Intermittent Fasting – The Pro’s, Cons & If It’s Right For You.
‘To Fast or Not to Fast?’. That is the question and here is the answer…
If you want to lose weight, then I’m sad to say the basics are very simple – you have to eat less. There is no out-running, out-training or out-working a bad diet in the end. And there is no avoiding a caloric deficit if our aim is to reduce body fat. It is the only way.
Yes, a simple sensory pleasure has turned out to be the cause of the greatest, most widespread and most prolific health crisis of our times. The epidemic that is obesity.
There are many ways to combat this issue. Considering how many methods there are available to us, let’s dive into the weeds a little regarding one that’s on the lips of many in the health and wellness industry right now.
For any of you that have not heard of this it requires the individual choosing a period of time, usually anywhere from a 12 – 16 hour window, where you do not consume any food. And like all types of caloric restriction it is rather effective at burning body-fat.
The scientific crowd – of which Alan Aragon seems to be the best man to further your research when it comes to any subject on nutrition – like to term this ‘time restricted feeding’. Most of the research on this method involves a 16 hour fast and a feeding window of between 4-8 hours a day. This means you eat your caloric total within that window alone.
In the largest study of Intermittent Fasting (IF) compared to energy restriction (smaller portions of food on a more regular basis throughout the day), the findings were almost exactly the same. The results were identical in terms of body weight reduction and composition changes, the levels of fat and muscle.
Neither one was better at improving glucose control or insulin sensitivity.
No differing effects on Thyroid, Cortisol, or hormonal profiles.
The only thing that differed is that eating more regularly led to feeling less hungry. Who would have thought?
The takeaway is to choose a diet that you can stick with for changes in body composition. It’s consistency in a caloric deficit that works above all else.
So why all the fuss about this damn diet??
Studies have shown that a group who ate more frequent meals actually performed worse in muscular endurance tests.
Not to mention:
- Less inflammation.
- Better cognitive function.
- Healing of the gut.
- Improvements in concentration and memory.
- Fasting can help with lowering the risk of diabetes.
- Helps with autoimmune conditions.
And IF could even decrease the risk of cancer.
Is it right for me? Well, like all things, it depends.
Do you wake up hungry? Do you have a physically demanding job? I do, and a faster metabolism.
If I’m not training clients back to back at 6am, 7am and 8am, I’m doing the school run with my kids. The idea of doing any of this without fuel in the engine leaves me feeling faint.
But I still try to manage 12 hour fasts if I can and going forward I will be using a fast once a week. It is so important to offset some of the stresses of pounding our bodies day in and day out for so many years.
If you don’t feel hungry until later on in the day and this resonates, I would suggest to consider a shorter fast to begin with. Just consuming some water and maybe coffee or a tea. Then slowly increase the length of time fasted, rather than jumping into a 16 hour fast straight away. Perhaps a 12 hour fast would be a better place to start, easing yourself into the new habit and making it sustainable.
Pair this with sensible food choices and this is a caloric deficit with some potentially game-changing benefits.
Author - Fletcher Dalrymple - Personal Trainer & Mentor
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