By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating strategy that is considered by many people a type of diet that can help people reduce inflammation and lose weight. Fasting is to abstain from food or drink and the word intermittent means occurring at irregular intervals. Therefore, intermittent fasting is a strategy in which a person will fast for a period of time throughout the day and then they will eat for a brief period, then fast for the rest of the day. Intermittent fasting is a strategy and there are multiple strategies possible to achieve the possible health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Drink water throughout the day
While intermittent fasting is a popular trend in health and fitness today, there are a few components of this strategy that everyone should know and be aware of. First, it is important to drink water throughout the day. If you read any information in which a person is saying to only drink while eating, please know this notion is simply wrong and it may be unsafe.
Staying hydrated is critical to good healthy weight loss. Weight loss is catalyzed by a process called hydrolysis, which requires water! Second, feeding periods do not mean unrestricted calorie binges. During a feeding period, a predetermined amount of calories should be consumed, but that amount should still result in a negative caloric intake for the day. This means that after you complete your feeding period, you should still have expended more calories during the day than you consumed.
Determine what is best for you
The debate still exists in the scientific literature if intermittent fasting is better than a normal diet (whatever normal means). Regardless of which is better, you must determine what is best for you. The best diet is the one you stick with. The challenge with an intermittent fasting diet is that often delaying caloric intake until later in the day can result in overindulgence. On the contrary, eating your first meal or food later in the day may help you restrict your total caloric consumption on a day-to-day basis. The strategy that works best is really up to you, but here are a few examples of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting strategies
(Note: there are many different strategies)
20/4 Method: Fast for 20 hours daily and moderate food consumption only between the hours of 2-6 PM.
16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours daily and moderate food consumption for a window of 8 hours daily.
Eat, fast, eat: eat normal then fast for two days total with eating day or days spaced in between the fast.
Alternate fasting: alternate normal diet days with fasting days.
Koch, Hannah. “The Effects of Time-Restricted Feeding versus a Normal Diet on Lean Body Mass in Active Individuals.” Journal of Exercise and Nutrition. 4(2):8.
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