Intermittent Fasting is a widely used technique for weight loss and to prevent overconsumption of food. If you don't already know what Intermittent Fasting is, it is an eating regime, the most common one being a 16:8 split. This would mean you are fasting for 16 hours of each 24 hour period and eating for 8, most people go with the 12pm-8pm approach but this is flexible. There is also the 5:2 split which consists of 2 full 24 hour periods eating a very restricted amount of calories and the other 5 days eating normally and a 5:2 split where those 2 full 24 hour periods are completely fasted. We are going to talk mainly about our preferred choice and most common technique of the 16:8 split.
What are the benefits?
Intermittent Fasting has a number of benefits other than just reducing your eating window, the main benefits are the impact that Intermittent Fasting has been shown to have on your growth hormone levels and insulin sensitivity.
Increase Growth Hormone Levels
Growth hormone is the hormone that helps to maintain, build, and repair healthy tissue in the brain and other organs. To add to this, having higher levels of growth hormone in the body has been shown to reduce body fat and build muscle, hence why an increase in GH production is hugely beneficial to gym-goers.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Studies have shown that Intermittent Fasting can lead to insulin levels falling dramatically which can help you burn fat more efficiently. Insulin promotes fat storage so it is important to reduce insulin spikes as it will lead to excess weight gain.
This may seem odd if you've never tried Intermittent Fasting before but it can actually make you more satisfied with your diet and less hungry throughout the day. By reducing your eating window you're reducing the amount of meals you are having, this means you can have bigger more filling meals but your overall daily calories remains the same.
This continues on from the last point really, by having bigger more filling meals it may allow you to fit in some foods that you crave into your diet. From experience and from people we have worked with in the past, sometimes you may find yourself trying to get in calories towards the end of the day because you're not hungry but have macros and calories left to hit... which I'm sure you will agree is a nice luxury to have while dieting.
Multiple Studies Showing Significant Health Benefits
Intermittent Fasting has had various studies to show that the eating regime can actually be very good for your overall health and wellbeing. Things such as, reduced inflammation, improved heart health, cognitive benefits and even some studies claiming it can provide anti-aging benefits.
Intermittent Fasting is a really powerful weight loss tool, we have used it in the past and seen great benefits from it. If used correctly it could help people to see longevity and great results whilst in a dieting phase without experiencing too many of the side effects associated with dieting. Especially after a long period of dieting or when you reach lower levels of body fat.
Despite this, Intermittent Fasting does have some drawbacks and reasons why it might not be necessary for you. Dieting is all about doing what you like and what feels most comfortable to you, even though there are various methods and tricks to help you lose weight if the positives don't outweigh the benefits then it is definitely not worth it.
What if I love Breakfast?
Some people really enjoy breakfast or believe they can't miss out on their breakfast because they will be too hungry. Both are valid reasons, with Intermittent Fasting you will find that once you create the eating routine after a couple of weeks the hunger in the morning will be significantly less because your body is used to it.
However, if you are someone that just really enjoys their breakfast and won't be able to eat it after 12pm (should you decide to use that split) then maybe Intermittent Fasting isn't right for you. With any diet what matters is that you are doing something that you can actually see yourself sticking with in the long run.
Can I Intermittent Fast When Building Muscle?
We would not recommend Intermittent Fasting for people when they are looking to gain weight / muscle. Due to the smaller eating window you are going to trying to cram food into meals with shorter periods between them. This can leave you feeling uncomfortable or generally leave you with a poor relationship with food, which may see you making poor diet choices.
For a general overview, we truly believe this could be a very effective dieting method for anyone who is struggling to lose weight. Through our own experience we have seen how much easier this method can make dieting for you. As we have said previously it isn't suitable for everyone and each individual will have different preferences but we think it should be something you give a go for a few weeks or a month and see how you get on.
It is important for people to understand that just because you are eating in a smaller eating window it does not mean your calories have to reduce further. What you want to do is work out how many calories you need to lose weight and then stick to that even while Intermittent Fasting.
To add to this, you shouldn't look too much into the added benefits of intermittent fasting such as hormone levels and insulin sensitivity. Although these are proven benefits, if you eat a meal at 8:30pm on a 12pm-8pm split your body isn't going to know the time and then "punish" you by storing all that food as fat.
You should aim to stick to a rough guideline with intermittent fasting, some people choose to just fast for the mornings, therefore pushing their calories back to later in the day and then eating up to 9 or 10pm. That is still perfectly fine and if you are still eating the same amount of calories you will still lose weight.
So many people and "guru's" try to confuse the fundamentals of dieting and exercise and that's why it is so important to understand these things before you look to incorporate different eating regimes etc. Eating outside the 12-8 split may slightly effect your insulin sensitivity or slightly effect your hormone production but the extent to which they do is not going to be overly significant.
Of course, we can only base these blog posts off our own experiences, experiences with our clients, knowledge and research we have done into the subject. We can give you recommendations but do urge you to do your own research.