If you are like most people, you first started researching intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. Intermittent fasting (IF) provides a great way to burn more fat and help improve your weight loss efforts, without a lot of rules and guidelines. It is very simple – you eat during feeding periods, and fast during the fasted periods. Here are some things to know about intermittent fasting and weight loss.
You Burn More Fat
So why are you able to lose weight with intermittent fasting? The first benefit for weight loss is that it helps you to burn more fat. Your body is a machine, working constantly to burn food and fat for energy. Your body will first burn the food you eat, which can take a few hours, before it starts burning fat. This is why if you have a calorie deficit, there comes a point where your body has burned your food, and then starts burning fat. With intermittent fasting, you are burning your food and have a longer period of time for burning fat. This is why it is exceptional for losing weight and burning more fat than a diet where you are eating every few hours.
Your Calories Are Reduced Naturally
One thing people don’t often consider is that you tend to eat less when you have less time to eat. You might think you will just want to eat everything in sight once your fasted period is over, but this is often not the case. Over time, you get used to going longer periods of time before eating, but you also have a reduced appetite. This in turn requires you to go for the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods before you become full from eating, which helps with what you eat, but also how much you are consuming. Your calories and carbs will likely go down naturally.
You Learn About Self-Control
Many of the weight loss benefits of intermittent fasting come completely by accident. If you have trouble with self-control and eating, intermittent fasting is a great way to start. When you first start doing IF, just stick to the protocol you chose, not worrying about what you are eating during your eating periods. If you want donuts, have donuts. If you’re craving a pizza, go for it. Over time, you will learn to practice self-control by sticking to your fasted and eating states, then you can eventually use those skills to start changing what you eat, as well as how often.
Intermittent Fasting and Low-Carb Diets
When you start researching intermittent fasting, you might notice that it is often mentioned or recommended to people who are on low-carb diets like Keto or Atkins. While intermittent fasting can definitely be done for anyone, regardless of your way of eating, it is very popular in low-carb communities. Here is more information about the link between intermittent fasting and being on a low-carb diet.
Why Low-Carbers Like Intermittent Fasting
There are many reasons people on a low-carb diet will go for intermittent fasting, but a lot of this depends on the type of diet you are doing. With a low-carb diet, you are consuming less carbohydrates, and either moderate or high protein. If you are on keto, you have moderate protein, high fat, and low carbohydrates. Atkins prefers higher protein and slightly more carbohydrates than the ketogenic diet.
For someone on a low-carb diet, you are often adjusting to your varying sugar levels, attempting to stay full in between meals. With intermittent fasting added in, you learn to stabilize those sugar levels, so you aren’t craving sugar and carbs, which you can’t have on the low-carb diet.
Intermittent Fasting and Keto
If you are on the ketogenic diet, or keto, you have probably come across intermittent fasting. It is particularly popular for keto followers due to the unique benefits it provides you. With keto, you enter a state of ketosis. This is when your body begins burning fat for fuel, instead of carbohydrates. You can really increase the fat burning potential if you are also doing intermittent fasting, burning nearly twice as much fat as you normally would. Plus, intermittent fasting allows you to more easily control the amount of carbs you consume.
Try Low-Carb First
It is really important that you not start intermittent fasting on the same day that you start your low-carb diet. These should be spread apart so that you adjust to one thing before the next. It is ideal that you start your low-carb diet first, then remain on it for at least 2-3 weeks. Once your body has adjusted and adapted to the lower amount of carbs, you can then start transitioning into your preferred method of intermittent fasting. This gives you enough time to adjust to one big change before making another big change. It is also good to try it after you have become fat adapted on a keto diet, which takes a few weeks.
Intermittent Fasting and Workouts
Figuring out when to workout and the types of workouts to do while intermittent fasting is probably in the top 3 most commonly asked questions. In short, you can definitely still do your regular workouts while doing intermittent fasting, it just might take a little tweaking as far as when you workout, including if you should do your regular routine while fasting or during the eating periods.
Do Your Workouts Before Eating
Generally speaking, you want to try to schedule your workouts for shortly before you are going to start your eating phase. Of course, this may vary based on the type of workout you do and how long you fast for. The intensity of your workouts can also make a big difference. Some people who have extremely intense workout routines, like CrossFit, find that they need the boost in protein and carbs prior to a workout. If this is the case, you may be someone who should do your workouts during your eating phase, and not your fasting phase.
Be Careful With Cardio Workouts
If you do decide to workout when you are fasting, be careful with your cardio workouts. High-intensity cardio, like running or HIIT, can be a little hard on your body when you haven’t been eating for a prolonged period of time. Don’t schedule your cardio workouts on days when you are fasting if you do the 24-hour protocols. If you are doing a 16:8 split, then you want to do cardio after you have entered your eating period, at least allowing for a protein shake or something small and healthy before starting the rigorous routine.
Benefits of Fasted Workouts
There are a few reasons to try and schedule your workouts during fasted periods, as long as you aren’t feeling sick or faint. They include:
Burning more fat – Intermittent fasting is already helping you to burn more fat, so why not increase it a little bit? You might be able to increase how much fat you burn just by doing your workouts while you are fasting.
Helping with indigestion – Exercising while fasting can also help with digestion issues. Many people find that eating shortly before or after a workout makes it harder to digest, leading to a variety of stomach problems.
Decreasing hunger – Fasted periods can be hard to handle, especially if you are accustomed to eating every few hours. One great way to decrease the hunger pangs is to workout in the middle of the fasted stage. This helps prevent you from eating when you’re not supposed to be.