Before I say anything about fasting and what method may be good for you, I need to say this: DO NOT incorporate fasting into your regimen if you don’t have a good relationship with food, and DEFINITELY DO NOT incorporate fasting into your regimen if you think it’s a definite answer to fat loss.
Ok, glad that’s over.
As you may have guessed from the title of this article, there are many different methods you can try when it comes to fasting, but I’d like to go over fasting in general before we get into the details of each method I’m including in this article. Keep in mind that not every fasting approach is best for every person. As an online fitness trainer, I can help you discover the best approach to fasting that you should try or if you should even try one. For more information about fasting, contact me today.
I already know what you’re thinking.
“Fasting? Are you kidding me? If I go three hours without food I’ll die. Or I’ll lose all of my progress, which will make me die. I CAN’T FAST!”
This is when I slap you in the face through the article and tell you to pull yourself together.
You can fast, and you may actually end up being a huge fan of it.
Fasting has been a part of many different cultures and religions for thousands and thousands of years. Do you really think that’s some sort of coincidence? I don’t. There are many different benefits to fasting that ancient societies/cultures have appreciated for a very long time. With the advancement of science and technology, we’re able to look at fasting on a deeper level and fully understand the benefits of this ancient practice.
Below are some of the great benefits of fasting:
Increased mental clarity
Improved absorption of nutrients
Improved body composition (less fat, more muscle)
Improved gut health
Improved insulin sensitivity
“Sure, fasting may work for those people, and it may have some benefits, but I just don’t see how I can go that long without food!”
I completely understand how you feel.
When we think of fasting, we immediately attach a negative emotion to it, because we’ve likely only heard of fasting on drastic levels. We hear stories of spiritual and/or influential people fasting for days at a time, sometimes a whole month!
Do we need to do the same to reap the benefits?
Heck no. Praise God.
Most of the benefits I mentioned above come into play within 12 hours of fasting, and they really begin to have a positive effect on the body around 14-16 hours into a fast.
Still thinking that going 12+ hours without food sounds completely miserable? Don’t worry. It’s not that bad, and there are a few different strategies you can use to incorporate fasting into your life.
DIFFERENT FASTING METHODS
Although there are many different ways to fast, I’d like to discuss three different strategies that I use and find extremely beneficial to my health.
THE 16:8 METHOD
This method is one of the most common intermittent fasting methods used. It’s pretty basic and easy to follow. The 16 represents the number of hours spent fasting, while the 8 represents the eating window in which you eat your calories for the day.
There are also a couple of different ways you can use the same strategy with different hours. I enjoy changing it to 14:10, that way I’m getting the benefits of fasting while having a longer eating window. I enjoy having a longer eating window, as my caloric intake is higher than normal while working toward some new goals. When I’m at maintenance calories or in a deficit, eating all of my calories in eight hours isn’t quite as difficult.
Applying this method to your life isn’t too difficult, especially if you use your sleep to go towards the 16 hours of fasting. An easy way to apply this is by eating your last meal around 5 or 6pm, and then reintroducing food around 9 or 10am the next day. For me, I usually stop eating around 8pm, and then I’ll eat again around 12 or 1pm the following day.
Do you have to do this every single day to reap the benefits? No, of course not. Listen to your body. If you feel like your system needs a break from the endless food intake, then give it a break. I enjoy using intermittent fasting on my rest days when I’m not eating as much food as I do on my training days.
THE 5:2 METHOD
This method is perfect for those of you who feel like fasting is too much to handle at the moment. The five represents five days of normal eating while the two represents two days of eating a significantly lower amount of calories.
A simple way of using this is by eating as you normally would for five days out of the week, and then eating very little food for two days that are apart from each other. On the two days that you eat a lower amount of calories, intake may be under 500 calories and those calories may include nutrient dense whole foods like fruits and veggies.
This isn’t technically fasting, but one of the things you may experience is improved gut health, digestion, and nutrient absorption. Although you’re not completely going without food for an extended period of time, you’re giving your digestive system a break from all the work it’s been doing, which might allow it to better absorb the nutrients it takes in on a regular basis when you reintroduce it to your normal daily caloric intake.
Once again, you don’t have to follow this every single week of your life for it to work. It may be a good method to use to introduce yourself to fasting without completely “ripping the bandaid.” I’ve used this a few times before, but I don’t find it to be the best for me as I’d rather go completely without food and get used to it rather than tease my body with a few hundred calories here and there.
THE 24-HOUR METHOD
Aside from the 16:8 method, the 24 hour method is one I’ll use every once in a while. It’s pretty self-explanatory. You’d simply go 24 hours without food.
There is only one way you can go about this, as there are only 24 hours in a day, and that’s the amount of time you’re fasting for.
Applying this to your day can be difficult, since it is a long time to go without eating. I DO NOT recommend this if you’ve never fasted before. If you’ve experienced fasting and you’ve incorporated it into your life, the 24 method may work well for you. I can’t tell you how everyone makes it work well for them as I don’t know everyone’s story, but what I can do is tell you what I do to make fasting for 24 hours doable.
During long fasts that are 24+ hours, I like to utilize coffee and water. Why coffee? Well, it’s delicious. Duh. But seriously, the caffeine in coffee can help suppress appetite, so I find myself less hungry while sipping on coffee throughout the day. Having some liquid in my stomach also helps my body believe it’s full. That’s the reason I drink a lot of water, too. The more water I have in me, the fuller I feel. I also enjoy using carbonated water, as the carbonation really helps me feel satiated.
The negative effects of fasting may be more noticeable during a 24+ hour fast. I notice that I get really hungry and tired around the 16 hour mark. After I get past that hump, the mental clarity and focus comes back.
One of the main reasons I enjoy the 24 hour fast is because I notice significant differences in my body afterward. When I refeed (reintroduce my body to food), I feel like a completely new person. It’s funny that happens because fasting actually helps your body get rid of old and/or dead cells. I also notice a huge difference in my performance while training after I refeed. I notice that my body fully accepts and completely utilizes all of the nutrients I give it after a fast.
You see, our bodies are like a sponge.
If the body is constantly being bombarded with calories and nutrients, it may become less capable of fully utilizing those nutrients. When a sponge has water constantly being poured over it, it’ll eventually stop soaking up as much water. When the sponge is drained, it’s now set up to soak up tons and tons of water. When the body is “drained” and given a break, it’s now in a position to fully soak up and utilize the fuel it’s being given. The old cells die off, and new cells are working hard.
The 24 hour method is something that can be used every once in a rare while. I like to use it three to five times a year. I don’t keep track, but I’ll throw a fast in here and there if I feel my body needs it.
IS FASTING FOR YOU?
I believe that everyone should use fasting so they can feel and understand the benefits at some point in their life. There are so many positives that come from fasting and I truly believe that an individual’s health and digestion can improve with it.
However, that doesn’t mean that I recommend that you fast just for giggles. Although it’s very beneficial, it’s a serious practice, too. It’s not something to be taken lightly. If you aren’t in sound health and/or don’t have a good relationship with food and your body, I don’t recommend that you fast. If you do think it’s something you’d like to try out, be sure to talk to your doctor first and make sure they feel you’re ready for it.
THANKS FOR READING!
Thank you for taking time out of your day to hear what I have to say, I truly appreciate it. No matter where you’re at along your health and fitness journey, remember you can reach out to an online fitness trainer to help you live healthier and be more fit. I’m here to help you take that next step, whatever that might look like. From a simple note of encouragement to completely custom-tailored coaching. I’m here to serve you. God bless.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam is a Colorado-based fitness professional and cookie fanatic. After hanging up the cleats, he found a strong interest in the human body and how it performs. Since then, Adam has been helping people all around the world transform their body, mind, and spirit through fitness in a fun and encouraging environment. If you’re interested in having Adam coach you to your goals, fill out an application here.