Intermittent fasting has been in the news everywhere lately. It is a strategy that I have implemented in my own life and the lives of the individuals I’ve worked with for over the past ten years. Tremendous benefits come from intermittent fasting. The best part is that fasting is almost effortless once you get into a proper routine. We will discuss questions such as:
- How to intermittent fast?
- Does it work for weight loss?
- What are the benefits?
- Can everyone do it?
We will answer these questions and more in this post.
The Intermittent Fasting
How to intermittent fast is a common question we get. Intermittent fasting is when you compress your meals into a smaller eating window and spend the majority of your day in a fasted state. This essentially means you will eat all your meals in a period of eight hours or less, then eat nothing for the remainder of the day. You would then continue this cycle in order to reap the benefits.
Benefits of This Fasting Method
Everyone starts intermittent fasting for different reasons. Some people are looking to lose weight and stay lean whereas others may be trying to reverse a health condition. Regardless of the reason why, science and individual testimonials show us time and time again that the benefits of fasting are easily attainable and that fasting really works regardless of who you are. Here are some of the common benefits that people see when implementing intermittent fasting.
- Increases HGH (human growth hormone)
- Breaks down and balances metabolic hormones
- Improves anti-aging
- Increases energy
- Improves detoxification
- Improves immune system
- Weight loss
Let’s further discuss some of these benefits of intermittents fasting. When your HGH levels are elevated while you are fasting, a few changes occur. HGH improves tissue repair, speeds up wound healing, and builds muscles. “Studies have shown an impressive increase in HGH of up to 2000% in men and 1300% in women during prolonged fasting.” The rise in HGH is especially beneficial for athletes because they have many injuries. Therefore, anything that promotes muscle recovery is helpful for them. (1) Boosting your HGH levels through intermittent fasting is not just for athletes. It has a profound impact on the body in the way of anti-aging, decreasing inflammation and reversing health conditions.
Intermittent Fasting and Hormone Balance
Intermittent fasting also breaks down and balances metabolic hormones. This is important because when you have a hormone imbalance, it is hard to lose weight. Each hormone has a different reason for why it is significant. When insulin is elevated, it causes many chronic conditions. Leptin is important because it tells your body to burn fat. Ghrelin tells your body that you are full. As you can see, balanced hormones are essential to weight loss and health. When these metabolic hormones are imbalanced it can be almost impossible to lose weight regardless of how hard you work out or how much you calorie restrict. The key to weight loss is metabolic hormone balance. Once you accomplish this task the weight will fall off much faster.
Every person who starts intermittent fasting will see different results in the first couple of weeks. Those individuals who are metabolically healthy will lose weight quickly and those who are suffering from metabolic hormone instability will typically not see results right away. The key is to stick with intermittent fasting in this case because your body will have to go through a healing period before your results come. Though we all like to see results immediately, it is important to persevere because your results are coming.
Intermittent Fasting Decreases The Risk of Disease
Decreased inflammation is another advantage of intermittent fasting. This is crucial because not only are millions of people unknowingly suffering from chronic inflammation but it is where many chronic diseases begin.(2)
Some of those conditions are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
I can’t stress enough the importance of reducing inflammation within the body. If you are unsure as to whether or not you have inflammation occurring within your body, you can check by using this simple at-home inflammation test. When individuals reduce inflammation within the body, they often feel much better as it reduces chronic pain as well.
Anti-aging is a major benefit for intermittent fasting. Studies have shown that when you fast, your cells renew. This makes you appear younger. “New research has found that fasting triggers a molecule that can delay the aging of our arteries. These findings could help prevent age-related chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s.”(3)
Another advantage of fasting is increased energy. This happens because fasting puts your body into fat-burning mode. This gives your body sustainable long-lasting energy instead of the highs and lows that come with burning sugar for energy. When fasting, because less energy is needed for functions such as digestion, more energy can be allocated for brain function.
Detoxification also occurs with intermittent fasting. Your body has the natural ability to detoxify itself that functions at a higher level when in a fasted state. Fasting is very beneficial as we encounter enormous amounts of toxins daily that is steadily increasing the toxic load of the body compared to 20 years ago. Here are some of the common toxins we encounter on a daily basis:
- Household cleaners
- Fire retardants in clothing
- Cigarette smoke
These toxins make it hard to shed weight to the impact they have on cell receptors and the inflammation response within the body. However, intermittent fasting supports your body’s ability to relax and reset itself.
An improved immune system is another benefit of intermittent fasting. This is important because there are many autoimmune diseases that exist. The best way to avoid developing an autoimmune disease is to keep your immune system healthy. You see, while in the fasted state your immune system is able to calm down because the gut gets a rest. It is estimated that 80% of the immune system is located in the gut, so if the gut is unhealthy then the immune system will also be unhealthy.
During intermittent fasting, your body will experience autophagy. Autophagy is a natural regeneration process that occurs at a cellular level in the body. When in the state of autophagy, the body recycles old damaged and broken down cells like cancer cells in the body and uses the old parts to make new healthy cells. This will reduce the likelihood of contracting some diseases and increase your lifespan.
How To Intermittent Fast Full Video Training
Types of Intermittent Fasting
When determining which type of fasting is right for you, it really depends on your goals and of course sustainability. The most common types of intermittent fasting are:
- 16:8 – This is when you fast for 16 hours and eat your meals within an 8 hour period.
- One Meal a Day (OMAD) – This is when you eat all meals between a 1-2 hour period.
The average person does best with 16:8 intermittent fasting because it is much easier to do. Another reason people tend to gravitate towards 16:8 is because it is the most socially acceptable. By this I mean you can still enjoy meals with your coworkers and family members without fasting getting in the way.
Best Time to Exercise While Fasting
Studies show that the most ideal time to exercise when fasting is while in a fasted state. Many people notice the best results by exercising directly prior to breaking their fast. Try doing a HITT (high-intensity target training) exercise before your first meal of the day. HITT is proven to burn glycogen stores. HGH works to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance. “During the 24-hour fasting periods, HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men.”(3) That is a very inspirational statistic.
What to Eat and When While Intermittent Fasting
No food should be consumed during the fasting time period. After the fasting time period is over, you should break the fast by eating a high-quality diet. I always recommend breaking your fast with a big salad loaded with lots of vegetables and protein. While fasting I can’t stress enough the importance of a high-quality diet. Intermittent fasting should never be used as a crutch to follow an unhealthy diet. Those who use it as a crutch and eat low-quality foods will likely suffer from metabolic instability. Some examples of high-quality foods you should eat while intermittent fasting are:
- Low carbohydrate foods such as pasture-raised eggs, leafy green vegetables, and nut butter
- Low sugar foods
- Healthy fats such as grass-fed butter, avocados, whole milk and coconut(4)
- Stay away from processed foods(5)
- Moderate protein
Need more ideas for food to eat while fasting?
What to Drink While Intermittent Fasting
When intermittent fasting we have to be VERY careful to not be consuming anything that is breaking our fast. If we do then we will be intermittent fasting in vain with no results. Many people unknowingly break their fast by trying to sneak in creams, low-calorie sweeteners and small amounts of food. Here are a list of acceptable liquids while fasting.
- Black coffee
- Teas such as green tea, chai tea, and black tea
- Sparkling water
- Apple cider vinegar
Who Should Not Participate in an Intermittent Fast
Intermittent fasting has so many benefits as you know at this point. Though there are great benefits to intermittent fasting there are some people that should not fast based on their current health status. Here are some individuals that should not practice intermittent fasting:
- Pregnant women(6)
- Nursing women(6)
- High blood pressure patients
- Adrenal fatigue patients
- Patients who are on prescription medications should check with their medical provider before fasting.
Best Hours to do an Intermittent Fast
It is best to change up your fasting hours. Otherwise, the body hits a plateau and you will not lose any more weight. This can be compared to going to the gym. If you always do the same exercises at the gym, you will hit a plateau. In order to see results, you need to switch it up. I typically recommend for people to do one meal a day a couple of days a week, 16:8 a couple of days a week, and then to not fast at all a few days a week.
If you refer to the graph below, you will see based on research what is occurring in the metabolic hormones. The glycogen concentration decreases as the fasting time increases. The ketones have the opposite result. They increase as fasting time increases. This basically shows us that major changes occur metabolically at the 12-13 hour mark. So the key is fasting at least sixteen hours if you want the positive metabolic changes and fat burning to take place.
In conclusion, there are many health benefits to intermittent fasting. However, it is important to stick to the guidelines in this article. If you have a medical condition or are on prescription medication, you should consult your physician to determine if fasting is safe for you. Pregnant and nursing women should not participate in intermittent fasting.
1. Ho KY, Veldhuis JD, Johnson ML, et al. Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. J Clin Invest. 1988;81(4):968–975. doi:10.1172/JCI113450
2. MedlinePlus: “Arthritis.”American College of Rheumatology: “Arthritis in Children.”National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “Arthritis.”