Most people either have no idea what fasting is or think it’s about starving yourself silly? And hardly anyone knows what intermittent fasting is, or how it works. The fact is, more people are using it to lose weight, improve health, and increase energy every day. Let’s see how fasting intermittently works, what it means and why it’s so popular.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
The term “fasting” simply means going without eating for a period of time. “Intermittent” means irregular, alternating, or periodically.
Most people who are aware of fasting think of it in the context of eliminating food for days or weeks at a time. However, when you put fasting off of food and intermittent together, you get the practice of eating within certain time frames and fasting in alternating time frames.
You might even boil it all down to skipping meals in a planned and organized method. Of course, we all fast every day when we sleep because that is a period of time without eating.
The idea of doing without your regular meals during the day is catching on like wildfire. That’s because alternating a time for eating with longer periods of fasting without changing the types of food you eat or the amount of calories makes losing weight much easier. And there are always even more benefits that come with weight loss.
What Intermittent fasting is not, is shutting down your eating. Instead, it is about scheduling the times you will and will not eat on certain days.
Let’s be honest though, fasting means to abstain from something. In this case, it means to abstain from food intermittently. The way you do that is to schedule “windows” for when you do and do not consume food. If you like the results, you can learn to schedule longer windows without food, but that’s not required.
You may not realize it, but the practice of scheduling missed meals will help you enjoy your food even more. And that’s not all, going a few hours without consuming food is proven to improve health and help you lose excess pounds.
How Do You Lose Weight With Intermittent Fasting?
This surprises a lot of people, but you can lose weight with intermittent fasting with out a lot of sacrifice. In fact you will see great results with only using daily 16 hour fast.
For most people, all that entails is skipping breakfast, and maybe having a late lunch (depending on how many hours you sleep and what time you have dinner).
I know what you’re thinking already! I know we were taught that breakfast is the most important meal. But, face it, being overweight is hands down more risky to your health than missing breakfast.
The truth is that when you skip breakfast your body goes into a caloric deficit. And without that caloric deficit, either from what you eat or exercise, it is impossible to lose weight.
A 16 hour fast is the perfect intermittent fasting time because:
- Anyone can do it.
- Your body now has to look to fat stores to burn for energy.
- The extra hours without eating gives your digestive system a chance to rest.
- Your body will use this time to clean and detoxify itself.
Of course you can just as easily skip the dinner meal, and eat breakfast? Most people I know who practice this type of fasting find it much easier to skip breakfast, but not everyone.
The most important thing is the goal of going at least 16 hours without eating. Eating dinner at 6 in the evening, and fasting until 10 AM is 16 hours. If you eat lunch at 12, that’s only 2 more hours and better yet.
Doing this everyday will produce weighable results in as little a week. Not only will you lose weight, but you will start noticing how much more energy you have all day.
How To Schedule An Inter-Day Fast
Intermittent fasting focuses on paying close attention to specific windows during the day: when you do and do not eat.
The first step is to start taking note of and seeing for yourself that the largest part of your day does not involve eating. (That is presuming you are not eating continuously between meals?)
You Are Fasting Daily Already
If you think of a typical 24 hour day, you see times spent eating, bathroom time, working time, watching TV, and other activities such as regular exercise.
Then there’s scheduled time for sleep. The time you have set for sleep could be as long as 8 hours or so, right?
If you have dinner at 7, go to bed at 10 and get up at 6 – you’ve fasted for 11 hours already.
It may come as a surprise that you are already fasting every day of your life. In fact, we all have regular periods of going without food baked into our life.
Why Not Use Fasting to Your Advantage?
Once you see that you are already living with fasting and eating windows built into your life, it’s easy to expand on that. The key is to merely pay closer attention to the windows and expand the fasting windows into more hours with no food.
The best option is to drink no fluids other than all the water you want.
The Bottom Line of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet or a particular method of eating.
However, you can build it into any weight loss diet for super-fast results. I would guess that most people using this way of eating as a lifestyle are eating whatever they want during the eating windows. And as much as they want.
Here’s an interesting thing about that last statement: Fasting is definitely a discipline. The same discipline will not only help you miss meals, it will help you turn away from eating too much and unhealthy foods.
Here’s My Personal Experience
- First week. When I started out, I simply skipped all food between dinner and breakfast. I usually have dinner around 6 pm and my first step was to cut out all food between then and 7 am breakfast. That gave me a fasting window of 13 hours, and I did that for 5 of the first 7 days. I understood from the outset that I need that window to be longer, but giving up snacks at night was fasting to me.
- The second week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays of the next two weeks, I skipped breakfast altogether. Skipping breakfast meant I was going from 6 pm until noon without anything to eat, but morning coffee and a lot of water. That is an 18 hour fast and considered by most participants to be all you need for optimum results. After 2 weeks, my fasting turned into everyday, except for Saturday, when I enjoyed a large breakfast.
- My fasting now. Now, I fast for 24 hours two days a week. I eat breakfast and leave off all food until breakfast the following day, drinking my normal pot of coffee in the am and water all day. I personally think fasting one day a week is what all of should do, but I enjoy the benefits of two days too much to change.
- The day I set my mind to not eating anything between dinner and breakfast, was a big deal for me. I had become accustomed to the dinner meal continuing on until I went to bed. I found my self eating snacks of every kind while I watched TV at night. Giving that up definitely felt like a fast to me, but by the time a week rolled by I was ready to add a breakfast fast.
- After a couple of weeks of skipping breakfast twice a week, I noticed two things: First I had lost a few pounds. Second, and most importantly, I began to notice that it was much easier to control my cravings. In fact, I was aware that they were leaving.
- The first day I fasted from breakfast to breakfast was a real eye-opener. I eat lunch at noon every day. By 2 pm it definitely felt like someone had taken my favorite toy from me. The fact is that I didn’t get hungry all day (any time I felt the need, I drank a 16oz bottle of water), but could tell without a doubt that I was breaking a long-established habit of eating. That’s when I realized that most of my eating is a habit, the same as an exercise habit, and has nothing to do with hunger.
- After a couple of weeks of fasting for 24 hours two times a week, usually Wednesday and Saturday, I wasn’t eating nearly as much at any one meal as before. When I want to, I do and feel completely at ease about eating all I care to eat after 40.
- For the first month or so I lost a pound or two a week, before my weight settling at my ideal weight and remaining there.
- I have more energy 7 days a week than I’ve had in years. I am sure that’s because of losing weight, not eating nearly as much junk food as before, and allowing my stomach to rest a couple of times a week. I would have thought not eating for a day would leave me ravenous for food, but it has actually had the opposite effect.
- Only after fasting intermittently for a few weeks did I get a handle on eating when I’m hungry and not when I’m bored or emotional.
Do You Have to Fast for 24 Hours?
Absolutely not, so don’t let my own experience put you off.
Most people who practice intermittent fasting regularly with great results, never go past 16-18 hours.
The majority of people are quite suspicious of the idea of fasting, even when they hear about all the results from people they actually know.
In fact, most people I know don’t really believe it works at all.
But the truth is that planning ahead of time to miss a meal and then sticking with the plan, has a lot of advantages.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Enhance weight loss
- Enhanced ability and motivation to maintain a healthy and ideal weight
- Increased energy levels
- Aids in decreasing bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Guards against type II Diabetes
- Decreases insulin resistance
- Promotes health and longevity
- Dramatically increases personal discipline
- Cuts food cravings
But the truth is, you should not think of yourself fasting at all, especially in the beginning. When you start out, don’t think of yourself so much as going without as re-scheduling the times you will feed yourself.
Re-Thinking How and When You Eat
Re-think your eating times into windows of a day.
Instead of thinking of your day divided into awake – asleep and what times you will feed yourself meals and snacks — see your days as eating and fasting windows.
Since you already have a set time to sleep, just add a few hours to the no-calorie time and you have intermittent fasting.
Losing weight is just the beginning.
Even though the benefits are far greater than weight loss, that’s where most people start this adventure.
By sticking to the plan a few weeks, you will lose excess weight and see for yourself the amazing benefits of taking control of your eating habits.
Of course, it sounds too simple to work. It is simple and gets even more so with just a little effort.
It works without giving up the foods you love or changing eating habits on most days of the week. For myself, I’ve found intermittent fasting the best way to make a habit of disciplined eating while improving my weight and health.