5 Reasons You Should Try Intermittent Fasting

People dread “dieting”.  Even if they go into it fully motivated and ready to make drastic change, it is normally short lived.  You do have those freaks who can muster and grind things out through will-power, but for the most part those people are few and far between.  They are also normally not enjoying their diet.

Inside they are dead. (and hungry)

The problem is that they are trying to adapt something that is unadaptable.  Even if they lose their goal weight, the bottom will fall out at some point in time.  They will wake up back to their original weight before the diet.

This is why “diets” fail.

I’m not preaching anything new here. You have heard it before.

You have even tried it before, over, over, …..and over again.

The key is to find something that you can maintain that does not suck the will to live out of you, drains you of energy, and instead, you can easily adapt and be flexible with, and still enjoy the good stuff in life.

I have tried to get clients to adapt to “general” diets before.  You know the 5-6 meals a day, only eat whole foods, and run away from sugar, fats, fried food, alcohol, birthday cake as fast and far as possible.

I even tried the don’t eat after 6 rule, eat breakfast to get the metabolism fired up, and all that good stuff.

However, I kept running into obstacles that they just seemed to not be able to overcome.  Willpower, another lecture on the effects of sugar, and why I needed them to log and count their calories and macros everyday, for every meal just wasn’t cutting it.

Honestly, looking back I don’t blame them.

It was waaaayyy too much to throw on them all at once.  Plus time is huge and those little minimal tasks are enough to be a pain and disruption.

I still think those are great practices and can definitely help someone lose weight, it just needs to be applied to the right person.

Or there just needs to be a simpler system to throw it into.

Enter Intermittent Fasting (IF)

To give you a brief definition, IF consists of fasting for a specific amount of time and feeding for a specific amount of time.  The protocol I normally run with clients is a 16:8 protocol.  A sixteen hour fast and eight hour feeding window.  There are various protocols so you can dial it into one with a time frame that works for you.

I wanted to share five benefits that IF could offer you.  There are a plethora of benefits that will help improve your health, but I wanted to stick to five that shows how it can easily fit into your life, helping you lose those unwanted pounds.

To Burn Fat/Lose Weight

By limiting your eating for the day to a restricted time frame will inevitably cause you to eat fewer calories.  Of course, it is possible to still eat more calories to prevent any weight loss, but you would need to be eating like a horse or only eating terribly caloric dense foods that you should not be eating if wanting to burn fat.  For example, eating five Burger King Whoppers in your feeding window would sabotage your efforts.

Assuming you follow IF responsibly, you would already be cutting out one meal (normally breakfast) and a snack in between.  Switching to black coffee in the morning, could easily prevent your most sugar-laden meal of the day, your fancy coffee drink from the hipster coffee chain. (What’s their name?) …And you know you always get a big one.

Second, IF does wonders on enhancing your hormones to facilitate fat loss.  Fasting alone will lower insulin levels, raise human growth hormone (HGH), and increase norepinephrine to help breakdown stored body fat and utilize it for energy.

It also helps boost the metabolism (1) , so you increase the number of calories “out”, while controlling and decreasing the calories “in” by only eating during a restricted time frame.

 

Less Muscle Loss While Fasting

A BIG problem with diets and calorie restriction is that, if not done correctly or paired with a strengthening program, you will lose lean muscle mass.  This is a BIG NO NO.

You want to lose fat while losing the least amount of muscle as possible.  The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, and calories you burn through out the day.

A constant diet of calorie restriction will cause your body to eat away at muscle as it searches for material to create energy.

Studies have shown that IF causes less muscle loss than a constant calorie restricted diet. (2)

 

 

Flexibility/Ability to Not Live So Strict

The key to this whole plan is the clock.  The fasting period is what sets you up for success.  It builds the hormonal response that leads to fat loss.  The feeding period, helps keep control of how much you eat.

If your day throws you a curveball or you have a meeting, party, or some kind of special event at a time that is outside or on the border of your feeding window, then you can adapt your time frame to eat accordingly.

One follower of my program has certain hours during the week and a different set for the weekend. A great example of the flexibility that IF offers.

Fasting will also allow you to not be so strict with what you eat.  That does not mean it is just a free for all of pure gluttony. I still advise to eat a healthy diet at least 80% of the time.  There is still a difference between healthy fat loss and unhealthy fat loss.  We want to have an overall healthy lifestyle with the ability to enjoy it.

You just do not need to beat yourself up for having that cheat meal you broke down and had over the weekend.  In fact, it is actually helping you thanks to the fasting period.

Turns Your Body Into a Fat Burning Machine

As you fast, hormonal responses take place.  Human growth hormone (HGH) increases as you sleep.  While you sleep you are technically fasting for 6-8 hours.  By extending your fast, by skipping breakfast, or moving your first meal later in the day, HGH continues to increase.  Almost as much as five times!(3) High numbers of HGH, facilitate fat-burning and muscle building.  A double whammy for getting lean.

Insulin levels in the body also decrease.  This also facilitates fat burn. (4) It also protects you from developing Type 2 diabetes.

It’s ok buddy….. Are you just sitting in your underwear? PhotoCredit: muscle review.net

Easy To Do

This is probably the easiest nutrition plan to fall in line with, in my opinion.

Why?

For one, a lot of people already skip breakfast.

For these breakfast skippers they are already doing an extended fast.  It is just a matter of tying up the lose ends and make it more structured and intentional.  This means paying attention to the eating window and what is eaten inside of it.

For breakfast eaters, it is just a change to not eating breakfast.

The fast part sounds extreme, but you sleep through most of it.  I would say after a week, people are close, if not fully adapted to the new feeding schedule.

Is intermittent fasting for everyone?  No there is not a one size fits all, diet plan.  I do think it is a feasible choice for many.  It just takes some faith and stepping away from the “typical” diet advice that we are all accustomed to.

The best way to tell is to try it for a week yourself.

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About The Author

Kevin Fulton

Kevin Fulton is personal trainer in Pittsburgh, PA. His goal is to help his clients look, feel, and move better. In his spare time you can find him under a barbell or practicing jiu jitsu.

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