I’ve been a personal trainer for 25 years and there are some things that just, plain work. Intermittent fasting is one of them.
Intermittent fasting has become quite the fitness craze and works quite well if done properly. Although many people feel that more is always better and this is often where the problem begins… Fasting has been around for thousands of years. It’s nothing new and in this article, I will explain a little more to help you with this new/old fad…
IF is the practice of not eating (fasting) for 12 or more hours at a time. Fasting is generally done for 24 or more hours whereas “intermittent fasting” pertains to shorter durations, done more often… Scientists often call this “time restricted feedings”.
Although it would seem counterproductive to not eat, your body does some amazing things to compensate for your lack of fuel. In my practice I call these days, “Cleanse Days” since we are giving the body time to cleanse and detox.
“Jump Starts” Fat Burning: The reduction of calories on Fasting/Cleanse Days stimulates the body’s fat burning furnaces by increasing human growth hormone while suppressing proteins responsible for fat synthesis and storage. Notably, the surge in human growth hormone also helps protect against muscle breakdown as long as followed with intake of quality protein.
Triggers Detoxification: The abstinence of food on Cleanse Days gives the digestion system a break, allowing the liver to kick into detox high gear. Also, with the reduction of fat deposits on Cleanse Days comes the release of stored fat-soluble toxins.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity: A review of animal and human studies involving intermittent or alternate-day fasting, or abstaining from food for one or two days in between normal calorie consumption days, found that fasting resets cellular sensitivity to glucose and insulin. This in itself can bring better health—allowing the body to better control blood sugar. The opposite of being insulin sensitive is insulin resistant, which is related to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Recently, research has shown that periodic intermittent fasting was associated with reduced risk in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Reduces oxidative stress and inflammation: As fat cells shrink, they release fewer pro-inflammatory cytokines (signaling molecules) that cause oxidative stress and inflammation. Less total body fat also helps improve antioxidant status in the body. The end result is improved health overall and lower risk of chronic disease. Oxidative stress, in particular, plays a heavy toll on telomeres (related to aging). The lower the oxidative stress, the better for healthy aging.
Activates Your “Longevity Genes”: Studies in animals suggest that intermittent fasting on Cleanse Days can activate genetic expression of SIRT1, dubbed the “longevity gene”. The scientific interest in sirtuins, the family of proteins that SIRT1 is a part of, has grown since the early 2000s because of findings that stimulation of them—via calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, and compounds such as resveratrol—may slow aging and increase lifespan.
Pretty amazing eh? Well, even though it seems simple there are precautions that should be taken before you just stop eating…
You should be eating on a regular basis for several days before beginning any type of fast. Your body’s first priority is survival and if you are not eating well (or enough) and try to restrict calories even further, your body will actually compensate by lowering your metabolism, because it thinks it’s starving.
The trick is to follow a healthy diet for your size and weight for at least 4 days before fasting, this way your body will feel safe (not staving) and will actually burn more fat and boost your metabolism. Then, end your fast with a clean, medium calorie meal as not to stuff yourself and negate all of your positive effects. I prefer a large salad with 4-6 oz of lean protein. Then follow a clean diet for your size and weight for 4 more days before fasting or cleansing again…
Once you are more experienced and understand your body and metabolism a little better, you can tweak this system to have some dramatic effects!
If this seems confusing, check out our 30-Day Metabolic Reset with Coaching! It’s a system designed to help you drop as much fat as possible, while holding the muscle. And you get a personal trainer to help you out!
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To your health,
2 thoughts on “Intermittent Fasting, a great Fat Loss Tool if used properly”
Great article Jason. Well written and well researched. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. You are my fitness source. Period.
Thanks Jay, I appreciate you and your positive feedback!