Fasting has a raft of health benefits that go way beyond weight loss, however, not eating, even for a short period, seems counterintuitive in modern society. The obesity epidemic in Australia requires us to confront our relationship with 24/7 access to food. We all know our ancestors were hunter-gatherers; the idea of three meals a day, plus snacks, would be as foreign to them as the internet.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting for weight loss has become popular in recent times to offset the increasing amount of food many of us consume without burning it off. We are storing too much energy as fat on our bodies, therefore periodic fasting prevents us from adding to the stored fat, giving our bodies the opportunity to burn it.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is not a starvation program, which it is often confused with. IF is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of healthy eating and fasting, and to be clear, fasting means you consume zero calories. Drinking water is mandatory, and black tea and coffee (minus sugar) are permitted.
Intermittent Fasting Windows
The term intermittent fasting is often used to describe various diets such as the 5:2 Diet and Alternate Day Fasting (ADF), as well as being used to describe eating windows such as 16/8. There are a variety of different IF protocols, and the key to success is finding the one that you can sustain.
Pro Tip: Start Slow! IF has the potential to give you incredible results, however, it’s like training for a marathon. You don’t simply show up at the starting line, without any preparation or training and expect to get a positive, healthy result. You must work your way up to longer fasting windows.
Popular fasting windows include:
|FASTING Window Hours
|FEEDING Window Hours
|1 Hour (OMAD – One Meal A Day)
|Break fast gently with broth
For Example: To begin with you could finish eating your last meal of the day at 7pm and then not eat again until 7am. That’s a 12 hour fast. Then you eat between 7am and 7pm. That’s the 12/12 fast.
Once you’ve mastered that and you are not snacking in those 12 hours, simply eating three healthy meals per day, look to increase the fast by pushing breakfast back by two hours. So finish eating at 7pm and fast until 9am the following morning when you eat breakfast. That’s the 14/10 window.
One of the most popular fasting windows is 16/8. Again, finish eating at 7pm, skip breakfast altogether the next morning and break your fast at 11am. This is highly effective as you are now getting the health benefits of an extended fast and you are consuming less calories by skipping a meal.
To reiterate, the above is simply a suggestion. The best fasting for weight loss protocol is the one you can sustain. Remember to apply common sense; sticking to a fasting window doesn’t mean you can eat like it’s the end of the world during your feeding window. We are aiming for a caloric deficit.
Creating A Caloric Deficit
You must create a caloric deficit for your body to switch from burning the calories you’ve consumed to the calories you have stored as fat. The general consensus is that a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, will drop 1 pound of fat per week.
The methodology is quite simple, however, humans tend to overcomplicate it with emotion:
- Eat fewer calories a day than you burn
- Increase physical activity to assist burning more calories than consumed
- A combination of eating fewer calories AND exercising to burn more calories
Benefits of Fasting
There are several benefits to intermittent fasting for fat loss that are simple to understand, convenient and suit all food preferences.
The most common benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Less restrictive: Most people find that intermittent fasting is much easier than trying to eat a strict, very low-calorie diet all the time. The more restrictive your diet and the fewer calories you consume, the more likely you are to feel hungry and deprived.
- Hunger suppression: Intermittent fasting makes it easier to eat less because it suppresses hunger. Once you get over that initial hunger hurdle, your physical desire to eat diminishes. Ironically, eating actually makes you hungry because it spikes the hunger hormone ghrelin which stimulates appetite, and encourages fat storage.
- Forget weighing, measuring and counting calories: Nothing psychs you out of a weight loss program more than having to measure food or count calories. It is something most of us refuse to do. Psychologically, it is more simple to skip a meal altogether.
- Suits ALL dietary requirements: Whether you are low carb, keto, vegan, paleo, gluten free etc., fasting accommodates all food preferences and sensitivities.
- Zero Cost: There are no setup fees, contracts, memberships, special clothing, food, or equipment you need to get started. You actually save money, because you aren’t buying as much food. And there’s no waiting.
Exercise While Fasting
The term “fat-burning machine” is often overused or misused. Not when it comes to intermittent fasting.
If you train in a fasting window, on an empty stomach, your body has no current calories to burn and is forced to use fat for energy. You are literally tapping the fat stores to keep your system operating. Once you have established an intermittent fasting protocol and you want to kick it up a level, consider working out first thing after you have woken up to become a fat-burning machine.
Fun Fat Fact:
Did you ever wonder where the fat goes when you lose it? Most fat loss is exhaled! Fat is converted into carbon dioxide. Our lungs expel the bulk of our fat and the rest becomes water which we pee out and sweat out. Breathtaking!
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