The problem of obesity.
Why are there more overweight people now than ever before? There are a few reasons for this. Some of the reasons are included in the free eBook Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
- The first reason is the changing diet. Far too many people are reliant on or addicted to nutrient-poor, energy-dense junk food, processed food, white flour products, etc. All these foods cause blood sugar levels to spike and this, in turn, leads to fat storage and insulin insensitivity.
- A sedentary lifestyle is another reason. With the advent of technology, many manual tasks have become easier and less demanding.
Need to go to the supermarket that’s a 20-minute walk away? Get the car instead of walking. Need to go up to level 3 in your office building?
Take the elevator instead of the stairs. All these activities that move our bodies, use our muscles and keep things working well are avoided and replaced with easier alternatives. As a result, people are much more prone to gaining weight.
It’s so much simpler to watch TV with a bag of potato chips than to go for a run. It’s so much easier to drink a bottle of processed apple juice than eating a raw apple.
Each of these actions, no matter how small, do matter.
- Poor quality of food. To exacerbate the situation, in much of the world, low-quality junk food is often cheaper than healthy, nutritious food. Low-income families are able to easily purchase these nutrient-depleted products but struggle to pay for “real food”. This is one of the many confounding reasons why obesity affects low-income families at a higher percentage.
One of the solutions to the problem of obesity.
There is one cure to reversing weight gain and obesity. In fact, it is so powerful that people are able to lose weight even on a junk food diet just by adopting this method. It should be noted that I never recommend consuming potentially toxic food-like substances, but this method is so powerful that it has been shown to work even in the presence of a poor diet.
Intermittent Fasting (IF)
It is called intermittent fasting. We’ll refer to it as IF from now on to make things easier. On our program, we prefer to use the term Time-Restricted Eating or TRE for fasting windows of less than 24 hours and reserve the term IF for fasting windows of 24 hours or longer. Unlike diets such as the vegan diet or lemonade diet, IF is a very unique method that doesn’t concern itself with the food consumed. It is more focused on meal timings.
If you’re struggling to lose weight or if you have an appetite that you can’t control, intermittent fasting is your answer.
If you are trying to see your abs but just can’t burn off the last layer of fat on your belly, intermittent fasting has your name written all over it.
Just like its name suggests, Intermittent Fasting is a cyclical diet that involves a period of fasting followed by a period of nonfasting or eating. The non-fasting period may vary depending on the type of intermittent fasting you engage in.
There are several types of intermittent fasting. This article will highlight a few of the popular ones and recommend the easiest type to follow to ensure that your life does not become miserable.
The two windows of intermittent fasting.
The intermittent fasting can be broken down into 2 “windows”.
- Fasting window: During the fasting window you do not eat or drink anything other than what is listed in Fasting Fluids
- Eating window: During the eating window, you will consume all your food and drinks (calories) for the day during this time frame.
Intermittent fasting is less concerned with what you eat. The diet is secondary, although the quality of the food you consuming during your eating window will impact your results. What really matters is that you MUST be compliant during the fasting period. This is when the body will utilize its fat stores for energy.
The principle of fasting is that when your stomach is empty, the body will not have food for fuel and will tap into its fat stores for the energy it needs. This is imperative in burning fat successfully.
Many people struggle to lose weight because their insulin stores are full and the body burns food as fuel. The body never gets a chance to access fat stores. As a result, even with extreme exercise, the visible changes are slow to come.
It must be noted that even if you’ve adopted intermittent fasting, you should strive to be on a nutrient-dense, whole foods type eating plan.
Intermittent fasting keeps your insulin levels low and your fat-burning levels high. This naturally leads to a decrease in appetite.
Benefits of TRE-IF:
1) Promotes Weight Loss
One of the major benefits of intermittent fasting is its ability to rev up fat burning and help the pounds slide off. In fact, many people prefer intermittent fasting to traditional diets because it doesn’t require you to meticulously measure your foods and track the calories and grams consumed.
Here is the story of one of our program participants:
2) Improves Blood Sugar
When you eat, carbohydrates in your food are broken down into glucose (sugar) in your bloodstream. A hormone called insulin is responsible for transporting the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it can be used up as energy. In one study, participants fasted an average of 16 hours daily. Not only did intermittent fasting cause weight loss and a decrease in caloric intake, but it also helped reduce blood sugar levels and improved lipid profiles (1) Ref
3) Curbs Hunger
Leptin, also known as the satiety hormone, is a hormone produced by the fat cells that helps signal when it’s time to stop eating. Your leptin levels drop when you’re hungry and increase when you’re feeling full.
Fasting resets leptin levels and re-sensitizes the body to leptin’s cues.
Lower levels of leptin could translate to fewer problems with leptin, less hunger and potentially even more weight loss.
4) Improves Blood Lipids
One of the most impressive intermittent fasting benefits is its favourable effect on heart health. Studies show that intermittent fasting can help keep your heart healthy by lowering certain heart disease risk factors like LDL-C, sometimes known as “bad cholesterol” and triglycerides.
5) Reduces Blood Pressure
Intermittent fasting has shown a reduction in blood pressure levels. The best results were found in people who followed this pattern of eating for longer durations. (3) RefThe benefits in BP reduction may come from weight loss, but other mechanisms like reduction in insulin resistance and secretion of BDNF are also contributory.
6) Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is a normal immune response to injury. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can lead to chronic disease. Some research has even linked inflammation to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
While more research is needed, these studies provide promising evidence showing that intermittent fasting may help reduce inflammation and fight off chronic disease.
7) Protects Your Brain
In addition to keeping your heart healthy and warding off disease, some studies have found that intermittent fasting could also protect the health of your brain.
In Alzheimer’s Disease, the brain has a problem with glucose uptake. Ketones, either produced by your body or taken as a supplement have the potential to provide an alternative brain fuel in people with Alzheimer’s Disease. (5) Ref
Additionally, the anti-inflammatory effects of intermittent fasting may also help slow the progression of disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
This is what makes IF so fantastic. Like Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
Intermittent fasting is extremely simple in concept. It doesn’t involve detoxification,calorie-counting, special food or expensive supplements, surgery or pharmaceutical drugs. None of that is an issue.
All you need to do is eat and not eat… that’s it. It doesn’t get any simpler!
Common Questions about Intermittent Fasting
Where Did It Originate From?
There is no one particular place where IF originated from. In fact, it is based upon the way our ancestors ate.
In the past, food was scarce. If you wanted to eat, you had to hunt. On days when you managed to forage for food or the hunt was successful, there’d be a feast.
If the pickings were slim and there was no food, you’d go hungry. This would be akin to fasting. The only difference is that there wasn’t a choice in the past. Because of this manner of eating and fasting, our ancestors were seldom overweight. They also led to much more active lives since there was no technology to assist them.
So, we can assume to a certain degree that the human body instinctively adapts to intermittent fasting. We may have evolved technologically. However, when it comes to our physiology, we’re pretty much the same as our ancestors.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Me?
It depends. Nothing is perfect for everybody and this applies to IF too.
For most people, intermittent fasting will be safe. In fact, it will be highly beneficial. Studies have shown that many people who started an intermittent fasting program experienced health benefits such as increased fat burning and a higher metabolic rate. Their blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels improved dramatically.
If you worry about intermittent fasting, you should allay your fears. Everybody goes through a fasting period when they are asleep. If you sleep for 8 hours, you will be in a fasted state.
The reason that many people do not enjoy the benefits of this fasted state is due to the fact that most people get less than 8 hours of sleep. Importantly, many of you eat as long as you are awake.
As a researcher from the Salk Institute in California, Dr. Satchin Panda, says “Your mouth is open as long as your eyes are open!”
Furthermore, people eat before bed. So, when they are sleeping, the food is being digested. The body doesn’t get a chance to be in a fasted state for too long.
The moment you wake up, you drink tea or coffee with milk and sugar/sweeteners or you eat breakfast and start eating throughout the day. There is very little time for the body to tap into its fat stores.
People on diabetes medications.
People with gastric problems, diabetes, etc. should consult a doctor before starting an intermittent fasting program. If you are diabetic and on diabetes medications, it is not unsafe for you, but you may need to reduce your medications before starting a TRE or IF program. Therefore, you will need help from your health care provider.
However, he /she needs to be trained in tapering off diabetes medications. Unfortunately, many doctors are still not comfortable in using TRE and IF and may sometimes discourage you by suggesting that you will develop hypoglycemia (low blood glucose levels). Developing hypoglycemia on TRE or IF means that you don’t need as many medicines as you did before! This is good!
TRE or long fasts are not meant for you if you are pregnant. However, doing a 12:12 and/or having your last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime are still important for you.
Which Type of IF Should You Adopt?
There are several different types of intermittent fasting. Usually, the differences will depend on the person creating the method. The fundamentals of an eating window and a fasting window will ALWAYS apply.
Bear in mind that it really doesn’t matter which method you choose. All the different methods will reap rewards. You should pick one that you are comfortable with.
When the method you choose is easy for you to follow, the chances of you complying with it and staying the course will be much higher. Initially, if you’re new to intermittent fasting, you will want to take it slow and have a longer eating window and a shorter fasting window.
It will take about 2 weeks to a month for your body to adapt to your new way of eating. There is no doubt that you will most probably encounter resistance and cravings from your body. This is par for the course. After all, most people are used to eating throughout their waking hours. Restricting your eating hours can be stressful in the beginning.
Rest assured that with time, your body will adapt and you will be surprised to see that your appetite has decreased. You will also feel more alert, energetic and slimmer as you progress.
Now let’s look at some of the intermittent fasting methods.
|TYPE OF FAST||DESCRIPTION|
|12:12||Fasting for 12 hours, usually overnight. Eating within a 12-hour window|
|14:10||Fasting window of 14 hours. An eating window of 10 hours|
|16:8||Fasting window of 16 hours. An eating window of 8 hours|
|24 hours||No food or drink , except those included in “Fasting Fluids” for 24 hours.|
|5:2 Diet||20–25% of energy needs on 2 consecutive scheduled “fasting” days and normal eating for the other 5 days of a week.|
|Warrior Diet or OMAD (One Meal A Day)||Fast for 20 hours a day and eat one large meal.|
|Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD)||A proprietary diet for 5 days in a month, for 3 consecutive months. Normal food for the rest of the month.|
|Religious Fasts||Every major religion in the world has different fasting modalities. For examle Ramadan (Islam) ,Lent (Catholics) ,Vrats and Upvas (Hinduism).|
Intermittent Fasting or Time-Restricted Eating Basic Method: 12:12
This is probably the most popular method of intermittent fasting. If you are new to TRE/IF, this is the method we recommend that you start with. It is highly effective and relatively easy to follow.
On a 12:12, you fast for 12 hours overnight and eat all your food and drinks (except fasting fluids) during the next 12 hours.
It is of paramount importance to keep your feeding window consistent. Failure to do so will confuse your body and impede your results.
In practical terms, this is how it may look: You finish your last meal of the day before 7 PM, then fast overnight and have your first-morning meal by 7 AM. Most people are very comfortable doing this.
However, if you are used to eating your dinner late in the evening, (which is very common in some parts of the world), then you can postpone your first meal of the day further, such that you still maintain the 12 hours fasting window. Please remember that you can drink fasting fluids during the “fasting window”.
It is further recommended to schedule your meals around your workouts. For example, if your feeding window ends at 7 pm, you should work out around 5.30 PM and consume and complete your meal just before 7 PM. Or you could start your eating window just after your workout. In this way, your body will have food to repair your muscles, etc.
14:10 and 16:8 TRE/IF Methods:
The numbers 14 and 16 indicate the duration of your fasting window.
How soon should you graduate from one to the other?
When it comes to TRE/IF, there is no one rule for all of you. Initially, it is what you are comfortable doing. Once you develop your “fasting muscles” you can increase your fasting window.
However, it is important to bear in mind that if you are older and/or would like to lose several pounds of body fat, short fasting windows of 12 to 14 hours may not be enough for you. You will need longer fasts.
The 5:2 Diet
This plan allows eating 20–25% of energy needs on 2 consecutive scheduled “fasting” days and normal eating for the other 5 days of a week.
Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD)
This special proprietary diet was developed by Dr. Valter Longo at the University of Southern California. As the Prolon (the proprietary diet) website says,
“This 5-day meal program provides scientifically researched micro- and macro-nutrients in precise quantities and combinations that nourish you, but are not recognized as food by your body and therefore mimics a fasting state!”
You eat this proprietary diet for 5 days in a month and eat a normal diet for the rest of the month. Usually, this is done for cycles of 3 consecutive months.
- Reduced body weight and belly fat.
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduced fasting blood glucose
- Lowered triglycerides, total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and C-reactive protein(a marker of inflammation).
FMD can be a good option if you are trying to overcome a fat loss plateau or your busy life gets in the way of doing Time-Restricted Eating. However, Prolon doesn’t ship to all countries worldwide.
The Warrior Diet or OMAD (One Meal A Day)
This is a much more severe method that the restricted feeding window discussed above. The rules state that you’ll need to fast for 20 hours a day and only eat 1 large meal every night. This is supposedly what our ancestors may have done. While it’s anyone’s guess as to whether our ancestors really ate in this manner, the fact remains that this method is highly effective. Many people who adopted his method have seen vast benefits to their health.
Initially, when you’re starting out, you might not want to use this protocol. It would be a better idea to start off with a restricted eating schedule and gradually reduce your eating window over time until you are able to fast for 20 hours without discomfort.
Don’t jump into the deep end of the pool and struggle with a 20 hour fast. You should also know that this method does allow a few small meals during the fasting window. However, there are rules as to what you can eat and cannot eat.
So, you will need to watch your diet and stick to the approved food list. This is definitely one of the stricter methods of IF.
The third method of intermittent fasting is known as Eat Stop Eat based on an online bestseller.
The rules of the fast are pretty simple. You will fast for 24 hours twice or thrice a week. On days when you’re not fasting, you may eat what you want without worry.
In this manner, your overall consumption of food for the week will be less and you will lose weight. Since you are allowed to eat whatever you want to eat during the eating window, you will not be deprived of your favourite foods.
This can be a relief to many people who fear giving up the foods they love. However, the 24-hour break from eating can be extremely difficult for many people. So, as mentioned earlier, you may follow a restricted eating schedule and work your way up.
How do you decide?
The truth of the matter is that you should analyze your eating habits, your sleeping patterns, your job requirements, etc. You MUST tailor the fasting window to suit you.
If you work nights, you can’t fast through the night because you will be hungry. So, you should include your sleeping hours into your fasting window and maybe start your eating window 6 hours after waking.
Of course, this is assuming that you adopt the first type of intermittent fasting. You may also have social activities, etc. that may make following the intermittent fasting program difficult.
Sooner or later, your fasting will cramp your social life. Once again, you will need to work around it. Even the actor, Hugh Jackman, was on an intermittent fasting program while training for his Wolverine movie and he had to ensure that he stuck to his eating window despite his hectic schedule. Ultimately, you must choose a method that you think will work for you. Do not get over-ambitious or overestimate your willpower and choose to go for the 24 hours fast on the first day.
It can and most probably will be torturous. You might end up giving in and eating. Later on, you may experience feelings of guilt and may feel like you failed. This is where most people throw in the towel.
They think they have failed when in reality, they just set unreasonable goals. The key to success is to make measurable progress with reasonable goals.
“Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.”
Should you watch what you eat?
Definitely. Unequivocally. Yes! Regardless if you’re on the TRE-IF program or not, you should always pay close attention to what you’re eating.
The number one cause of obesity and health problems is the food we eat. The truth of the matter is that deep down in our hearts, we know what we should be eating.
Plants, especially the vegetables that grow above the ground, are crucial to good health. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. The human body craves vegetables. (It should be noted, that although not necessary for survival, this plant matter plays a pivotal role in the body’s ability to thrive)
However, our current diet is more focused on processed and manufactured foods with a cursory serving of vegetables that in most cases, do more damage than good.
French fries, hash browns and mashed potatoes in gravy sauce are not vegetables. You want to be consuming vegetables such as broccoli, kale, celery, tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, cauliflower etc.
It is true that these vegetables may initially appear to be blander than the French fries. However, they are immensely beneficial to your health and when eaten seasonally, prepared well and paired with tasty good fats and protein, can be just as delicious. Getting into the habit of eating vegetables will serve you well in the long run. Vegetables are especially important during intermittent fasting. You can eat many more vegetables and still maintain your reduced carbohydrate count (if a lower carbohydrate plan is what you are following) because vegetables generally contain fewer starchy calories and come packed with beneficial fibre.
What About Fruit?
A similar concept applies to fruit. Consume fruit, but more moderately than vegetables (1-2 servings of fruit per day maximum) and make sure they are 100% natural. Always eat the fruit rather than just drinking the juice. The fibre will do your body good and your insulin levels will be stable.
Avoid processed fruit that comes in cans. Commercially sold fruit juice is a big no-no! It is packed with sugar!
Protein from meat and fish:
Besides vegetables, you should get your proteins from healthy cuts of meat and fish.
Commercially deep-fried meats and processed meats such as sausages, commercial cold cuts and canned meat-like products should be avoided. They are highly toxic and contain a lot of preservatives and additives. (The problem is often with poor quality cooking oil. What cooking oil should you use? This video discusses cooking oils).
Besides proteins from meat and carbohydrates and fibre from vegetables, you will also need healthy fats. There are 2 excellent sources of healthy fats; extra virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil.
Coconut oil is extremely beneficial. In the past, it used to have a bad reputation for causing high levels of cholesterol and other unhealthy symptoms. However, the latest studies have shown that this is false and coconut oil is actually very beneficial for one’s health.
Since this guide is about intermittent fasting, we’ll not be going into too much detail about diet and nutrition because there is so much to learn.
You can check our YouTube Channel for more information.
Intermittent fasting is so powerful that even if you ate junk food (not that I am recommending it!), you would still lose weight. However, your goal should be to lose weight and be healthy. Losing weight is not the be-all and end-all. The best way to be healthy is to eat healthily. All the exercise in the world will not make you healthy if your diet is poor. You cannot outrun a bad diet.
You may be lean and fit… but if the food you eat is unhealthy, you will encounter health problems sooner or later.
Gradually eliminate your bad food choices and replace them with healthier choices. For example, replace your hydrogenated oils with healthy cooking oils. Or you could replace your store-bought orange juice by eating a fresh orange.
Every small change helps. Once your diet is on point and you are on the TRE/IF plan, you will become a fat-burning furnace. You will lose the fat much faster and also notice that you feel more energetic and overall, you feel better. You will not be able to explain it. Your moods will get better. You will feel more lively and generally, life will seem much better. It may amaze you that the cloud that was hanging over you so long seems to have lifted. That’s the power of stable insulin levels, a well-functioning digestive tract and a clean diet.
Low carbohydrate food and TRE-IF
If you eat low carbohydrate food, you will find that it is easier to extend your fasting windows. How much carbohydrate can you eat on a low carb diet?
This amount is different for each of you. Initially, we recommend that you eat fewer carbohydrates than you normally eat. This may mean exchanging your bread, pasta or rice and roti (Indian flatbread) for lower carbohydrate options. (You can check the Recipes section for options).