Intermittent fasting becomes more and more popular, especially among people who are looking to lose weight.
Though not a lot of us actually understand what is intermittent fasting and how does it work?
The paleo diet does not originally use this dieting method, simply because weight loss is not its main priority but the healthy lifestyle, in general.
However, a lot of us start the paleo diet in a hope to lose extra pounds and inches.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a diet process where you alternate periods of fasting with the periods of unrestricted eating.
Therefore, intermittent fasting is not a diet where you are restricting certain foods, but rather a process of when you should have your meals. So it aims to change your ‘eating patterns’ rather than ‘food’ itself.
Though a diet and intermittent fasting share similar goals, in particular, health improvement and weight loss.
Fasting is not something new that was created by the modern dieting or fitness industry. Its roots derive from traditional fasting that originally has more of a spiritual meaning and is still uses in a lot of cultures and religions.
You can find the fasting being mentioned even in early texts by Plato, Socrates, and religious groups.
Traditional fasting, depending on the religion, may vary from 12 hours to one month. It may completely exclude all type of food during fasting or allow certain types.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The idea of the modern intermittent fasting is similar to the traditional one, you either do not eat food at all for a certain period or eat very little and only certain foods.
Here are the most popular types of intermittent fasting that are used as a process in order to reach certain health goals:
The idea of this type of fasting is to alternate days of fasting with days of no food restriction.
For example, Monday-Wednesday-Friday – fasting days and the rest of the weekdays are no food restriction days.
During the fasting days, no food or only 25% of daily calorie intake is allowed.
Very easy type of intermittent fasting where on 1-2 non-consecutive days of the week no food or only 25% of daily calorie intake is allowed.
During the other 5 days, there are no food restrictions.
For example, 5:2 approach advocates no food restrictions 5 days a week and on two non-consecutive days only 500-600 calories are allowed to eat.
The idea of this type of fasting is skipping one of the meals during the day by establishing only certain time-frame during the day when the food can be eaten.
In particular, 16/8 or Leangains protocol, usually skips breakfasts and restricts your meal period up to 8 hours.
For example, the eating hours are from 11 am – 7 pm alternates with fastening for 16 hours in between.
What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has been under the researcher’s radar for some time.
Many studies have been done on this topic, on both animals and humans. These studies have shown that intermittent fasting can potentially help with weight control and certain health conditions.
Here are some potential benefits of intermittent fasting could offer:
Weight loss is one of the reasons that a lot of people try intermittent fasting. By eating fewer meals, intermittent fasting may help with reduction in calorie intake.
Another thing is that certain studies showed that intermittent fasting may also change hormones level, that in its term may actually increase the metabolic rate by 3.6-14% (1).
It may also increase the release of the fat burning hormone called norepinephrine. Some studies show that intermittent fasting may be a powerful tool towards weight loss.
In 2014 research it was found that intermittent fasting caused weight loss of 3-8% over the periods of 3-14 weeks (2).
Some studies show that intermittent fasting may decrease inflammation, the cause of many chronic diseases (3)
Intermittent fasting may reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin by 20-31%.
This should help to prevent type 2 diabetes.
It may also reduce heart diseases by decreasing LDL cholesterol, blood triglyceride, inflammatory syndrome, blood sugar and insulin resistant (4).
What Studies Show
Even though there have been multiple studies done to investigate the influence of intermittent fasting on humans, there is still not enough data to surely conclude that intermittent fasting may help with weight loss.
Although there are a number of convincing animal studies showing that calorie restriction may help with weight loss, there is still not enough evidence in human studies.
Supporters of the intermittent fasting believe that intermittent fasting causes an immune response that in its turn repairs cells and produces positive metabolic changes (like reduction in LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, weight, fat, blood glucose).
However, there is an understandable concern that the followers will simply overeat during the non-fasting days to compensate calorie loss. Though, studies have not shown that to be a fair concern.
Interestingly enough a randomized trial that followed a 100 obese individuals for one year did not find that intermittent fasting to be more effective than daily calorie restriction.
Indeed, it was found that there were not any significant differences in weight loss, blood pressure or fasting insulin.
Surprisingly but those who actually ate less food than prescribed on non-fasting days ate more food than prescribed on fasting days.
Apply With Caution
It is worth to mention that intermittent fasting should not be used by people with certain medical conditions. It will not be suitable for those with conditions that require food at regular intervals due to metabolic changes caused by their medication, such as diabetes.
Those of us who have the following conditions should not use intermittent fasting:
- Use of medication that requires food intake
- Active growth stage
- Easting disorders (like anorexia or bulimia nervosa)
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding)
Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?
As I have mentioned earlier even though intermittent fasting has become quite popular, there is still not enough scientific data to support the idea that it may help with weight loss and certain medical conditions.
Moreover, there is a fair concern that people who fast certain days may just overeat on other days that in total will not make any changes.
However, some people who follow intermittent fasting report that their overall health improved and they feel lighter and healthier.
At the end of the day, there is no perfect solution in nutrition.
The best diet is the one that you can stick to in the long run. If you feel great after trying intermittent fasting for a couple of days then it may be all you need to lose weight and improve your health.
5 Tips To Go Through Intermittent Fasting
If you would like to incorporate Intermittent fasting into your current diet here are some tips to help you with that:
Tip 1. Realistically Access Which Method Of Intermittent Fasting Is For You.
It is a universal tip for any diet you try.
Find a solution that you will be able to commit in a long run.
If you decide that intermittent fasting is something that you would be able to stick to, look at all the methods available and pick the one that you will be able to follow for as long as possible.
You could also modify the intermittent fasting idea to meet your daily schedule and health goals and objectives.
For example, some people modify time-restricted fasting by decreasing the fasting time to the level of their comfort. A very popular timeframe for fasting is 12 hours.
That way you could have meals from 6am-6pm and 12 hours in between is a fasting time.
Tip 2. Focus On Protein And Fiber-Rich Foods On Fasting Days
If you follow alternate-day or whole-day fasting it is important to fill your plate with foods that will make you feel full, usually rich in fiber foods taken with plenty of water.
Protein consumption is another way to make you feel full for some time and commit to the low-calorie intake.
Tip 3. Do Not Overexercise On Fasting Days
As your body goes through a lot of stress it is not recommended doing high-intense physical activity during the fasting days.
Also, during the fasting days, you do not consume enough fuel to burn.
That is applicable to both cardio and weight lifting exercises.
If you are looking to do any type of workouts stick to walking, gentle yoga or stretching.
Tip 4. Drink Enough Water
It is a fair statement for any type of diet you chose.
It is very important to make sure to drink at least 2 liters of water during the day.
On fasting days drinking water with high-fiber foods helps to fight hunger and stick to the plan.
Tip 5. Know When To Stop
If you experience dizziness, fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating, lightheadedness or any other unusual to your symptoms you should stop fasting.
How To Apply Intermittent Fasting On The Paleo Diet
The paleo diet is already a restrictive type of diet where certain foods like gluten, grains, sugar, and dairy are already excluded from the diet.
Therefore, if you are at the beginning of the journey adding more stress to your body by restricting all types of food for a certain period of times might be not even healthy, because you might put your body on a constant calorie deficit.
If you have been paleo diet for some time and know the approximate calorie value of your meals, intermittent fasting might be a great option.
You may also notice that you stopped losing weight and your scales do not move no matter what you do.
For some people, it is a sign to switch to another diet and come back to Paleo once the plateau is broken.
Intermittent fasting might be a great solution as it will stress the body enough to start using fat as fuel again.
There is not really recommended on what type of intermittent fasting to chose if you decide to incorporate intermittent fasting into your paleo lifestyle.
However, time-restricted fastening is probably the most gentle version of intermittent fasting, yet powerful enough to keep losing weight following the paleo diet principles.