Fasting is a great way to lose weight, especially if you’ve struggled under more conventional diets. It can carry risks if you don’t know what you’re doing but is scientifically sound for weight loss and overall health. But how do you know what fasting method will work for you? We’ve broken down fasting methods and provided some help to get you started.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting, also known as IF is all about self-discipline. This isn’t meant to be a starvation technique. Most of us have reserves of fat in our bodies so that hours of fasting won’t cause any lasting harm. It’s not meant to get uncomfortable or painful, just to tap into those excess reserves of fat, to help you burn off weight quicker.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
When your body isn’t burning energy from the food you’ve eaten, it turns to the fat reserves you have stored on your body. Intermittent fasting helps you burn through those reserves and drop weight faster.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are several fasting methods to choose from. Depending on your diet and your weight loss needs, you should consult with a dietitian to help you on your journey. But with so many options, it’s surprisingly easy to fit fasting into your life.
- The 5:2 diet – With the 5:2 diet, you eat normally most of the time. Choose two days a week, spaced out, to eat a limited number of calories. 500 if you’re a woman, 600 if you’re a man.
- Eat-Stop-Eat – Eat stop eat works a little like the 5:2 diet. Only instead of simply limiting your calories, you fast for 24 hours twice a week.
- Alternate Day Fasting –You can also choose to eat normally on alternate days, and restrict your calorie intake every other day. Many people move from eat-stop-eat into alternate-day fasting when they’re ready.
- 16/8 method – This method is perfect if you skip breakfast regularly. It involves a fast for 16 hours, followed by 8 hours of eating whenever you want. This is the simplest fast, and often just involves not eating after dinner, and skipping breakfast in the morning.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
There are several other reasons to practice intermittent fasting other than weight loss. Because it breaks down the fat your body is storing naturally, intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight, reduce body fat, and tone up. Intermittent fasting has also shown to help maintain normal blood sugar levels, balance hormones, improve body composition, boost insulin sensitivity, and stimulates growth hormone secretion.
The 16/8 fasting method is often the easiest way to start fasting since it follows a natural rhythm. Long term, not only will you lose weight, but you’ll start being even more aware of the choices you make about what you put in your body.
How to Get Started
Before any major diet changes, talk to a doctor or nutritionist about the safest and best ways to get started. One of the biggest benefits of the 16/8 method is that it’s very simple. Choose an 8-hour window. During that time, you eat regular balanced meals. If you regularly skip breakfast anyway, the best window may be late morning to early evening. If you need an early-morning fuel boost, your best option may be morning to early afternoon. Track your eating habits for a week before you decide your best options for fasting.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Fasting is a great way to lose weight, and when done properly, it is medically sound. But in order for fasting to lead to weight loss, you need to stick to healthy meals during the times you can eat. Stay away from processed foods, and excess sugars. Eat whole grains and plenty of fruits, vegetables and proteins. This is why it’s so important to speak to a nutritionist or doctor before making major dietary changes, to find a fasting method that fits your lifestyle, goals, and overall health.
What Can You Eat and Drink While Intermittent Fasting?
When you’re fasting, stick to black coffee or water to fill your stomach. Coffee on its own is a zero-calorie beverage, just like water. You won’t be taking anything in, and you won’t break your fast. When beginning, you may want to consdier an intermittent fasting aid, like probiotic fermented foods, coconut water, or ground flaxseed.