Intermittent Fasting 101

Intermittent fasting = simple and happy weight loss.

At Fasting News, we are the world’s biggest advocates for intermittent fasting. We may be a little biased but by the end of this blog I’m assured you’ll understand why.

Did you know? For the first time in human history, the number of people suffering from obesity rivals the number of those who are starving.

The world has unhealthy habits. And this is understandable given that all the current ‘solutions’ that are trying to help are too complex and restrictive.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is the opposite of eating. When you refrain from eating, such as not eating breakfast and eating dinner early, you are fasting intermittently. Intermittent Fasting, or “IF”, can be used as a supplement to any diet. It revolves around the timing of your food intake.

The phrase ‘intermittent fasting’ is an umbrella term given to range of different ways to eat methodically.

These are all based on time and the most common one is: 16 hours fasting and 8 hours of feeding. This is commonly referred to as the 16:8 diet.

There are many different ways to fast. However, as a rule of thumb, intermittent fasting can’t span longer than 24 hours. If you refrain from eating for more than 24 hours, this is fasting.

Intermittent Fasting alone causes weight loss. One study found with no change in how much or what you ate, by simply introducing intermittent fasting it resulted in a 17% decrease in weight.

How do most people fast?

Most people typically pick a method/protocol of fasting because someone they know is also doing that one. This can be both good and bad. Long lasting change happens in groups however picking the right protocol for you is an important step towards achieving YOUR goal.

Common fasting protocols

Remember: your method doesn’t need to be rigid. As you progress towards your goals, your needs are going to change. So too then should your fasting protocol. Your friend, spouse (or whoever you are partnering with for fasting) may be at a different stage or have different goals.

Here are some of the most popular ways for people to chose to fast.

Feast/Fast
The feast-fast protocol allows you to eat however you please for an entire day. Yes, eat as much of whatever for the day. Some of you may really enjoy eating over-indulgently. If that’s you, this may be your protocol! No need to feel so guilty when you pig out. But be warned the other side is pretty hard, especially if you are this person. The next day requires you to fast the entire day, while you sleep and into the next day. This results in a 32-36 hour fast.

We do not recommend this for women.

24-Hour Fast (Eat-Stop-Eat)
As the name implies Eat-Stop-Eat (ESE) works in a fairly straightforward way. You fast 1-2 times per week, the most common is 2, aiming for a complete break from food for at least 24 hours at a time.

For example, you might eat normally up until 8 pm, perhaps dinner on Monday night. After your last meal, then you won’t eat until 8 pm on Tuesday.

Most people find this more difficult.

The 5/2 Method
This is similar to Eat, Stop, Eat except it involves eating a normal amount of calories for five days a week and consuming a restricted amount of calories two days a week. For women, it is recommended to keep their calorie cap at 500 during restrictive days.

This isn’t intermittent fasting.

The 16/8 Method
This is the most common protocol and the methodology we would recommend for overall health and longevity. Simply put, it is 16 hours of fasting, and 8 hours of eating. This is also the most beneficial for weight loss (especially when skipping breakfast). Cortisol, our stress hormone, is highest in the morning (that’s what gets us out of bed). When you consume a high carb, high glycemic index (GI) meal at breakfast combined with cortisol and insulin it can create unfavourable fat storage.

A science & history lesson

Here’s the TL;DR bottom line:

  • NO, fasting does not lead to overeating.
  • NO, you will NOT be overwhelmed with hunger.
  • NO, you won’t lose your muscles.
  • NO, you won’t mess with your hormones in a negative way.

The history
Way before Ubereats and Deliveroo food was scarce. Really, really scarce. Our ancestors frequently went without food for extended periods of time. The actual type of food that constituted our diet is still a hot debate and dependent on who you talk too i.e. vegans, carnivores, keto-ers and so on.

Despite all the noise on Instagram, one thing is known for certain and regarded as fact within the ‘science-sphere’.

‘Back in the day’ we missed breakfast, sometimes lunch and perhaps dinner. Actually, we frequently missed all of them. But guess what? We didn’t die, we adapted over hundreds of thousands of years.

The way our body stored and used energy changed. The more we were subjected to scarcity, the more we evolved. It changed our physiology. Our metabolism got resourceful and our brain got bigger and bigger and bigger.

Food scarcity and dietary deprivation has been coined the evolutionary catalyst that caused the homo sapiens (ours) brain to develop to a far bigger, more capable extent. More so than any other living creature on the planet.[1]

Breakfast, lunch & dinner OR six meals per day? BOTH really bad advice.

The science
So why all the fuss about intermittent fasting? Well for one, unlike every other diet it has the opposite effect on your bank account, it saves you money.

It also doesn’t force you to change your diet. You can literally eat exactly as you already do every day. All you have to do is to condense it into a smaller window of time.

  • No expensive shopping lists
  • No need to overhaul your pantry
  • No need to cut out carbs or train yourself to dislike meat

Intermittent fasting isn’t really a diet. Think of it as something you add to your existing eating pattern. It doesn’t matter if you’re a vegan, doing keto or you just eat whatever the heck you like. You WILL lose fat, increase muscle and improve your health dramatically.

Vanity aside, there is a tremendous quantity of science supporting its ability to slow the ageing process, prevent many chronic diseases and prolong life.

Research shows that applying intermittent fasting to any lifestyle can invigorate your life and improve a variety of health markers.

Here are just a few benefits:

  • Increases fat loss, while preserving lean tissue
    Increases energy
  • Promotes cellular repair and autophagy (your body’s inbuilt recycling station, it breaks down old, faulty cells and uses that to rebuilt better functioning cells)
  • Reduces insulin and leptin resistance
  • Protects against type 2 diabetes
  • Lowers bad cholesterol, increases good cholesterol
  • Promotes longevity
  • Protects against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Improves memory and boosts brain function
  • Makes cells more resilient, improving immunity
    Prevents glycation and
  • A.G.Es (responsible for ageing process)
    Reduces hunger and food cravings

Autophagy
Last year, the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for discovering some of the mechanisms of autophagy — the process by which the cell devours itself. Superficially, this sounds like a terrible thing for our cells to do — until you consider what is really taking place.

When our cells undergo the process of autophagy, non-essential parts like damaged proteins are recycled and invading microorganisms and toxic compounds are removed. This means that autophagy plays an important role in stopping the aging process, reversing disease, and preventing cancer, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Fasting, protein restriction, and carbohydrate restriction are the three main ways that can initiate different autophagic processes — all of which are not the same. This is part of the reason why a ketogenic diet has so many positive effects, and it also shows you why intermittent fasting is a way to improve your diet even more.

Intermittent fasting & staying young

It all has to do with autophagy. Did you know that our hair, skin, eyes, organs, muscle etc. virtually everything inside and outside our body is made from proteins?

These proteins (proteinous cells) have a limited lifespan similar to foods on a shelf in grocery stores. This means they have to be recycled otherwise they turn bad and produce inflammation and oxidative stress accumulating things called free radicals and A.G.Es, (advanced glycation end-products).

Intermittent fasting can stop this from happening.

The free radical theory of ageing
Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive molecules which cause oxidative damage to our cells and DNA.

One way free radicals are created is glycation. Advanced glycation end-products, conveniently named A.G.Es, are proteins or fat that become glycated as a result of exposure to sugars. Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction has been shown to slow this process. Foods with A.G.E present have been cooked at high temperatures, excessive protein and carbohydrate consumption and animal protein. [5] A.G.Es are the highest in people who are overweight, alcoholics, chemo patients, smokers, diabetics, diseased and the elderly.

Intermittent fasting and longevity
As we age, certain hormones decrease, while others increase, blood flow to the brain slows, neurons shrink, overall brain volume reduces, and our mitochondria start to produce more free radicals. Intermittent fasting can slow the neural and cellular degradation and ultimately ageing.

Protects neurons (nerve cells): Intermittent fasting also helps the brain by protecting nerve cells from degeneration. Intermittent fasting helps to shield neurons in the brain from stress caused by overstimulation. L-Glutamate, a popular bodybuilding supplement has been found to be among the worse (neuronal death).[6]
Fasting also increased production of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) a potent brain protective agent. It also can accelerate autophagy in your neurons — the body’s inbuilt recycling process.[7]

Intermittent fasting has also been shown to improve patients with depression. They reported feeling a sense of peace, mental alertness and improved mood while fasting. A 2013 report found [8]

Intermittent fasting improves cognition and memory, another measure against detecting neurodegenerative diseases. A study of 50 elderly adults found that three months of caloric restriction boosted memory. [9]

So, when we intermittently fast what happens and what do we need to know/do?

The first and most obvious thing that happens when we fast is that we stop eating, Understandably, this can make you feel strange and hungry. Don’t stress. This is habitual hunger, it’s your body crying wolf and generally happens at the time you world normally eat i.e breakfast and lunch. An important thing to remember is, hunger comes in waves and will pass shortly after you experience it. So persevere.

At a deeper level: all of the sugar in your blood will be used up. This may sound counterintuitive given that we have been repeatedly told sugar is our body’s main source of energy. This is true. But just because something has been our main source of energy doesn’t mean it’s the best source. Think of sugar like we do of oil and how destructive it is. Now think of solar. When you fast, you’re body switches from using crude fossil fuels like oil to using solar.

Glycolysis to ketosis

Glycolysis = fossil fuels
Ketosis = solar energy
Once all of the sugar is gone the body stitches from using sugar as fuel (glycolysis) to using body fat as fuel.

This new state is called ketosis. You may of heard about ketosis through the ketogenic diet. However, not all ketosis is equal. The ketosis induced by the ketogenic diet utilises fat you consume throughout the day from eating food.
While the ketosis from intermittent fasting causes you to burn stored body fat.

Contrary to popular belief, the historically proven natural ketosis is engendered through intermittent fasting. We didn’t have the luxury of turning down carbohydrates. We ate when we could and we ate what we could.

How is our body fat used as fuel?

Ketones, also known as “ketone bodies,” are byproducts of the body breaking down fat as fuel. Ketones are both safe and natural.

You can tell when you’re in ketosis because you can taste it on your breath, this is known as ‘keto-breath’. Alternatively you can buy a blood ketone meter. I would not recommend urine test strips as they are less accurate.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss

What is weight loss?
Beneath the surface, ‘weight loss’ is actually just fat loss. When our body has excessive amounts of energy it’s converted to fat. When we aim to ‘lose weight’ we are actually trying to use up our excess fat.

Switching from glycolysis (burning sugar) to fasting ketosis (burning body fat) is clearly the superior approach.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of weight loss, let’s define what successful weight loss is made up of.

  1. Creating A Plan
  2. Exercising
  3. Educated Eating
  4. Connecting With Like Minded People
  5. Forming The Healthier Habit

That’s a lot of new and uncomfortable things to learn and do.

Yet, for some reason this process has been treated as isolated problems, segmented into their composite parts and only addressed as individual obstacles rather than as a whole.

The current, doomed to fail model looks like this:

  1. Personal trainers who teach us how to perform workouts, but aren’t legally allowed to give out nutrition plans or advice.
  2. Nutritionist and dieticians who give us meal plans but can’t really comment on the exercise aspect of getting into shape. Plus the meal plans are usually inhumanely restrictive.
  3. Inadequate support both these professions are doing their best to help. But unfortunately we need more than advice, we need to connect with people in our shoes, sharing a similar journey.
  4. Fragmented communication if none of these professionals are talking to each other about you. How are they going to create a well rounded plan that takes all the other aspects into consideration?

The New Approach: Creating Healthy Habits
Trying to form healthier habits this way is destined to fail. It’s complex and difficult.

"A ¼ of New Year’s dieting resolutions are broken in two weeks, and another ½ are broken as January ends. An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, yet the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 71% of adults aged 20 and over are overweight."

For anything to be successful it has to become a habit. And the easiest way to create a habit is to create small changes, ONE AT A TIME, that aren’t abrasive.

This is where intermittent fasting comes in. When done correctly all other steps in the process become less heavily weighted, meaning they aren’t as important.

When intermittent fasting correctly you don’t have to change what you eat.

So, this means:
No new diet that cuts out carbs, or gluten etc.
No expensive shopping list
No boring meal plans that suck the joy out of life.

You can literally eat as you normally would. Check out this study.

In this study, which was published in the “Journal of Translational Medicine,” they took 34 men. Divided these men into two groups. The first group did a 16-hour fast and an 8-hour eating window. The second group were prescribed a traditional eating pattern (breakfast, lunch, dinner) spread over the day.

Both groups ate the exact same thing as each other and did the exact same workouts.

After 8 weeks the fasting group decreased their body fat percentage by 16.4%. The other group that ate at traditional times only decreased their body fat percentage by 2.8%

“After 8 weeks, a significant decrease in fat mass was observed in the TRF group (−16.4 vs −2.8 % in ND group),” [00]

When intermittent fasting correctly you don’t have to workout at all, but with strategic, short workouts you can lose weight even quicker.

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym (you don’t even need a gym membership)
No expensive personal trainer.

What’s more, intermittent fasting actually makes you less hungry! Hormones for the most part strongly influence if not dictate how we feel and when we feel it. They can make us angry, sad, happy, energised, lethargic. They can make us store fat, or they can make us burn it.

Unlike all other diets, intermittent fasting actually favourably changes our hormonal response. When building the body we want, we have to resist the occasional temptation. Having your hormones against you makes this near impossible. This happens on virtually all the popular diets out there. they adopt the C.R.A.P method (Calorie Restriction As Primary). This negatively affects your hormones, making you hungry, lethargic and irritable. It also makes it hard to keep the weight off. No wonder most of them fail.

“In “The Women's Initiative Study” 50,000 women were studied while using the C.R.A.P. The study lasted 7 and a half years, resulting in none of the participants losing weight! Not a single kg.”

Fasting on the other hand puts your hormones back on your side. Making you feel full, energised, happy and fresh. The hormones that intermittent fasting encourages make you burn fat and make it much easier to keep the weight off.

In this first of its kind study participants body weight decreased in the time restricted group by 2.6%. Let’s say the average weight was 100kg, that's a loss of 2.6kg over 12 weeks. This may not sound like much but that's a small baby... literally. The subjects before the study typically ate over an 11 hour period but during the study, this became 8 hours. Only a 3-hour difference and they lost weight without any change in exercise or diet. [3]

However, The MOST significant about intermittent fasting is demonstrated in that the subjects in the previous study were all overweight and they managed to stick to this eating pattern 80% of the time ( 6 days out of 7 per week for 12 weeks). This is extraordinary and unheard of in the dieting realm.

Fasting, In other words is easiest way to lose weight. Not only this but adding IF to an existing diet can make it easier to stick too.

This is great news for people who have struggled to both lose weight and or keep it off after they have.

This study found that obese adults who followed the alternate-day fasting method, lost roughly 13 pounds over an eight-week period.[2]

Intermittent fasting has been proven to have the opposite effect on hunger and cravings.[4]
Consuming virtually no food reduces cravings to a fat greater extent then consuming few calories. This supports the fact intermittent fasting is superior for appetite control and thus weight loss than diets that focus on C.R.A.P (calorie restriction as primary).

As we can all attest, eating more can actually make you hungrier. In the same vein, eating less can make you less hungry. That’s terrific, because if you are less hungry, you will binge less, and are more likely to lose weight.

What to eat

During your fast:

Food
All food is off limits when fasting.

Drinks like tea and black coffee are allowed and recommended.
Tea and coffee with water only equal good.
Drink plenty of water, hydration is critical.

Do NOT dry fast. This is stupid.

Exercise
Exercise during a fast is recommended. Put simply, working out increases our body’s demand for energy. When we are without food or calories (fasted) we must get this fuel from somewhere else. Our body starts grabbing at the only source of energy it has left, body fat.

The heightened energy demand will continue even after you have finished exercising, you will continue to burn fat until you break your fast. This is one of the reasons I recommend exercising first thing in the morning 1) it will deplete last bit of sugar, if any still left in the body. 2) it will kickstart and prolong time you are in a fat burning state.

Breaking your fast
You’ve completed your fast woohoo. Now what to eat?

This is up to you, intermittent can be used as an addition to any diet. (keto, paleo, low-carb, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, atkins etc.

A few nutritional guidelines are always important:

  • Eat whole foods
  • Eat your veggies! (leafy green ones especially)
  • Stay away from refined carbohydrates and sugar
  • No GMO’s
  • When possible buy organic
  • Avoid entirely or limit fast food.

For those with specific goals it’s important to understand your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) so you can finely tune your macronutrient and calorie intake.

Breaking your fast with a low carbohydrate meal will prolong your state of ketosis until you chose to eat a meal higher in carbs. This is a potential option for those wanting to lose weight.

References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4163920/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19793855
https://content.iospress.com/articles/nutrition-and-healthy-aging/nha170036
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16493129
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17699361
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Neuroprotection+provided+by+dietary+restriction+in+rats+is+further+enhanced+by+reducing+glucocortocoids
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20534972
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23332541
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2633586/

The latest and greatest about everything intermittent fasting. We share the why and how intermittent fasting can help you live a long and healthy life.
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The latest and greatest about everything intermittent fasting. We share the why and how intermittent fasting can help you live a long and healthy life.

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