Intermittent fasting (IMF) is a sustainable form of fasting where you limit your eating window. Recent research – while still young – suggests IMF could help burn up to 20% more body fat, extend life, regulate blood glucose, gain lean mass, and help your overall health.
What is IMF?
We all fast on a daily basis. You eat dinner. You go to bed. You wake up. In between dinner and waking you, you perform a fast. Hence, the first meal of your day is breakfast – when you break your fast.
With intermittent fasting, you are paying more attention to when you break your fast and start your next fast. This window of time between fasts is your eating window.
There are different methods for practicing intermittent fasting. Some people limit their eating window on a daily basis. There are folks who practice a daily fast on a weekly basis. Others choice to fast for multiple consecutive days on a monthly basis.
It’s important to experiment and discover what works best for you. There are different benefits to each method, but the underlying idea is the same. By controlling your eating window, you’re influencing the hormones in your body that manage food and control your energy.
And when you really think about it, fasting makes a lot of sense. Food wasn’t so abundant and convenient for the vast majority of human history. Our ancestors were forced to fast longer between meals because it took longer to acquire and prepare foods. We haven’t evolved to keep shoveling food into our face all day, every day.
In a lot of ways, IMF mimics our more natural existence.
There’s also ancient wisdom around fasting. Different forms of fasting are often practiced across a variety of religions.
I have not found any long-term, comprehensive studies, but the early research on humans and animals shows promise.
In one study, “alternate-day fasting trials of 3 to 12 weeks in duration appear to be effective at reducing body weight (≈3%-7%), body fat (≈3-5.5 kg), total cholesterol (≈10%-21%), and triglycerides (≈14%-42%) in normal-weight, overweight, and obese humans.”
Other studies have found IMF helps with:
- Reduces lipids in your blood
- Increases fat burning
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces markers of inflammation
- Increases release of growth hormones
- Improves cardiovascular function
- Improves blood sugar control
IMF Effing Works For Me
In 2016, IMF researchers started popping up on my radar, and I started experimenting.
Each experiment applied a method from a study into my life. I tried to weigh the benefits discovered in the study with what was practical for my everyday life. The different fasting styles ended up becoming exercises in self-awareness and discipline.
Fasting quickly became a pillar to my success – which is why it’s one of the 3 F’s of in my first pillar, Eating Naturally.
Over time, I found shorter eating windows in the afternoon was the easiest method for me to follow. I have no trouble skipping breakfast and exercising on an empty stomach.
Quick aside, I know there are reasons not to work out on an empty stomach, but for my goals, science gives me plenty of reason to do it. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition concluded exercising in a fasted state can help burn up to 20% more fat than in a fed state.
When I would try to eat a big breakfast in the morning and then fast into the evening, I found the hunger was much harder to manage at the end of the day.
I also founded that IMF is particularly helpful when traveling. I like to experience different cultures and cities through their food and booze. This can lead to unhealthy choices and some overeating. I found that
How IMF Could Work For You
There are a few popular methods of IMF to experiment with. As you apply these to your life, it’s important to listen to your body and monitor your hunger, mood and energy.
We want to think sustainably, so if fasting leaves your tired and irritable, it’s not going to be sustainable. There are plenty of other options for you.
Start Here: 16/8
I started my experiments with this method, and it’s generally the easiest to practice. This method involves a 16 hour fast and an 8-hour eating window.
If you eat lunch at noon and then dinner by 8 pm, congratulations! You have accomplished the 16/8 fast. I started with this fast, and now I practice a 19/5 fast on daily basis.
Complete fasts for 24 hours.
Low calories, less than 600 for 2 consecutive days. Eat normally the other five.