Health & Nutrition

Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss, Does it Really Work?

Introduction

This secret weapon is what will separate you from the rest.  It has been practised throughout human history, and it’s a secret because it has been forgotten.  However, it is making a comeback, and when it’s done right, it comes with huge benefits. Among many other things, you will melt fatincrease energy, and reduce your risk of/reverse type 2 diabetes.

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When we eat, we are consuming more energy than is able to be used straight away.  The excess energy must be stored for use at a later stage, and insulin is the main hormone in this process.

When we eat, insulin levels rise, and the storage process begins.  Sugars link up into long chains called glycogen, which is then stored in the liver. However, space is very limited.  When this limit is reached the liver turns the excess glycogen into fat.  Some of this fat will be stored in the liver, but the rest gets exported to various parts of the body. There is an unlimited amount of fat that can be created by this process.

Fasting simply reverses this process.  When we don’t eat, insulin levels drop, and your body starts to burn stored energy as there is no energy coming in from food.  In addition, your blood glucose levels drop, so your body must burn stored glucose for energy.

Glycogen is easily accessible.  It is broken down into glucose and provides energy for other cells.  It can provide enough energy for between 24-36 hours, thereafter the body will begin to break down fat for energy.

Fed state vs fasted state

It’s either-or.  Our body is either in a fed state (insulin is elevated), or we are in a fasted state (insulin is very low).  Either we are storing excess food (fed state) in the form of glycogen and fat, or we are burning off the excess energy (fasted state).

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?

It takes approximately 8-12 hours after your last meal to enter the fasted state.  For the sake of this example, we will assume that you take 12 hours to enter the fasted state.  Lets assume that you finish eating dinner at 19.00, and you don’t eat again until you go to sleep at 23.00, that’s 4 hours.  You wake up at 07.00, therefore you slept for 8 hours.  The total amount of hours since your last meal is 12, and you have just entered the fasted state.

Now, you eat breakfast first thing in the morning, because “it’s the most important meal of the day”, and you immediately return to the fed state. You will normally eat lunch, with a few snacks in-between until dinner, and the process just repeats itself.

As you can see, this pattern permanently keeps you in the fed state, never allowing your body to spend time in the fasted state.

Fasting allows the body to use its stored energy, which is essentially what it’s there for.  It’s crucial to understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it’s how our bodies are designed, hence why it responds this way.

To restore balance we simply need to spend more time in the fasted state.

Isn’t fasting the same as starvation?

No, there is one key difference, and that is choice. When you fast you are voluntarily choosing not to eat.  Starvation is involuntarily.

I want to fast, how long do I have to do it for?

There is no set period of time, you can fast for as long or short as you like.  You can fast anywhere from 16 hours to 382 days (that is the world record!).  I do not recommend fasting for any longer than 36 hours without first seeking professional medical advice.

Below are some popular fasting methods for shorter fasts (less than 24 hours):

  • 16:8 ratio –  you fast for 16 hours, and then you have an 8 hour window where you may eat. I started fasting by using this particular method, and I simply skipped breakfast and consumed all meals between 12h00 – 20h00.  You should only need to consume two meals during the 8 hour period.
  • 20:4 ratio – you fast for 20 hours, and then you have a 4 hour window where you may eat.  When I moved onto this method I skipped both breakfast and lunch, and I would only eat one meal in the 4 hour period.

Can I exercise while I’m fasting?

Absolutely.  You should continue with your daily routine as you would on any other day.  Remember, your body will burn stored energy (glucose and fat) to provide energy for exercise, and all other bodily functions.

Won’t I burn muscle?

No.  Think about it logically, why would your body store energy (glucose and fat), only to burn muscle when it is needed?

I see little to no difference in my lean muscle mass when I am fasting.

Who should not fast?

You should not fast if you are underweight, pregnant, breastfeeding, or under the age of 18.

If you have diabetes, take prescription medication, have gout or high uric acid – you may still fast, but my advice is to seek professional medical advice before you begin.

Final thoughts

Every individual is unique, listen to your body, identify what works and what doesn’t work for you.  The beauty of the Banting diet, along with fasting, is the amount of flexibility it offers you.  You are learning a new lifestyle, don’t be hard on yourself, go about it in a sustainable way, and enjoy the journey!

I am here to help you become a successful Banter, if there is anything that I can do to help please leave a comment below:)

2 thoughts on “Intermittent Fasting for Fat Loss, Does it Really Work?

  1. I didn’t think that fasting was good for losing weight or for any other health benefits. Excellent descriptions of what fed state vs fast state is. I’m really interested in trying this because I have diabetes and want to help reverse it. If by fasting my insulin levels will drop, then I’m all for it. These are very good facts about fasting. I’ve never done it so I will try as long as I’m not starving myself, then why not? How long do you stay on the fasting plan for?

    1. Hi Rob,

      Thanks for your comment and positive feedback!

      If you are diabetic or taking any medication please consult your doctor or seek professional medical advice before you begin fasting.  

      I have heard numerous success stories of diabetes being reversed, and I hope with all that I am that you will be another success story!  Please let me know how you get on?

      You will notice that you become less hungry over time as you practice fasting and become more fat adapted.  

      Fasting is now a part of my lifestyle so I am on a permanent fasting plan.  The type of fasts that I do vary from week to week, as I am still identifying what works best for me.

      I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

      All the best!

      Angelo 

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