A few years ago, my body wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I wanted to lose quite a bit of weight. So, I tried monitoring my portions, counting calories, cutting out certain foods, and exercising like crazy. Unfortunately, nothing worked. I wasn’t getting any closer to attaining my weight loss goals. It was frustrating, to say the least.
Then, one day as I was pumping iron at the gym I overheard someone talking about intermittent fasting and the incredible gains that came with it. I was intrigued.
As soon as I got home, I did my research about this weight loss method. Then, I started to put it into practice.
Even I couldn’t believe the amazing results I got after intermittent fasting for just over a year. I’ve increased my muscle mass and decreased my body fat — all while eating less and spending less time at the gym.
What Exactly Is Intermittent Fasting?
Simply put, intermittent fasting involves eating within a specific window of time in the course of the day and not eating anything for the remaining hours. Instead of changing what you eat, you change when you eat so that you can get the most from your meals. I like to think of it as a pattern of eating, not a diet.
There are different intermittent fasting methods and you get to choose the one that suits your goals. Some people prefer alternate-day fasting while others find it better to have 24-hour fasts once or twice per week. There are people who find that a daily fasting window works for them. When choosing which method to go for, make sure that you understand your choices completely. Searching for a reliable intermittent fasting guide can help you.
I personally follow the 16:8 model of intermittent fasting, also known as the Leangains method. This involves having an 8-hour eating window followed by a 16-hour fasting period.
Most days, I simply skip breakfast and have lunch as my first meal of the day at around noon. Then, I eat one or two more meals during my eating window and stop eating at 8 p.m. After that, I fast until noon of the next day.
I admit that it took some getting used to but since my mornings are typically busy. I don’t find it hard to put off eating until noon.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting comes with a number of benefits including:
Fast weight loss
Thanks to intermittent fasting, I was able to quickly achieve my weight loss goals. Since I was eating less, I was consuming fewer calories per day without having to count them or change my diet. Fasting for short periods of time increased fat burning levels in my body, resulting in significant weight loss. Best of all, I lost that stubborn belly fat in the process.
Losing body fat while holding on to lean muscle
Surprisingly, not only did intermittent fasting help me shed body fat but I was also able to increase my lean muscle mass. I did some research and discovered that this was largely due to the hormonal changes during fasting.
During the fasting hours, the levels of human growth hormone skyrocket, leading to muscle gain. Insulin decreases while norepinephrine increases. This means that the body finds it easier to burn fat when it enters a fasting state.
It’s easier to stick to than dieting
I have tried several dieting methods over the years with limited success. I found it difficult to adhere to them because they involved eating new foods or changing my eating habits.
With intermittent fasting, I don’t have to cut out my favorite foods, I simply have to change when I eat them. Additionally, while I still have to keep an eye on my portion sizes, I don’t have to get into any tedious calorie counting. The simplicity of this weight loss method made it easy for me to keep at it.
What To Look Out For
While intermittent fasting does have tremendous benefits, keep these things in mind if you want to lose weight:
Start slowly and be patient. If you’re new to fasting, consider starting with a moderate approach, such as overnight fasting before progressing to more intense fasting schedules. This gives your body time to adapt so you won’t be overwhelmed by the transition. Be patient as it takes time for the body to get used to going without food for long periods.
Be consistent. To help your body adapt, be consistent with fasting. Choose a schedule that works for you and stick with it until you attain the benefits.
Focus on the quality of the food you eat. While you don’t have to count calories, the quality of food you consume still matters. Include complex carbs and whole foods in your diet to keep you satiated for longer.
Ensure you don’t overeat. As you start out with intermittent fasting, you’re likely to experience increased hunger as your body isn’t used to going for long periods without food. This might tempt you to overeat to compensate. Giving in to this urge can undo all the good that you’ve gained from fasting.
Going without food for long stretches isn’t for everyone. However, if you’ve tried other methods to hit your weight goals without success, intermittent fasting might just do the trick.