9 Great Reasons to Try Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
If you’re new to intermittent fasting (sometimes called alternate day fasting), it’s pretty much what it sounds like it is; extended periods of fasting, followed short periods of feeding.
On the face of it, intermittent fasting doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, but actually, regardless about how you feel about food and feeling hungry, there’s some pretty good reasons to try this type of dieting.
For instance, you may not have to change what you eat or how much you eat to lose weight — the fact that you’re entering a fasted state (which doesn’t happen when we eat regularly) for an extended period allows your body to burn fat for fuel much more effectively than usual.
So much so, in fact, that changing what you eat might not even be necessary.
How cool is that?
Should You Try Fasting?
I’ve been playing with intermittent fasting for the last couple of years, and I have to say I really like it. If you give it half a chance, I think you will too. It’s certainly worth an experiment, in my opinion!
With that said, here are nine reasons why you should consider intermittent fasting.
1. It’s Simple
To lose weight, you don’t have to count calories, you don’t have to weigh food, you don’t need to eat special foods and you don’t need to worry about portion control (within reason of course).
This is one my favorite benefits of this diet — it’s just really damn easy to do!
2. You’ll Learn about Hunger.
I think this is an important benefit. Let me explain why.
First, let me say this; you don’t spend most of your time starving or hungry during an intermittent fast. Sure, there’s a few times when you’re hungry, but it fades away quickly enough. In fact, most of the time you’re not particularly hungry at all.
But when you’re fasting, you become cognizant of hunger.
The reason why this is important is because most of the time hunger ignites a subsconscious, knee-jerk, “go to the fridge” reaction. Most of us never really feel “hunger” for very long; as long as it takes to walk to the fridge, hit the drive-thru or grab something from the lunch room.
Fasting teaches you recognize hunger on a more conscious level, so that when you experience it, you don’t automatically head for the fridge. You learn that, “hey… hunger really isn’t that big a deal, and if I just hold off a few minutes before raiding the fridge, the feeling will pass.”
3. You May Live Longer
Animal studies show the caloric restriction and periods of extended fasting may help extend your lifespan and there’s reason to believe these same benefits may extend to humans.
4. Alternate Day Fasting May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Yep. Cholesterol, triglycerides… all that good stuff. Animal data shows…
- Lower total cholesterol levels.
- Lower triglyceride concentrations.
- Lower heart rate.
- Lower blood pressure.
Limited human data shows…
- higher HDL cholesterol — that’s the good stuff!
- Lower triglyceride levels.
5. Intermittent Fasting May Reduce Cancer Risk
Animal studies suggest lower rates of cell proliferation of several cell types, plus longer survival rates and decreases in lymphoma rates.
6. You’ll Retain More Muscle Mass with Intermittent Fasting
Whether you’re a bodybuilder or not, retaining your muscle mass is critical on a diet because muscle mass is an important contributor to your metabolism. Intermittent fasting appears to be effective for the retention of lean muscle mass.
7. Intermittent Fasting May Help with Type II Diabetes Risk Reduction
8. Alternate Day Fasting May Reduce the Effects of Stress on the Cardiovascular System
Chronic stress can be extremely tough on a number of systems, especially the cardiovascular system. Animal studies suggest intermittent fasting may help reduce these effects.
9. The Side Effects of Fasting are Minor
For the most part, the worst you going to feel with intermittent fasting is occasional hunger, a bit of lightheadedness and what I call brain fog – the inability to think clearly.
While animal studies suggest fasting improves cognitive function, my personal experience is that it does… up to a point. For me, that point is around the 18-20 hour mark. I’ve got a solution to this though – stay tuned!
Supplements to Help with Intermittent Fasting
As far as I’m concerned a zero-calorie branched-chain amino acid supplement is essential when fasting.
Right now I’m stuck on using iSatori’s Amino-Amp.
I take a serving about 16 hours into my fast. It clears up the brain fog I sometimes get, and seems to suppress the desite to eat. This makes sense, as clinical data shows that leucine, one the branched chain aminos, can do just that.
Branched-chain aminos can help protect lean muscle mass. Also a good thing.
Coffee / caffeine (without sugar) also helps. But you need to use your judgement; for some people, coffee may cause an insulin response, which is exactly the sort of thing we’re looking to avoid in our fasted state.
The Bottom Line on Fasting for Weight Loss
It’s worthwhile trying.
You might hate it, you might love it, but you won’t know until you try. Missing a few meals isn’t as hard as you think, and the whole experience might surprise you. Plus, it’s simple, and cheap. 🙂
Where to Learn More
If you’re interested in learning more about intermittent fasting I recommend checking out Brad Pilon’s “Eat Stop Eat”. It’s it’s the publication that introduced me to intermittent fasting some years back.