How can you lose weight without dieting? Mini-fasts or intermittent fasting is another “old” concept that is “new” again. Think about it this way: Paleolithic man almost certainly did not have access to daily 2,500-calorie diets rich in carbohydrates and fat.
For millennia of human history, our ancestors regularly missed food for short periods and experienced nothing like the sort of metabolic diseases our society suffers from today, e.g., diabetes, chronic fatigue, and most importantly OBESITY.
It was not until the advent of the industrial revolution and the subsequent creation of the food industry that humans began to eat daily, calorie-rich diets. Intermittent fasting is not technically a form of starvation at all, but rather a temporary state of very low or no caloric intake. Almost all mammals who walk the earth today are highly specialized organisms whose metabolic systems are highly adapted to periods of IF.
Also known as “scheduled eating,” intermittent fasting is an effective strategy for shedding excess weight, as well as reducing your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Benefits include increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency.
On the cellular level, the main target of IF is our mitochondria– the tiny metabolic engines that power every cell in our bodies. Mitochondria convert the chemical energy potential in food into electrical and mechanical energy for our bodies. Mitochondria are very dynamic–always changing in size, population and energy potential in relation to our exercise, diet and lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is simply the practice of skipping food intake for specific periods of time, generally 18-36 hours a couple of times per week. Increased food intake may result after periods of IF, so there may be no overall reduction of calories.
Dr. Michael Mosley, in his book The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting, advocates a 5:2 strategy, calling for eating regularly five days a week and fasting for two. On the fasting days, he advises cutting down to a quarter of your normal daily calories. For most of us, that equates to about 600 calories for men and 500 for women.
Not ready to commit 100% yet? Try skipping breakfast, and avoid eating at least three hours before you turn in for the evening. This will restrict your eating to an 8-hour window or less.
5 Tips for Starting Your First Fast:
Mini fasting specialists say staying well hydrated will make the fasting periods much easier to get through.
- Fast overnight:
Throw yourself a bone and aim to fast through the night. That way you are sleeping for at least eight of those hungry hours.
- Rewire your thought process:
Experts urge first timers to think of fasting as taking a break from eating, not as a period of deprivation. And won’t it be nice to stop worrying about what your next meal will be and when?
- Get Busy:
Don’t commit to a fast when you have nothing going on. Successful fasting doesn’t work well when you are lounging on the sofa wondering what’s in the fridge. Instead, hit the gym, meet a friend for a walk or tackle that garage clean-up job you’ve been meaning to get to.
- Check in With Your Doc:
As with any big diet change, it’s best to touch base with a trusted health care provider. You may have a medical condition that isn’t conducive to intermittent fasting.