How Intermittent Fasting Works

Image Credit: Viktor Hanacek / Picjumbo

by – Since the 1980’s when fitness came to the forefront of mainstream consciousness there has been a never ending cycle of fad diets. From no-carb, to low carb, the all juice diet, the cleanse and the caveman… the list goes on and on.

In recent years intermittent fasting has moved more into the mainstream and reached a level of popularity that will soon make it the “in” diet. Should you try it and is it worth your time? While the diet has helped many lose weight, the ease of use isn’t what most expect.

Here’s how intermittent fasting works.

The Basics

Intermittent fasting attempts to influence a spike in natural growth hormone to help you shed pounds. Some studies have estimated an increase of up to 1000% in your growth hormone during and following a period of fasting.

On the diet you would separate your day into two large blocks of time. Eating and not eating. You’d fast for 12-14 hours, and avoid all solid food and then consume all your daily calories in the subsequent block of time. You repeat this process everyday until you’re finished with the diet.

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Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

The short answer is, yes, it works when followed with a high degree of discipline. The long answer, if you ask many health professionals is the weight loss benefits are more of a by-product of you behaving in a more disciplined manner and not necessarily a hormonal reaction to structured eating periods.

Because you’re compartmentalizing all your calories to a specific block of time each day it makes it easier for you to track calories. There are also fewer opportunities to binge eat because you aren’t allowed to eat at the prime snacking hours like late at night.

The other benefit of the intermittent fasting is the shear size of your meals. When you compress the time allowed to eat without significantly diminishing the allowed calories it means your meals are going to be absolutely huge.

This gives dieters greater satisfaction because they eat big meals and avoid that constant feeling of hunger and food deprivation during the eating hours.

While many have experienced great success on the diet it’s hard to quantify how much effect the science of intermittent dieting has on your weight loss. Is it really because your growth hormones kicked in or are you just more disciplined on this kind of diet compared to something like weight watchers.

If you applied this same kind of discipline to any other diet wouldn’t you experience the same success?

While it would be very difficult to pinpoint the results squarely on intermittent fasting, it is hard to question the results most people experience.

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Is It Hard To Do?

“Fasting” is a scary dieting word and for most people it’s just not practical. If you’re a busy mom, or working professional you eat when you can because free time is very rare.

It can also create mood swings and periods of low energy especially in the morning.

With that said there are varying degrees of intermittent fasting diets. Some people can fast for 12 hours and experience tremendous results while others will fast for up to 18 hours each day and only eat during the remaining six.

The more extreme your fasting period the more quickly weight is likely to come off. Jumping straight into a hard core intermittent fasting routine is never recommended though, because it’s difficult for the most disciplined fitness professionals to follow these kind of routines.

Instead, if you’d like to gain the benefits without testing the resolve of human discipline, try progressively increasing your fasting periods. Start out with an 8 hour fast and work your way up to a 12-14 hour fast.

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