This article was also written up for Style Runners online magazine Triple White!
Tried everything to lose the bulge but nothing working? Have you reduced your calories, increased your exercise, but still not seeing results? Intermittent fasting could be the missing piece to your puzzle and endless frustration! It certainly works for myself and for many of my clients.
So what is intermittent fasting? And what are the different ways to do it?
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that cycles between times of fasting and eating. Throughout human evolution, fasting has been practiced an awful lot – think about it… ancient hunter gatherers didn’t have access to food all year round. And, some days nothing could be found to eat! So, humans evolved to be able to function pretty well without the constant ingestion of food. In fact, fasting for an extended period of time occasionally is more natural than consistently eating 3, 4 or 5 meals a day.
There are several different ways to practice intermittent fasting. During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all. These are the most popular methods:
The 16/8 method: My favourite one. This involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 12.00 – 8.00 p.m. You would have wanted to eat your dinner the night before at 8.00pm (16 hours gap). So, you fast for 16 hours, then eat for 8. You can do this as often as you like.
The 5:2 diet: You consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week. For the other 5, you eat normally (ie at your daily energy requirement to remain weight).
24 hour fast: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week. The most common way to do this is to eat from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
Most people find the 16/8 method to be the easiest and most sustainable to stick to. It’s definitely the most popular. This is also the method that I personally follow! I do this on average of 3 to 4 days through the week.
What are the benefits? And how does it work on the body to produce these exciting results?
There have been many scientifically studied benefits found on intermittent fasting, however, because weight loss is the focus here, I will hone in on that!
By reducing the window of time you eat in, naturally it’s easier to consume fewer calories, leading to weight loss. This is as long as you don't compensate by eating much more during your eating periods!
Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to assist in the loss of fat. Higher growth hormone levels, lower insulin levels and increased amounts of noradrenaline all boost the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy. Because of this, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate (no, you don’t go into starvation mode) by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories throughout the day.
So, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It boosts your metabolic rate (increases the amount of calories you burn) and reduces the amount of food you consume (reduces the amount of calories coming in).
So, can you eat or drink anything whilst in the fasting window?
You can’t eat much, but what you can have is coffee! And water, lots of water. Plain, filtered stock is also fine to drink. Anything that contains carbohydrates or protein will cause an insulin release and kick you out of the fasted state.
Pure fat is ok though! This is why I love to add MCT oil to a cup of black coffee and blend, making my own version of a bulletproof coffee. The MCT oil actually increases the effects of a fast, causing greater concentration, a greater boost in metabolism and many more benefits, please see my Instagram page @health_with_bec for lots more info! I talk about it all the time and made an entire IGTV video explaining how I make it. I also talk lots about fasting here too!
I love intermittent fasting and the promising benefits it is bringing so many people. I also strongly believe that intermittent fasting is only “doable” if you have tackled your carb and sugar cravings and follow a healthy, balanced and preferably low carb way of eating. This is why I have carefully introduced it in week 3 of my 3 Week Body Reset Plan, a new eBook I have just released that is helping many women around Australia and the rest of the world lose weight without the hunger.
I hope you found this interesting! There are always things you can do to help yourself with your health and weight loss goals, you just have to constantly read, research and more important try new things to find out what works for YOU best.
Rebecca Miller, Director and Founder of Health with Bec