You've probably heard the hype by now, but what exactly is intermittent fasting - and how can you integrate it into your lifestyle?
It's not your typical longer-term fast, which can go on for days or even weeks. It only involves abstaining from food for a portion of the day. This can range from 12 to 24 hours, and you can still enjoy water and milk-free coffee and tea during this time.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to intermittent fasting, other than ensuring that all calories are consumed during your 'feeding window'. There are various ways of structuring the fasting and feeding hours, including:
- 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of feeding
- Two 24-hour fasts a week
- Fasting all day and having one large meal in the evening
- Sticking to fasting and feeding hours only every second day
I have personally found it best to alternate between all of the above approaches and vary my fasting and feeding hours.
Fasting gives the body a chance to rid itself of toxins and burn fat instead of constantly diverting so much energy to digestion.
For those who may be concerned - slowing down of the metabolism only occurs after 24 hours of fasting, when cortisol and other stress hormones are elevated and testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) lowered.
Some of the benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Fat loss and muscle gain
- Cleansing and renewal of cells
- Increase in energy
- Decrease in hunger
- Lowering of inflammation
- Improved digestion
For many years I bought into the idea of eating six meals a day in order to maintain energy and build muscle. What I didn't understand was the importance of hormones in weight and muscle management, and the effect that eating often was having on my hormones.
I have been researching health and nutrition for over eight years now, when a motorcyclye accident encouraged me to find a way to fix what doctors could not. I was told that if I didn't have surgery I may never walk again, but that if I did go ahead with it, I would lose mobility and never enjoy another trail run. Accompanying the damage to my back was IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and it was through experimenting with different ways of eating to address this that I was led to intermittent fasting and a diet of mainly wholefoods.
The benefits have been profound. I have next to no stomach issues these days, and absolutely no back pain with full mobility - without having undergone the surgery.
I still enjoy researching and experimenting with different foods, herbs, supplements and training techniques, but fasting is my staple.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Actor and model Marc Buckner is passionate about health and nutrition, and helping people achieve their goals through diet and lifestyle changes. Follow him on Instagram at @marcbuckner or @marcbuckner_health_fitness