With the evenings getting darker and the temperature dropping, its easy to get out of the habit of regular exercise. We go to bed earlier, dont want to face the freezing cold when we go running and icy roads make other forms of exercising (e.g. cycling) difficult. So how can get keep the pounds off this winter when we cant seem to get out and exercise? Well, on top of visiting your local gym and doing exercises at home, its possible to keep the weight off by fasting. Im not talking about starving yourself but instead, tactically choosing periods of time that you refrain from eating.
Intermediate fasting has been all the rage after a few credible studies argued that there are multiple benefits to the method, including weight loss and if you think about it, it makes sense. Think back to our paleo ancestors. Would they have eaten three to five meals a day at set times? Probably not! Our ancestors would have went out hunting in the morning on an empty stomach, consumed berries or leaves throughout the hunt until eating a large dinner of whatever they caught. This is possibly one reason why our body responds well to intermittent fasting.
The science also shows that two days of fasting each week can give you between a 3,000 and 5,000-calorie reduction in your weekly diet, which could result in one pound of weight loss each week. It all sounds great so far, but lets delve into the details. Were going to take a look at exactly how intermittent fasting works, why its healthy, how it can help you lose weight and the countless benefits it can offer.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting simply involves going through periods in which you fast, but there are lots of different ways you can do it. Here are a few of the most popular methods used all over the world.
Eat Stop Eat
Eat Stop Eat is arguably the most popular method of intermittent fasting. This method includes fasting for 18-24 hours once or twice every week. People love it because its relatively simple to do, and it means you can eat pretty much whatever you like (within reason) on the days that you dont fast.
During your 18-24 hour fasting period, you cant eat any food at all, but you can have any drink that is free of calories. This means diet sodas with no sugar, water, black coffee and tea are all permitted. You should avoid milk in your tea and coffee, as this contains calories.
The main point behind this method is that you reduce your overall calorie intake during the week, as I have previously mentioned. A woman will lose around 3,000 calories each week, which can result in quite a regular and substantial weight loss over time. You can get even more out of this weight loss scheme by combining it with resistance training in the gym, or casual workouts at home. You dont have to go out running in the cold to see a difference!
An Alternative Method
If you are like me and cant function without food, there is an alternate method that works just as good. This form of fasting is popular for those who regularly work out at the gym. It is designed to help you lose fat and gain muscle definition. No, Im not talking about looking like Rhonda Rousey but, instead just looking healthy. Women must fast for 14 hours each day (not that hard if you sleep for 8 of those 14 hours) and then eat for the remaining 8-10 hours left in the day.
You dont have to eat non-stop for 10 hours of course, but you simply eat as normal albeit healthily of course. During the fasting period, you can consume no calories at all. Diet sodas and sugar-free drinks are permissible. If you like hot drinks, black coffee or tea at best.
You can easily adapt this method to your lifestyle, but its important that once you make this intermittent fasting schedule, you stick to it. Remember, nothing happens overnight but with time, I assure you will see significant changes.
Fat Loss Forever
There is yet another alternative, but one that I dont recommend. It is called The Fat Loss Forever method, which was pioneered by Dan Go and John Romaniello, and its designed specifically for people who spent a great deal of time at the gym. This method allows you to skip a day of the gym that you wouldnt usually skip, helping you keep on track with your routine and not miss out all that much when you cant make it to training.
This method combines the first two alternative methods, creating a plan that means you can have a day off from dieting and exercise, as long as you incorporate a 36 hour fasting period straight after this day. This means that whenever you eat unhealthily, you stop eating for the next 36 hours.
Its pretty tough and only suitable for those of you who hit the gym every day for hours on end. For most people, this method simply wont be suitable.
Isnt starving the body a bad idea when dieting?
Technically, yes. Think of your metabolism as a dynamic machine. It will only burn what IT IS USED TO receiving in fuel. While drastically cutting calories can lead to quick weight loss, it isnt sustainable because eventually, your metabolism will slow down. Starving yourself for long periods of time will not help you lose weight. It will not cause a long term weight loss, but will simply result in water weight disappearing. Fasting, however, is different. Fasting for a temporary period means you are eating less, and it doesnt mean your body will starve.
In fact, humans can go for quite some time before starving kicks in we are animals, after all.
Scientists have known about the benefits of fasting for over 70 years, with many studies suggesting that mice lived far longer when their calorie intake was reduced. In recent years, weve found that eating fewer calories can help us live longer and enjoy better health.
What are the other health benefits to fasting?
As well as helping you keep the pounds off this winter, fasting boasts a multitude of health benefits that you might not know about. Here are some of the best.
- It helps cellular repair
Your cells are always repairing themselves in your body, but they can only repair themselves when they are rid of waste materials. Studies have shown that fasting can help the cells repair themselves as a result of autophagy, a process that involves cytosolic components being degraded and recycled. A natural way of inducing this process is through intermittent fasting.
- It helps maintain growth
The regular release of growth hormones is essential for growing women, and it has been shown that intermittent fasting can help increase the amount of growth hormone released by anywhere up to 500%.
When more of the growth hormone is released, it becomes much easier to burn fat and build muscle at the same time as growing. Your body will be able to more efficiently use the nutrients that you consume to build essential tissues as you get older.
- It maintains your blood sugar levels
Eating too often can wreak havoc with your insulin levels in your body, leading to an increased risk of developing diabetes. When you fast intermittently, you are ensuring that your body is only receiving as much nutrients as it needs, and is in a better position to process those nutrients efficiently.
Furthermore, this improved efficiency and more stable insulin levels can help make it easier to burn fat which is ideal in the winter months!
Live your life without sacrifice
Intermittent fasting is a great way to keep your body looking fantastic, staying healthy and enjoying your lifestyle at the same time. You wont have to worry about that cream cake you had at lunch going straight to your thighs, when you know that youre consuming fewer calories each week anyway.
So give it a go this winter, and see how you can keep that beach body even into the holiday season, when the liquors, chocolates and cakes all come out your line of sight.