I can hand-on-heart tell you that from all of the methods of structuring nutrition I have come across, Intermittent Fasting is the best. However, as with any diet that has been used as a tool of financial gain, there is an astounding amount of propaganda surrounding it.
Therefore, In this post, I will tell you which benefits of Intermittent Fasting are true and false, as well as give you the one reason that I believe Intermittent Fasting could be an absolute game-changer for you.
Intermittent Fasting For Beginners
When I first stumbled across Intermittent Fasting many years ago, I couldn’t help but laugh. To me, the idea that someone would deliberately stave off the innate need to eat for anything less than strict adherence a faith, or something of similar spiritual significance, was absolutely baffling. With this, I began researching Intermittent Fasting benefits and was shocked at what the various blogs and nutrition sites proposed.
For those of you that are completely unfamiliar with Intermittent Fasting, the concept is this: You undergo short and frequent bouts of fasting in which you consume no calories whatsoever; whilst there are many suggested schedules for organizing your fast, most commonly fasting bouts will occur daily and last between 16-20 hours a day.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Now, we all know people like to get a little carried away when discussing the benefits of diets in general, and, as fun as It would be to discuss how practical Intermittent Fasting could be as a means of allowing us to walk on water, let’s save both myself and you a considerable amount of time and go over the top 3 stated benefits I found on google.
Increased Weight Loss
Best that we start off with what is arguably the most common reason for starting a diet of any kind. The results from a quick google search gave me a list of proposed Intermittent Fasting benefits from a website called Diet Doctor, and at the very top of their list was weight loss, along with a citation to prove the validity of the claim.
The study cited is a meta-analysis of studies examining the effects of whether or not participants consumed breakfast on weight loss, and it does show a small increase in a weight loss of 0.44kg in those who skipped breakfast.
HOWEVER, what was not mentioned in the article was that the studies did not control for differences in total consumption of calories across the day, ultimately telling us the simple truth that any dietician worth his weight in gold will tell you ‘if you consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight; if you consume more calories than you burn you will put on weight‘.
It is not a matter of when you eat, it is a matter of how much.
Therefore, whilst I do not believe that Intermittent Fasting directly causes weight loss, I still believe it is the greatest tool you could possibly implement in your day to day life if you are anything like me, but more on that later.
Increased Fat Burning Through Ketogenesis
What would diet marketing be without this phrase? Now, I know the evaporation of fat at the click of our fingers is the holy grail we are all looking for at 3am when we are scouring the internet for nutrition hacks to get ripped fast. But sadly, sometimes we have to take a step back and ask ourselves, ‘is it too good to be true?‘.
I can completely see where this one came from, ketosis is the utilization as fat as a primary fuel source due to an absence of carbohydrates, and how else could you be absolutely certain you hadn’t eaten any carbs than eating nothing at all!
But there is one giant flaw in this statement, and that is the amount of time it takes to get into Ketosis. Typically, abstinence from carbohydrates will have a person enter ketosis at or over 72 hours later .
This means that only after 3 days of fasting would you begin using fat as your primary fuel source, and the second you began eating your normal diet again, you would fall straight out. As a result, if you wanted to receive any benefit at all you would instead have to engage in periodic fasting, and even then you would only yield the benefits for maybe 1 day a week at most.
I guess if you wanted to engage in some kind of Intermittent Fasting / Keto Diet hybrid, then you would maybe have something to write home about, but that is a whole other argument…
Ah good old Autophagy… no? well, me neither… I had to look this one up because I didn’t have a bloody clue what it was and why it was related to Intermittent Fasting. Turns out, Autophagy is basically just our bodies’ way of recycling old and dysfunctional cells and turning them into new healthy ones, this has been linked to the treatment and prevention of multiple diseases. Supposedly, one of the benefits of intermittent fasting is the upregulation of this process.
Well, I read into this and it certainly does not seem like a black and white subject, human studies into the subject are currently very scarce. However, from what I gathered, fasting has been shown as a safe and effective method of accelerating autophagy when carried out for a period of 72 hours, so definitely a plus for any periodic fasters out there .
Where this becomes interesting is the potential crossover with calorie restriction diets, which have also been shown to be greatly effective, and researched more substantially. This begs the question of whether it is, in fact, the act of fasting that causes the benefits or just caloric restriction.
With this in mind….
The Reason Intermittent Fasting Is the Best Diet
There are at least 10,000 different diets out there and every single day somebody comes up with a new one. Out of everything that I have read into the subject of nutrition for weight loss and improved markers of health, only one has stood the test of time and has been irrefutable in the face of scepticism.
That is, ‘if you consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight; if you consume more calories than you burn you will put on weight’, It is astounding how simple this is and yet people still feel the need to over-complicate nutrition in as many ways as they possibly can.
So how does this relate to Intermittent Fasting? Well, for for a lot of us lucky enough to live in more economically developed countries, our blessing and curse to have an excess of food and drink readily available to us has soured our relationship with nutrition, and as a result, we find ourselves eating just because we can.
With all of the fast food, cakes, sweets and beer out there, I don’t think it would be wildly inaccurate to assume the average glutton, unburdened by restraint could consume in excess of 6,000 calories across 24 hours (maybe just me… Pumba is my spirit animal after all). However, for the sake of an example, If you now introduce a window to this person of 5 hours in which they are allowed to eat, I would be extremely surprised If they managed to eat all 6,000 calories without needing their stomach pumped.
And this is the hidden beauty of Intermittent Fasting, it reshapes your relationship with food and drink. Your bad habits are abolished and you stop seeing consumption as a means of leisure. Suddenly, you find that consuming fewer calories than you burn because now it’s a much more achievable task, as you aren’t spending every 40 minutes of your life thinking about eating.
Bear in mind, the tricky part of this comes from those first few days of not eating during the morning when you are so used to it. But once your body acclimates and you have subsided that unrelenting hunger, your relationship with food and drink will improve and as a result so will your health.
Intermittent Fasting is the best and most effective way I have ever managed to control my calorie intake, and it has completely altered the way I view food.
Far too often with the nutrition, there is a dichotomy of opinions in which people are either completely in favour of a ‘diet’ and willing to shout down anyone who would dare oppose it, or people are the complete opposite and refuse to believe there is any benefit to a diet whatsoever.
As always, when it comes to nutrition – you have to do whatever is sustainable and enjoyable for you. I would never shun someone’s way of getting proper nutrition if it worked for them.
However, it is important not to propagate the spreading of misinformation because in doing so you instantly create a negative image for diets and nutritional plans that deturs people that might have found amazing results if they tried the diet!
Perhaps the Intermittent Fasting Diet will reveal itself to be a miracle diet in the future, but until then I will primarily see it as an excellent tool for managing calorie intake, satiation and establishing a healthy relationship with nutrition.
Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your experiences with the diet!
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