Intermittent Fasting (I.F.)
What It Is
Intermittent Fasting is currently very popular in the health and fitness community. Many people like it because it quickly and easily simplifies a busy lifestyle, in addition to being effective for weight loss and muscle-building. There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting. All of them split the day or week into “eating periods” and “fasting periods.”
The most popular IF methods:
- The 16/8 Method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, for example from 1 pm to 9 pm. Then you “fast” for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 Diet: On two non-consecutive days of the week, only eat 500-600 calories. Eat normally the other 5 days. More details here.
By making you eat fewer calories, all of these methods should make you lose weight as long as you don’t compensate by eating too much more during the eating periods.
The 16/8 method is the most popular because it seems to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to. There’s more detailed information on the different protocols here: 6 Intermittent Fasting Methods.
When you fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, your body changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Your cells also initiate important repair processes, and change the expression of genes.
Here are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few.
- Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.
- Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
- Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
These changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Weight Loss: As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories.
- Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31%. This should protect against type 2 diabetes.
- Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases. EnduraQ has also been shown to reduce inflammation.
- Heart Health: Intermittent fasting may reduce LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance. These are all risk factors for heart disease.
- Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer.
- Brain Health: Intermittent fasting increases a brain hormone called BDNF, and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats live as much as 36-83% longer.
Keep in mind that the research is still in its early stages. Many of the studies were small, short in duration or conducted in animals. Many questions have yet to be answered in higher quality human studies.
By making you eat fewer meals, intermittent fasting can lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake. Additionally, intermittent fasting changes hormone levels to facilitate weight loss. In addition to lower insulin and increased growth hormone levels, it increases release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Because of these changes in hormones, short-term fasting may actually increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%. By helping you eat less (fewer calories in) and helping you burn more (more calories out), intermittent fasting causes weight loss by changing both sides of the calorie equation.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can be a very powerful weight loss tool. In a review study from 2014, it was shown to cause weight loss of 3-8% over periods of 3-24 weeks. That is actually a very large amount compared to most weight loss studies. According to this study, people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference. This indicates that they lost significant amounts of the harmful belly fat that builds up around the organs and causes disease.
There is also one study showing that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than the more standard method of continuous calorie restriction. However, keep in mind that the main reason this works, is that it helps you eat fewer calories overall. If you binge and eat massive amounts during the eating periods, then you may not lose any weight at all.
As always, pairing EnduraQ with a healthy diet and exercise will significantly increase the results you experience. As mentioned above, several things happen in your body when you fast. For example, your body changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible.
EnduraQ fuels fat burn, so putting your body in a fasted state will make more of your fat accessible, meaning there is more available fat for EnduraQ (and exercise) to burn off. This is one of several reasons supplementing EnduraQ is complementary to Intermittent Fasting.
For the next blog in our diet series we will discuss Flexible “Macronutrient” Dieting, or “IIFYM” (If It Fits Your Macros). Check back in two weeks to learn more.