Intermittent Fasting: Powerful Paradigm or Mundane Mythology

Surviving without optimal nutrition is a natural phenomenon of human existence. Evolutionary development has allowed mankind to function adequately during short periods of up to several days, without eating. Fasting came about as a result of inadequate year-round food supplies but is a historically common practice, mostly executed as a result of religious methodology.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Effect the Body and What Are the Reasons to Do It?

The natural origins of fasting suggest that its practice is not harmful, at least so long as it is performed with sufficient care and knowledge, but what are its potential benefits? Intermittent fasting has become a recent trend, with those who subscribe to it crediting its practice to a variety of powerful and advantageous health effects, particularly in the realm of weight regulation and muscular development. What are the recognized positive effects of intermittent fasting?

  • Human Growth Hormone levels rise.
  • Non-functional or dysfunctional cell proteins are repaired or consumed.
  • Genetic changes occur that have been shown to benefit degenerative disease immunity and longevity.
  • Insulin levels drop.

These profound results of fasting can assist the body to access stored fat, as well as accelerate muscular development. These are the effects that most who practice regular intermittent fasting desire.

Intermittent Fasting

A common-sense auxiliary benefit of fasting, in general, is that it limits the time needed for meal preparation and eating. Some envision intermittent fasting as a method by which they can have a healthier diet, without the labor of planning and executing healthy meals. Regular fasting certainly simplifies one’s life, in this regard, but depending on appropriate dietary execution, may or may not be healthier.

Perhaps most importantly, intermittent fasting is one of the simplest strategies we have for taking bad weight off while keeping good weight on because it requires very little behavior change. This is a very good thing because it means intermittent fasting falls into the category of “simple enough that you’ll actually do it, but meaningful enough that it will actually make a difference.” – James Clear

Other studies have shown the possibility of increased health benefits, stemming from the known effects intermittent fasting, summarized above, including:

  • Weight Loss and decrease in belly fat, without conscious dietary restrictions
  • Lower blood sugar levels, which may protect against certain types of diabetes
  • Inflammation reduction throughout body tissues
  • Improved resistance to free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress in the body
  • Cancer prevention or possible aide in defeating existing cancers
  • LDL cholesterol reduction
  • Protection against brain diseases or degenerative neural effects
  • Extended lifespan

Practical Application: How Is Intermittent Fasting Accomplished?

Fasting is simply the process of systematic lack of nutrition over a period of time. Accomplished on an intermittent basis, practitioners “cycle their eating habits between eating and fasting.” Since this practice is not necessarily based upon restriction of food types, it is not commonly referred to as a “conventional diet, but more accurately represented as an eating pattern.”

Intermittent fasting typically involves separating natural time periods, such as weeks or days, into times when food may or may not be ingested. However, intermittently and spontaneously skipping a meal can still provide the body with some limited amount of the positive effects induced by planned fasting.

For organized fasting, the time spans when fasting takes place are normally limited to eight, sixteen or twenty-four-hour cycles. There are, however, a variety of methods by which intermittent fasting can be accomplished. Some of the more popular ones are summarized below.

1.) Fasting for a full twenty-four hours once or twice each week
2.) Fasting on alternate days (every other day)
3.) Fasting for two days each week
4.) Fasting for fourteen or sixteen hours every day
5.) Fasting all day and eating a large meal, within a four-hour window in the evening

Many of these methods do not involve eating absolutely anything, during the periods when fasting takes place. Depending upon the regimen chosen, intake of up to six-hundred calories may be recommended.

Typically, the recommended type of calories to be eaten during the period of fasting should come from only raw fruits or vegetables. Liquids containing no calories, like coffee, tea or water are also allowed. Vitamin or mineral supplementations are also generally recognized as safe practice during a fast, although many supplements may not work as well, or may cause stomach upset when taken without the benefit of food in the digestive tract.

benefits of intermittent fasting

Those who are interested in attempting intermittent fasting should keep in mind that some fasting methods are more difficult to accomplish than others. The type of fast that one chooses should be based upon personal health parameters, as well as established eating habits, life schedules, and gender. The one I use on a daily basis is from the guys over at Kinobody and involves fasting from the time you sleep till around lunch.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe and What Should I Expect In Terms of Side-Effects?

The most obvious side-effect of fasting is, of course, hunger, which may be accompanied by a feeling of decrease in performance or weakness. These should pass, as fasting progresses, but there are health conditions that may indicate against the practice. In these cases, a medical consultation is in order before proceeding with a fasting regimen:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Diabetes or any health condition related to the regulation of blood sugar
  • Underweight or eating disorder inclined

Intermittent Fasting side effects

Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a history of extremely irregular, or lack of menstruation should also consult a physician before fasting. Stoppage of menstruation or negative deviation of blood sugar regulation are also likely side-effects, indicating that females should take greater precautions when commencing a fasting regimen.

Any individual who takes regular medication for any condition is also advised to take the precaution of seeking medical advice prior to commencing a fast. Children should not be encouraged to fast since adequate nutrition is a cornerstone of healthy development.

Fasts lasting longer than those summarized above can result in metabolic suppression, although shorter fasts tend to increase metabolism. Muscle loss can also occur as a result of fasting, but this can be countered by regular resistance exercise and adequate protein intake.

Is Intermittent Fasting For Me?

The answer to this query depends upon your individual lifestyle and goals. Although many do benefit from regular intermittent fasting, not everyone is able to sustain a fasting routine. Trying the different fasting methods is the easiest way to determine if one is right for you.intermittent fasting benefits

Whether you decide to make fasting a part of your life or not, remember that nothing replaces the healthy habits that should universally be maintained, such as:

  • Adequate rest
  • Consumption of appropriate, healthy food
  • Rejection of unhealthy habits, like smoking or drinking to excess

I’ve been using Intermittent Fasting for months and I can say it’s been one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to lose weight while building lean, tone muscle. I’m able to enjoy huge delicious meals like pizza, hamburgers, fries, potatoes and more. If you want to learn more about Intermittent Fasting you can check out Greg O’ Gallagher from Kinobody. This is the exact same method I use day in and day out.