Intermittent Fasting: It's Not A Diet
I’ve made this post before on my Instagram, but I thought I’d bring it back and expand on it. I'll present some facts, myths, and my perspective as it pertains to what intermittent fasting (IF) is and how it could be useful for you.
IF is limiting the time frame in which you consume your food for the day. It's pretty common to see people pick an 8 hour window of the 24 hour day and only eat during that time. I can see how it looks like it makes sense. Restrict the time you get to eat and you should lose weight since you're not allowed to eat as often. Well.. that's not a good way to look at it.
I'll start this by establishing the context of this post: Fat Loss
Lets start off with the lies. It didn't take long for me to find a few fibs on the internet when I simply searched "Intermittent Fasting".
Well, I wont call them lies.. that's not very kind of me. I'll call them ways to fail at IF.
Fail #1. "It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them."
Let me tell you this; You can fast for 23 hours and 30 minutes a day but if you eat more calories in 30 minutes than your body used for the rest of the day you WILL gain weight.
Fail #2. "Only fast if you're okay with losing muscle mass too."
This just isn't true. It's been proven incorrect time after time. The science behind this is beyond the point of this post, but just know that the process of breaking down actual muscle tissue and using it as an energy source is very inefficient. Your body has energy system preferences in which it breaks things down for energy, and breaking down muscle just ain't its go too, especially when we have fat storage's. So don't be afraid that you're going to wither away.
No more ways to fail. Here are ways that will help you succeed with IF.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It’s a tool because it can help some people adhere to their actual diet. I'll give myself as an example. I’m one of those people who when they have their first meal, they are hungry for the rest of the day no matter what. When I have a set number of calories to eat in a day to ensure fat loss occurs it is hard for me to stick to that If I begin eating early in the day.
I keep it simple. I skip breakfast and eat lunch around noon. I base the majority of my calories around my workouts that are in the evening. I usually consume all of my calories before 8pm, sometimes 10pm if I'm super busy. I average around 14-16 hours of fasting with an eight hour eating window.
I DO NOT exercise in a fasted state or during the time I am not eating. There are no fat loss benefits for working out or running fasted when compared to fed. And in some situations you will perform worse when you're fasted.
I'll tell you why people swear that fasted cardio burns more fat. It's because it makes you get up and get your day started. You're up and moving around and burning calories as opposed to being asleep or sitting on the couch being lazy. That is how it can help you "burn more fat". It's not because its a better form of cardio, it's because it promotes you to start your day off with movement. So with that being said, It is NOT a superior way of dieting to lose weight, but it can be a very effective. If your calorie intake is at 2000 for the day and that is less calories than your body needs to meet the energy it requires to keep itself going you can/will have the exact same fat loss result no matter if you eat those calories throughout the day or if you restrict them to an 8 hour window.
So like I said earlier, it's a tool I use to help keep my calories restricted/maintained. The real reason I use IF is because it's good for your brain and helps keep your mind sharp. There are 3 ways you can “exercise” your brain and make it adapt and grow new connections. 1. Using your noodle: Thinking, problem solving, and cognitive challenges increases factors to promote neurogenesis. This is when BDNF and FGF levels increase and cause stem cells to turn into axons and dendrites to allow new connections to be made in the brain with existing neurons.
2. Exercise: Aerobic exercise has been shown to increase these neurotropic factors to protect and improve brain function. 3. Intermittent Fasting: When the body goes into prolonged state without food a stress signal is sent to the brain. During this time, old damaged cells in the brain are being broke down and removed while neurotropic factors begin to increase and make new connections. In a round about way it is hypothesized that this primitive stress signal is sent in fear of going without food and results in an increase in cognition and focus to help find a food source. Every since I stopped eating breakfast I no longer have mid morning brain fog after the coffee wears off. I simply chose to skip breakfast and move those calories to later in the day.