop Eat.