Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers they did not have supermarkets, they had to go on hunting trips for days. When they found food they would feast, if they didn’t catch anything they would have nothing to eat, so there was this feast and fast cycle.
Fasting is nothing new, many religions advocate fasting. If you are trying to lose weight, health professionals will tell you to eat 3 meals a day and have healthy snacks between meals. For breakfast you eat like a king, lunch you eat like a queen, and for dinner, you eat like a pauper. Another eating plan is to eat 6 small frequent meals a day. The thinking here is that this way of eating will help you to better manage your hunger and maintain energy levels. The theory is that your metabolism will be kept high and you would avoid starvation mode.
If you are eating throughout the day, you are constantly taking in glucose. Therefore stored fat will never get used. Six to eight hours after a meal is when you will be able to use your fat stores as fuel. The body will only use fat as fuel as a last resort after the glycogen and blood sugar is out of the system.
When our body is expending energy it likes to draw energy from a few places. The primary source is from the liver where it uses glycogen which is stored glucose, the other is blood sugar. Glycogen is also stored in our muscles, (it can only be used locally) for that fight or flight response. As long as those stores are replenished that is where the body will take fuel from.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose excess fat. What you are doing is restricting your eating window instead of restricting calories. Clinical research on Intermittent Fasting shows that when done properly intermittent fasting might help extend longevity, regulate blood glucose, lower LDL, manage weight, and a host of other health benefits. The BBC made a very interesting documentary about Intermittent Fasting titled Eat, Fast, and Live Longer, you can find it on YouTube.
Here are 4 different fasting plans.
Alternate Day Fasting Plan – This plan allows you to eat very little (500 calories) on one day and eat as you would normally eat the next day.
5:2 Intermittent Fasting Plan – This is where you fast for 2 days a week
Eat Stop Eat – This plan is where you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. During the fast period, no food is consumed. You can drink calorie-free beverages. After the fast is over you go back to eating normally.
Restrict Daily Eating Window – This plan uses a 16 hour fast followed by an 8-hour eating window. It’s up to you when you start your 8-hour eating window. During the fast period you consume no calories. Black tea or coffee is allowed. This plan is easy to get into even if you are a gym-goer. You get up in the morning have a cup of black tea or coffee, and then go do your workout. With regard to fat-burning, what do you think will happen? With no glycogen to use for fuel your body will start burning fat for energy. Which means that you will greatly reduce those fat stores. You may feel a little light-headed at first but that will go away, that’s very short term. At 12 or 1 you can eat your lunch and in the evening you can have dinner with your family.
Whilst you can eat whatever you want you should remember that you are what you eat, and it would be better to eat healthily.
If you are considering doing intermittent fasting always check with your doctor before making any lifestyle changes. People who have low blood sugar or women who are pregnant or nursing should not do intermittent fasting.
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