Try out one of the most popular diets: Intermittent Fasting!

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Intermittent Fasting (IF) is one of the best ways to lose fat. But how does it work? Why is it so popular? Here's a little crash course for you.

Although Intermittent (or periodical if you like that phrase better) Fasting is amongst the more popular (and according to science, healthy too1) diets on Earth right now, it's not a new trend at all. In the history of Mankind, people have been using this diet quite frequently. Of course, they fasted of necessity due to hunger and religion, not because they read about it on Builder and they wanted to look better in the mirror.

They didn’t have a refrigerator, nor did they have non-stop grocery stores to go to for some food whenever they wanted to. The food they gathered often started to rot.

During the evolution, the human body adapted to these circumstances and fasting became normal. That is why we can live without food for weeks. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. Therefore fasting is completely normal, even more than eating every three hours.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

It differs from the traditional dieting methods because here you are told when to eat not what to eat. It’s a bit like HIIT cardio – this method also has two short cycles, one of them is eating, one of them is fasting.

How should you start?

There are various methods, all of them works, so you have the luxury to choose whatever method can work and be more convenient for you. The most popular methods for Intermittent Fasting are the following:

The 16/8 Method: I’m sure for most people this is the most convenient option - this one is the most popular, and for a good reason. Okay, here’s how to do it. Just skip the breakfast, pick an 8-hour time period during the day (for example 1 PM till 9 PM) when you will be eating normally. When the clock hits 9 PM, stop eating. Your next meal after that should be 1 PM the next day. Now you understand how this method got its name: you fast 16 hours and you have a feeding period that lasts for 8 hours.

Eat-Stop-Eat: this method is much more brutal than the previous one. Here you actually have to fast for a full day, but only once or twice a week. If you wish to give it a try, then you can eat your dinner today, but the next meal after that must be the next dinner. This method is not for the faint-hearted, I warn you.

The 5:2 Diet: on two non-consecutive days of the week (for example on Tuesday and Thursday) you are allowed to eat up to 600 calories (that is a very tiny amount of food) while on the remaining days of the week you can eat normally.

You can also fast randomly, whenever you feel like you can do it, you are under the perfect circumstances for it. Just skip a few meals. This won’t be as effective as the other methods I mentioned above, but you can try it to enjoy at least some benefits of the Intermittent Fasting.

Beware! This diet is different, but will only work for you if you do not overeat when you can eat. Just consume your foods normally, otherwise, you won’t lose weight at all.

Okay, but how does IF work?

By now you must be very much interested in how and why this „nutrition plan” works. That is only natural, here at Builder we don’t expect you to believe everything we say. We hope you understand everything we say by common sense. Of course, I will link some research because sometimes common sense can be deceiving.

Intermittent Fasting will have a strong impact on your body, on both hormonal and on cellular levels:

  • Due to fasting the levels of human growth hormone (HGH) will rise to the roof in your body2. This is beneficial for both muscle building and fat loss purposes.
  • Fasting improves insulin sensitivity, levels of insulin drop – this is a quote – dramatically3. What the hell does this mean? Amongst other things: your stored body fat will be more accessible, in other words, you will be able to use them up as a source of energy.
  • Cells will regenerate themselves better due to periodic fasting, this promotes autophagy4, the human body’s own cleansing function.
  • Caloric restriction and IF together can improve certain functions of genes related to longevity and protection against disease5.
  • IF also releases a fat burning hormone called norepinephrine in the body. This hormone converts fat cells into free fatty acids, which you can burn as energy.
  • Short-term fasting may also ramp up your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%.

About that common sense: your body fat is actually a form of stored energy. If you fast, your body does not receive nutrients, so it will be forced to use your fat as energy. If you eat less, that means you consume fewer calories, and due to the released hormones, you will be able to burn more calories, which will inevitably lead to fat loss.

Based on the research IF showed remarkable results6 compared to most weight loss studies.

I know that by now a very important question has surfaced in your mind. „Okay, IF works, but what about my muscles?” Will IF also burn my muscle mass?” That is indeed a very good question because we know that losing fat is super easy, but losing fat without losing muscle is very difficult. Fortunately, I have good news for you.

IF and your muscles

Well, in this study7 subjects that were doing Intermittent Fasting could hold onto their muscle mass more than subjects using simple caloric restriction. In this experiment, those who simply just ate less than usual lost 25 % muscle from their overall weight loss, and the periodically fasting group lost only 10% muscle.

A few basic instructions

1. Calories still matter. This is not a usual diet, but that doesn’t mean that you can eat junk food and shitloads of calories, in reality, you still have to eat quality, nutrient-dense foods, a lot of proteins in order to save your muscle mass. You don’t have to count the calories unless your weight stays the same even after one or two weeks of intermittent fasting.

2. Timing is important. IF won’t burn all of your belly fat in 4 weeks so let’s be real: the more drastic results will show up within approx. 2 months. Your body will have to adapt to changes, give it time. Try to keep your schedule, it will make things easier.

3. Working with weights is absolutely necessary while doing Intermittent Fasting, otherwise, you will lose some muscle mass. Buti f you work out, you can avoid that – research backs this up. Just keep your protein intake high, always remember this.

Side effects, contradictions

Before you jump right into this diet, you should know that there will be difficult moments, hours, because you will be hungry. That is completely normal and is the only side effect of IF. Maybe you'll feel a little weaker, and your brain also won't perform as well as before, but that is also normal if it doesn't last long. That is a sign that your body's starting to adapt to changes.

Feeling a bit weaker can be also psychological, and if that is the case, always remember that there's nothing dangerous about fasting so don't be afraid of it. Of course, if you are dealing with a medical condition or illness, or you take medication, then first consult with your physician before trying out IF.

Unfortunately, it seems that IF works better for men than for women. According to this study8, IF actually worsened women's blood sugar control, and some women said that their menstrual period stopped due to IF, and when they have returned to their normal diets, everything went back to normal. If you are planning to conceive, or have problems with fertility, or you are currently nursing or pregnant, IF is not for you right now.

A few additional tips:

During the fasting, you can drink your coffee and tea without milk and sugar. Okay, maybe one drop of milk is allowed, but if you want to make sure, drink your coffee black.

You can consume supplements such as vitamins and BCAAs but only drink BCAAs when you are doing a fasted workout. Any supplement that has calories are a no-go, so no protein powders during the fasting period and also no mass gainers. Certain amino acids like beta-alanine, L-arginine, etc. are fine.

Time your workouts so that you can drink your protein shake even before or after the weight lifting session. If you follow the 16/8 Method, and you don't eat anything after 9 PM until 1 PM, then training around 16:00 is fine. If you train at noon, that's fine too because you can drink your shake afterwards. Do you plan on working out in the morning? Okay, but you should make a BCAA shake and drink it during your workout – that will give you energy.

1: Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications

2: Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man.

3: Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism.

4: Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy

5: Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: Two potential diets for successful brain aging

6: Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings

7: Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss?

8: Glucose tolerance and skeletal muscle gene expression in response to alternate day fasting.

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