The reason diets fail is because they are based on the restriction of either certain foods (like carbs) or amount of food (portion control) or calories — without discriminating between the healthy and the unhealthy kind.
And, all of this restriction requires long-term willpower. Almost no one I know has enough willpower to maintain anything based on restriction over time.
But what if you could burn fat more efficiently and really keep it off — without extreme diets, dangerous pills or brutal workouts?
You can! It’s called intermittent fasting — but hold on…
Despite its name, intermittent fasting is not about avoiding food for long, painful periods of time while your stomach growls incessantly — and it works because it gets directly at your fat stores and keeps insulin from spiking.
There are several ways to do intermittent fasting, too, which makes it easy for you to fit it into your lifestyle… and the best part? You can sleep through most of it…
What is intermittent fasting?
As the name implies, this is an eating cycle wherein you consume food at specific times and fast, intermittently, throughout the day or week. The fasting portion is done to control your insulin response and to burn your fat stores.
Basically, you cannot lose fat while the body is burning sugars as fuel. When you eat, there is a natural insulin response and this makes the sugars from the foods we eat, especially added sugars and simple carbohydrates which easily convert to sugar, readily available for energy use. The problem is that until the food/sugar source is depleted, you cannot use the fat stores for energy. And if you consume too much food, too frequently, you may never get at those fat stores—instead, you keep increasing them.
However, once the immediate sugars are utilized for energy, if no additional food is consumed for a period of time, the body will then start burning fat stores for its energy. The result is real weight loss. The good news is that you don’t have to fast for long periods for this to happen…
Types of intermittent fasting
There are many ways to frame the fasting/eating schedule, such as the 5:2 or 16:8 or 20:04.
The 5:2 was the intermittent fast that got a lot of attention and really ignited the trend. With this timing structure, you eat as you normally do for five days of the week. The remaining two days of the week you limit your food consumption to 500 calories. Hopefully, you would choose 500 healthy calories that include vegetables and salad over cake and soda. With the 5:2 your fast is intermittent during the week and eating 500 calories on the fasting days does not seem to provoke a strong insulin response.
The other fasting schedules are daily, including the 16:8, 18:6, or 20:4. With these, you consume all your meals within a period of 8, 6, or 4 hours. As an example of an 18:6 schedule, you could eat your first meal at 12 noon and consume your last mouthful of food at 6 pm. This way you are then fasting from 6 pm until noon the next day, making a daily fast of 18 hours, which is ample time to burn through the food sugars form the meals and begin to deplete the fat stores. And you get to sleep through most of it!
With all of the intermittent fasting schedules, during fasting times you will not consume anything with calories. You can have all the water, tea or black coffee you desire. Some even allow a “cheat” of stevia and half/half in a cup of coffee in the morning as the calories are about one and don’t create an insulin spike. And for best results, you can reduce your sugar and simple carb intake during meal times.
When all is taken into consideration, intermittent fasting is probably the most effective non-diet out there, because it requires very little self-control and does not seem to induce the anxiety and stress of traditional diets. Moreover, it works to stabilize insulin and burn fat.
Give it a try!