It gets contradictory with how many meals you should be eating in a day. Many sources say three meals, three snacks, and to never, EVER skip breakfast. Well, you can throw all of that out the window if you want to try intermittent fasting. A well-balanced approach will work well for your lifestyle, body type, experience, and goals.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
For starters, intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern. You're basically making a conscious decision to skip certain meals on purpose. Therefore, you consume calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time. There are many reasons why people choose to do this, as intermittent fasting has many benefits:
- When you fast, you are making it easier to restrict your total caloric intake, which can lead to consistent weight loss and maintenance.
- It simplifies your day with meal preparation and allows you to enjoy bigger portioned meals.
- It requires less time and less money to purchase meals.
- Intermittent fasting promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, which helps weight loss and muscle gain.
- It can boost brain function and positively counteract conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
It's obvious that by cutting out an entire meal or two each day, you are consuming fewer calories per week – even if your two meals per day are slightly bigger than before. Therefore, you’re still consuming fewer calories per day, which will result in weight loss. Nonetheless, keep in mind that not all calories are created equal, and the timing of meals can influence how your body reacts. Still, it trains your body to operate differently and more efficiently when fasting and feasting. When you eat food, your body will use that readily available food as energy rather than the fat you have stored. Then, when you fast, your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it's more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body as a source of energy. So essentially, intermittent fasting is forcing your body to adapt and pull from the only source of energy available to it, which is the fat stored in your cells, which then leads to burning fat and weight loss. Additionally, now a meal following your workout will be stored most efficiently. How cool is that?
How To Do Intermittent Fasting
A big problem with intermittent fasting is knowing how to make it work for your life. For example, it can get tricky to navigate depending on your work, exercise, meals, family, and other lifestyle factors. Additionally, most people struggle with knowing exactly when to eat and when to stop eating - and actually sticking with it. In order to make intermittent fasting work, you need to eat better and make exercise a priority. This is how you can simplify it to make it easier for you: find a time window that works best for YOU. You can choose to fast for 16 hours and then feast on purpose within an 8-hour window. You can simply do this by either skipping breakfast or dinner. Another option is skipping two meals one day, such as breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner, where you are taking 24 hours off from eating. If you can only do an 18 - 22 hours fast, that’s okay! Adjust with different time frames and see how your body responds. You can also do this once a week, twice a week, or whatever works best for your life and situation.