Intermittent Fasting , (IF), is a dietary practice that has gained momentum in the bodybuilding community. Now that excitement has started to spill over into the mainstream health and fitness blogosphere. The approach is based around centuries old fasting traditions of various religious groups (think Ramadan) and has been shown to be remarkably good for your health.
Studies on Intermittent Fasting have highlighted its ability to reduce body fat, increase insulin sensitivity and decrease the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Furthermore, animal studies have indicated Intermittent Fasting can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases in the elderly.
As if the excitement of reducing the risk for all these diseases isn’t enough, there’s mounting evidence from adherents of the practice that Intermittent Fasting can help selectively boost fat loss in the subcutaneous fat stores – meaning it’s an excellent choice for anyone with stubborn belly or butt fat.
It’s really simple – rather than eating as you normally would, you purposefully pick periods of the day or week where you consume no calories. This means no eating, no snacking and no drinking your calories either (so that double tall latte is out, and a black Americano is in). This can be done each and every day for short periods (such as the popular 16 hour fast, 8 hour feed method) or it could be for one or two days per week that you choose not to eat anything (Alternate Day Fasting).
[box type=”note”]There’s no pills, supplements or diet books to buy – you just stop eating for a set period of time, then once that period is over you go back to your normal diet.[/box]
One of the benefits of intermittent fasting is that your body rapidly adapts to the new style of eating. If you deliberately skip breakfast each day, the hormone ghrelin adapts to this, meaning you won’t feel hungry until your “normal” eating time. It takes a few days for this entrainment to set in, but once you’ve gotten used to eating your first meal of the day at lunchtime you’ll never be hungry at breakfast again!
This benefit is seen best in those who choose to fast each and every day. The exact duration of your own personal fast can change (depending on your needs), but it needs to be over 12 hours long to start seeing the benefits mentioned above. Women normally get a little hungrier than men (they always get the rough end of the stick when it comes to fat loss), so 14 hours is a good option for women, whereas men can usually fast for 16 hours without any hardship.
Intermittent fasting helps in three ways with unwanted belly fat:
By performing some low intensity, steady state exercise (brisk walking) during your fast, you can help shed the unwanted belly (or butt) fat whilst your body is “in the zone” for fat burning. Just make sure you don’t “reward” yourself too heavily once the fast is over, and un-do all that work!
Neil blogs more about Fat Loss, Muscle Gain and improving Body Recomposition over at his website LeanMassGains.com. His approach uses a 16 hour fast, 8 hour feed approach, coupled with weight training, nutrient and calorie timing to deliver lightning fast changes in body composition. Head on over to check out even more benefits of Intermittent Fasting. When not blogging, Neil spends his time training for local strongman competitions.