(Introduction: In this series of posts, I share my personal experiences of intermittent fasting and its effects on my own weight, body composition, physical abilities, and physical and mental health. I also share what I have learned from doctors and sports scientists who learn intermittent fasting – but remember I am neither, and these blogs are not for medical advice.)
How I discovered intermittent fasting
For years, I struggled with body fat. I tried all sorts of ridiculous plans, which I literally made for hours every day. And even though I would see results, sometimes great results, I never knew how to base it on a lifestyle, so those results inevitably didn't last.
I have spoken many times before about how its frustrations led me to make insane decisions – let's say I did too many ridiculous extremes and made a diet that did not end well – and accelerated to 2012.
I was already a qualified personal trainer at the time, but I worked mainly as a journalist specializing in fitness and lifestyle in my previous form. I spoke regularly with experts such as sports scientists and nutritionists, and a few of them had mentioned intermittent fasting (IF).
I also noticed the growing popularity of bodybuilding, which really caught my interest, because my ultimate goal was to keep my body strong and skinny, not skinny. I didn’t want my body fat to be as low as competing bodybuilders or as many muscles as they have, but I thought if these guys could maintain as much muscle and be as lean as they use alternating fasting, then maybe it would help me become thinner without having to sacrifice my strength and fitness.
And so began my experiments with intermittent fasting (IF). I played around with different approaches before I respected what worked for me – and wow, did it work!
Nowadays, I don't count calories or monitor macronutrients, I train less than half the time than before, I exercise my favorite foods regularly – and I love the way my body is!
You've probably heard the text "I tried everything, but it really works!" the thing is many times before. But hopefully you know enough about me to understand that I'm not selling dirty plans – I'm not really selling anything here. I don't even recommend any products or plans. I just want to ignore the misunderstandings surrounding alternating fasting and arm everyone who wants to try it with valuable information and tips.
Don't compare what I'm saying here to some celebrities who have recently lost weight – getting thin in a short amount of time is not the hardest thing, because everyone who has ever done it knows. It is difficult to maintain.
Therefore, I would like to tell you that eight years after the introduction of IF in my lifestyle, I have not only maintained my original results, but also developed them further.
It is clear that I, too, am not a 21-year-old who only needs a few weeks of dieting to reduce the size of her dresses. After decades of struggle, I decided to switch to this way of eating in the mid-1930s – that was when everything had changed for me. I turned 40 in the best shape of my life.
It's a real-world approach and a tool that people can use without costing a penny.
The dirty secret of diet
As I mentioned above, the fat resin that the diet industry is trying to hide is that most people who lose weight take it again and then some.
We all really know that, but it’s so tempting to believe that this year’s hot new diet could be “what’s right for me,” right?
Not sure if you're old enough to remember how we all inspired The Biggest Loser show & # 39; in 2000. If you didn't, it was a popular TV show where obese people competed to lose weight and the results were amazing …
But I'm sorry, I have to tell you, most of them have got it all back now, some other than that.
One contestant recently stated that they could not make a reunion show because "we are all fat again".
This is just one famous example of what usually happens to most people who lose weight. (link study)
A little scary, right?
Well, but I have good news! The chances of maintaining a healthy weight with intermittent fasting are much better.
It definitely works for me. Of course, I am only one person, but as you read this, I am sharing evidence that it can help many other people.
Although fasting has lasted for centuries, there has not been much scientific research until recently, but it is changing. On a personal level, this is a very exciting time for me. I've known forever that it works, but only now am I beginning to understand WHY.
This is hugely useful to me in guiding my clients and website members. So far, I have largely gone away from dietary advice, leaving aside the general concepts of healthy eating. But now there is solid evidence to support my approach, and I can be sure that I will also help you enjoy the benefits of IF.
OKAY. Enough background as to why I am so passionate about it, let's get caught up in what, why and how alternating fasting takes place …
The insane benefits of alternating fasting
If you haven't read much about IF before, it may blow you up, so hold on to your hat!
If I had not read or researched so much on this subject, I would suspect that this list is unfamiliar and I would be very skeptical. If you think this is cool, I definitely want you to do your own research, but keep this in mind. In this series of blog posts, I'll explain why it really makes a lot of sense for us to reap these benefits.
IF can do the following for us:
- Easier and more sustainable weight loss
- Weight loss usually comes from fat stores, where muscles and bones are preserved much better than diet
- Anti-aging. It literally keeps us physically younger at the cellular level
- Protection against diseases, including serious conditions such as cancer
- Improved brain function
- Reduced inflammation and bloating
- Less hunger
- Better intestinal health and digestion
- Increased metabolism
- Stronger muscles and bones
- Better mental health
- Extended service life
I know, I know, as I write this I mean it sounds crazy!
Am I really saying that we can have skinny athletic bodies, look and feel younger, be happier, stay healthier and live longer, just by not eating periodically?
Yep… Well, rel.
If you want to reap the full benefits, you need to support IF with some other lifestyle factor, but like I said, I'll explain more as we go and find out by the road why the list above isn't really as "off" as it first sounds.
Wait, IF is not for everyone
Before addressing this, it is important to stress that IF is not for everyone. Even those of us who are all right have a time when it is best not to. For example, I broke my wrist last year and I didn't do IF for about four months until my bone healed. If IF wasn't really going to be harmful at the time, but I didn't know for sure, I played it safe. I suggest you do the same. If in doubt, consult a doctor.
I do not recommend fasting, except under medical supervision or under 21 years of age, over 70 years of age, sick, injured, taking any medications, eating disorders, low BMI, diabetics, pregnant or breastfeeding people, health problems, or recently experienced physical or mental trauma.
If you are between 21 and 70 years old and in good health, talk to your doctor first.
My fasting style
I'll talk more about the different fasting styles you might want to try and how to get started in a later post in this series. I want you to get to it with all the knowledge you need to make it work for you, and that requires a little reading first.
But to give you an idea of where we're going and what I'm talking about, here's a little background approach that I found workable for me.
I quickly fast "clean," also known as "fast water." This means that I do not eat or drink anything that contains calories during fasting.
My approach is not rigid, I shape it for everything that happens in my life at that time, and I am not always in a hurry.
From time to time, when I need to fast regularly, I usually do one 24-hour fast every 1-2 weeks and 16/8 fast 3-4 days a week.
16/8 fasting means that I fast for 16 hours and eat all my food all day for the remaining eight hours. Much of the fasting window is overnight during sleep, so I don't think it's very restrictive. These days, I just have my breakfast later.
I have recently started experimenting with occasional fasting for more than 24 hours. The longest I've done is about 60 hours. In doing so, I reduce my usual fasting.
Note, this is not the same as starvation. I cannot overemphasize that this is NOT about hunger. Eating a lot of nutritious foods while eating is as important as not eating at all to get the benefits I'm talking about.
I'm strong, fit and healthy – you can't do this without depriving your body of the nutrients it needs.
Just a dash of milk?
Although I fast, I drink a lot of water, I also drink green, black or white tea (without milk). Let's leave it at that. (Many people who fast in this way have black coffee, which is also good, I just prefer the taste of tea.)
When I talk about pure fasting, I always ask people if they can eat or drink this or that during pure fasting. "Can I have milk in tea / coffee?" Is the most common.
I usually respond by saying, "you can have whatever you want!"
I don't mean being moody, I really want to move people away from the habit of thinking about food as "may" and "can't".
It's no secret to me why the only people I hear talking about this kind of food usually struggle with a diet under their belts.
"You can eat" and "can't eat" are terms that people use when they are on a diet. It doesn't help.
We are adults, we are free to eat and drink what we like. It is time that our choices and their choices were ours.
However, if you want to answer the question correctly, you do not want to fully benefit from fasting, then you do not want to choose something based on calories. Milk contains calories.
I am sure most people who ask this already know it. I just think that even though they're hoping, maybe I know a loophole that somehow makes the milk ("just a dash in my tea / coffee") zero calorie.
So unfortunately for the record. I don't have the strength to lose calories. Even tea or coffee. 😉
But you know, if you're used to it, it's just as good.
So that's just a different way to cut calories, right?
It stumbled over me through the ages.
Eat less, move more, right?
Are you talking about calories vs. calories?
I was a big believer in that. That was reasonable … Although I often noticed small signs, such as errors in the matrix, things weren't so straightforward.
However, all the experts said that in order to lose fat, it was important to count calories. Basic physics, energy vs energy out. Who was I to question this?
Until recently, I would agree that IF was "mostly" just a way to reduce total calories, and that's how it worked. In fact, I knew that something else was going to happen, because I had experienced so much more success with intermittent fasting than before when I generally ate far fewer calories.
But I had no explanation of what it was, and I just want to give people evidence-based, science-backed advice, so I played it safe.
Fortunately, a new wave of scientists has provided solid evidence of what many of us have done over the decades, but can't explain it exactly – that calories vs. calories off (CICO) doesn't work for most people in the long run.
Don't get me wrong, calories are important. They are not just the only important things.
Let's not forget that calories are just a unit of measurement, not the actual tangible thing that is in your food. Just as a centimeter doesn't really exist, it's a unit of distance, a calorie is just a unit of energy.
And let's remember that our body fat is just a source of energy.
I'm just saying that when it comes to how and when this energy is stored and released in our body (ie how we become fatter or slimmer), things are not as simple as calories eaten vs. calories burned.
If you are skeptical, it is good that I was too. Come back next week for your next post in this series and I will explain what changed my opinion after my own experience.
(Concluding remark: I have a lot to share on this topic, so this is a series rather than a single post. So if there is something in this post that isn't covered, it's probably not because I haven't considered it, but mostly like something I'll see about the series later In the following posts, I will describe practical tips for starting alternating fasting, reasons why we should count more than calories in and out, when fasting actually makes us less hungry, why I have not lost muscle and other muscles / strength)
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