6 Things You Should Know About Intermittent Fasting

6 Things You Should Know About Intermittent Fasting

Written By: Evan Shaulson

Intermittent fasting is all the rage these days.  Athletes, fitness professionals, and celebrities alike are endorsing intermittent fasting as the next big thing for weight loss and lifestyle enhancement.  But what is it?  In the simplest of terms, intermittent fasting consists of alternating between periods of fasting with periods of compensatory feeding.  A quick Google search will leave you with dozens of protocols and guidelines to get you started.  But before you jump in and give it a try, here are six things you should know before trying intermittent fasting:

1.    Fasting isn’t as crazy as it sounds

Prolonged fasting has only very recently stopped being a part of people’s daily routines.  Thousands of years ago, our biologically identical ancestors had no choice but to fast for extended periods of time, often for days at a time.  As a result, our body’s biological systems have evolved to work optimally and efficiently in the fasted state.  After a brief adjustment period, you’ll find that fasting for a few extra hours everyday can be very easy and beneficial.   

2.    There are simple tricks to make fasting easier and more enjoyable

Simple tricks, including drinking sparkling water and coffee, chewing gum, and eating piece of fruit when genuine hunger starts to set in will make fasting absolutely effortless.  Drinking sparkling water will soothe the morning stomach grumbles, the caffeine will help blunt your appetite and chewing gum will slow the release of hunger signals from your digestive tract.  You might even start looking forward to your morning cup of coffee more than that muffin or egg sandwich that you usually have for breakfast. 

3.    Fasting can make eating more enjoyable, even at a calorie deficit

This one is the most intuitive.  If you’re eating all of your food in a smaller window of time, you get to eat big meals that include your favorite foods everyday.  If you wake up at 7:00am and fast until 1:00pm, then you’ve effectively saved the calories you would’ve eaten in the morning for later in the day.  That means that you have an extra meal’s worth of calories to play with during your eating window.  Those extra calories could be the guacamole to go with your chicken at dinner, a side of fries, or even a chocolate bar.

4.    Fasting promotes faster fat loss

During a fast, your body naturally produces more of the hormones and neurotransmitters that promote rapid fat loss.  Likewise, fasting keeps your bloodstream clear of energy storage hormones like insulin for a greater proportion of the day.  As long as you’re maintaining a calorie deficit, this equates to faster fat loss.  Worried about losing muscle?  Fasting has actually been shown to increase the activity of growth hormone to preserve your muscle tissue during the fast at the expense of fat tissue.  

5.    Fasting can make you more productive

Fasting promotes the activation of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system and the release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.  Norepinephrine is associated with attention, alertness, and physical stimulation.   In fact, ADHD medications, like Adderall, exert their effect by increasing levels of norepinephrine and another neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain.  This norepinephrine-induced state of energized alertness will keep you surprisingly productive and energized while you fast.  

6.    You don’t have to follow any dogmatic protocols

There are tons of intermittent fasting protocols out there.  The Alternate Day Diet, Eating Windows, The Warrior Diet, Eat-Stop-Eat, and the list goes on and on.  Most of them call for a strict adherence to a set of rules about when and what to eat.  However, once you understand the principles of intermittent fasting, you can tailor your own protocol that can be as flexible or as strict as you need it to be.  Ultimately, learning the principles that make fasting effective will give you more tools to creatively construct a dietary protocol that leaves you feeling satisfied, even at a calorie deficit, every day. 

Want to Learn more? Check out my Comprehensive guide to intermittent fasting: