There is a lot of exciting research on “intermittent fasting” (IF). This article will help explain what IF is, how to do it properly, the science behind it, and why it is most likely the key to a sustainable healthy life style.
Why “yo-yo” diets are terrible for you
There are more diets today which restrict foods and beverages than ever before. Most people who try these end up losing some weight for a short period of time, but then regaining all of the weight in the end. These diets (often called “yo-yo” diets) are not only ineffective at actually solving the rising problems of obesity, heart disease, digestive issues, and many other symptoms plaguing most Americans today, but they are actually quite dangerous and detrimental to the body.
If the Paleo diet is WHAT our ancestors ate, intermittent fasting is HOW our ancestors ate.
I want to touch on Paleo real quick, but please do not think that this article is all about the Paleo diet.
There has been a lot of talk about eating Paleo lately. The Paleo diet, which encourages people to eat more like our Paleolithic ancestors, encourages eating foods that pre-agricultural societies would feast on. Most of these foods on this diet fall into the categories of high protein or fat with low or no carbs. I’m going to guess that if you are reading this then you know a thing or two about the Paleo diet, but if you need some extra food recipes I recommend checking out these awesome cookbooks: Paleo Recipe Team and Paleo Grub Book.
While the Paleo diet seems to be helping loads of people, there is another side to the important story of your health. If you’ve tried Paleo, and you don’t seem to be losing the weight, or gaining the muscle you’re hoping for, then the problem is most likely not just WHAT you’re eating, but HOW you’re eating. That is where Intermittent Fasting comes in. More importantly, if you strive to eat HOW our ancestors ate (by using intermittent fasting), you will find that you can be LESS restrictive on your dieting, meaning that even if you do eat more carbs than the typical Paleo dieter, you will still be just fine. In fact, you will find that your health improves in many ways. The following is a summary of data I found published in peer-reviewed science journals, considered the MOST trustworthy form of research and information.
Intermittent Fasting Health Benefits
1. Lose Weight, Burn Belly Fat, and Keep it off
Do you know the number one reason that diets fail? Simple. Daily calorie restriction. Any diet which says that you can’t eat more than X calories every day is going to leave you feeling hungry constantly. Your discipline is a limited resource and actually is heavily dependent on your nutrition, so the less nutrition you receive the quicker your discipline for sticking to diets will fail. When you subscribe to these daily restrictive diets in order to burn belly fat or lose weight you are setting yourself for failure. Ok fine, the people selling you these diets are setting you up for failure.
In contrast, intermittent fasting does NOT restrict your daily calorie intake, and studies have shown that this approach is much more effective for losing weight, belly fat, and actually keeping it off. (1)
2. Continue to build muscle, Stop restricting calorie intake
Like we said above, the main reasons that yo-yo diets fail is the restriction of foods. For one thing, it is just human nature to want to eat delicious foods, and to want to feel full. Diet’s which restrict either of these every day generally fail. Furthermore, restricting calories impairs your body’s ability to create muscle. Protein alone will not build muscle, you need certain amounts of calories to gain muscle weight. Intermittent fasting helps reduce body fat while not inhibiting muscle growth. (2)
3. Stop Diabetes, Get Off Medications
Approximately 222.6 million Americans rely on medication on a regular basis, including diabetics who rely on insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Not only does intermittent fasting help you lose weight which will reduce your chance of diabetes (and even help cure it if you have it), it can take away the need for insulin in people who are currently depending on insulin for blood sugar regulation. It is important for the health and longevity of your body (and wallet) that you do not require prescription synthetic drugs daily. Intermittent fasting reduces the need for such medications by helping to regulate your body’s intake of sugars, reduces cravings for sweets, and giving your body time to process the food you intake. (3)
4. Heal your Cells, Prevent Cancer
When we continuously eat, whether we are counting calories or not, our cells are doing work. As we constantly force them to digest the food we intake, the cells produce waste in themselves. The waste can take various forms, but it is waste that your cells need to get rid of if you want to lose weight and be healthy. Another awesome benefit of intermittent fasting is that it actually gives your cells a way to stop producing waste, and start disposing of it instead. This process allows your cells to heal, which will help you feel more alert, more energetic, and overall more healthy. Perhaps more importantly, you should know that this process is also going to help prevent cancer from forming in your cells. (4)
5. Improve Brain Function, Alertness, and Preventing Alzheimer’s
Many studies have linked terrible, debilitating brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s to poor nutrition. Trying to reduce your calories every day is likely to cause brain function problems. However, intermittent fasting have been shown to help improve brain function, alertness, and help prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (5). Part of this comes from the ability of your body to rid itself of toxins and heal its cells (as we discussed in reason 4, above).
Intermittent Fasting Techniques
Ok so we have all these great benefits to intermittent fasting, and if you’re ready to give it a try then we have some great resources for you. The main idea behind intermittent fasting is simple, but rather than telling you myself, I think you should hear it from experts in the field. Adam Steer and Brad Pilon are experts on the subject of how to do intermittent fasting right, and they spell it out nice and simple on their website (here is a link to it: http://eatstopeat.com/). I want to share their site and explanation with you, because I believe it is the best information out there on how to get started. I can personally say that I started his program about 5 months ago at the time this post is published, and continue it to this day because the results are incredible, lasting, and started immediately.
If you are ready to stop counting calories, ready to lose weight and build muscle, ready to end all the complicated diets, give Brad’s and Adam’s site a quick view. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Here is his intermittent fasting guidelines website: EatStopEat.
1) Vardy, KA. “Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss?” Obesity Reviews Volume 12, Issue 7 (2011): 593-601.
2) Heilbronn, LK, et al. “Alternate-day fasting in non-obese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Volume 81, Issue 1 (2005): 69-73.
3) Barnosky, Adrienne et al. “Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings.” Translational Research Volume 164, Issue 4 (2014): 302-311.
4) Alirezaei, Mehrdad et al. “Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy.” Autophagy Volume 6 Issue 6 (2010): 702-710.5)
5) Martin, Bronwen Mattson, Mark and Maudsley, Stuart. “Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging.” Ageing Research Reviews Volume 5, Issue 3 (2006): 332-353.