Intermittent fasting diet: A guide to lose weight in a healthy way
When you’re on a diet and you’re hungry, time seems to stand still and all you can think about is food. A cheeseburger, a slice of pizza, a bowl of spaghetti, an ice cream cone, a brownie, heck, even a salad! Whatever it is you crave, it will not leave your mind. But is this really true? Is it possible to cut cravings, stop useless snacking and “delay” hunger? Intermittent fasting, a diet consisting of time-restricted eating, is the not so new method of weight loss that many studies show works. Learn all about this new diet, its good sides, its bad sides and the mistakes not to make. Of course, anyone starting a new diet must talk to a healthcare professional beforehand and anyone who’s dealt with eating disorders or who have health problems should refrain from any sort of strict diet.
1 What is the intermittent fasting diet?
As the name suggests, the diet consists of fasting during a certain number of hours, usually around 16, to benefit from burning stored fat instead of only burning carbs. After about 12 hours without eating, your body will turn to its fat storage to create energy, which will result in you losing weight. It is important to note, however, that fasting is not a type of deprivation diet. All you are doing is limiting the hours when you actually eat. You don’t eat less then you would normally do and you don’t avoid certain foods like carbs or meat either. This method can be very beneficial for people who snack all day.
2 The different types of fasting
There are more than two different types of intermittent fasting (4:3 diet, Warrior Diet, One meal a day diet, etc.) but we will present to you the two most popular ones:
The 16-8 diet means you fast for 16 hours and you limit your eating to 8 hours a day. Most people choose to eat between 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. but this depends on whether you’re the type of person who could eat an entire boar (cue the exaggeration) the second they wake up or don’t eat for many hours after getting out of bed. For the 16 hours when you don’t eat, you must stay hydrated by drinking loads of water and plain black tea, or coffee like Bulletproof coffee. If you feel comfortable with the 16-8 time frame, you can even try 18-6.
The 5:2 diet consists of eating regularly 5 days a week and fasting for 2. The 2 days when you do fast, your calorie intake should be around 500-600 calories per day. You can either choose to have one 500 calorie meal during the day or you can have 2-3 snacks throughout the day.
3 The benefits of this diet
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting has numerous health benefits. It has been proven that fasting can help lower cholesterol, reduce oxidative stress (an imbalance between the antioxidants and free radicals in your body caused by stress), lower blood glucose levels, help those living with diabetes, live a longer and healthier life, and more.
Another huge benefit of fasting is that you realize how much emotional eating you do every day. Most of us eat lunch at the same time as our colleagues without being hungry just because it’s the norm. Once you fast, you will realize that you can skip that midday bag of chips or that decadent dessert after you’re full from dinner since you’re now aware of your real hunger.
4 Mistakes to avoid when trying a fasting diet
Unlike other diets, intermittent fasting doesn’t prevent you from eating carbs or fats. Diets that involve food restriction or cutting different food groups, most often than not, make people a little… crazy. All they think about is how much they’d rather eat their neighbour’s bowl of pasta and not their unappealing and limp salad in front of them. The fasting diet doesn’t deprive you of your favourite foods. However, you can’t go crazy and fast for two days and eat everything and anything you can put your hands on during the five other days of the week. Here are five mistakes to avoid ruining your chances of losing weight while fasting.
Not eating enough
Fasting isn’t really a type of diet since the purpose is not to restrict calories. You need to eat proper meals that are well-balanced so your body can better function throughout the day. You will notice that once you start fasting, it will be easier for you to tell when you’re not hungry anymore at mealtime. That being said, when you’re not fasting, eat your fill.
Drinking water when fasting is truly important. When you fast, all the junk inside your body is being cleaned out but if you don’t drink water, this junk will just float inside your body and stay there. The water allows the junk to be filtered and leave your body when you urinate. Water is also vital; it keeps you hydrated since you’re not eating foods like fruits and vegetables, which have a lot of water in them. Also, many studies show that water is an appetite suppressant, meaning it will make you feel full. Add a cucumber, lemon or lime juice in your water if you’re not a fan of plain water.
Starting the diet with too much intensity
Just like most things in life, start gradually. Don’t fast for 24 hours the first day or else you will feel discouraged and feel extremely hangry. Anyway, if you start this diet too fast, you will produce cortisol, a stress hormone that slows down your body’s ability to lose weight. A 12-hour fasting window is a good place to start. Once you feel comfortable, add time and slowly reach the 16 hour fasting period.
Not taking into consideration your lifestyle
Do you feel hungry right when you get up? Do you go to sleep after midnight? Do you exercise in the morning? In the evening? All these questions need to be answered before you start fasting. If you don’t feel hungry until two, three hours after you’ve woken up, choose to fast from the evening to early afternoon. The same thing goes if you workout at night since you can eat before.
Eating whatever you want
Just because you’re not eating for 12, 16, or even 24 hours, it doesn’t mean on the days you eat you can go all out and scarf down junk food and other high calorific foods that are bad for you. Lean proteins, lots of fruits and vegetables, fibre-filled foods, grains, this is the type of food you want to favour.
5 Our opinion on this fasting diet trend
Studies do prove that intermittent fasting is effective and safe for us. Nonetheless, some studies have also demonstrated that fasting is not more or less effective than other diets when done right. If you try fasting and have trouble not eating for long periods of time, don’t fight it. Instead, exercise, eat healthy and wholesome foods and reduce your sugar, salt and unhealthy fats intake. Just because this diet has worked for some, it doesn’t mean it will be a great fit with you and your lifestyle but it doesn’t hurt to try either.
Cover photo: Chris Ralston | Unsplash