intermittent fasting

If you’ve been trying to lose body fat then you have probably come across information regarding Intermittent Fasting (IF). IF is nothing new and has been performed for thousands of years in many different cultures (Yom Kippur for Jews, Ramadan for Muslims, Lent for Christians, and so on). While the origin of IF stems from religion it has taken on a whole new purpose…fat loss.

We’ll get into the details of how to perform an IF diet but, first, we need to ask ourselves the question, “Does IF work?” IF diets have been studied for over a century with the most intensive studies conducted in the last 20 years. The short answer is ‘yes’ IF diets do work for fat loss but that’s just the beginning. IF diets have shown to

  • Improve insulin sensitivity (prevention of Diabetes)
  • Increased lipid (fat) metabolism
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Cardiac disease prevention
  • Lowering LDL cholesterol levels
  • Raising HDL cholesterol levels
  • Improve brain function
  • Increase growth hormone (GH) production by 5-fold (great for muscle building!)
  • Cognitive function
  • Cancer prevention and treatment (at least in animals)

After reading the list above you’re probably thinking, “I’m going to get on this right away!” Not so fast buddy. While many people may try an IF diet it’s easiest to list the individual’s who should NOT follow an IF program. You should not, I repeat, should NOT, perform a fasting diet if you are

  • An athlete (amateur or professional)
  • Pregnant or may become pregnant in the near future
  • Under the age of 20
  • Under weight
  • Have or have had an eating disorder
  • On certain medications such as beta-blockers
fasting for athletes

Fasting for Athletes? No go. Regular folk? Yes please.

What about a very large portion of our population with Type II Diabetes? While the studies show significant health benefits of IF diets for individuals with Type II Diabetes these studies were conducted in a VERY controlled environment with extensive detail to insulin medications and diet. DO NOT try an IF diet if you are diabetic before consulting with your primary care physician. Regulating your insulin levels and eating a healthy diet should be priority over an IF diet until your doctor gives you permission.

Now, if you are interested in trying an IF diet then you need to ensure you are currently following a healthy diet and have a regular eating schedule. This will make it much easier to adjust to an IF diet. If you don’t then an IF diet will most likely not work for you. Next, we need to look at which IF method is best for you. The two most common forms of IF are the 5:2 and 8:16 methods. The 5:2 method calls for an individual to pick 2 days during the week where they will fast for a 24-h period (preferably NOT back-to-back days). The remaining 5 days are meant to follow a standard healthy diet with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The 8:16 system, the more popular option, focuses on daily fasting (16-h) followed by healthy eating (8-h). For example, eating your first meal at 12pm, second meal at 4pm, and last meal around 8pm).  During your ‘fasting’ period you may consume water, tea, and coffee (without sweeteners or creamers) but no food in any form.

I have dabbled with the 8:16 method and I did notice some positive changes in my body composition. More importantly, I noticed my ability to think and function was much better through the morning hours when I fasted (just 1 cup of coffee with coconut oil and I was a rockstar!).  My suggestion is to stay with your current diet and make the adjustment to the 8:16 or 5:2 IF method. You don’t have to be perfect but give it a try for 1-2 weeks and be aware of your physical and mental state. Do you feel tired/hungry/alert? If it doesn’t work it doesn’t work. Nutrition is simple but we’ve made things complicated (IF is a perfect example of that) but it’s worth giving it a try if nothing else has worked.

Last but not least, if you are not following a diet high in lean protein, mountains of vegetables, and healthy fats NO DIET method will work for you. Simple. Point. Blank. Period.

fasting for fat loss

Resources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23582559

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4257368/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21410865?dopt=Abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17616757

http://www.journalofpsychiatricresearch.com/article/0022-3956(95)00009-T/abstract

http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/74/4/757.short

About Josh Jarmin

Originally from Washington, D.C. (NOVA) Josh moved to Atlanta to be a Middle School history teacher after graduating from James Madison University. He joined the Marine Corps infantry as a reservist and served in Iraq honorably. Josh then turned his attention to personal training after his tour in order to help others reach their health/fitness goals. At one point he was 275lbs and 28% body fat. Now he's 195lbs and 13.5% body fat. Josh worked for several fitness facilities in Atlanta and developed a loyal following of trainees. He's created a training program of his own personal design and has established himself as one of the top kettlebell and body movement experts in the Atlanta area. Josh is currently the Co-Owner and Director of Fitness at Blueprint Fitness.

2 Responses to Intermittent Fasting: Does It Work? Should You Do It?
  1. 12l5dehn4@hotmail.com'

    I am a devout proeciciantr of intermittent fasting, but cant consuming fruit juices hinder fat loss? I believe one may lose weight, be we also have to know how much muscle we are losing with it. Juice fasting introduces a lot of sugar to the body, and typicall for us to lose a greater percentage of fat, we want our body’s sugar reserves to be empty. Also, I think juice may be counter productive because the growth hormone surge that pushes your body into intense fat-burning mode does not begin until approximately 18 hours with no calories whatsoever.

  2. is4czt8v6f@gmail.com'

    Oh my! So glad you were persistent! Scares the hell out of me with all the medical changes taking place!Please take care, rest, use that little bell by the side of your bed, and eat as much chocolate as you can.Does Mr. Darcy have a brother… or a cousin?


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