How to use Intermittent Fasting for Fat loss.

Ever heard this rumour that if you don’t eat every 2 hours, your muscles will start to disintegrate, or maybe, your body will go into starvation mode, leading to a slow metabolism..? That is NOT how the body works, nor is grazing every couple of hours a good idea for the VAST majority of humans (remember, only cows have 4 stomachs). In fact, eating when you’re not actually that hungry is a FANTASTIC way to put on body fat quickly.

Anyway, I digress. I’m here to tell you about intermittent fasting (IF)and how to safely utilise it for fat loss.

What is IF?
According to Wikipedia, ‘Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various eating diet plans that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting over a defined period.’ 
There are many ways to do IF, and they have all been studied. The efficiency of how well each method works, largely depends on the unique personal physiological and lifestyle circumstance of said person. For example, most women who are in menstruating ages tend to not do as well on long fasts, especially in the week leading up to their periods. This is because of the hormonal upheaval which we go through every month, which affects our metabolism, mood, immune system, digestion…you name it.

So, let me try to explain and keep this simple (haha).

Intermittent fasting allows your body to tap into stored glycogen, and if you fast long enough, you can start using your body fat as an energy source.

How many hours should I fast?
I always recommend everyone does an overnight fast of 12 hours, to allow your body to carry out it’s processes without you disturbing your immune system (everytime you eat something, this triggers an immune reaction), liver processing and digestion. For absolute beginners, this is what you have to prioritise doing first. Once you’ve been able to do that, you can start pushing your fast for 14 hours. Most people are fine with this, and can comfortably push up to 16 hours, and can even do this several times a week. This is the threshold where those with HPA dysfunction and most women stop.
After 19 hours, the body can actually start a process of cell repair and regeneration, which is pretty much fucking magical if you ask me. However, make sure you attempt this on a day which isn’t very stressful or active (unless you are really a pro at this, and have a very intimate knowledge of how your body works).

Can you consume anything during the fast?
Well, if you are fasting for fat loss, the answer is YES. There are different ways of doing this too. If you have good self control, you are permitted up to 500calories per day of non-processed, whole, nutritious food and drinks. These are your fasting days. You can repeat this every other day, eating as normal in between.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of this, because it just makes it difficult for me to stop eating, so I abstain from food completely. For people like me, you can still consume extremely low calorie drinks such as sparkling water, black coffee/tea, herbal tea, and use a small amount of full fat cream, milk or coconut oil (anything with a carbohydrate count less than 5g per serve for example). You can also sweeten with stevia, which is EXTREMELY low in carbs and has no calories. Obviously, drink water!

How to feast for optimal health and fat loss
You’ve completed your chosen fasting time frame. Congrats! Now, make sure you don’t ruin the work you’ve done. It is IMPERATIVE, not just for fat loss but also for health that the first thing you put in your body is nutritious and gentle on digestion. Otherwise, you and your toilet are in for an adventure. Stick to chicken or vegetable broths (although meat broths are superior to veggie ones), and then consume some cooked vegetables, good quality carbs (preferably not wheat based ones). If your stomach can handle it, add in a lean protein source (slow cooked is advantageous for digestion here too).

So how often can you fast?
That really depends on your body. If you feel unwell, it is best to keep it to a minimum and stick to the shorter fast duration times and slowly progress to longer fasts and higher frequency. When I’m fasting post a self indulgent holiday, I tend to fast 2-3 days a week, and incorporate pilates or yoga and definitely aim to get my 10,000 steps in. When I’m maintenance mode, I will fast 1-2 days a week, depending on how I feel. I do not fast at all in the 7 days leading up to my period, as I find it can intensify PMS symptoms.

Why you might feel a little ‘eughh’ intially during fasting – don’t give up
There are additional health benefits of fasting, which can help promote further fat loss (a healthier body is more efficient at doing whatever it is you want it to do). By burning stored body fat, you also liberate toxins from storage in your body. How, you ask? Whenever we ingest toxins or any weird substances which our bodies just simply don’t recognise, they get shoved into fat cells for storage, as the body just simply doesn’t know how to process them. Envision a teenager shoving a whole heap of mess under the bed rather than actually tidying up. Once you burn fat stores, these toxins are now free, which may be one of the main reasons people can experience ‘detox’ symptoms like headaches, constipation, poor mood and pimples. It isn’t hunger or lack of food causing these, it is the release of toxins which need to come out of your body.

So now, you need to get that lymphatic system moving, buddy. Saunas, particularly infrared, epsom salt baths, gentle exercise and body brushing are all great ways to help your body purge out these toxins, which also helps with fat loss.

If you are unwell, pregnant, breastfeeding, have a history of eating disorders or extremely stressed out…this isn’t going to be for you! If you reallllly want to try it and you belong to any of the groups I just mentioned, and if you aren’t sure if you should be fasting, please consult with your doctor AND a nutritional therapist first.

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