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Intermittent Fasting: A Powerful Weight Loss Tool

When you hear weight loss, you probably immediately think diet and exercise, but it has been found that a third part of the equation can give weight loss efforts a big boost: planned fasting.  Many associate fasting with religion as it a major practice among many of the world’s major faiths, but people are starting to find that intermittent fasting is a powerful tool for weight loss and general wellness. 

How to do it

We suggest you choose one of two options for an intermittent fasting plan.  These options are the “16/8 plan” and the “eat-stop-eat plan.” 16/8 is when you have a 16 hour fast period and an 8 hour eating period.  16 hours sounds like a lot, but when you factor in sleeping it is actually not that bad.  If you eat dinner at 6pm, you will simply eat your next meal at 10am the next day. 

Eat-stop-eat is also very simple.  Fast for a full 24 hours twice a week on non-consecutive days.  This also is not as bad as it may seem as it really only involves skipping two meals.  Eat dinner one day and then do not eat again until dinner the next day.  The other five days of the week you follow a regular eating schedule.  

Benefits

While it is dangerous for human beings to go extended periods without water, the body is quite capable of going without food.  As long as the fasting period is not excessive, extended time without calories can be very beneficial.  Fasting causes human growth hormone (HGH) levels to increase rapidly, aiding in muscle gain and fat loss.  Intermittent fasting also lowers insulin levels, making body fat easier to burn. 

Furthermore, by restricting your eating patterns, intermittent fasting typically leads to a decrease in overall calories consumed.  This is assuming you don’t gorge yourself or eat unhealthy high-calorie foods during your eating periods.  No amount of fasting will work if your meals consist of fast food and simple carbs!  Be sure to still consume veggies, quality protein and complex carbs when you eat. 

In addition to weight loss, studies have shown that intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation and improve heart health

What about hunger and muscle loss?

Yes, you will be hungry at certain times if you follow one of these plans. As long as you follow the parameters and avoid excessive fasting periods the hunger is something you should be able to power through.  Drinking plenty of water as well as a moderate amount of a natural caffeinated beverage such as tea or coffee will help curb the hunger until you reach your next time to eat. 

In terms of muscle loss, it actually is not a problem as long as you consume an appropriate amount of calories during your eating periods.  Muscle atrophy will not begin in only 16 – 24 hours, so it is not something to worry about as long as you are eating balanced meals that contain plenty of healthy protein.    

Other considerations

Intermittent fasting is not right for everyone.  Do not utilize intermittent fasting if you are diabetic, have low blood pressure, are pregnant or nursing, are underweight or have struggled with eating disorders.  If you are on any medications, be sure to consult your doctor before starting an intermittent fasting plan.