Intermittent fasting is now probably one of the most common tools to reduce body weight. It doesn’t specify what you have to eat; it is about when you eat.
Intermittent fasting methods
There are multiple ways of doing intermittent fasting: 18/6 principle (18 hours of fasting and 6 hours of eating), 5/2 model (eat for five days a week and for two days eat only 500-600 calories), alternate-day fasting (eat one day and fast during the next).
These models, however, allow a short period of eating, which in the long-term could cause energy deprivation, fatigue, and low brain functioning.
With HepaDiet, we suggest you stick to the 14/10 principle. It is the most natural and mild model, which allows you to burn fat, but at the same time, you don’t lose energy. According to Dorothy Sears, the associate director of the Center for Circadian Biology at UCSD, the 14/10 principle allows you to benefit from the fasting period while being able to function at work, have a normal life and cope with stress.
What does the 14/10 principle mean?
This method allows you to eat for 10 hours a day, while for 14 hours between dinner and breakfast the next day, you can drink water and other zero-calorie drinks.
For example, if you have breakfast at 8 a.m., you should have your last meal at 6 p.m. Between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., you can drink water but avoid having snacks.
Feeling hunger during a fasting period
If you are used to eating three meals per day and having snacks, there is no doubt you will experience hunger during the first few days of intermittent fasting.
There are different types of hunger: psychological (when you are looking at delicious food) and physical. The good news is that you can cope with both using some of these tips.
Drinking a lot of water
First of all, hunger can often be confused with dehydration. Not drinking enough water may cause headaches and muscle cramps. Around 30% of your water consumption comes from food, so drinking water should be your priority during intermittent fasting.
Choosing the right method
If you decide to challenge yourself and use a principle with more extended fasting periods, you might experience constant hunger and fatigue. Remember, starvation is not your goal, don’t make your body suffer when you could avoid this. That is why we prefer the 14/10 method, which is the mildest one and won’t cause you any discomfort.
Eating enough food
Although reducing calorie intake is undoubtedly your goal, you must focus on eating high-quality, nutritious food during the eating window. Eat more protein and fat. It doesn’t make you gain weight but instead helps you feel full quicker and longer, supporting your organs’ proper functioning.
Eating food out of boredom is quite common. You are at home. You have nothing-so why not grab something from the fridge?
To avoid this, keep yourself busy. Do some work around the house, tasks you always put away for later, but stay away from food! When your brain is occupied with work, you forget about feeling hungry. Stay active.
Don’t starve yourself
If you feel prolonged hunger in the first few days and can’t cope with it, it is okay for you to have some food during the fasting period. If you stick to your intermittent fasting method, you will get used to it, and hunger won’t bother you.
Remember, intermittent fasting shouldn’t make you feel weak or tired but rather energized and healthy.
Does intermittent fasting cause weight loss?
The short answer is Yes.
Intermittent fasting is an effective way to lose weight and belly fat. A review study in 2014 demonstrated that people lost 3-8% of weight over 3-24 weeks.
However, just not eating for 10 hours is not enough. With intermittent fasting, you reduce the calorie intake, but it works only if you don’t overeat during the eating window. Being on a diet and doing some daily exercise will only enhance fasting and help you reach your goal faster.
We already talked about the benefit of eating more protein and fat, but what should you avoid eating?
Try to exclude any products containing sugars and simple carbohydrates. These increase blood pressure and insulin levels, causing obesity and heart disease.
According to Healthline, refined carbs contain no vitamins or minerals and are simply “empty calories.” They also have a high glycemic index, meaning they get digested quickly, making you feel full but for a short time. Some of these products are pasta, cereals, sweets, white rice, and bread.
How does intermittent fasting work?
Intermittent fasting works by reducing calorie intake and affecting hormone levels in our bodies. Some of these hormonal changes make fat storage more accessible as a source of energy and increase metabolic rate by 3.6-14%.
Firstly, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels increase significantly. This is important since HGH is responsible for the weight loss and gain of muscles.
Insulin levels fall, giving easy access to the fat stores. Intermittent fasting also increases the levels of noradrenaline, which causes a fat-burning process. Moreover, during fasting, cells begin a repair process, getting rid of old proteins.
Apart from weight loss, intermittent fasting has other health benefits. It may reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, and levels of bad cholesterol – in other words, it is a great tool to prevent heart disease.
Intermittent fasting also increases the brain hormone BDNF, which is responsible for developing new nerve cells. It can also improve sleep quality, which consequently gives you more energy.
A simple tool, but not for everyone
Intermittent fasting can generally make your life easier and healthier. There is no specific protocol to follow, and you don’t have to cook or clean up that much now. However, for some people, it may be hard to maintain.
Remember, it is best to avoid intermittent fasting if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive, underweight, have low blood pressure, or had eating disorders in the past.
Generally, intermittent fasting is safe. The main adverse effect is hunger and weakness that you may face during the first few days of adapting to the new eating pattern.
Intermittent fasting is beneficial and enjoyable for some people, so you may wish to try this lifestyle changer if you feel good about it.