Prehistoric humans hunted for food and had almost no ways of conserving it for long periods. They had to consume all they could and potentially endure long periods of starvation until their next meal. One could argue that our very organisms have evolved around this concept that we now call intermittent fasting or IF. Let’s explore intermittent fasting and its benefits.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Regardless of the reason, being either diet, religion, or health, people fast and often experience great results. During Intermittent fasting you restrict the time at which you consume food and fast for a specified amount of time.
Ancient hunter-gatherers did not have the privilege to eat whenever they wanted. In fact, some consider fasting more natural than the traditional form of eating 3 meals a day.
What Are The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
When you fast, the levels of human growth hormone in your body increase up to 5 times, which has proven incredibly useful to both muscle growth and weight-loss. Moreover, the Insulin levels in your body drop quicker, which leads to the body accessing fat reserves easier during intense exercise.
While fasting, your organism increases the levels of cellular repair and triggers autophagy. During autophagy, old cells get replaced with new ones.
The Most Common Forms of Intermittent Fasting
The most common forms of IF (Intermittent fasting) used among athletes worldwide are 16-hour and 18-hour fasts. Other methods include:
- 16/8 method of fasting, which means you should skip breakfast and eat only during a time window of 8 hours, afterwards fast for 16 hours and repeat. In case you are exercising, it is a good idea to exercise at the end of your fast and follow up with a meal.
- 18/6 method of fasting, the same as the one above with the only difference that it is more hardcore and harder to pull off since you need to stay hungry for 18 hours a day.
- The Eat-Stop-Eat method, this means a 24-hours fast, followed by regular eating. A usual week of this method would include 1 or 2 days of 24-hours fasts and the rest would be regular eating days.
- The 5:2 diet – is the lighter version of the one above. Many people would usually try this one first and then proceed to the Eat-Stop-Eat methods. It is built around eating around 500 calories on two non-consecutive days and eating regularly on others.
Most gym-goers and athletes prefer 16/8 or 18/6 since they are more flexible and require less planning. Doing a heavy workout session during your 24 hour fast when your body has less energy is not the best idea.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Combine With Exercise?
If you have picked the 16/8 or 18/6 method it is a great idea to put your workout at the end of the fasting cycle and reward yourself with a big meal post-workout. Like a true ancient hunter-gatherer who has to work hardest just before his meal, you can stress your body most to work hard for the much-deserved meal.
Intermittent fasting can be a great compliment to a regular workout routine. However, you should never engage in any diet or food restrictions without first consulting a dietician or physician.