What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting and feasting create several benefits at a cellular and molecular level. In fact, it can change gene expression and profoundly improve the way you look, feel and function.
Many studies are supporting positive benefits for brain and physique enhancement. It may even help you live longer. Here are a few areas where studies have shown benefits…
Weight Loss: Intermittent fasting is commonly used as a method for enhancing weight loss or stimulating weight loss that has stalled. It stands to reason that if you fast for an extended period you are going to eat fewer calories when you finally feast. This often leads to the use of stored body fat (ketones) as fuel.
However, if you consistently underfeed your body with restricted calories in a non-fasting way, you may find fat loss stalls. Therefore, the practice of fasting and feasting 3-4 times per week can be more effective than 5-6 times per week especially for women.
Fasting followed by feasting also increases the release of Norepinephrine (Noradrenaline). This catecholamine promotes fat burning for energy. As a result, IF may increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%.
During the fasting period your body shifts into a temporary state of ketosis. This natural survival mechanism allows your body to perform competently in the absence of carbohydrates or other calories by burning fat as fuel. This process can be further enhanced by consuming exogenous (external) ketones.
In a meta-analysis from 2014, it was shown that IF may boost weight loss by 3-8% over 3-24 weeks. In this review, they found that participants lost 4–7% of their belly fat. This is exciting because belly fat is not only where most people want to burn fat but is also the most metabolically damaging fat.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH): Studies have documented a 500% increase in growth hormone with IF once you break the fast. This increase may assist with fat loss, muscle building and recovery.
Insulin: Insulin sensitivity is improved by 37% with the practice of IF. This means you can utilise carbohydrates more efficiently and reduce carbs storing as fat. You may experience more energy and less fatigue. IF can also reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31%.
Gene Expression: There are positive changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
Cellular Repair: When fasted, your cells go into overdrive repair processes. One study showed that IF caused less muscle loss and more muscle repair than standard continuous calorie restriction. Also, autophagy (the process where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside them) is increased by 17-21%.
Inflammation: IF studies have also shown reductions in inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases including diabetes and obesity.
Brain Health: IF increases a hormone called BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This may help with the growth of new brain cells and nerves. It may also enhance learning ability, reduce brain fog, improve focus, alertness and protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia.
Anti-aging: IF can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats live as much as 36-83% longer. Human studies are still required. However, in blue zones (areas where the population regularly live to over 100 years of age) it is common for the communities to practice forms of IF or calorie restriction.
Is IF Safe and are there any Side Effects?
IF has an outstanding safety profile. Provided you are healthy and stay well hydrated, there is nothing dangerous about not eating for short periods of time. We will provide you with a strategy below to get the most out of fasting and feasting.
Hunger is the main side effect of IF during the fasting period. You may also feel weak and a little foggy in the brain. This is only temporary as your brain and body may not be used to using ketones (fat) for energy. You can overcome most of these issues by using a ketone product to become keto adapted faster.
It’s also worth mentioning that some studies suggest women don’t do as well on extended fasts. For women, we would recommend the 16/8 approach two to three times a week (this means fasting for 16 hours and then feasting for 8 hours in the day). There is a suggested evolutionary reason women don’t respond as well as men to IF.
Women were generally the caregivers. They stayed at camp/home and looked after the children and elderly. Camp was where the food was stored so women would have had access to more food than the men who may have been on hunts for extended periods of time.
The 16/8 method
This method involves skipping breakfast and your mid-morning snack and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours. For example, stop eating at 8pm Monday and start eating again at 12pm on Tuesday. Or stop eating at 7pm Tuesday and start eating again at 11am on Wednesday.
This method should help you lose weight, providing you don’t compensate by feasting considerably more during the 8-hour window.
Its all about creating a maintainable calorie deficit.
We have found the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to while getting some outstanding results. This is the method we will discuss in more detail below and provide you with a strategy to maximise results.
Steps to Conducting the Perfect 16/8 Intermittent Fasting Plan
(If you do Morning Cardio)
Step 1: Eat your last meal at 7 or 8pm. Your daily training time will dictate the serving size of this meal.
The goal here is to fill up on lots of fibrous vegetables, protein and a moderate amount of carbohydrates or fats. This will help keep your blood sugar levels stable and allow your body to reach a state of ketosis faster. Make sure you are consuming adequate salt (pink or sea salt) in this meal as it may help improve sleep and maintain proper thyroid function.
Step 2: Upon rising consume the Ultimate Fat Burning Stack –
5 - 10g of ketones
½ - 1 serve of a thermogenic
This combo will maximise your fat burning and minimise your muscle loss. It will also help you keto-adapt quicker.
Step 3: Cardio – Head out and do your cardio. You can do HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) or LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State). Studies suggest HIIT may be more effective for fat loss and muscle preservation.
Step 4: Consume Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) – When you return from your exercise we recommend a serve of EAA’s to assist with recovery and reduce muscle breakdown.
Step 5: Break the fast – Normally this would be breakfast. However, it will be at either 11am or 12pm depending upon the time of your last meal the night before. This meal may contain a balance of Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. With the calories (not the grams) split between Protein (30%), Carbohydrates (30%) and Fats (40%). You may also want to add a super food greens, probiotic and digestive enzymes (a combo of all three is best) with this first meal. This will boost its micro nutrient levels and digestibility.
We hope this guide has been helpful and you (like many others) reap the many benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF).
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider.