Intermittent fasting has quickly become one of the biggest and most popular trends in health and fitness; when done properly and coupled with tracking your food, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight, improve health, and simplify your fitness journey.
By DeLano Daniels
So what is intermittent fasting (IF) and how does it work
Intermittent fasting is a pattern in which an individual chooses to fast from food for a predetermined amount of time during the day. There are other methods of IF, but we’ll stick with this one since its basic and the easiest to follow. If you’re a little lost, don’t worry, I’ll describe my daily IF routine below to help you out.
From 4AM to around 11AM I consume nothing but a larger calorie-free caffeinated drink, such as black coffee, green tea, or an energy drink. This is especially important because caffeine is a natural hunger (appetite) suppressant; while I’m going hours without eating, the caffeine actually makes my hunger bearable. At 11AM I typically consume about half of my calories for the day, which leaves me satisfied and not feeling overly stuffed. Between 3PM and 5PM I’ll have a smaller meal or low calorie shake to bridge the gap until dinner time, and around 8:30PM, or so, I’ll consume my remaining calories for the day.
When I tell people I practice IF, the question I’m asked most is “How do you have energy for your workouts?”. This structure works particularly well for me because I typically complete my workouts outside of my fasting window, meaning I’m only active when I can eat. During the occasional early morning workout session, I still feel pretty good due to the stored calories I have from the larger meal I consumed the previous night.
Why does IF work and what are some benefits
The logic behind IF is since you have a certain window of opportunity to eat, you’ll consume less calories. The less calories you consume, the more weight you lose; this works especially well if you’re meticulous about tracking your daily dietary intake. Another great benefit is that your insulin sensitivity vastly improves, and insulin levels drop dramatically. So, what does that mean for you? Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible to be used as energy, thus increasing the amount of body fat you’ll burn during activity. Your Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels go through the roof, also giving you the ability to burn more fat and gain lean muscle. Because of the changes in these hormones, short term fasting may increase your metabolism.
Another great benefit is not having to plan and prepare so many healthy meals. Let’s face it, we’re all busy and the last thing we want to do is spend hours in the kitchen meal prepping. IF affords you the opportunity to prep less meals, which equates to less prep time, less clean up, and more time to do the things you love.
Why IF Isn’t For Everyone
In a nutshell, weight loss is the main reason for intermittent fasting, it makes you eat fewer meals and consume less calories. Additionally, it changes the body’s hormone levels to facilitate weight loss by releasing the fat burning hormone norepinephrine; however, IF isn’t for everyone. Slight hunger is the main side effect of IF, but if you have diabetes, low blood pressure, are underweight, take medications, pregnant or breast feeding, you should consult your doctor about doing ANY type of fasting.
At the end of the day, there is more than one method of reaching your goals and if the idea of fasting is not for you, then you can ignore all of the above. Do what best fits your lifestyle and choose something that you can stick to for the long term. However, if this is something that you may be interested in, do your research and try it out; if you feel good while fasting and feel this is a sustainable way of eating, then this can be a great method for weight loss and overall better health.
About DeLano Daniels
After many years in health and fitness and enduring some of life’s hardest trails, DeLano Daniels launched his own fitness company Pin Fit in 2012 to help motivate, inspire, and guide individuals who are wanting to change their lives. Not only is DeLano a certified personal trainer and nutritionist, but also a sponsored athlete, natural bodybuilder, writer, and college graduate. When DeLano isn’t training for shows, he can be found training individuals for special occasions, personal goals, fitness competitions, and most importantly better overall health and wellness. For questions regarding fitness, nutrition, or training, contact DeLano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Disclaimer: Empower Magazine does not make any specific health claims or product endorsements. The health claims or product endorsements in this article are the strict responsibility of the featured fitness columnist.