Intermittent fasting is one of the biggest trends in the fitness world today. It basically involves restricting food consumption to a brief ‘eating window’ of 6-8 hours…
I’m writing this article because I see some people blindly following it with absolutely ZERO reason to do so. And other people doing it for the wrong reasons.
I’ve personally used it on and off for the past 4 years for a variety of reasons. In this article I want to cover the main benefits of intermittent fasting, why you should consider it, and a simple, stress-free way to incorporate it into your daily life.
The Real Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
1. Weight Loss
Weight loss is probably the biggest reason someone should consider intermittent fasting.
Because you only eat for a reduced amount of time during the day on this protocol, you’ll naturally consume fewer calories than if you were NOT restricting yourself. For example, if you choose to only eat between 12PM and 8PM, then you eliminate calories that you would have previously consumed before noon and late at night…
And when you reduce overall calories, you lose weight. If you’re at all concerned about getting lean and shredded, then be sure to lift weights and maintain your strength while you lose weight.
2. Stomach Relief
This is the primary reason that I use intermittent fasting in my life.
You might often hear people say that digesting food is a very demanding process for our body. And while I’ve never seen scientific studies to back this up – it is true – at least to some extent. By restricting our feeding window to 8 or so hours, we essentially give our bodies a ‘break’ from digesting food for a large part of the day.
I can personally vouch for this benefit. I have a VERY, VERY sensitive stomach. If I eat too early in the morning, or too late at night, my stomach gets upset, and I tend to get bloated, gassy, and oftentimes diarrhea. So intermittent fasting is how I naturally eat at this point. If you’re prone to getting an upset stomach, I advise giving intermittent fasting a shot. It’s made a world of difference for me.
3. Less Stress About Eating
When you get involved in the fitness world, some of the first advice you hear is that you need to eat 6 small meals per day, every 3 hours on the dot.
This is bullshit. And it causes a lot of people a great deal of stress. If you follow this advice you essentially have to schedule your entire day around planning, preparing, and eating your meals… And this fucking sucks.
A huge benefit of intermittent fasting is that you only have to eat two or three meals – and this can save some people a whole lot of stress and a whole lot of time.
4. Other Partially-Researched Health Benefits
Above are the three main benefits that I’ve personally experienced when it comes to intermittent fasting. That being said, there are a lot of other purported benefits. Some of them have scientific backing, others do not.
These are not the main reasons you should do it, but they are some potential bonuses:
- Lowered insulin levels
- Raised human growth hormone (HGH) levels
- Lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Reduced inflammation
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered cholesterol
How to Intermittently Fasting the Right Way
The Simple Way
The easiest way to incorporate intermittent fasting into your life is to skip breakfast and to avoid eating anything late at night. For most people, this is essentially what you’re going to end up doing even if you read tons of literature on the subject and try to take into account every little nuance that you can think of.
The Slightly More Complicated Way
If you want to go one level deeper and fine-tune your intermittent fasting schedule a bit, then follow these guidelines.
- Choose 8 hours during the day when you will eat – be sure to choose times that make sense for your schedule (i.e. if you have to rush to get to work in the morning then you probably should start at lunch time)
- Don’t eat outside of this window – obviously a little bit of variance is okay, but if you choose 12-8 as your eating window then you should do your best not to eat before 11 or after 9
- It’s okay to consume very low calorie items outside the window – if you enjoy a morning coffee, then drink it black, or with some splenda or something that doesn’t add calories
- Your first meal should probably be your biggest – it makes sense to break your fast with a large meal, because your body will be primed to digest the most food in your fasted state
And that’s it. If you’re trying to lose weight, have stomach issues, or a hectic daily schedule then intermittent fasting probably could benefit you a lot. If you’re trying to gain weight or really enjoy your early morning breakfast, then it’s probably not in the cards for you.