What exactly is intermittent fasting, and does it actually help with weight loss?

Intermittent fasting is the act of restricting eating to predetermined windows of time. It can absolutely help with fat loss if done correctly. A 12-hour eating window is a good place to start, as this won’t place undue stress on the body. Fasting, like anything else, requires practice. If you just jump into an extreme schedule, you’ll be miserable. A 12-hour eating window allows you to eat from 7am-7pm or from 8am-8pm. If you want to lose quite a bit of fat, you can experiment with gradually shortening the window of time that you eat.

Timing based on Goals

Try to restrict eating to 6 or 8 hour windows twice a week, and see if that brings results. Personally, I think longer fasts once or twice a week can be helpful for fat loss. If you’re looking to gain or maintain muscle and don’t have a lot of fat to lose, a 12-hour eating window will give you the benefits of fasting without sacrificing muscle.

What are the benefits?

  • Increased growth hormone 2, 3, 4
  • Reduced inflammation 5
  • Better sleep 6
  • Improved insulin sensitivity 1

 

The research that I have read states that fasting allows for water consumption only. Coffee, energy drinks, or other fat consumption will cause the liver to produce enzymes and stimulate digestion. So, try to drink only water if you’re fasting

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15741046
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3127426
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1548337
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6758355
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26529255
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12748412

Erin Stern

Erin Stern was a collegiate track and field athlete at the University of Florida.  After just missing by centimeters the qualifying standard to go to the Beijing Olympics in the high jump she turned to bodybuilding.   Erin earned her IFBB Pro Card as a Figure Competitor in 2008 and has since had a very successful career in bodybuilding including winning the Ms. Figure Olympia twice.
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