Intermittent fasting (IF) is a meal time strategy and a time schedule wherein you have windows of time where you are not consuming calories throughout the day. These fasting windows are typically between 16 and 18 hours per day.
Intermittent fasting is so hyped up right now and the primary reason why it seems acceptable for some people isn’t because there are any ‘magical’ benefits to fasting in and of itself. It’s because a 6 to 8 hour eating window, which allows for larger meals, makes being in a calorie deficit easier for such people depending on the lifestyle they lead.
Larger meals are often associated with intermittent fasting and the reason for this is since a standard eating window is between 2pm and 8pm, breakfast calories are pushed back and can be consumed at lunch and dinner. These large meals lead to increased satiation, increased adherence and ultimately, long term results. But it is not magic and definitely not the only way to structure your diet. It is just a possible option that may be suited to you.
Are There Benefits To Intermittent Fasting?
Of course, there are some physiological benefits to intermittent fasting in that it:
- Helps promote insulin sensitivity. Optimal insulin sensitivity is crucial for your health as insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity contributes to nearly all chronic diseases.
- Helps suppress inflammation and fight free radical damage to lessen the risk of disease and chronic pain.
- Normalizes hunger levels also known as ghrelin hormone levels. Research points to a much lower need to over indulge in ‘junk foods’ once the body adapts to the fast and turns to fat burning.
- Increases the rate of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) production known as the ‘Fitness Hormone’. Research in 2011 from the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans showed a 1,300% rise of HGH in women and a 2,000% increase in men. This has an important role in health, fitness, muscle growth, increased fat loss (without muscle loss), increased metabolism and slowing down of the aging process. The only other thing that compare in terms of boosting HGH levels is high intensity interval training (HIIT).
- Improves beneficial bacteria in the gut.
One thing I should point out is this. Intermittent fasting isn’t always easy for some to do especially if you are used to eating several times a day. It is also not inherently better or worse than any other meal timing strategy for the entire population. It’s just more preferable and acceptable for people who typically don’t consume breakfast, enjoy larger meals, and often find themselves overeating in the evening. Doing it step by step in a logical manner to acclimate your body is a good way to go about things.
Additionally, calories in versus calories out, your training program, your sleep quality and quantity, and your consistent hydration will dictate the majority of your results.