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Intermittent fasting (IF) is gaining wide spread popularity for its weight loss benefits as well as its positive effect on brain and general health. But if you’ve never tried intermittent fasting, it does sound a bit odd, and many dismiss it as another fad diet.
Here’s the most common intermittent fasting frequently asked questions.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a diet structure separating your day into eating and non-eating time periods. You choose a block of time to eat (12 consecutive hours), and a block of time to not eat (12 consecutive hours).
Why would you do this? Studies have shown metabolic and hormonal changes as you reach certain fasting thresholds. You begin to experience increased growth hormone secretion, lower blood sugar levels, and increased insulin sensitivity during periods of short term fasting.
The result is a reduction in body fat, and weight loss, after several weeks or months.
Does It Work?
Yes. If you’ve tried intermittent fasting without losing significant weight read this: What to do if you aren’t losing weight while intermittent fasting
Is It Hard?
Difficulty and sustainability are far more important than effectiveness when it comes to dieting. There are diets that can help you lose 100’s of pounds if you follow them diligently, but if you have to quit after three days because it’s too hard it’s all pointless.
A bare minimum intermittent fast for effective fat loss is 12-13 hours. On the surface this sounds challenging, but most people are already close to this length of fasting with a normal schedule. If you finish eating dinner at 7pm and eat breakfast the following morning at 7am, that’s a twelve hour fast.
The only real challenge is avoiding lat night snacks. If you choose to try a more advanced, 20 hour fast, then it becomes very challenging but still doable.
Is This A Low Carb Diet?
Intermittent fasting is a diet structure intended to influence your hormones, metabolic rate, and insulin sensitivity to help you lose body fat. It does this through periods of short term fasts IF tells you when to eat, but not what to eat.
The diet structure is often combined with other diet philosophies to increase fat loss, with low carb being one of the more popular options. You can use low carb with IF, but it’s not required.
Your diet content is entirely your decision.
What Can I Eat?
As long as you’re near calorie maintenance, or even better, in a calorie deficit what you choose to eat isn’t restricted. If you want to eat pasta during your eating time frame, it won’t wreck your diet goals.
The most important rule is consecutive non-eating hours.
If you want be sure you aren’t overeating, use these calculators to figure out your ideal calorie consumption for weight loss.
How Long Do I Have To Fast?
As mentioned above, the minimum recommended fast is 12 consecutive hours as this is when you’ll begin to experience increase growth hormone secretion and other metabolic changes. Fasting for shorter periods (8 hours) will help manage calories and diet discipline but it isn’t long enough to influence meaningful metabolic changes.
Recommended Fasting Periods:
Beginner: 12 consecutive hours
Intermediate: 16 consecutive hours
Advanced: 20 consecutive hours
Do I Have To Fast Everyday?
No. While many choose to use daily fasts, there are successful IF variants that only require one fasting period per week (usually 20-24 hour periods). Whatever works best with your schedule, is fine.
The more often you’re able to fast, the better your results will be. Someone fasting for five days a week, for 12 hours each day, will be more successful than someone fasting once per week for the same time period.
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