If you don’t know what the term Intermittent Fasting means, it refers to having “intermittent” periods of fasting (no food). It is in no way a diet, but a dieting pattern, focusing on how you eat, and when. There are several intermittent fasting programs out there, but let’s just have a look at the basics behind this concept.
The Intermittent Fasting Theory
Intermittent fasting is the name which some nutrition experts give to the practice of going without eating for longer periods of time, but don’t let the fancy name fool you- it is NOT just for the nutritional elite. *In fact it is something we all do daily, except we call it by a simpler name- sleeping!
In theory, we all fast at night. If, say, you eat dinner around 7 pm, and the next meal is your breakfast at 7 am, you’ve just gone through a 12 hour fast. Even throughout history people have gone through periods of fasting, but now intermittent fasting has become common among fit people trying to look better.
The gist of it is finding the right time for you to eat- it can be a window of a few hours, or 10 hours. Whatever works best for you, as long as you also have some time off.
Advocates of intermittent fasting say it reduces blood lipids, oxidative stress , blood pressure, and even the risk of cancer. In return, it helps our fat to burn faster, our metabolic rate to grow, and our cells to multiply and repair themselves easier.
Yet keep in mind that many claim that these health benefits can also be observed on other calorie-restrictive diets, and that they are a result of ingesting fewer calories, rather than going 14-16 hours without any food. Nevertheless, intermittent fasting in itself is not a diet that encourages under-eating, but one which encourages people to stop obsessing with eating many small meals throughout the day, and to start focusing instead on what they are eating, even if they’re doing it rarely (but in normal quantities).
Here are a few misconceptions about intermittent fasting, and an explanation of why they are easily debated against.
- Intermittent fasting leads to glorified eating disorders hidden behind “fitness goals”- In a nutshell, this is less about obsessing on how little you eat, and more about focusing on longer pauses between meals.
- Intermittent fasting can only be done by people with certain schedules, thus limiting its availability– In fact, the opposite is true. Nowadays we are all busy all day long, so a schedule that does not micro-manage every mini-meal is much more convenient for busy people.
- Intermittent fasting leads to poor fitness performance– this is assuming you always work out on an empty stomach. If you’re worried about this (though many athletes do this with no issue), you can have a pre-workout shake, and start your fasting earlier in the evening if your workout happens in the morning.
If you are following an intermittent fasting lifestyle and you’re either u7nderperforming in the gym, or feeling weak, or obsessing- stop. You’re probably being a little too extreme with your eating and training (eating just once a day, doing too much cardio on an empty stomach, etc). Analyze your plan, and see if you can reconsider a more moderate approach to intermittent fasting. After all, moderation is key in everything.
Have you had results with intermittent fasting? Share your experience in the comments below.