Intermittent Fasting is by far my most successful eating strategy for fat loss to date. I’ve detailed my initial experiences quite extensively in past articles but thought it deserved some more ink - errr pixels - with regards to its’ simplicity. While most other diet styles have multiple rules, lists of bad foods to avoid, and fancy spreadsheets, fasting takes you above the low-level details to the most basic question: To Eat or Not To Eat?
Who Does Fasting?
It seems fasting has been a part of almost every culture since man set foot on this planet. Many of the world’s religions have some form of fasting built into their traditions including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Muslim, Judaism, and many others. As an example, A Jewish friend of mine recently celebrated Yom Kippur a couple of days ago and as part of the preparation for this holiday it involved a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer.
Of course, these traditional forms of fasting are not meant to be used as a fat loss strategy, but rather for other purposes such as spirituality and personal reflection. But from a “its-a-small-world” perspective, it’s interesting to see how many people from different backgrounds use fasting in their lives.
Intermittent Fasting Defined
Intermittent Fasting is the practice of fasting on a semi-regular schedule. By pure definition people who follow an intermittent fasting program take every second day off from eating. For example, if you decide to eat on Saturday, you would then abstain from eating on Sunday then resume eating again on Monday. It’s also been described as the “one day on, one day off” diet in various places.
The Problem With Strict Fasting
Although following Intermittent Fasting by the books will produce weight loss results, it is too restrictive for the majority of people to follow. A strict fasting schedule where you alternate days of eating can easily become disruptive to your lifestyle and most importantly become an obsessive compulsive habit. Imagine also the lack of flexibility with the choice of fasting days when the weekend approaches and you have social, family and other events to consider. Don’t we have enough to worry about already?
A Better Approach To Fasting
Allowing yourself to choose when you would like to fast allows for greater flexibility and increases the likelihood that you stick to an intermittent fasting routine indefinitely. The exact time you start and stop your fasts with this kind of eating may also vary. You may choose to start and stop your fast based on a particular time of day, or perhaps time it with your sleep cycle, or even the rise and fall of the sun. For example, I enjoy a 24-hour fast where I have a normal sized diner and then fast until the following evening when I enjoy a normal sized dinner again. There is no hard and fast rule with Intermittent Fasting. The purpose is to simply eat less calories over the course of the week or month by adding in prolonged periods of abstaining from eating food.
Why Fasting and Weight Loss Go Well Together
Typically people who have followed any of the fad diets (South Beach Diet anyone?) struggle with regaining most of my weight back because these plans are too rigid for their lifestyle. After a period, people would simply give up and return to their old ways of eating (shameful, I know). However, sometimes a step back is necessary to gain two steps forward and with Intermittent Fasting I felt like I was taking four steps forward! Keeping the weight off permanently was easier because every time I felt like I was starting to over eat and gain some of the weight back I simply added in a fasting day to burn the extra calories off. This is a great example of how the simplicity of a diet is the most important factor to its effectiveness. I enjoyed my weekend BBQ so today I will fast: Done!
Take a Break From the Grind of Eating
Eating high protein food - specifically from meat sources - in most of your meals day in and day out can cause its own stress to your digestive system over time. It requires a lot of energy to break this food down so give your body a break once in a while. I like to hit the proverbial reboot button on my body with a 24-hour fast and I feel alert and energetic afterwords.
Be Flexible and Enjoy the Results
While most other diet styles have iron clad rules with regards to what and how you eat certain foods, fasting allows you to eat whatever you like whenever you like on your “eating days”.
NOTE: Don’t take the “whatever you like to eat” statement literally. This isn’t the junk food open invitational tournament; instead we’re talking about healthy food choices, especially before and after a fast. The urge to overeat after a fast will be strong but avoidance to do so is key. Since the digestive system slows down during a fast, it’s also been suggested by many studies to avoid heavy foods such as meat as they’re liable to cause indigestion. Eating light with dairy foods kept to a minimum has served me well after a fast.
The only rule in an intermittent fasting program is the fast itself. True intermittent fasting of one day on, one day off is too strict for many people, however flexible intermittent fasting that allows you to choose your fasting days according to your social eating schedule makes intermittent fasting much more sustainable for long term fat loss success.
For more details about intermittent fasting for weight loss can help you achieve your fat loss goals, check out our Eat Stop Eat review. Anybody that has struggled with the usual low calorie, low carb, low fat bland diet routines should seriously consider this book to reaching their fat loss goals.
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