It’s the new year, and most of us have put on a little weight over the festive season. You might be feeling sluggish and bloated, and your clothes might be a little snug! I am only human and I did indulge (in moderation), so I’m definitely looking forward to my clothes feeling comfortable again!
Intermittent fasting is how I will be losing my Christmas weight. If you are someone who has the best of intentions to start eating healthily after the silly season, but find you run out of steam, then this article is for you. Perhaps it’s time to look at things a little differently this time.
The most common reason that people give up on their healthy eating plans is that they run out of willpower. This is usually because their plan is too restrictive, too hard to follow, or they have set their goals so high that they seem impossible to achieve.
I am a massive fan of intermittent fasting and the benefits that can be achieved, including fat loss. Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. It has gained a lot of popularity because it is one of the simplest strategies for fat loss, and requires very little behaviour or calorie intake change.
I will now explain the general premise of intermittent fasting and how it enables you to lose fat. There is a little science to get through but it’s easy to follow and well worth the effort.
The basic idea is that you fast for 16 hours, and eat 2-3 meals within an 8 hour window. The easiest way to do this is to schedule most of your fast overnight while you’re sleeping - i.e. finish eating at dinner time and fast until lunchtime the following day, as long as the fast equates to 16 hours. If you are used to skipping breakfast then this shouldn’t be too difficult for you.
Sound daunting? Research shows that there are benefits from following this pattern of eating on only 2 days a week, so you don’t have to do this everyday unless you want to.
If you don’t want to jump into a 16 hour fast cold-turkey, there are multiple ways of easing yourself into it. Start by gradually pushing back your meals a bit. If dinner is usually at 8.30pm, eat it at 8pm, then 7.30pm, then 7pm. Same idea with breakfast; try eating breakfast an hour later. This helps train your appetite hormones to adjust slowly.
HOW DOES INTERMITTENT FASTING WORK?
To understand how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss, we first need to understand the difference between the fed state and the fasted state.
Your body is in the fed state when it is digesting and absorbing food. Typically, the fed state starts when you begin eating, and lasts for 3-5 hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the fed state, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.
After that timespan, our body goes into what is known as the post-absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying your body isn’t currently processing a meal. The post-absorptive state lasts between 8 and 12 hour after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state.
It’s much easier for your body to burn fast in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low. When you’re in the fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state. Because we don’t enter the fasted state until about 12 hours after our last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state, and this is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat or how often they exercise.
WANT TO TAKE IT A STEP FURTHER?
You’ve just read that you can achieve fat loss without changing what or how much you eat or increasing exercise. Here are some ways you can increase the amount and speed at which you can lose fat by making some additional changes. And it still doesn’t require you to restrict your calorie intake!
Increase the amount of days of the week you practice intermittent fasting.
Do a high intensity workout (20-30 minutes) a few times a week, ideally while still in a fasted state but this isn’t essential.
Eat your largest meal directly after your workout.
Eat mostly whole foods, and minimally processed foods, instead of processed/junk foods.
If you have any questions about intermittent fasting, or anything else, please get in contact here.
If you give intermittent fasting a try, be sure to let me know how you go.