What’s Intermittent Fasting all about?
Fasting is nothing new, for many centuries all types of cultures and religions have done fasting for different reasons. Is also very common to hear mothers nagging their kids because they won’t eat a thing and later they want to swallow a whole plate of pasta. But when it comes to losing weight and other health benefits, especially for those in the bodybuilding lifestyle, is Intermittent Fasting (IF) really worth it?
First of all, is very important to define what IF is and the different ways to do it.
Intermittent Fasting is a method, growing in popularity, which involves large periods without consuming any type of calories, when only water, black coffee or plain unsweetened tea is allowed. After this, comes the “feeding window”, that’s when the person can eat without having to worry about the distance between each meal. The reason why many people are choosing this meal plan before others is because of the possibility to eat “cheat food” without affecting the process. Although some types of food are recommended, IF works just as well without paying attention to it.
When it comes to the types of IF, there’s a variety to choose from. That way the person doesn’t have to stick with one single dieting plan. Perhaps the one with better results is the 16/8 method, this one involves a fasting period of 16 hours that can include the hours of the night sleep, for then having a space of 8 hours to eat. A more extreme version is the “Eat-stop-eat” where the fasting goes to the complete 24 hours of the day, doing so once or twice a week. On the other side, a perfect option for the beginners and maybe the most popular one, is the 5/2 version, less heavy to start with, here the restriction of calories is limited to two consecutive days, leaving the rest of the week to continue with the regular diet.
Before getting into the positive aspects that IF offers, is relevant to warn about the possible side effects to anyone who would like to give it a try. Likewise, is crucial to remember that with any change in the daily diet is necessary to consult a doctor before beginning.
The overall negative feelings might involve dizziness, fatigue and a hard time focusing, so for those people with works that needs them to be standing for a long time or demands a lot of concentration IF might not be the best option. On the other hand, age has an important role; older adults can have more trouble depriving themselves of foods for longer periods than younger people. Additionally, diabetics and hypoglycemic persons might experience body shakes and faints; all this is important to keep in mind before going into IF.
Now for the interest of the bodybuilders about weight-loss, fat-burning and so on, IF offers several health benefits. This way of eating has a huge impact on the hormone levels, including the Human Growth Hormone (HGH), free from the energy consumed by digestion the body focus on other activities like getting rid of toxins and repairing tissues. This helps the muscles to rebuild and grow faster, as well as reducing the oxidative stress which results in a slower aging process.
The explanation for this relies in the fact that when the body fasts it produces certain proteins that uncouple the mitochondria inside the muscles cells, where the body’s energy derives from. This results in a bigger necessity of energy, to achieve that the body burns more fat leading into a greater loss of weight. But not just that, fasting benefits the metabolism as well. In conclusion, IF boots the metabolic rate, increasing the amount of calories burned, and reduces the amount of meals, lowering the consume of calories; in other words, it works from both sides.
Another positive effect is that IF reduces the insulin levels, lowering the risk of getting diabetes type 2. Continuing with the hormones reaction to fasting, Leptin is a hormone that regulates body fat storage and controls the sensation of hunger in the brain. When this hormone is produced by fat cells it sends a message to the brain to turn off the hunger signals. That’s why low-fat diets usually make people even more hungry. Fasting allows the brain to clearly receive Leptin message, helping the person to comfortably continue with the program.
Overall, IF is a good way to lose weight without sacrificing your favorite meals. With the right precautions people can experience lots of benefits with this eating program.