All About Intermittent Fasting: What It Is, The Benefits, How to Do It

Feb 7 2020
Lisa here! Chances are you've heard about intermittent fasting, but you might not be exactly sure what it means or what to make of it. Consider this your intro course to all things IF…

What is intermittent fasting (IF)?

You probably know about regular fasting: taking a period of time to not consume any calories. As in NO eating. Well, intermittent fasting is when you limit your “eating windows” to specific hours of the day (or days of the week). It’s not really a diet -- it’s more of a specific food schedule. You can generally still have calorie-free drinks like water, black coffee, and plain tea during fasting days/hours.

Why do people do IF?

Studies have found that fasting can lower insulin and triglyceride levels, potentially reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease. It's also been reported to raise levels of human growth hormone; a bonus for anyone trying to build muscle. Some people also use it as a weight loss tool, and some (like me!) do it because it makes them feel good.

So… Can it help you lose weight?

Fasting lowers your insulin levels, causing your body to burn sugar as energy instead of turning it into fat. Basically, burned sugar = less fat = weight loss. Plus, a smaller window of time to eat means that you might consume fewer calories overall. But it’s NOT effective for everyone. For some people, letting themselves get too hungry causes them to go overboard. Others use it as an excuse to treat their non-fasting time as a free-for-all.

What are the rules of IF?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You can pick a plan that suits your lifestyle. A few common variations…

Modified Fasting: Significantly restricting calories for 24 hours, one or two nonconsecutive days a week, then eating normally for the rest of the week. A popular version is the 5:2 Diet -- eat normally for five days a week, and consume about 25% of your typical daily calories the other two days.

Whole-Day Fasting: Fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week. It doesn't need to be a whole calendar day -- you could eat an early dinner one day, and then fast until dinner the next day.

Time-Restricted Feeding: Set windows of time when you will and won’t eat. Some popular versions are 16/8 and 20/4, meaning you fast for 16 or 20 hours and can eat during the other hours. I choose the 16/8 method.

An easy way to dip your toe into the IF water is to try a 12/12 fast. If you have breakfast at 9am, finish dinner by 9pm. Just don't snack after dinner, and you've done it!

HG Heads-Up: As with any eating plan, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor.

Hear About My Personal Experiences with IF!

Don’t miss next week’s episode of the Hungry Girl podcast… I'm sharing how intermittent fasting has changed the way I eat for the better. Subscribe so you don’t miss it!

Chew on this:

Happy National Fettuccine Alfredo Day, February 7th! Lighten things up with this 114-calorie Too-Easy Z’paghetti Girlfredo.

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