There are a lot of techniques out there for losing weight. From low carb to low fat to keto and weight watchers, there’s an endless supply of programs and ideas on what the right way to lose weight is.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Imagine you’re back in the old days, and no, I’m not referring to when you were a kid. Let’s go back thousands of years.
Before kitchens refrigerators.
Before stoves and even ice.
Back to when fire was just a recent discovery.
That’s right, the caveman days.
Back then, people were what we call hunters and gatherers. They could only animals they hunted and found they found in the wild. There were no cattle farms or apple orchards or chicken coops.
Every animal hunted was wild and all plants eaten were picked from wild bushes and trees.
This means that people didn’t have ready access to food like we do now. There was no refrigerator or freezer to keep food fresh. There was no supermarket down the street with any kind of food they could imagine.
Since food didn’t stay fresh long enough to store, they needed to eat it as they obtained it. They couldn’t hunt every single day, or gather plants every day.
Or maybe they could, but they didn’t find food every day.
They could go several days without eating, and that was considered normal.
So, why do I bring this up? Because as a species, humans have only had ready access to food for the last few centuries. Until then, our bodies had evolved to go days without eating.
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Now, we have the ability to eat all day, and some of us do. (that’s why you’re reading this)
The problem, though, is that our bodies have not evolved to handle frequent eating like this. As we eat throughout the day, our body is constantly processing food, converting it to sugar and then either using it or storing it as fat.
The first issue is that we’re never giving our bodies an opportunity to use the fat we’ve stored as energy. Not until we go to bed, at least, but then we don’t need the energy in the first place.
The second problem, is that since we’re eating all day, we end up eating too much. If you eat 3 square meals a day plus snacks in between, then you’re probably eating more calories than your body will use.
Especially if you’re eating right before bed.
Some people say you shouldn’t eat before bed because your body doesn’t digest it, but that’s not true. Your body will digest everything you eat and convert it to energy.
But since you’re going to bed, your body doesn’t need the energy and it will get stored as fat in your sleep. That’s why you shouldn’t eat within a few hours of going to bed.
The main issue, though, is that it takes many thousands of years for evolution to take place. Sometimes millions. That means our bodies aren’t meant for eating all day long. They can’t handle it.
But if you switch to eating the majority of your calories in intervals, with intervals where you only drink water or other low calories drinks, then you’re giving your body the chance to work the way it’s been used to for millions of years.
To put it a different way, intermittent fasting allows our bodies to process food into energy, and then use that energy while storing the extra, and then it has a chance to use fat stores as energy while we’re fasting.
That alone is a good enough reason to try it, as it might help you burn some fat.
One of the reasons I like intermittent fasting, is that it allows me to eat more in one sitting than I’d be able to if ate three meals a day.
For example, if I’m supposed to eat 200 calories each day, I could eat 400 calories for breakfast, 900 calories for lunch, and 700 calories for dinner.
Or, I could eat 1100 calories for lunch and 900 calories for dinner. In the second scenario I get to eat bigger meals, which makes me feel like I’m eating more food, but in reality I’m still eating the same amount of food throughout the day.
What other effects are there to Intermittent Fasting?
Everything we do with our bodies has multiple effects to how our bodies work, so what else is there to Intermittent Fasting? Are there other benefits?
- Well, multiple studies have shown that intermittent fasting can contribute to weight loss. That’s a given, but there have been studies to support it.
- It can also improve heart health, as some studies have shown it’s lowered resting heart rates and blood pressure.
- It’s been shown to help stabilize diabetes. Intermittent fasting gives your body time to process food and then stabilize your blood sugars, which is why it helps with weight loss, but this can also help with diabetes.
- Studies have shown that it can also help aid your memory, so it essentially helps your brain work better.
Roadblocks to Intermittent Fasting
Despite all the benefits to intermittent fasting, there are always going to be some drawbacks. Implementing it into your life can take some doing, although there ways to make it easier.
The most common form of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 schedule, or 18:6 schedule, where you fast for 16 or 18 hours and then have a 8 or 6 hour period to eat.
The easiest way to implement this is to just skip a meal. I normally skip breakfast, so that makes it easier for me. If I eat lunch at noon, then I have until 8 to eat dinner plus any snacks I want to eat.
The problem, though, is that sometimes my schedule gets in the way. Sometimes I have to be up early in the morning, after going to sleep late at night, which means I wake up early with very little sleep.
Personally, not getting enough sleep is the biggest factor that makes me overeat.
Every time, I’ll spend the whole day hungry no matter what I eat, and the worst thing, is that it took me years to figure out why I was so hungry on these days.
It was just the lack of sleep.
That’s why getting enough sleep is vital to losing weight, it allows your body to function properly prevents cravings like mine.
If your schedule is more stable than mine you probably won’t have much trouble fitting intermittent fasting into their schedules. Most people want to be able to eat dinner with their families, so just eat lunch and dinner and call it a day.
There are some people who may not be able to use intermittent fasting, simply because of some medical issue you might have, but it’s also recommended that adolescents and people under 18 not try it without consulting a physician first.
You should also consider consulting a physician before trying intermittent fasting if you have diabetes or other blood sugar issues, are pregnant or breast-feeding, or have a history of eating disorders as intermittent fasting may cause interference with your recovery.
When in doubt, it’s always best to talk to a doctor before trying anything new with your body.
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