It is a popular yet seemingly paradoxical diet that has been discussed at length in fitness communities over the past few years. Some experts claim that intermittent fasting results in significant decreases in body fat and increases in lean mass and others refute those claims.
For some time the information was so conflicting that even the most experienced fitness enthusiasts were unsure of how to respond.
But now with more research being done on intermittent fasting, the diet is becoming an increasingly popular weight loss solution for both men and women alike.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a diet plan that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It does not specify which foods to eat, but rather when to eat them. There are several different intermittent fasting programs with variations in the length of time during which you fast, the number of meals you consume while feasting, and the times these meals are ingested.
The most common variations include:
The 16/8 method is in which you fast for 16 hours and eat only during the 8-hour window.
The 5:2 diet in which you consume 25% of your usual caloric intake two non-consecutive days each week (and eat normally the remainder of the week).
Eat-Stop-Eat a 24 hour fast followed by a 24-hour non-fasting period.
All of these intermittent fasting programs have one thing in common: they cycle between periods of fasting and eating, allowing you to eat during a specific window that is free from strict limitations on the types or amount of food you can eat.
But it is not just about the freedom to eat what you want when you want … it’s also about when you can do so. Research contends that one of the most beneficial parts of intermittent fasting is its ability to help regulate your circadian rhythm by controlling your insulin levels which influence your metabolism and weight.
What’s the Big Deal About Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting has become popular because it claims to address certain problems that are often thought to be inevitable with traditional dietings, such as lowered metabolic rate, increased fat storage, and muscle loss.
And more importantly, can it deliver on these promises?
Research has shown that the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting does result in less fat accumulation which leads to an improved metabolic rate.
But this is not the only reason why intermittent fasting is being hailed as a weight-loss miracle, it also claims to help you build muscle mass while losing body fat, which is something that traditional diet plans simply cannot do.
This claim has helped the method become increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike who are interested in gaining strength while staying lean.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
When you eat your body produces insulin to manage the influx of new food into the bloodstream. However, your insulin levels are not always this active, they can vary depending on the type of nutrients you ingest.
When your body is digesting proteins and carbohydrates it produces insulin but when it is engaged in fat metabolism, it produces glucagon which functions to release fat stores so that they can be used as energy.