You’re looking to lose weight/get healthy in the new year, and you’ve been hearing a lot about intermittent fasting. It’s the program where you fast for a set period of time and then feast during the others. In the new book “Intermittent Fasting for Dummies,” author Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RDN, FAND gives you a fun and easy to understand look at how this all works, the different styles of intermittent fasting and the benefits for your body and your life.
We’ve put together some fun facts about intermittent fasting to get you started!
1. Intermittent fasting doesn’t put your body into “starvation mode.”
We’ve all heard the myth that if you eat too little, your body goes into something called “starvation mode.” The idea is that if you have to little to eat, your body is going to hold onto fat and you won’t lose weight. This isn’t true at all if you’re following the plan.
If you’re starving for long periods of time, you metabolism will slow down, but even low-calorie diets don’t put your body into this state. The author explains, “When you lose weight, your body will require less calories to maintain your new body weight because there’s less of you, so you require fewer calories, a concept referred to as “metabolic adaptation.” You can offset this metabolic adaptation and keep your metabolism as high as possible when losing weight by adding in strength training exercise and making sure you eat enough protein.”
2. The concept is based on Stone Age human eating patterns.
Before grocery stores, sometimes humans didn’t have a constant source of food. Stone age humans would feast when they found food, and their bodies would adapt to times when they didn’t, breaking down fat for energy. The author explains, “This metabolic flexibility became built into human’s genetic code, producing a system where energy was stored in the form of body fat when food was available, then easily accessed for energy to enable humans to perform at a high level, physically, during extended periods when food wasn’t available.”
3. You don’t have to count calories (though you can if you wish), but there are other ways to reduce them.
You’ve heard it before. Calories in versus calories out. The thing is, counting calories is a pain in the you know what. “Intermittent Fasting for Dummies” has a chapter that explains calories, counting, the science behind them and more, but allows you to skip that part if it’s not your bag.
That said, there are plenty of tips to help you reduce them without keeping track of every little one you consume. For instance: “A relatively simple change you can make is to eliminate liquid sugar calories from your diet, such as regular sodas, fruit juices, flavored milks, and other beverages with added sugar. Live by nutritionists’ favorite tip: Don’t drink your calories.”
4. This is more than one way to do this, and you can tailor it to your lifestyle.
There are several different plans that you can choose, with different fasting intervals and nutrient plans. When you find the one that works, weight loss isn’t the only benefit. You’ll likely see other changes like having more energy, an inner calm and mental clarity.
5. Sleep can make or break you!
We all know how important sleep is, and in the book, you’ll read about studies that connect the role of eating all your calories during daylight hours versus eating most of them during evening hours. People who eat during the day tend to be leaner than people who eat most of their calories in the evening, and had a higher risk of being overweight or obese, according to this study. We also know that sleep can help you reduce stress, give you better cardiovascular health and can help with weight control. There are even tips in the book to help you get a better night sleep, like keeping the room at a controlled temperature, and changing your light sources.
6. Intermittent fasting can help with the bane of many dieters’ existence; belly fat.
Sticking to an intermittent fasting plan can help you get rid of subcutaneous fat (which is right under your skin) and the more dangerous kind, the belly fat in the abdominal cavity. As the author tells us, “Intermittent fasting causes a significant fat cell shrinkage.” There is even a study from the Department of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which found that “belly fat was reduced by a whopping 4 to 7 percent over a period of 1 1/2 to 6 months in people following intermittent fasting plans.”
7. Yes, you can still have coffee while you’re fasting! (Your co-workers will thank you.)
While you don’t consume calories during your fasting periods, you can still drink! The liquids have to be calorie-free, but liquid can help you deal with hunger and keep your hands busy. You can have water, of course, as well as the calorie-free, flavored sparkling water that is all the rage right now. You can have coffee with calorie-free sweetener, brewed or herbal tea, zero calorie sugar free gum and diet drinks. You’ll be surprised at how much this helps. Yes, though the topic is controversial, you can have artificial sweeteners. By the way, coffee not only boosts your energy, but can give you a dose of antioxidants. You can even get these from decaf if you’re caffeine sensitive.
8. You can still have wine (during the feasting periods, of course).
We’re not saying you should go out and binge drink, but you can have a glass of red wine (which is beneficial anyway) if you do drink alcohol during your feasting periods.
9. There are ways around the hunger pangs.
“Intermittent Fasting for Dummies” has a whole chapter on how to deal with hunger pangs until you’re used to your new eating plan. There are dietary adjustments like eating lean protein and well as slow-release fiber-filled complex carbs. These keep you feeling full for much longer than empty calories do. Sugarless gum has no effect on blood sugar or insulin levels, and can help reduce both sweet and salty cravings. There is even a section on how to replace your favorite junk food with something to cut the cravings and still satisfy you.
10. This isn’t just an eating plan. It’s a lifestyle plan as well.
There are tips and tricks in here to give you coping mechanisms to reduce stress, find your unhealthy eating patterns and change your behaviors. You can learn all about mindful eating, how to combat stress eating and how to break patterns you’ve had for your entire life. There is even a chapter about organizing your kitchen, navigating the grocery story and creating delicious and easy-to-make recipes!
As with any change in your lifestyle and eating plans, make sure to check with your doctor before starting. Check out “Intermittent Fasting for Dummies” on Amazon.