Intermittent fasting (IF) is based on eating specific at times of the day or week by restricting your calorie intake. Times and days depend on the type of pattern you decide to follow or which suits your lifestyle.
Intermittent Fasting is not a diet, rather a Way of Life (WOL). The main reason for this is that you can eat anything you like. What you need to do is pay attention to times when you eat and cut down on calories at certain times.
Is Intermittent Fasting difficult?
Not really, but isn’t any lifestyle change uncomfortable at the begging? We all actually fast every day. Yes, that’s right, every day. As we go to bed, our body slows down but functions regardless, burning calories as we sleep. That is 7-12 hours. With Intermittent Fasting, you just prolong the fasting periods before or after sleep. That is essentially the easiest approach.
What to eat on Intermittent Fasting?
One of the most prominent advantages while doing Intermittent Fasting is that you can eat what you like – literally! As calorie restriction is the main goal, it does not matter whether you eat one bowl of healthy and filling pumpkin soup or a piece of chocolate. The choice is yours and it gives you the freedom to not only follow what’s good but what your taste buds dictate. In reality, however, once you start, you will see better benefits when eating whole foods, packed with vitamins, fiber and healthy oils simply because it fills you up for longer and gives you more energy.
What food to eat on the Intermittent Fasting lifestyle?
Whole food, homemade food made fresh, organic if you can and adding fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi or sauerkraut help digestion. If you fast on 1 or two days per week, why not eat real food to ensure an intake of important nutrients? Let’s face it, you don’t eat much on fasting days, eating well becomes easy. Cooking is quick and you can choose from many calorie counted meals you can whip up on the go. You can be a vegetarian, vegan or do paleo at the same time. It’s faster and easier than eating out. And as a bonus, it saves money too! Fasting is healthy no matter what you eat and it should not become a burden. Just eat what works for you, keeping in mind what’s healthy and what’s not.
Can I drink when fasting?
Drinking liquids during your fast is essential. It helps with hunger pangs, cravings and making you more alert. The obvious and healthies choice is water. You should try to drink as much as you can and in reality, you will feel thirsty and want to drink.
There are many non-caloric drinks such as teas – herbal, green or black, black coffee or carbonated drinks. These are an option but should not become a staple due to its artificial sweetener content. Simple carbonated water with some lemon will do the trick too.
On fasting days when you still consume some calories, opt for dandelion tea, barley tea, light vegetable or bone stock, milk or nut milk, water kefir, kombucha or coconut water. Be aware of any calories in such drinks, they add up to your daily intake and must be counted.
Intermittent Fasting is good for you
The most noticeable benefit is weight loss. Many people start losing weight as early as the 1st week of fasting. When you think about it, it’s only natural because you don’t eat as much. Of course, we all are different and weight loss works differently with all of us.
Calorie restriction is the most natural and logical way of slimming down. Calories simply play an important part in our body weight. Studies have been conducted and proved the relationship between restricted calorie intake and weight loss.
I personally noticed a change in my body shape in the 2nd week and although it wasn’t a rapid weight loss from them the start, I saw my flabby arms shrinking and my inner thighs tighten. This had never happened on any other weight loss program or a diet I had followed. I was chuffed!
I experienced weight loss gradually but all over my body, not in just one or two parts of my body. I really believe that’s the reason some people don’t see immediate results, especially if there is much weight to lose. That was why I started measuring myself rather than jumping on scales every day. I lost 5 cm in my waist over 3 months and 2 cm on each arm and thigh. I am proof that Intermittent Fasting works ‘As tested on humans’.
Energy, energy and more energy
Energy does not kick is straight away. As with any change to your body, the body needs to adjust. It’s quite normal to feel slightly dizzy or lightheaded in the first two weeks. You will also feel hungry, that’s just the adjustment stage taking place.
After about two weeks however, I experienced my energy go up, namely the day after a fasting day (Fasting day – FD, Non-fasting Day – NFD). What I also felt was the actual burning! Yes, I could and still do feel the weight loss which happens on my NFD day, just after eating my first meal and I feel amazingly active and alert.
As if my body wants to burn the ‘new’ energy, and it burns even more. You will feel hungry more on NFD days but you will also become satisfied with a lower quantity of food and at the same time feel content in your gut and mind.
This is how it works: Carbohydrates present in food are turned to blood sugar to be used as energy or the body stores it for later. When this sugar is depleted, so is our energy and we feel hungry. That’s why some people are successful on the Keto diet by not eating carbohydrates.
If we eat, we just force our body to repeat the blood sugar production, instead of using up our body fat, putting pressure on our metabolism. And not just metabolism, but our mental state. We keep thinking we are hungry and must eat. The result is weight increase and fluctuation in our energy.
When we give our bodies a break from eating, we start burning fat, rather than sugar as sugar burns first. If there is no food intake, the body grabs it from the fat reserves. We lose fat. Burning fat is more constant than burning sugar, making our energy levels more steady, creating “the feeling good” state.
Hunger becomes manageable and unnoticed
We eat too much. That’s a fact! Look at some countries where the calorie intake is around 1,300 kcal (North Korea) per day and some, such as the USA 3,600 kcal per day. I know, this is extreme. I am sure there are people who eat even fewer calories. The point is, the level of obesity in counties with low consumption of calories is nearly non-existent.
There is a direct link between the number of calories and body weight. The hunger associated with fasting or restricting calories is noticeable, at the beginning. Our body needs to get used to a lower intake of food at some point.
As time progresses, you don’t feel as hungry as in the 1st week. After 1 month, your body will adapt to the eating pattern and even look forward to fasting. It feels like your body knows that the fast is coming and you feel like doing it. It becomes part of your routine or habit.
It’s important to mention, that we all react differently to changes. The most difficult is always the biggest change. So, if you, for example, consume 3,000 calories per day and decide to do the 5:1 or 5:2 fast, you will need to cut the calories down to 500 calories per day. In this case, you are likely to feel hungry more than someone whose calorie intake is 2,000 calories per day. The adjustment period may also take slightly longer.
Although people who eat more now and cut down calories by a lot, feel hungry more. At the same time, the reward is higher. A rapid calorie drop results in a bigger weight loss, more energy, and a feeling of achievement.
Calorie counting, easy!
Many of us have been literally put off by counting calories as many diet promoters labeled it tiresome, difficult and unnecessary. It is not so! With a bit of practice and the right recipes, you know how many calories you have eaten on a Fasting Day or use the counts also on Non-fasting Days to keep track. The secret is good scales and patience to begin with. You will also benefit from reading labels on products you intend to eat and prepare your shopping list in advance. There are many applications to help you keep track of your calories and amounts of food eaten, as well as nutrition.