Intermittent fasting, or IF, is an eating pattern where conscious decision is made to skip certain meals. You are cycling between periods of eating and fasting, and not about what food to eat. The fasting period is at least fourteen (14) hours after the last meal. The effects are weight loss and improved overall health.
What happens during Intermittent Fasting?
During the first part of the fasting period, the body continues to use blood glucose for fuel which is the usual way. When required, the body taps into the glycogen stores in muscles and liver, and converts them into glucose for use.
At the later stage when glycogen stores are insufficient, the body turns to fat for energy through gluconeogenesis. This happens during ‘fasted stage’ of the body which usually begins about 12 hours after the meal.
So with a 14 hour fasting, you will be burning fats in the last 2 hours!
In fact, the body uses both fats and glycogen during low intensity workouts.
You mentioned about improving overall health
There are articles (on the Internet) that mentioned about how fasting (or IF) reverses type 2 diabetes as it lowers insulin resistance or improve insulin sensitivity.
The other one is lowering body fat which in turn reduces body weight for better overall health. Being in the healthy weight range reduces the probability of high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, etc.
So how do I start intermittent fasting?
Starting on IF require determination, changes to your meal timings, ensuring you still get your daily calories met and the IF frequency.
The determination part is resisting temptation of food during IF when your friends, colleagues or family members are eating. It is difficult at the start but it get better once you get the hang of intermittent fasting.
Changes to meal timings
With regard to changes in meal timings, it is about selecting which meal of the day to skip or fast through. To easily hit fourteen hours of fasting, I either skip dinner or breakfast. Why? Cos sleeping on empty stomach is counted too!
- Skipping dinner
Assuming your lunch ends at 2pm and breakfast starts at 6am the next morning, you would have clocked sixteen (16) hours of fasting.
- Skipping breakfast instead
Assuming your dinner ends by 8pm and lunch starts at 12pm (the next day), you would have again clocked sixteen (16) hours of fasting too!
There are people who actually does IF over a few days or even weeks while getting minerals and nutrients via soups/ broth (without consuming the meats, veggies, etc.)
Meeting daily calories requirements
A calories deficient diet will cause the body to decrease your BMR. A lowered BMR means your body requires less calories to function, lower energy levels, excess calories get converted to fats, etc.
During your eating periods, just have a normal meal and meet your daily calories requirements. Don’t gorge on food. Meeting the daily calories requirement is very important as you wouldn’t want your basal metabolic rate (BMR) to decrease.
So consume healthy food during your eating periods!
Frequency of doing Intermittent Fasting
There is no hard and fast rule on how often should IF be done, it is totally up to you and your goals. If you wish to lose that stubborn belly fat, you might wish to do more often. If you are just doing as part of regular body maintenance, do it once in a while.
How long have you been doing IF?
I do IF occasionally since the start of this year after my buddy introduced me to a booked titled “The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting” by Dr. Jason Fung. Since then, the fats around my waist have visibly reduced.