Is Intermittent Fasting For You?
You may have heard the buzz surrounding the positive or negative effects of intermittent fasting, and maybe you have been thinking about trying it out. Well, I can tell you from a weight loss perspective, there’s nothing special about intermittent fasting. The truth is whether you choose to eat eight small meals or one big meal daily, what determines weight loss is the total amount of calories consumed daily. However, that doesn’t mean that intermittent fasting isn’t effective for some individuals when it comes to weight loss.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a meal frequency protocol where an individual has periods of fasting followed by periods of eating. There are several different popular fasting protocols varying from sixteen hour fasts with an eight hour eating periods to full twenty-four hour whole day fasts. Fasting supposedly has numerous benefits such as increased longevity, increased growth hormone levels, increased cognitive health and function, neuro-protection, increased insulin sensitivity, etc. I say supposedly because not all these benefits have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in humans. However, just because it isn’t proven doesn’t necessarily make it false as the benefits from fasting have yet to be disproven as well. So how can fasting help you lose weight? Simple, by limiting your window of food consumption you’ll be more likely to eat less.
For those who prefer to eat six-eight small meals every two-three hours, intermittent fasting is not for you. On the other hand, if you have never been a breakfast person or you tend to eat one large meal a day, intermittent fasting may be for you. If you are not a breakfast eater, then chances are a sixteen hour fast followed by an eight hour eating period would be a match made in heaven. It’s a simple as finishing your last meal around 8pm, skipping breakfast, and then consuming your lunch around noon. If you tend to eat one large meal daily, then a twenty hour fast followed by a four hour eating window may be more your style.
Assuming you’re sticking to whole foods such as lean proteins, legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy, it should be relatively easy to consume less calories than you burn. However, that’s not a guarantee as some people have a bottomless pit when it comes to food consumption. As always, the types of foods you choose to consume can either make your weight loss endeavor easier or harder. If you choose to break your fast with high calorie low volume foods like potato chips, cakes or pastries, oils, nuts, dried fruit, etc. you’ll have a harder time keeping your caloric intake under the wraps which could make weight loss very difficult. Individuals who crave high calorie foods after a prolonged fast may not find intermittent fasting a viable option for weight loss.
Depending on your lifestyle, intermittent fasting may be a good fit for you. For many people, time becomes an issue when attempting to make numerous meals daily. If you don’t have time to cook, precook, or meal prep, five to six meals daily then intermittent fasting may be right up your alley. Instead of prepping, cooking, or precooking five to six meals a day, you only have to worry about one or two meals daily. If you’re truly crunched for time, this is more likely to fit your lifestyle.
Hunger and Satisfaction
Yes, there is going to be some hunger when following an intermittent fasting protocol. Hunger during the fasting period which tends to come and go with some stints of hunger worse than others, and some pseudo hunger after your eating period has ended. I bet you’re wondering why you might be hungry after your eating period. I call it pseudo hunger because you aren’t physically hungry, but you are hungry because you can no longer eat and you know it will be another sixteen, twenty, or twenty four hours before you can eat again. Obviously, this is all mental and it will only bother some individuals who decide to fast. On the other hand, there are periods of satisfaction. How often can you say you’re stuffed when following a standard five to six meal a day dieting protocol? Typically after the fast ends and you consume your first meal, you’ll be satisfied for the rest of the day until pseudo hunger kicks in. So how do you fight your fasted induced hunger?
Fight the Hunger
Making it through the fast without gnawing your arm from hunger may be challenge and sitting around thinking about food definitely isn’t the solution. However, there are several things you can do to curb or hold off your hunger.
Drink Plenty of Water – Sometimes hunger is a simple misunderstanding between what is actually going on in your body and what you interpret. What I mean is sometimes as individuals we confuse hunger with thirst. Try drinking plenty of water during your day and you may be surprised at the lack of hunger you experience.
Grab a Cup of Joe – As long as you’re going light on your sugar and cream and not having three plus cups, a cup of coffee does a pretty good job of temporarily blunting hunger.
Be Productive – By staying active and mentally focused on other tasks during your fast, you’ll keep your mind off of food and also discover time tends to go by a little faster when you’re occupied.
Is Intermittent Fasting For You?
Intermittent fasting isn’t the holy grail of weight loss diets, but it can be a means to an end. By limiting your window of food consumption, fasting can definitely help you lose weight. However, just because you’ve fasted doesn’t mean you can eat whatever and lose weight. At the end of the day, daily caloric intake is what determines weight loss or weight gain. If you’re thinking about giving intermittent fasting a try, my suggestion is to start with the lean gains fasting protocol which can be found here.