Intermittent fasting is a diet that has a tradition, and thanks to a scientific discovery that is worth the Nobel Prize in medicine, it is very popular these days.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2016) for the discovery of the mechanisms of autophagy went to scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi.
This Japanese cell biologist explained autophagy as a process that cells use to break down and recycle cellular components.
Cells will recycle their parts only in certain time intervals, and when we enable them to do so, when the body is in the state of periodic starvation.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
The good news is that this is not a cold-turkey fast. You won’t go days without eating anything and you won’t put your health in danger.
However, it goes without saying that if you are going to go on any kind of diet, you should make sure that you are healthy enough to do so.
There are several theories behind the average Intermittent Fasting diet plan and they generally include one of the following:
- Eliminating all food for a 24 hour period (which obviously will include hopefully eight hours of sleep!)
- Eliminating most food during that same period, usually keeping the caloric intake to around 300 calories
- Fasting every other day, but eating normally on the eating days.
- Fasting for more than one day, but with a very low caloric intake.
It is not usually a good idea to go on any kind of Intermittent Fasting diet plan that require you to do it more than once per week, and for most people, once every two weeks is enough to encourage weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting Plan
Speaking theoretically about a diet is one thing, but it isn’t only until you actually see how it works out on a day to day basis that you can see if it will work for you.
So, here is an example of a fairly typical intermittent fasting diet plan.
Day 1 – 6
When you start your intermittent fasting plan, you will want to start weaning yourself off of carbohydrates such as breads, pastries, cookies, cake, and of course pasta.
This is the kind of food that most of us eat too much of and this change can be difficult. See: Good Carbs Vs Bad Carbs
By the sixth day of this program, you should not be eating any of them at all and replacing those calories with fruit, vegetables, and lean protein.
Actually, your “Day 7” will start after your last meal on “Day 6”, which will usually be in the early evening.
What this means is that you will go to bed and when you wake up, your fast might be halfway through!
So, although you will be fasting for 24 hours, it will really feel more like 12 hours.
Intermittent Fasting What To Eat?
The purist’s view of intermittent fasting is that you have nothing but water during the rest of the 24 hour period.
But there are reasons why some people might supplement that water with one particular type of food of no more than 300 calories.
In order to get the most out of those calories, you should stick with protein. Remember to drink as much water as you can to ensure that you feel full.
When it has been 24 hours from the time you had your last meal, it is time to slowly eat again.
You will not want to “pig out” during this meal and since it will be in the evening, it should probably not be more than 300 – 500 calories, composed of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Do not head straight for the cookie tin!
Intermittent Fasting Schedule
Experienced intermittent dieters will follow the above schedule for a week and then take a week off, then do it again. So, essentially they are fasting for two weeks out of the month.
If you really want to try something, then you can follow this exact schedule for four weeks out of the month, but then take a month off.
While you may often hear the term “starvation mode” used in extreme dieting, this does not really come into play with this diet.
The reason is simple – you are not going on a long-term, low-calorie diet. You are giving your body what it needs, but simply adding a little extra time in between some of your meals.
Intermittent Fasting Results
By simply incorporating the Intermittent Fasting diet plan into your normal regimen, you will find that you can easily lose weight, lose body fat, have lower insulin resistance, boost growth hormone levels, and even increase life span.
The result of going on an Intermittent Fasting diet plan is that it can help to reduce the body’s natural production of cortisol, which is a hormone that makes you hold on to excess body fat.
On the days that you won’t be eating, your body will still require energy (usually around 1,200 calories per day), and it will be forced to look to your body’s stores of fat for that energy.
What that means in real term is you will literally be burning fat on your fasting days.
Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy?
The whole theory behind this diet is that it is not that far removed from the way that people ate thousands of years ago, so in many ways it is similar to the Paleo Diet.
When we were cavemen and cavewomen, we didn’t have a pantry or a refrigerator stocked with food.
Our bodies were used to eating intermittently and you won’t see a lot of hefty drawings of cavemen around – the diet seemed to work for them and it can work for you.
The real measure of any diet is not necessarily how often you eat, but what you are eating and that is certainly the case with the intermittent fasting diet plan.
You can’t eliminate food one day and then hit McDonald’s the minute your fast is over. It is imperative that you plan ahead and eat healthy on your eating days or you will simply be suffering for no benefit.
Intermittent Fasting For Beginners
This really is the kind of diet that you will need guidance with, since it is definitely not for everyone.
In particular, if you have experienced eating disorders in the past, you are currently diabetic, pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any kind of health issue, then you should talk to your doctor before going on any intermittent fasting diet plan.
The best way to start for many people is to simply fast for one 24 hour period once every two weeks.
If you find that this is not that difficult, then you can fast for one 24 hour period once per week for two to three weeks at a time.
Not everyone is able to handle an entire 24 hour period with no food, so if you need to eat just a little (which should be planned ahead of time), go ahead – it isn’t cheating!
Just keep in mind that everyone has their own version of a “fast” and your fast should be one that suits you and your lifestyle as well as your current state of health.
Let’s face it – there is no one single diet that will absolutely work for everyone. We all have our own particular tastes, ways in which we like to eat, and sometimes our lifestyle gets in the way of going on one type of diet.
So, if you have tried other calorie restricted diets in the past and find that you can’t stick to all of the special food that you need to eat, then you may want to look into the intermittent fasting diet plan.