7 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Like most women, I have tried multiple diets with no long-term result. I’ve tried Slim Fast, Weight Watchers, Whole 30, high protein, low carb, and low fat just to name a few. What I’ve learned is that dieting doesn’t work long-term, because dieting is not sustainable for most people. They are too restrictive and because of that, it is hard to stay on them. As soon as you go off of the diet then the weight starts to come right back. Does this sound familiar? I decided to stop dieting and instead make a lifestyle change that I can continue for the rest of my life. What was that lifestyle change? It was intermittent fasting! What is intermittent fasting and what are the benefits? Let’s find out!
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What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is essentially a change in the timing of your eating. It’s not a diet it is just a timing shift. With this way of eating there is a fasting window and an eating window. The fasting window is the hours in which you don’t eat and the eating window includes the hours you do eat. For example, most people naturally have a 12/12 eating schedule. The first number is your fasting window and the second number is your eating window. That means you don’t eat for 12 hours (fasting window) and then you eat within a 12 hour window (usually includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner). So if you stop eating dinner at 8 pm then 12 hours after that would be 8 am. Most of the fasting time is while you sleep. If you eat breakfast around 8 am that means you broke your fast and have started your eating window. So 8 am to 8 pm would be the hours you would eat for a 12/12 eating schedule.
Intermittent Fasting Types
There are many intermittent fasting types to choose from. Here are some of the most popular.
This is probably the most popular type of intermittent fasting. 16/8 is when you fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8 hour window. That usually means you skip breakfast and start eating at noon and stop eating by 8 pm. When people start intermittent fasting, this is usually the method they choose first. I started with this method.
OMAD (One Meal A Day)
This is another popular type of intermittent fasting. This is when you eat only one meal a day. It would be considered a 23 hour fast with a 1 hour eating window. The one meal does not have to be dinner. Your one meal can be at any time during the day, but it needs to be around the same time each day. This is a good option for people that are past the beginning stages of intermittent fasting and want to ramp up their weight loss.
Alternate Day Fasting
This method is when you fast on alternate days of the week. On the fasting days, you are supposed to eat one meal around dinner that is a maximum of 500 calories. On non-fasting days you would eat normally. For example Monday you eat normally, Tuesday you only eat a 500 calorie meal at dinner, Wednesday you eat normally and it continues back and forth for the rest of the week. I have never personally tried this method, but this method does work for some people.
These are just a few of the intermittent fasting options. Some options are in between these options. For example, instead of doing 16/8 or OMAD, you could do an 18/6 or 19/5. Or you can do OMAD Monday thru Friday and then do 16/8 on the weekend. Intermittent fasting is not one-way or the highway. It all depends on what works for you. It’s a good idea to try different ones and see which one gives you the best results and feels sustainable.
That is why it is a good idea to have an intermittent fasting weight loss tracker. With the tracker, you will be able to keep track of what type of fasting you are doing and how much weight you are losing with each type you are doing. Check out the intermittent fasting weight loss tracker that I use to keep track of my progress. I prefer to track my weight loss progress on paper, so this works well for anybody that likes to do the same. This tracker provides a calendar for the whole year, a weight and measurements progress table, a meal tracker for each week, and fruit, vegetables, water, and activity tracker. It provides you with all of the tools needed to help keep you motivated and figure out what is working for you and what is not.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Unlike a lot of dieting programs with intermittent fasting, you don’t have to buy anything to do it. You don’t need bars, weight loss drinks, weight loss premade meals, or anything extra. All you have to do is not eat for a certain period of time. That’s it! It is the simplest way to lose weight. Getting used to the hunger part is not easy at first, but when it comes to not having to do anything extra it is super simple.
Intermittent Fasting Saves Money
Not only does fasting have health benefits, but it also has financial benefits. When you don’t eat breakfast that cuts the grocery bill down. The typical diet consists of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and about 1 or 2 snacks. Cutting that down to around 2 meals a day puts more money in your pocket. I’ve noticed also that intermittent fasting cuts down on snacks as well. In the beginning, you might snack more, during your eating window, but over time your need for multiple snacks decreases. I do not snack between meals anymore. Everybody’s hunger level is different though, so your experience could be different.
It Saves Time
If cooking is something you don’t enjoy doing, intermittent fasting can help lessen the amount of cooking you need to do, depending on the type of fasting you do. If you are doing 16/8 fasting then you most likely giving up breakfast. That means you only have to worry about making lunch and dinner. If you do OMAD then you only need to cook one meal. Gone are the days when you have to pack a whole lunch bag full of food to take to work with you. So fasting can save you a lot of time.
You Can Still Enjoy Your Favorite Foods
One of my favorite benefits of intermittent fasting is that you don’t have to be super restrictive with the foods you eat. I’m not saying you should eat a whole pizza every day or down a pint of ice cream each day. It does mean that you do not have to swear off pizza or ice cream forever. Moderation is key when it comes to enjoying your favorite foods.
When I started losing weight with intermittent fasting I would still indulge in my favorite foods from time to time. Even around the holiday, I was able to lose weight, which is unheard of. Once you figure out which type of fasting works best for you, then incorporating your favorite foods from time to time will not ruin your progress.
Intermittent Fasting Works with Any Diet
When I say diet I don’t mean dieting. I don’t believe in dieting for long-term success. By diet, I mean your eating lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if you are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, grain-free and everything in between, intermittent fasting works with all of them. You don’t need to eat the same way as everybody else when intermittent fasting. When I first started I was tempted to try keto because everybody else was having a lot of success with keto and intermittent fasting. But after a lot of consideration, I realized that is more like dieting than a lifestyle change for me. Intermittent Fasting itself is a lifestyle change. So choose the way of eating that works for you and intermittent fasting will come along for the ride.
Intermittent Fasting Lowers Your Risk of Diabetes
One of the main benefits of intermittent fasting is that it lowers your insulin level. As Verywell Health explains insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose (from the food you eat) enter the cells in your body, to be used for energy. When the cells of the body don’t respond to insulin properly that causes insulin resistance. When this happens the pancreas (which makes insulin) will have to release more insulin to compensate for the cell’s lack of response. If it gets to the point where the pancreas can’t make enough insulin the glucose levels in the bloodstream start to increase and this can eventually lead to diabetes.
The way intermittent fasting helps is by improving your cells’ insulin sensitivity. When your cells are more insulin sensitive then they can take in glucose to use for energy, which in turn reduces the glucose in your bloodstream. This reduces the risk of diabetes.
If you currently have diabetes I would not recommend doing intermittent fasting without the guidance of a doctor.
Intermittent Fasting Causes Weight loss
The reason most people start intermittent fasting is for the weight loss benefits. Intermittent fasting attacks weight loss differently. I mentioned earlier a little bit about how glucose and insulin work. Usually, when the body has excess glucose in the bloodstream, this glucose can get stored as fat to get used later. When you don’t eat, your insulin level goes down. When your insulin level gets low enough, this will trigger your body to start burning the fat that it has stored to get energy. This is called ketosis. This whole process is what causes you to lose weight.
How Long Will It Take to Lose Weight With Intermittent Fasting?
The length of time it takes to lose weight with intermittent fasting varies depending on the person. I knew one woman that lost 10 pounds within the first month and for some women like myself, it takes a few months to start losing weight. Here are a few things that can affect how fast you lose weight.
- Your health status – do you have PCOS, insulin resistance, etc.
- The intermittent fasting type you are doing
- How much weight you have to lose – people with more weight to lose sometimes lose weight quicker in the beginning
- The types of food you eat – eating a lot of unhealthy food will slow down the weight loss process
- Your activity level – regular exercise helps speed up the weight loss process
What Is a Good Intermittent Fasting App to Use?
Nowadays there is an app for pretty much anything and intermittent fasting is no different. There is an intermittent fasting app called DoFasting app that I have tried. This app is a good resource for people trying to get started with intermittent fasting. It reminds you when to start fasting and when to start eating. If you are more advanced when it comes to intermittent fasting this app is useful as well because it provides some recipe ideas, exercises, and health articles. You will also be able to track your progress if you prefer to do that in an app.
Who Should Not Do Intermittent Fasting?
Even though intermittent fasting has its benefits that doesn’t mean everyone should do it. Here is a list of people that should avoid intermittent fasting. This list is not all-inclusive, so always consult a doctor before starting any changes in your eating approach, especially when there are medical issues present.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Underweight people
- People with a history of eating disorders
- Diabetics (consult your doctor first)
My experience with Intermittent Fasting
Like I mentioned earlier I started out doing the 16/8 method. The first week was difficult, but after the first week, it got easier. My goal was to have a longer fast, so I eventually moved from 16/8 to a 19/5. I started eating around 3 pm with a small meal and then ate dinner before 8 pm. I found this method worked well for me. I’ve also heard that the 16/8 method didn’t always work for some women when it came to weight loss. Since I have insulin resistance I knew that I had to fast a bit longer to get better results and it worked. When I started losing weight the pounds seemed to just fall off. This was the first time in years since I was able to lose 12 pounds. With previous diets, I would lose maybe 5-6 pounds at the most. I have a lot more to lose, but weight loss takes time. I will try to post some progress photos when I get down more.
If intermittent fasting is something you would like to try, sign up to receive my free intermittent fasting cheat sheet which will help you get started. Let’s stop dieting and start fasting!