What is Intermittent Fasting?

Published: July 7, 2017

If you aren't already aware, there is a new trend taking the fitness and nutrition world by storm, and that is Intermittent Fasting, a method designed particularly for those looking to lose weight and generally lead a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Intermittent fasting basically involves 'fasting' (eating nothing) for periods of time and then feasting at others. Naturally, it has been met with some controversy, but there are some fitness experts that totally swear by it as a way of trimming that body fat and staying in shape, as well as enjoying the foods that you love.

If you're totally confused and not sure what to believe, then you can be forgiven, because, as we've been told countless times, eating little and often is the best way to ensure optimum weight loss and muscle gain because it keeps your metabolism fired and working at its best. Before you despair at being told yet again that you're doing it all wrong, a lot of fitness and health experts believe intermittent fasting isn't the way forward, so it really is ultimately about finding what works best for you and your body - don't forget that everyone is different. However, if you think this way of eating might suit you and your lifestyle, then here's how it works!

How to Fast

First things first, Intermittent Fasting is not a fad diet, we all know that these ultimately do not work and should be avoided at all costs. Intermittent fasting is still a lifestyle choice just like 'clean eating' and 'macro counting' is, there are just different techniques to the way it works.

To fast intermittently, you basically need to work out how many calories you should consume for the day (just as you would if you were counting your macros, using your weight and BMI) but these calories are then only consumed in a specific time frame during the day, for example only eating (but eating regularly) between noon and 8pm or sometimes in even shorter time frames such as four or six hours.

There are also ways of playing around with your fasting periods, so, for example, having a 'full day of eating' up until 8pm and then not eating anything until 8pm the following day, thus taking '24 hours' off eating. The most popular intermittent fasting method is the 16/8 - fasting for sixteen hours and then eating in a 8 hour feasting window. Logically, you might be thinking that this method works purely because you're skipping out a meal and therefore consuming less calories, but we all know that different sized meals contain different amounts of calories and if you're skipping one meal, you are likely to be hungrier for your other two, and therefore be at risk of over-eating. So how do we do it properly?

When to Feast

To use intermittent fasting to its full effect you need to understand how your body reacts differently when you're 'feasting' from when you're 'fasting'.

Intermittent fasting does not preach to us about the foods we should be eating, but rather when we should be eating in order to create fat loss. According to experts, if your body is in a fasted state, it will have no choice but to burn energy from fat stores, rather than burn energy from the food you have eaten. Burning fat stores = weight loss - that we can be sure of. You might be thinking (as am I) that intermittent fasting is ridiculously difficult - surely your body is screaming for food during your fasting periods - but many people have said that it's surprisingly easy to do and that they actually have more energy when they are fasting.

Of course, hunger can be a bit of an issue in the beginning whilst your body adjusts to its new eating pattern, but once you are in a routine, many people swear it has totally changed their outlook on 'healthy' eating. According to research, humans are extremely well adapted to fast during certain periods as we have been doing it for years and some research even suggests this way of living can protect against heart disease and other illnesses.

Above all, it is also an extremely easy way of getting yourself into a strict routine so that your body knows when to expect and not expect food. Of course, as mentioned earlier, this will not work for everyone and ultimately leading a healthy lifestyle is about listening to your body. So is this just another crazy fad or is intermittent fasting here to stay? We shall see.