Intermittent fasting seems to be all of the rage today, but did you know that it is actually more natural than always eating 3-4 meals per day? This is because fasting has been a regular practice throughout human evolution. Ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators or food readily available. Some days they couldn’t find anything to eat. As a result, humans evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time.
Not only is fasting more natural, it has also been proven to help people lose weight and lower blood pressure. But, what is the best way to actually do it? Before we get into the minor details on how to get the most out of your intermittent fasting – it may be best to cover the basics like what, how, and why.
What is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is the act of changing your eating pattern to consume calories in a shorter window than an average person usually would.
Most of us can agree that when we think of the average person’s eating pattern we think of the traditional: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Looking at this on a 24 hour basis, we can see that the average person is eating every 5 hours or so. These eating times are also spread out throughout most of the day.
Eating every 5 hours not only raises your appetite, but it also makes it difficult for your body to burn fat. Whereas having a shorter window to consume food, your body will curb your appetite (slowly) and allow you to dip into your fat reserves.
Now that we understand what intermittent fasting actually is, I think it is important that we cover the “why”.
While everyone’s body reacts differently, here are some of the most common benefits of fasting:
- It has shown to reduce levels of insulin, which makes it easier for the body to use stored fat
- Lowers blood sugars, blood pressure, and inflammation levels
- It may chance the expression of certain genes, which helps the body protect itself from disease as well as promoting longevity
- Dramatically increases human growth hormone, or HGH, which helps the body utilize body fat and grow muscle
- The body activates a healing process reffered to as “autophagy”. Autophagy is when the body digests or recycles old or damaged cell components.
- It promotes weight loss
The Different Methods
When it comes to intermittent fasting, there are many different ways to go about it. Some are a bit stricter than others. Below are four of the most popular methods of fasting, with a quick run-down on each one.
- Eat Stop Eat: Requires eating nothing for 24 hours twice a week. The two 24 hours must be spread out and cannot happen on consecutive days.
- Warrior Diet: Requires not eating for 20 hours. The remaining 4 hours are used for food intake. This method is the closest one that resembles the eating patterns of our ancestors.
- Leangains: For women, it requires a fast for 14 hours and eating for the remaining 10. Men are required to fast for 16 hours, and eat for the remaining 8 hours. This method is very popular among weightlifters when they want to get lean, but has gained popularity among-st the general public as well.
- The 5:2 method: This method sometimes is referred to as the “Alternate Day Fasting” method. A person on the 5:2 method eats 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days each week. Some variations of this method also add in a third day of fasting each week. For the rest of the week, a person eats only the number of calories they burn during the day. Over time, this creates a calorie deficit that allows the person to lose weight. Calorie counting is extremely important for this method.
The Best Way to Do Intermittent Fasting
I know what you must be thinking right now: “So many benefits and methods, but how do I start? which one do I pick?”.
Below are our two biggest recommendations for anyone that is thinking about intermittent fasting.
1. Start with “Leangains” Method
We recommend starting with the Leangains method because it is the easiest method to introduce your body to fasting. It has the largest eating windows and can easily be tweaked to fit any lifestyle or schedule. Many of us here at Nutra Collagen have tried most of the methods discussed, and this one was the one that we had the most success with as well. It is also the one method that largely promotes lean muscle growth, which naturally impacts weight loss as well. Lastly, It has a plethora of learning materials and products to help support your intermittent fasting journey. Head on over to the official leangains website to learn more.
Note: While this method has worked for the team at Nutra Collagen, and so many others around the world, it may not work for you. Every single person is unique (that’s what makes you so awesome and why we love YOU). What works for one individual may not work for someone else. If the leangains method does not work for you, do not give up on intermittent fasting. Pivot to one of the other methods and track results. Worst case scenario is: you introduced your body successfully to fasting with leangains, lost a bit of weight and gained some health benefits, and now you are ready to move on to the more restrictive methods.
2. Do Not Forget About Your Actual Diet
As mentioned previously, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern and only a component of your actual diet. If you are fasting, but eating junk food and going wild during your eating windows – you will get minimal (if any at all) results.
So whatever diet you are on and however many calories you are suppose to consume – still follow those guidelines. Just make sure that you are fulfilling those calorie and diet guidelines within your set eating window.