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In the last post on intermittent fasting, we explained the basic principle of the diet as well as how it affects the body’s biochemistry. In this post, we will look at the many benefits of this diet as well as the different fasting paradigms that are popular today.
Are there any other benefits of an intermittent fasting diet?
Once again, from a biological standpoint, the hormonal changes we just listed only scratch the surface of what an intermittent fasting diet brings. However, if we look at some more obvious and visible benefits, there are many that are brought on by extended periods of fasting. For the most part, they visibly affect fat loss and changes in bodily appearance but some of these affect more health issues. Let’s look at a few of these benefits.
Easy way to restrict calories
In the most simple of terms, if you spend less time eating during the day, you will ingest less calories. Makes sense, doesn’t it? And at the end of the day, eating less calories is the determining factor that brings bout fat loss.
Lets you control your appetite
The next great advantage of following an intermittent fasting diet is that it gives you better control of your appetite. And when you are in control of your own appetite (instead of your appetite being in control of you), losing weight becomes infinitely easier. It completely eliminates those uncontrollable hunger pangs that make you binge on whatever food you have laying around your house.
While this benefit is a little less apparent, it truly affects your body’s ability to burn fat, build muscle and keep healthy. Inflammation is basically a response from your immune system. While this is very important for when you are sick or fighting off a disease, it severely limits many of the body’s essential functions It messes with proper insulin function, it increases fat production, it causes problems with blood sugar levels.
What’s worse is that when blood sugar levels are too high and fat production increases, it throws the body even further into a state of inflammation, creating a vicious cycle of sorts that is difficult to break out of. The result is that many people nowadays have eating habits that force their bodies into a chronic state of inflammation which contributes strongly to the general bad health and obesity of the population.
Intermittent fasting helps fight off inflammation by basically giving the body enough time and space to clean itself out and remove all the things that are causing inflammation in the first place. So in a way, fasting diets are a way to completely detoxify the body on a daily basis. So when these types of eating habits are followed, drastic detox or cleansing diets become completely unnecessary.
It’s also worth noting that fighting off this inflammation isn’t just about helping to burn fat. It also reduces the risk of many serious diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Increased mental awareness and productivity
Another benefit of following an intermittent fasting diet plan is that it increases you energy levels and productivity. What many people don’t know is that the digestive system requires a lot of energy to function. As much as 20% of all of your energy is taken up by your digestive system. That means that while it’s working, there is less energy available for your body to perform other tasks.
This can be a major productivity killer at work. Have you ever felt sleepy or drowsy after a big lunch or dinner? Of course, you have. We all have. That is your digestive system getting to work.
But beyond just affecting the amount of energy available for your brain to focus, there are many hormones that come into play to increase your mental focus. The theory here is that our ancestors often had to go for long periods of time without food but they still had to be alert and focused so as to detect any environmental threat and be able to react to it effectively. That same principle is at work when you are fasting and ultimately makes you more productive, despite the lack of ingested calories.
Are there different variations to the intermittent fasting diet?
There isn’t a one size fits all approach to IF and many strategies can bring good results. The reason is that the longer you fast, the more of the benefits that you gain. This of course applies within a certain limit as fasting for days on end isn’t healthy. The commonality between all the different types of approaches is that there is a minimum of time that the fasting window must last for the benefits to carry any value. Here is a look at a few different approaches.
The 16/8 approach
This type of intermittent fasting diet was popularized by Martin Berkhan (of Leangains fame) and it is a diet that dictates that you alternate between 8 hour feeding periods and 16 hours of fasting. The most common way that this is achieved is by eating between 12 PM (lunch time) and 8 PM. That way, there is plenty of time to take in sufficient calories and maintain a daily 16 hour fast. To most people, this is the easiest method to follow because half of the fast is spent sleeping during which the hunger isn’t felt.
The Warrior diet
The Warrior diet was made popular by Ori Hofmekler and it follows a 20/4 pattern of eating. This basically takes the 16/8 approach a step further by limiting the eating period to only 4 hours a day. Most people who do this eat somewhere during the evening, like between 4 and 8 PM for example.
The Eat-Stop-Eat method
This intermittent fasting diet method was made popular by Brad Pilon (Eat Stop Eat is the name of his book) and it is a little bit different as it doesn’t encourage that people fast daily. Instead, it recommends that every few days you stop eating for 24 hours straight. So, if you eat your last meal on any given day at say 7 PM, you wouldn’t eat until 7 PM on the next day. This cycle would be repeated on average twice a week.
What type of foods can I eat on an intermittent fasting diet plan?
Of course, the foods that you can eat while following an IF diet must be chosen wisely. You can expect to eat a whole bunch of junk food every day and still born off the fat just because you’re fasting for a few hours. Like most diets, it’s better to stick to lots of protein, healthy dietary fats, slow digestion carbohydrates and lots of vegetables.
Of course, the cheat day also becomes a good option for a mental break once a week and also to let you indulge in foods that you restrain from eating while you’re on the diet. It’s important to not over do this though.
Science has proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that those who adopt an intermittent fasting diet not only burn more fat than those that don’t, but they are also healthier in many other regards. The methods and parameters of the diet can change but the important thing is to stick to whatever plan you choose to follow.
It’s also a very easy and convenient diet for weight loss because it reduces the number of meals that you eat in a day and therefore, it reduces the food preparation time. Whatever you choose to do, know that intermittent fasting is a great type of diet to follow that offers many advantages from better body composition, lower body fat and better health.
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