Intermittent fasting is a popular health and fitness trend at the moment. It may not be for everybody however it is an effective method for losing weight and getting lean and is said to have many health benefits for you and your body. Intermittent fasting has been known to boost energy levels, increase stamina and motivation, increase cognitive function and aid in weight loss – pretty good if you ask me.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a term used for eating patterns that cycle between periods of fasting and eating meaning you consume your calories during a specific window of time (eating window) and you choose not to consume food for a larger window of time (your fasting window)
How to start intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting means you go a certain period of time without eating, generally between 12 to 24 hours sometimes 36-48 hours. During this time you can only consume liquids such as water, herbal teas and coffee if you need to – as long as there is no added milk or sweetener.
Below are the most popular methods;
Crescendo Method – This method is one of the best and easiest ways to ease into intermittent fasting without shocking your body. It only involves fasting for a few days spaced throughout the week. For example an easy way to apply this method would be to fast Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Fasting window: 12-16 hours
Eating window: 8-12 hours
16/8 Method – Also known as the “leangains method” this method of intermittent fasting is used specifically to target body fat and help with lean muscle mass.
Fasting window: 16 hours
Eating window: 8 hours
24 Hour Protocol – This method involves skipping two meals a day and not eating for 24 hours. For example you eat your dinner at 7pm as usual but you don’t consume another meal until the same time the following day (7pm dinner).
Fasting window: 24 hours
- 5:2 Diet – This method involves restricting calories two days of the week, allowing you to consume 500 calories a day (two 250 calorie meals) and eating normally for the other 5 days of the week. For example you may choose your calorie restricted days as Monday and Tuesday meaning Wednesday-Sunday you consume your regular calorie intake with no restrictions. This method contains no fasting window just a calorie restriction so it may be an effective way to ease into fasting.
What to consider before trying intermittent fasting
As mentioned earlier fasting is not for everyone, regardless of the method you choose. If you have existing health conditions, please consult your doctor before undertaking in any intermittent fasting.
Tips for starting your first intermittent fast
- Stay hydrated – It is important to stay well hydrated throughout your fasting periods
- Listen to your body – your body will most likely need some time to adjust, don’t just jump straight into a 24 hour fast, that may shock your body, start with smaller fasting windows
- Fast overnight – Fasting overnight is the easiest way to fast, if you’re getting 7-8 hours sleep you’re not thinking about eating during that time
Workout – intermittent fasting in conjunction with exercise will help you get better results faster.
- Keep busy – most of us can admit we snack when we aren’t really hungry just “bored” or having a lazy day. Keeping busy will make the whole process easier as you’ll be focusing on other things