First I would like to wish you all a blessed Ramadan. After this Holy Month you may want to continue to keep fit and eat healthy. Intermittent fasting is a method you may want to try. What is intermittent fasting? Before I get into that, I can clearly vouch for it.
As a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness nutrition specialist I am following this regime as I write this article.
I have also practiced intermittent fasting many times in the past. Basically, intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating and it is not a fad diet. You change the time you’re eating rather than what you eat. If you are new to fitness nutrition, this offers an easier way to adjust your lifestyle rather than through a fixed calorie diet and counting fats, carbs and proteins or what is known as Macros (Macronutrients).
If you have failed at keeping a diet, you may want to give this a go. I do it because I generally feel better and more energized for my early morning workout, but that may not work for everyone. You should also lose weight and body fat on this regime.
In this type of “going without” plan you have an 8-hour window in which to eat. However, it is very important to note you can and must hydrate during fasting times with water, coffee or tea and a little milk but no sugar.
During the eight-hour window you should eat all of your calories. Then, your body goes through the fasting state until you break your fast the next day. In many ways, this can simplify your day by reducing meal prep time. Basically, you skip breakfast (some call it the most important meal of the day…think again!).
Personally, I have never been a “get up and have a big breakfast” person. I prefer to workout and then have my protein fest! To some skeptics, this type of fasting doesn’t agree with basic nutritional practices of timed meals, especially if you work out regularly, like I do, and want to build more muscle. As a fitness nutritionist I would normally recommend a healthy amount of protein, carbs and fats following your workout in addition to certain supplements. This will be followed by timed meals. In intermittent fasting, however, you consume a meal after your fast. It is highly recommended that you workout during your fast to accelerate fat burning. You can still continue with your normal supplement regime on this fast. Before I get to timing your fasting meals let me explain how this type of fast works. Intermittent fasting can lead to fat loss because of the difference between the fasted and fed state.
A fasted state is just the state your body enters when it has burned all the food in your stomach and is taking nutrients from your fat storage. When you are digesting and absorbing food, your body is in the fed state. During this state, your insulin levels are high, which makes it difficult for your body to burn fat.
However, after this state is complete your body changes to a fasted state. Therefore, if you start intermittent fasting, you will lose weight and belly fat. When you break your fast remember to stick to a healthy diet. Of course you can have the odd cheat snack! Other claimed benefits of intermittent fasting are a drop in insulin levels (reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes), a natural increase in Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels, cellular repair (removing waste material from cells). It may also be beneficial for heart health and to prevent cancer. So now to the timing of the fast.
For a beginner I recommend that you try to fast for 12 hours a day and eat within a 12-hour window. If you eat your last meal at 8 pm, you can break your fast the next morning at 8 am. Once you have mastered that, you can do what I do and try the 16:8 method. Here you eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours.
Another method is the 20-hour fast, where you eat for only 4 hours. Some people also practice intermittent fasting for 2 days over a weekend for example. This may be an appropriate starting point. Most people lose weight while intermittent fasting because when they cut out meals, they don’t make up for it with bigger meal sizes.
Building muscle during this regime is very possible as long as you eat enough and maintain the right balance of protein, carbs and fats. As I said earlier you may feel a marked increase in energy in your early morning workout, but don’t forget to hydrate. A word of warning — Longer fasts are a bigger stress on the body, and may not be suitable for people who have already a high stress load or metabolic/blood sugar/health concerns. Its best to check with your GP first. Secondly, this type of fast may not work well with a highly active lifestyle if calories are still too restricted overall. Therefore, when you do eat make sure you eat well! There are many different opinions on intermittent fasting, some positive, others indecisive. The UK’s National Health Service questions how sustainable intermittent fasting is in the long term. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that alternate fasting days might reduce the risk of cancer in general along with other diseases.
In 2006, Medical Hypotheses published an article explaining how calorie restriction through fasting can prolong life. These are points to consider. The first few times I tried going without I did it for a few weeks. This time it has been much longer than that. It really depends on how you feel. Remember … listen to your body!
You can follow me on instagram @ fitnesstrainereddy_media for meal ideas and exercises. Email me for training or fitness tips or any questions on eddieq8@yahoo. com
By Adeeb Shuhaiber
Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist — News Anchor KTV2. FM99.7