If you haven’t heard already, intermittent fasting is taking the world of dieting and weight loss programs head-on.
Intermittent fasting is abstaining from food or calories for an extended period.
See, most people will consume dinner around 7pm and then eat breakfast as soon as they wake up.
But intermittent fasting pushes the idea of not eating from 7pm all the way to 11am the next day!
Seems pretty miserable, right!? Not eating from 16 hours!?
Why would you want to start yourself like that? After all, most people will agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
While it’s true that breakfast is generally nutritious and energy starting meal, skipping can help you lose a ton of weight.
Let’s dive into the world of plant-based fasting!
A General History of Fasting
Fasting, although maybe trending like it’s a revolutionary dieting trick, is nothing new.
People have been fasting for thousands of years, whether it be for religious, medical, or cultural practices.
Muslims fast every year for Ramadan. Many Hindus follow the same practice for their own religious and spiritual reasons.
In more recent years, fasting has been heavily researched to find the pros and cons along with how fasting works.
Today, more than ever, Instagram models and fitness gurus promote the lifestyle and results of fasting for fat burning and weight loss.
While ‘fasting’ is a general term for not consuming food or calories, it comes with many different forms. Like stated above, many religious forms of fasting can last 24 hours, or sometimes even more.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
‘Intermittent’ is defined as “continuing at irregular intervals, not continuous or steady.” This is exactly what intermittent fasting consists of. A time period where you cycle between eating and non-eating.
Now the average human will probably eat from around 7am to 7pm. This consists of a 12 hour period when you’re eating and 12 hours when you’re not (you’ll sleeping for most of it.) This is considered a very normal diet. Around 3 meals a day, eat when you’re hungry and stop once your full. Pretty simple…
Now intermittent fasting takes that 12 hours of non-eating and makes it 16 hours long. This brings the time of which you are consuming food to around 8 hours a day.
Of course, there are other time intervals you can do this with, such as 18 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating, or 20 hours of fasting and 4 hours of eating. But generally, the most popular form of IF (Intermittent Fasting) will consist of 16-hour fasts.
Now the secret to intermittent fasting is what happens to your body during that 16 hour fast.
Magical things begin to arise!
The Benefits And Pros To Fasting!
When your body fasts for 16 hours, you’re going to consume fewer calories throughout the day. Because when you do eat you’ll eat larger meals that will help fill you up.
When you’ve filled up you’re consuming less food and thus entering a caloric deficit.
Over time, this caloric deficit leads to major weight loss!
But that’s not all…
Intermittent fasting has been shown to:
- Increase focus and energy levels
- Increase testosterone levels almost 200%
- Increase growth hormone levels
- Burn stubborn body fat
- Improve heart and brain health
That’s right, you can use IF for more than just losing weight. We know IF helps you eat fewer calories and burns fat during your fasting period. But it does more than that!
Bodybuilders, fitness freaks, and strength athletes go crazy over intermittent fasting’s ability to boost muscle-building hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone by incredible amounts!
If you don’t already testosterone is the hormone that differentiates men and women. Men contain high levels of this hormone and lower levels of estrogen. For women, it’s the opposite.
This hormone is vital for the function and growth of men. Hair growth, sex drive, heart, and cardiovascular health, and… muscle growth.
That’s right, testosterone is the main promoter of incredible gains! And with intermittent fasting, test-levels rise by nearly 200 percent!
So what does this mean for you?
It means you keep your muscle mass during weight loss!
Almost any weight loss program will burn fat but also some muscle. This is due to your body restricting calorie and energy which might slightly affect your muscles.
“When you lose weight, you typically lose both fat mass and lean mass, especially if you do not perform regular exercise. Intermittent fasting does not appear to cause more muscle loss than other weight-loss diets.”
If anything, you’ll keep your hard-earned muscle mass!
The hardest part about intermittent fasting is the cravings. When you wake up and don’t eat for the next few hours, your stomach starts growling. It can be tempting to open the fridge or reach into the cabinet and grab a quick snack.
Sadly, these snacks will develop into horking down a ton of food until you find yourself full.
DON’T DO THIS!
Resist the temptations and put your willpower to the test.
But if you’re having trouble with those cravings, drink a cup of straight black coffee.
Coffee has been shown to help postpone hunger and give you that extra drive to keep up your diet!
Even better is that caffeine increases your body’s metabolic rate which increases your body’s ability to burn calories.
What does this mean for you?
Your body is going to burn more fat!
What a win-win!
There’s only one exception…
Make sure your coffee is straight black. No creamers, sugar, whip cream or other crap. Straight black coffee has 0 calories. Once you start adding other stuff, that’s when you introduce calories into your body which will instantly kill your fast and slow down your body’s ability to burn fat.
Make the coffee yourself at home. Skip the Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and other fast food crap. Most of it isn’t even coffee anyways.
Don’t Forget Water
Ever feel super hungry after a large meal?
Then you drink a glass of water and suddenly all that hunger is gone!
Coincidence? I think not!
If you want to suppress hunger and fight for your weight loss goals, try drinking a big glass of water right before each meal and during your fasting cycle.
Not only will it help the cravings but everyone can drink more water throughout the day.
Drinking more water has shown to lower risks of cancers, improve brain function, increase energy levels, control body temperature, and help with the digestion of food (especially protein).
Combining Intermittent Fasting With A Vegan Diet
If you combine the two powerhouses of dieting, weight loss, and living a healthy lifestyle, look no further than a vegan intermittent fast!
In order to help promote your fat burning, it’s important to consume plant-based foods that are filling yet low in calories and preferably high in protein.
Try to consume foods like:
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Bananas (Help suppress hunger)
Another food that surprising may help you get through a period of vegan fasting is dark chocolate. Similar to coffee, dark chocolate increases your metabolism. It also helps control appetite as well as blood sugar levels, prevents heart disease, and it satisfies those cravings.
It’s like having a cheat meal, without actually cheating!
And I mean seriously, what tastes better than dark chocolate!
But be careful…
Dark chocolate can be high in calories depending on the brand. Limit your cravings to around 2-3 small squares of dark chocolate a day. You want to stay in a caloric deficit remember.
Low-Carb Foods May Help
This is what many people generalize as the keto diet.
And while I’m not saying you have to combine fasting, vegan, and keto altogether, it’s gonna be a pretty solid way to lose weight.
See carbs are not the enemy. Carbs are actually great for you. Your body takes in carbs for energy faster than any other macronutrient.
But if you limit or consume a low-carb diet, your body won’t have that readily available energy source right at its disposal.
So your body turns to your own fat storages and burns that for energy.
You end up with less fat and lose weight!
Always Maintain A Caloric Deficit
The goal during intermittent fasting is to help you burn fat by consuming fewer calories.
Weight loss is triggered by one simple thing.
A Caloric Deficit: Fewer calories in than calories out.
If you burn 2,000 calories a day, you don’t want to consume anything above that…
Fasting is supposed to help you stay below this caloric intake by eliminating a meal or two, usually breakfast.
But even if you fast, and end up consuming more calories than your caloric maintenance, you’ll continue to gain weight, regardless of the diet!
But Don’t Consume Too Little Calories
Another issue that people run into when dieting or trying to lose weight is by eating almost nothing at all.
You don’t want your caloric deficit to be too large!
Especially for you fitness freaks, too large of a caloric deficit will burn away a lot of those hard-earned muscle gains.
Try aiming for a caloric deficit around 500-700 calories below your maintenance level.
That should be a good starting point. If you still have trouble, try consuming fewer carbs and consider amping up your daily exercise.
That should do the trick.