Is this just another fad diet, or is intermittent fasting for fat loss the definitive answer so many dieters have been looking for. This diet concept is not new, but has only recently gained a more wide spread audience.
It has a lot of positive aspects including a built in diet structure to help with discipline, but there are some drawbacks that many struggle with.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
Intermittent Fasting (IM) attempts to simplify your eating schedule, while utilizing short fasting periods to influence your metabolism and boost natural growth hormone. A typical IM routine partitions your day with 14-16 hours of fasting, where you are not allowed to consume any calories. That’s the goal anyway, but many find trace amounts of calories to be insignificant.
So if you get 25 calories in you during your fast period, it’s not going to wreck everything.
After the 14-16 hours of fasting, you would then proceed to eat your allotted calories in the remaining eight hours of the day. There isn’t a strict rule regarding how you should consume those calories.
Some people like to eat three meals, dividing all calories equally. Others like to reward themselves with one massive meal after breaking the fast, then finishing off the day with one or two smaller meals.
The choice is yours with intermittent fasting. As long as you follow the no eating rule during your fasting period, you’ll be rewarded with a leaner body.
Pros and Cons
Positive: Diet Structure
There are physical effects on your hormones and metabolism that make intermittent fasting successful, but it’s the built in diet structure that most will benefit from. When you have a well defined eating schedule, it can be enough to prevent a breakdown in discipline.
The rules are going to be very clear. This is when you eat, and this is when you don’t. That simple rule is enough to keep you pointed in the right direction and stay within your daily calorie budget.
Negative: Long periods without food
If you’ve never tried a fast or cleanse, and adhere to the common “eat every three hours” mentality, then shifting to a fasting schedule can be difficult. The initial stages of your intermittent fasting diet may result in headaches, or light headedness that will pass after several days. Your body will soon adjust to your new eating routine, and eliminate these very short term side effects.
Positive: Wide variety of food
While it’s not recommended, some people have experienced success with high fat diets while intermittent fasting. If they want a milk shake, then they have one. The most important rules are stay within your eating time frame, and don’t exceed your allowed calories.
As long as you don’t exceed your daily calories, you can eat big meals with a diverse choice of food.
Negative: You’ll still need a diet strategy
Intermittent fasting is a diet structure, but doesn’t give much guidance on diet content. It tells you when to eat, but not necessarily what to eat. This lack of clarification can lead to excessive eating of sugary, or fast digesting food types that can limit your success.
As the weeks pass you tend to become more liberal with your poor food choices, which can lead to overestimating calorie count and overeating.
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While not extreme enough to be labeled controversial, fasted workouts are recommended but not always included by some dieters. Getting up early in the morning and trying to power through any type of strenuous exercise can be difficult, especially if you haven’t eaten in the last 12 hours.
So why do some prefer fasted workouts?
The concept involves forcing your body to tap fat reserves during exercise, because there’s no food digesting in your system. Many believe this to be the holy grail of workout windows when it comes to fat loss. Your system is compelled to utilize fat cells because it has no alternative energy source readily available.
So if fasted workouts are so effective at getting you lean, why do many opt not to workout on an empty stomach? It’s mostly a personal preference, often dictated by the type of exercise you choose.
If you’re a powerlifter trying to best a personal record it can be hard to get there while running on fumes because you don’t have a pre-workout meal in you. The same can be said for endurance trainers who find fasted workouts frustrating and lacking intensity.
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