An entire 24 hours with no food. Madness or fat loss? Perhaps both.
Finally, I’ve returned to intermittent fasting (IF) after months of snacking on protein bars every 15 minutes, and feeding my stomach whenever it demanded.
Which was, and still is, always.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower insulin levels, increase human growth hormone (HGH), and raise testosterone levels. There’s also a chance IF may boost cognitive performance, and even help you live a longer life.
Prior to my break from IF, it was normal for me avoid food for 20 hours a day, with an eating window of 4 hours. I would fast 7 days a week, for two years or more.
You Want Options? Intermittent Fasting Has Plenty
This consists of fasting for 16 hours, then eating for 8. I would suggest this approach for someone just starting IF.
The “warrior diet” is one where you remain fasted for 20 hours, with a 4 hour feeding window. This one is my personal favorite.
Here you’ll fast five days out of the week, you have free reign to eat whenever you please. Then, you’ll spend two days fasted, in no particular order.
For example; you can begin your fast on Saturday and Sunday. (Eating 500- 600 calories on fasted days) Or you may find that eating on Tuesday and Friday feels better.
Eat Stop Eat
Fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week. And example would be; beginning your fast at 6 PM on one day, until 6 PM the next.
This means you fast every other day, allowing for more flexibility.
So, What Do I Do?
I stop eating at 4 PM, sometimes 6. I allow my stomach to digest and detox throughout the night. Then at 12 noon, the next day, I break my fast. If I’m hungry I might eat two hours earlier.
I like to listen to my body.
On the rare occasion that I miss a meal, or eat less than I would like, I tend to break my fast a few hours earlier. It could be that I haven’t eaten enough the previous day, or became overly consumed with my writing. So much so, that I unintentionally muffle out the fits of rage my stomach throws at me.
I appreciate these rare occasions of zen.
Most of us are spoiled by the abundance of food available. We’re taught to never skip breakfast. We fear dying of starvation if we miss the most important meal of the day.
The truth is you’ll be fine, slightly better in fact. You’ll survive if you miss a meal, don’t be so dramatic.
Fasting Keeps The FUPA at Bay
Its been weeks since I last weighed myself, but I feel lighter, and I can see a thinner me in the mirror. I can feel a load being lifted off my shoulders, or a roll off my belly. My pants fit slightly better, and my face feels thinner.
And I’m not alone.
MindBodyGreen, a popular website covering health & wellness, asked a few readers to weigh in on there experience. “It’s made my mind sharper in the mornings and improved my productivity,” Geoffrey tells MBG, “It’s also kept me at the most consistent weight I’ve been in years. And in better shape.”
My schedule is an easy one to follow. I skip breakfast and begin eating at noon. Depending on how hungry I am after my first meal, I’ll either stop at 4 or 6 PM. Some prefer a longer feeding window, one that’ll last for eight hours. That’s fine, as long as you allow your body to fast for 16 hours.
Here’ the cool thing about IF; while you’re resting, your body is burning calories. While you’re fasting you allow your food to digest better.
And don’t worry, you wont be losing any muscle either. You actually have a better chance at retaining muscle mass when compared to traditional calorie restriction.
Your body goes to work, breaking down the fat cells, then attacking your muscles. Your body knows it needs muscle more than it needs fat.
Is Intermittent Fasting Okay For People Over 50?
Although there isn’t much information on the topic, I would assume if you’re over 50 and relatively healthy, you should be fine.
Keep in mind, you should always consult with your doctor before trying a new diet.
To be safe, begin with shorter fasts. For example, if you normally eat breakfast at 8 AM, wait instead until 10 this time, and so forth.
Does Intermittent Fasting Affect Men and Women The Same?
What works for one person may not be as effective for the next. Whether you’re male or female. That being said, I’ve come across some interesting studies on how IF may effect women.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to effect the menstrual cycle. On the plus side some studies show a reduction in insulin levels.
Another study shows glucose levels may slightly worsen in women, over a three week period. In this study insulin levels were unchanged. On the other hand, glucose levels remained the same in men, and insulin response displayed a noticeable reduction.
For these reasons, women may prefer to begin with shorter fasts (14-16 hours), then increase if desired. Although I believe you can still achieve success with shorter fasts. Obviously exercise and diet play a big role, your approach will greatly determine your results.
The Importance of Nutrition
What you put in your body matters just as much as what you don’t put into it
At some point, you’ll need to break your fast. When you do, opt for highly nutritious foods to get the most out of it.
I like to break my fast with as few carbs possible. So, the first thing I devour, with all the energy I can gather, are a few hard boiled eggs.
Regardless of what you decide to eat, stick to a diet high in nutrients and vitamins. You probably know where I’m going with this. I’m talking about fruits and vegetables.
Dr Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live, goes into detail about how our bodies crave dark leafy greens and fruits. You may feel hungrier if you miss key nutrients. Its’ no wonder why we snack more times a day then we should.
Foods To Eat
Stick to vegetables like: Broccoli, Kale, Brussels sprouts, and Sweet potatoes.
Also, fruits such as: Bananas, Blueberries, Pomegranate, Mango, Cranberries and Papaya.
As for the sugar in fruits, studies show little effect on sugar levels when eaten whole. But stay away from fruit juice, it’s mostly stripped of its nutrients. As an added benefit, the high fiber in fruits aid in slow digestion and the absorption of sugar.
Fiber helps you feel fuller, longer. This can help with weight-loss over time.
Going strictly off of water for 16-20 hours a day may sound daunting to most. Personally, If I was told I could not drink coffee during a fast, I would not fast, and perhaps be 20 lbs heavier.
When drinking coffee or tea, you’ll want to stay away from sugars and sweeteners. Maybe consider avoiding adding these to your drinks even when you’re not fasting.
Staying under 50 calories keeps you in a fasted state. A few cups of coffee won’t hurt.
1 cup of coffee (8 fl oz) has 1 calorie. Brew a cup of coffee and you’ve burned 1 whole calorie, maybe 2.
The same goes for an 8 oz of tea.
Maybe coffee isn’t your thing, perhaps you prefer less caffeine. If so, green tea may be a more viable substitute.
Less jitters, more green.
Here’s something to keep in mind:
If it isn’t water, coffee or tea, don’t consume it. Chances are it’ll end your fast.
Some people argue that you can still drink something other than those three, as long as it doesn’t surpass 50 calories. It’s a gray area, which is why I prefer to stick to what’s worked for me this far.
I intend to stick to intermittent fasting for as long as possible. Perhaps forever, God willing I remain healthy. IF has earned a snug spot among the essentials in my life. Allowing for simplicity and an easy to follow routine, all the while bestowing order to my tyrant belly.
Any questions on intermittent fasting that I haven’t covered? Let me know in the comments!
Also, if you found this helpful in anyway, please share with your family and friends. It would mean a lot. See you soon.