Why Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan where you cycle between periods of eating sensibly and fasting. It sounds much worse than it actually is! However, there are a variety of different types of fasting. There are some plans where you eat between certain times of day, where as other plans you restrict your total calories 2 days a week, and other variations. Ahead, we offer an overview of “Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting”.
I have tried various diets and eating plans over the years. They have worked in the short term and I have lost weight, but the problem was keeping it off. Low carb diets made me feel too restricted. The result was all I wanted to eat were carbs! I have been a healthy eater in my adult life but had trouble losing those last 10-15 lbs. and keeping my mid-section in check. I was in a healthy BMI for my height and weight but some of my clothes were getting a little snug and I said to myself; there is no way I am going to buy bigger clothes.
Last year, I read an article about the importance of calorie and activity tracking and thought I would give it a try. I loaded in my goal weight and the system calculated my daily net total (total calories – exercise). Because I am petite, only 5’2″, my daily net calories were only 1200 for losing weight. When I starting logging in my calories and exercise, I was shocked that even my healthy meals resulted in consuming more calories than I should be. Therefore, I realized I needed to lower my net calories in order to lose weight and reach my goal weight.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
I didn’t want to go on a diet and feel deprived, so I sought out another way to eat sensibly but still enjoy occasional happy hours, eating out, and life! Too much daily restriction doesn’t work for me and just makes me want to binge. The solution for me was adopting the Periodic Fasting plan; a form of intermittent fasting. I am now in the maintenance phase and have lost 15 lbs. and 3 sizes!! Most importantly this is a lifestyle change and something I plan to do indefinitely for maintenance and not have my weight fluctuate. At first, I didn’t know how I would manage the fasting days so I wanted to share my experience with others and came up with the Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting.
There are many benefits to intermittent fasting besides weight loss. Research has shown that intermittent fasting can help you lose weight without losing muscle. You also produce less insulin, a key hunger hormone. People who use intermittent fasting find it easier to maintain their appetite even on non-fasting days. There are studies that have found other benefits with this method such as reduced blood pressure, glucose levels, inflammation, and triglycerides. Intermittent fasting has been proven to reduce cholesterol profiles, increase muscle endurance, and even help learning and memory.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Lots of people have asked me how I lost weight and got into shape, and it is simple- eat less and move more. But wait, it’s not that simple! Although this eating plan works well with my lifestyle, I do believe you have to find out what works for you. Here is an overview of the different types of intermittent fasting with an emphasis on the 5:2 plan which is the plan I have been using and most familiar with. As with any eating plan or diet, you should check with your healthcare provider to make sure that this is a safe option for you to adopt.
You may be familiar with the popular 5:2 Diet, one of the most popular periodic fasting eating plans. For this eating plan, you eat sensibly for five days while allowing for some splurges: i.e. a dinner out, a glass or two of wine, dessert, etc. However, on two non-consecutive days that week you eat only 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men. While this doesn’t sound like a lot, if you plan low calorie, high volume foods you can maximize your intake. For instance, low-calorie veggies, seafood and fish, egg whites/egg substitute, berries, and low-fat dairy make excellent choices.
I have developed several recipes and eating plans to take out the guesswork and allow you to still eat three meals and a snack. Yes, there are times you might feel a little hungry, but the next day you are eating “normal” again. Remember, on non-fasting days you can’t undo all the work you are doing on the fasting days, you need to have accountability.
Time Restricted Eating
The 16:8 version is the most well-known form of time restricted fasting. Every day you restrict eating to an 8-hour window. During the 16-hour fasting period, you can (and should) drink plenty of water. Black coffee and tea are fine too and you’re allowed to eat what you want with no calorie restrictions. Although, common sense would tell you that making unhealthy food choices will derail your weight loss or maintenance efforts.
Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate day fasting is just what it sounds like. You fast one whole day, then eat normally the next day.
The Eat Stop Intermittent Fasting Plan is where you do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week. Then on the remaining days of the week you eat sensibly.
The Warrior Diet
Fast during the day, then eat a huge meal at night.
I hope that you have found this Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting helpful. I have developed additional resources, to include recipes and meal plans for the low calorie “fasting” days. These have been lifesavers for me and will help you take the guesswork out and simplify this eating plan! Intermittent fasting helps you avoid yo-yo dieting and the cycle of continuously gaining and losing weight. Once you start intermittent fasting and get into a rhythm it is much easier to have this become a habit and way of life.