What Is Intermittent Fasting {5 methods to fast effectively}

Weight Loss Diet Plan

Intermittent fasting is perhaps the most popular weight loss dieting method since the days of the Atkins Diet. The goals of intermittent fasting are not merely just to lose weight. Some people do it for spiritual reasons, others for body detoxification and more than that, there is a host of many health benefits as well. 

Technically speaking, fasting intermittently is not exactly a diet but a form of eating pattern. It is not about what to eat or what not to eat. It is about when to eat, when not to eat and then when to eat again. Have I confused you enough? If so, please read on.

The reasons why intermittent fasting is catching the health, fitness and weight loss world by storm is because it is much easier to conform to since you have various types of the eating plan to choose from, from the simple ones to the more advanced forms of fasting. As for losing weight, it works! This can be attested to by the thousands if not millions who have tried out this weight loss and general health diet plan.

 

Furthermore, some in the scientific community even claim that this form of dietary habit can have many very positive effects on the physical body as a whole and may even prolong your life. This is a very powerful and compelling reason why you should give intermittent fasting a shot if you want to lose weight, become more healthy and even increase your longevity.

As the name suggests, intermittent fasting is a form of eating pattern between periods of fasting and eating. As such, technically speaking, it is not a really just a diet, but a lifestyle of eating habit. You restrict your food intake for a certain period of time and then eat healthily during the few hours of window period when it is permissible to do so.

As a matter of fact, human beings are natural "intermittent fasters" to begin with. During the ancient times, people would need to hunt animals, gather food and would have to fast when food is not so readily available and abundant. Then eat heartily when daddy returns from a hunting and food gathering expedition. There were no neighborhood grocery stores and supermarkets back then, right?

When the food was collected and prepared, the tribe would gather together and had a grand feast after which, the cycle of fasting and eating repeated itself over and over again. The ritual eating of 3 meals a day is actually a modern day concept relative to the time of human existence. Bet you didn't know this, didn't you? I have always wondered who was the first guy who came up with the idea of eating three meals a day routine or worse, having a late night supper later at that.



















For the purpose of losing weight and harnessing the positive health effects of intermittent fasting, there are quite a number of ways to do it. Here are just five of them out of a few more other methods.

1) The 16/8 Method - Meaning that you fast for 16 hrs with an eating window period of 8 hrs each day. This method of fasting is typically done by eating your last meal of the day at around 6 pm and the first meal of the day after 10 am the next day. You can opt for another meal in between or simply forgo it completely, meaning you will eat only two meals a day instead of three, if you choose to.

Fasting with this method is made much easier since your sleeping hours are also counted as the fasting period and you are usually not hungry when you wake up in the morning anyway, so that your first meal can either be your brunch or lunch instead of breakfast.

Yes I know what is going through your mind right now. Your breakfast is the most important meal of the day and never skip breakfast, right? Well, don't you think it is about time that you let go of this pesky little myth. To get better weight loss result, go for the two meals a day plan instead of the usual three.

 2) 24hr Fasting (One Day Fast) - Some people opt to fast for 24 hours, once or twice a week. So you can choose one or two days in a week to fast totally for 24hrs. On other days, you just eat as you always do or go on the 16/8 method . Of course you should not overeat on the days in which you are not fasting.

 3) The 20/4 Method - Just like in method (1) above, this involves fasting for 20hr with a eating window of only 4 hrs each day. You can choose to do 16/8 on some days and 20/4 on others too if you like.

 4) One Meal A Day (OMAD) - Yes, you need to only eat one meal a day. However I will recommend that you take multi vitamin and mineral supplements if you choose this fasting method so as not to be deficient in them.

5) The Three Day Fast - This method of fasting is sometimes also known as "water fasting" since you don't eat anything but drink only water during the 3 days of fasting. Then eat normally for a couple of days or a week or more or longer if you wish, then back to the 3 day fast again until you achieve your goals.

Those of you who want to try this method should start with the one day fast first to get yourself acclimatized to the effects of not eating for a longer period of time. Although the human body can survive for weeks without food, it may protest vigorously for the sudden food deprivation and you may experience intense hunger pangs, dizziness, mild tremors and some weaknesses. However, the health benefits far outweigh the temporary physical discomforts.

During the 3 days of not eating anything, your body will cleanse itself from a whole lot of waste and toxins. It will detoxify itself and you will feel refreshed, vibrant, energetic and raring to go after the fast.

The thinking behind intermittent fasting is in some way rather similar to that of the Paleo diet. That means to mimic the way our cavemen ancestors ate. It is also thought that regular fasting can even prolong your life and helps you to live longer. Watch the video below to find out why is this so. 






















There are several things going on in your body when you begin to fast. Here are just some of them. 
 

 1) Your Human Growth Hormone, also known as Hgh will surge as much as 500% depending on which fasting method you have adopted and how long you have fasted. Hgh is a protein that is produced by the pituitary gland and its production is facilitated by a complicated series of hormones controlled by the hypothalamus part of the brain.

This hormone helps to repair your body's cellular tissues from daily wear and tear, slows down the biological aging process, helps in burning body fat and the building of muscle tissues. It is a body regeneration hormone sometimes called the "fountain of youth" because of its anti aging abilities.

2) When you are in a fasted state, your insulin level plummets, resulting in decreasing the risks of type 2 diabetes and the prevention of storing of body fat. Your glucagon production is increased and this helps in the breaking down of your body fat tissues and thus helping you to lose weight at a faster rate. Glucagon is a hormone which helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and thus keeping body fat accumulation and diabetes at bay. 

  3) Your testosterone level begins to skyrocket as the fasting period stretches on and there are even claims that the testosterone boost can be as much as 2,000% for men and 1,300% for women when the fasting hours are stretched a tad longer. Of course this surge of testosterone will vary with each individual.

This is very good news for men who want to build muscle mass, overcome erectile dysfunction, improve their libidos and reducing belly fat. For even better results for muscle growth and fat burning, hit the gym near the end of the fasted state since your Hgh and testosterone levels are at the highest level so as to get the best effect from your workouts.

For very fast and quick weight loss, you can even combine intermittent fasting together with the ketogenic diet and throw in some High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) as well, but the downside is that you will have to change your wardrobe pretty quickly too as those clothes in there won't fit you anymore just as quickly. So is this good news or bad news for you? The ball is in your court. You decide.

4) The jewel in the crown is that you may even live longer because in some studies done on animals over a period of time conducted by Dr. Mark Mattson, a well known expert on the field of fasting and his team at the National Institute On Aging. The researchers pleasantly discovered that the animals actually do indeed age more slowly biologically and even live longer when they ate fewer calories than they usually ate. The team then surmised that the increased longevity is a real possibility and may be achievable by eating less everyday or by fasting on intermittent days. So if you want to live longer and increase your life expectancy, then start to fast intermittently now, right?

5) Intermittent Fasting can reduce oxidative stress and inflammations both of which are the main causes of many chronic diseases as well as speeding up the aging process. In other words, fasting may prevent age related diseases which may have yet to make their unwelcome appearances. So do take preemptive action to stall or even ward off age related diseases, begin to fast intermittently.

6) When you are fasting, the cells in your body triggers off a waste removal action called autophagy. This is when damaged and dysfunctional cells are broken down and flushed out from the body in a detoxification process. When bad cells are expelled, they are replaced by healthy functional cells and thus may prevent several aging diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, amnesia and even some types of cancers.

All these health benefits very compelling and powerful reasons as to why intermittent fasting is so popular for people who want to lose weight, gain muscles and slowing down or even reversing the aging process. On top of that, because of the tremendous surge of growth hormones and testosterone, muscle loss is being prevented and in many cases when people lift weights during the fasting period, gaining muscle mass is even accelerated because of the abundance of growth hormones and testosterone! This goes on to say that if you are not overweight, having more muscles and in general good health, you will probably also live longer because of the lowered risks of getting age related diseases and ailments.
























So are there any negative side effects from intermittent fasting? Well, for one, experiencing hunger pang is the most common side effect, however as your body adapts to it in just a matter of days, going without food for many hours or even days will get easier and easier.

You can also soothe your hunger by drinking plenty of water to fill up your stomach. When I said water, I meant H2O only. Avoid any drinks that contain sugar and calories in any other forms such as in carbohydrates and so on during the fasting hours, better yet, if you can adhere to this principle during the permissible eating window as well.

Some people reported that having two teaspoon full of apple cider vinegar mixed in a cup of water can also help them to curb their hunger pangs. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains almost zero calories and carbohydrates. However, do drink it diluted in a cup of water as the vinegar is very acidic and may wear out your tooth enamel or damage your esophagus.

Some people may also feel weak and tire out more easily, but like the hunger pangs, your body will also adapt to it pretty much quickly. As a matter of fact, most people reported that they are even more energetic and are sleeping better than before only after a few days of intermittent fasting. This sure sounds great, doesn't it?

Other side effects such as diarrhea, mild gastric pain, headaches, occasional stomach acid reflux and brain fogging had also been reported now and then. Again these symptoms are usually temporary and will go away by itself after some time when your body stopped protesting against the new eating routine, but if the symptoms continue to persist, then visiting your doctor may be a good idea.

However a word of caution is needed here to state that intermittent fasting is not for everybody, especially for those who have eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa and who are simply underweight. As for people with medical conditions such as hormonal issues, who are expecting mothers, diabetics, having low blood pressure and so on should consult a health professional first before embarking no a fasting program.

So why not give intermittent fasting a shot and watch your body fat melting away day after day and your overall health glowing along with it and that will be simply wonderful, wouldn't you say so?  
















1) Wouldn't intermittent fasting cause the body to go into the starvation mode which slows down its metabolism process and increase fat storage?

In the past, we were told to eat 6 small meals a day to keep our metabolism humming all day long. Back then, skipping meals or breakfast was the holy grail to accumulate body fat since it was reasoned that our metabolic rates will plummet if we missed our meals, so we were constantly taught to never go hungry for fear that our bodies will start burning our muscles for energy instead of our body fat. Get this straight folks, those out of date theories and reasonings are now debunked emphatically by new science which superseded them and as such are done and over with for good. Good riddance to bad rubbish eh?

As a matter of fact, if you snack or eat a meal every two or three hours, you are actually preventing your body from burning off your fat because you keep supplying food for your body to take as energy instead. This means that you will be always storing and accumulating body fat. Make sense?
 

You see, when you fast, your insulin level drops and this encourages fat burning. This process is called lipolysis. So do you see the point that you burn fat during fasting and burn food whenever you are eating? This is so very obvious that those well meaning folks who told us otherwise were wrong, weren't they?
 

Furthermore, it is absurd to say that our metabolism will slow down when we skip a meal or two. We do not enter into starvation mode that quickly. There are numerous clinical studies to show that our metabolism do not slow down at all even after a good two to three days without food. This should throw the irrational fear of skipping meals out of the window for good.

 


2) I am kind of apprehensive in starting the intermittent fasting program as I am afraid of going hungry and succumbing to it. How can I overcome hunger?

This is where your commitment and determination must come in. Yes, you will experience some hunger pangs especially so when you are just starting out. However the hunger pangs will get less and less frequent day by day as your body adapts to the new eating pattern.

Furthermore, the hours that you are sleeping are also counted as fasting and people usually are not hungry in the morning after waking up, so skipping breakfast can be done more easily than thought to be. In fact, contrary to what most people think, fasting regularly has a hunger suppressing effect. You will pleasantly find this out after a few days you get started.

Here are some practical suggestions on what to do when you are feeling hungry such as immersing yourself into your work, play some exciting games, go workout in a gym, go for a jog or swim, try to do some meditation, drink lots of water to satiate yourself and so on and so forth. In other words, just keep yourself busy doing something you like. The remedies to overcome hunger are aplenty. Just use your imagination and start acting on them.


3) Will fasting make me lose muscle mass? I have been training with weights to build muscle for some time now and are afraid to lose the muscle mass which I have built up. 

 

Just like the first question above, this is a common unsubstantiated myth that refuses to go away despite tons of research and evidence showing otherwise, that you will start losing muscles when you skip meals. In a clinical study reported in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, going without food for up to 40 hours do not lead to muscle loss or its atrophy.

On the contrary, fasting intermittently will lead to the increased production of testosterone and the human growth hormone both of which are very anabolic not only in preserving your muscles, but are also excellent for muscle growth if you train them in the most efficient way.


4) What types of beverages can I drink during the fasted state?

You can drink any beverages which do not have calories or sugar. Good old plain water will simply be just great. So do plain tea and coffee without any sugar, sweeteners and milk. Fruit juices are out because they have calories and fruit sugars.

A dash of apple cider vinegar topped up with water is great too as apple cider vinegar has almost no calories to disrupt the fasting. Some people actually claim that drinking apple cider vinegar actually helps them to curb their appetite, hunger pangs as well as being useful for weight loss as it helps to balance the blood insulin level. However, medical research have not conclusively proven this to be the case. At least for now, they are just anecdotal evidences.


5) Can I drink alcohol when I am fasting?

Do not drinking any beverages with calories, not just alcohol. So drinking any form of alcohol is not recommended at all since the calories therein will negate all the positive effects of fasting. Every gram of alcohol contains approximately 7 calories. This applies to other edibles which contain calories as well. 


6) Should I exercise during the fasting hours? 

Absolutely yes, especially so if losing body fat or gaining muscle mass are your goals. However, it should only be done in the last few hours before you terminate the fast for best results. 

This is because if you exercise at the beginning of the fast, your anabolic hormones are not at its peak and your body may take your muscle for energy when it is out of glycogen to burn as the fast continues. 

However, when you exercise near the end of the fast when anabolic hormones like human growth hormone and testosterone are aplenty and with the glycogen depleted, your body will burn even more fat and at the same time because of the high anabolic state that you are in, your muscle retention and growth will be exacerbated. That will be just simply awesome, don't you think so?

7) I have read somewhere that fasting intermittently can be rather unhealthy and may lead to certain health risks. Can you elaborate on this?

Well, just as with everything else, there will be critics. From what I understand about the usual objections, there are no clear evidence that intermittent fasting may come with certain health risks unless the person already has existing underlying medical conditions. Therefore the usual misgivings are mostly based on unproven theories and opinions. While we are at this question, let us look at some of those objections.

Some say that fasting regularly may damage the pancreas and may upset the functioning of insulin in the bloodstream. However, there is no report till date of dieters succumbing to these health issues.


Others fear the risks of developing eating disorders such as Bulimia Nervosa (Bulimia) or Anorexia. While there is a possibility of this happening, the probability of it is almost negligible unless the person is already undergoing some emotional or psychological eating disorders. In other words, the tendency of becoming a bulimic or anorexic is already there before the fast begins. That is why intermittent fasting or any form of dieting for that matter are not for people with these eating disorder tendencies.
 

Another common concern is that intermittent fasting may raise cortisol levels and cortisol helps the body to store fat. Yes, long term fasting can put your body in a "starvation mode" which will raise the cortisol level. However when you are fasting for only a few hours or even a day or two, it will not stress out your body so much so as to significantly raise your level of cortisol. Furthermore, since longer periods of fasting will increase testosterone production, this will negate the effects of the rise in cortisol level.

Some people say that fasting may lead to an unhealthy obsession with food. They reasoned that you will keep thinking about food because of hunger pangs during the fasting state. This will make you gorge like a glutton when the fast is broken.

Yes, this may be true for a selective group of people, however by and large when people choose to fast, they are usually the more disciplined and committed type of folks who can mostly be able to overcome binge eating.

Furthermore, when your insulin level is low during fasting, hunger is being contained and the hunger pangs will not be as bad as some people make it out to be. Besides, your body will also get used to this new form of eating lifestyle and will become adapted to it pretty quickly.

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5 Types of Intermittent Fasting 

Frequently Asked Questions And Answers (Q&A)

What Are The Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting?

What are the health benefits of intermittent fasting?

Watch Dr Eric Berg explaining how to start intermittent fasting in the video below

How eating just one meal a day can increase your longevity video

Lose up to 21 pounds in the 3 week diet program
Weight Loss Diet Plan

Watch what Dr Mark Paul Mattson, Ph.D, who is a leading world expert on the subject of fasting have to say about how intermittent fasting can improve your brain power as well as increasing your cognizant ability.
















About The Author - Chris Chew is the health, fitness and grooming consultant to the Mister International Organization, which is the owner and producer of the Mister International and Mister Singapore Pageants. He is presently sitting on the advisory panel of Personal Trainers In Singapore and is himself an experienced and certified Master Trainer.

Chris is also the Director of food health and hygiene for food and beverage establishments such as Kingdom Food Group of restaurants.

This article was researched and presented here by Chris and is meant to be helpful to the readers. It is not meant to diagnose or suggest any treatment in lieu of your medical professional's advise.

Chris is based in the cosmopolitan tropical island nation of Singapore and is still training his clients for fat loss, muscle building and general physical fitness in his free time and he can be contacted
here


 

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