Intermittent Fasting is a nutritional methodology being adopted by athletes and bodybuilders worldwide. We examine its benefits and drawbacks for everyone who decides to follow it.
It seems that everywhere you look and everyone you talk to has a different opinion on the best diet – so it’s no wonder most of us are confused about diet and nutrition!
So today I’m going to talk Fasting and different ways you can incorporate it into your life.
Fasting: What is it?
Fasting isn’t a diet as such, but rather a pattern of eating. Most of us eat a standard 3 meals a day of Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner- and may add snacks in between. Then we may follow a ‘diet’ of a certain number of calories, low carbs, carb cycling, high protein, low fat or macro tracking to help achieve your goals.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is basically periods of fasting where you switch between ‘feeding’ and ‘fasting’ states. There are several protocols you can follow including
- 5:2 diet where you fast on low calories – approx. 600-800 calories for 2 non- consecutive days and eat freely the rest of the week. There’s the
- 8:16 where you fast 16 hours and eat for 8 – start time really is your preference but you only eat during that 8 hr window- popular times are 11-7pm or 12-8. There are also
- 24hr fasts from 1 a week or month, to alternating days – starting at 8pm after an evening meal and continuing until 8pm the following day starting 24 hours ‘feeding’ with an evening meal and eating until the next day at 8pm, so you always get 1 meal on the fasted day and on the day in between you eat freely.
How Intermittent Fasting Works
IF: Fasting works by regulating insulin- when insulin is low, fat burning can happen. When we eat- insulin increases, when we fast – it decreases, therefore its suggested fasting makes fat burning easier.
What are the Health Benefits of Fasting?
Research shows many benefits of fasting can reduce insulin sensitivity, improve symptoms of menopause, strengthen the immune system, lengthen life, increase fat loss, reduce inflammation along with many other health benefits. It is also suggested that fasting can help the digestive system function better.
What are the possible side effects / Risks of Fasting?
Several possible side effects have been reported whilst fasting, including hunger, feeling week, brain fog (feeling like the brain is not functioning)- all of which may be temporary while adjusting to the new way of eating.
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for anyone with a history of eating disorders, or women with a history of amenorrhea.
Most of the research has been done on men so it’s not known if the effects on women would be the same and is thought to be more beneficial to men.
Anyone with the following medical conditions is recommended not to try fasting: diabetes, problems with blood sugar regulation, anyone trying to conceive, pregnant or breastfeeding.
How easy is it to stick to?
Whether you can stick to Intermittent fasting very much depends on your lifestyle. The 8:16 protocol is the most popular IF method as its easy to fit into most people lifestyle and is flexible, however, IF could interfere with social events and plans. T
he 5:2 means you only have to track calories closely- 2 days a week, giving you much more freedom for the rest of the week. The amount of calories you have on fast days depends on how active you are.
The 5:2 can test your willpower and the 8:16 can help break habits like late night snacking.
Supplements that could support fasting
- Greens/Multivitamins/superfoods (as low calories on fasting days mean your nutrition intake on those days may be lower).
- Protein shakes are a low-calorie way of adding protein into your diet on fasting days and high protein diets can help you feel more full.
Julia is a fan of FABA Bean Protein Powder for promoting overall protein intake throughout the day
Conclusion: Is Fasting the Best Way to Burn Bodyfat?
Depending on your goals, fasting may be beneficial, but when it comes down to it, we are still looking at calories in VS out and the quality of food eaten.
If you fast and follow that by binge eating on junk food or processed food and overcompensate on calories – your overall calories could still be too high.
The 8:16 is sometimes called the ‘lean gains’ plan as it can help you stay lean whilst gaining muscle.
The 5:2 can be effective for fat loss especially if calories on non-fasting days are tracked so you maintain an average calorie deficit across the week, and food choices are healthy and support your goals.
The quality of the food eaten is also important: eating natural, healthy whole foods, eating enough protein and complex carbs along with supplements to support your goals, will help us stay full and not overeat, but if we are eating convenience foods and junk food on either plan could prevent it from working.
So, whichever fasting protocol you chose to follow really depends on your lifestyle and health background, but ultimately its the food choices and calorie deficit that will help these diets work. If you aren’t familiar with tracking calories and macros, it’s worth considering talking to a nutritionist or dietitian before starting a new diet and always consult a professional before trying a new diet, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions.