A Quick Guide To Intermittent Fasting (and How and Why It Works)
Recently, you may have heard more and more people talking about intermittent fasting in terms of being one of the most powerful tools you can use to lose weight and gain muscle. But what is it? Is it a diet? Is it a fad? There is certainly no shortage of information on the web about intermittent fasting, and we here at Beach Baby would be remiss if we didn’t give our 2 cents on the matter, with ideal beach weather arriving soon. Besides, who wouldn’t love to drop a pound or two?
In this quick and hopefully fun guide to intermittent fasting, we want to chat about what it’s all about, and share with you some of our favourite videos we’ve seen that talk about intermittent fasting, and then comment after the video, adding our humble opinion on why we think these folks are on the right track.
By the end of this article, we think you’ll have a much better idea of what intermittent fasting is all about, so don’t skip the videos. Let’s get started!
Dr. Eric Berg
Let’s start with one of our favourite doctors on Youtube, Dr. Eric Berg. In the following video, Dr. Berg provides us with a breakdown of what intermittent fasting is and how it works from a health practitioners perspective. Let’s have a look!
Let’s recap. As Dr. Berg states, intermittent fasting is not a diet, because there is no one telling you what you should or should not eat. In fact, intermittent fasting is a strict period of time in which eating occurs, followed by a period where you are fasting, or not eating.
The general idea with intermittent fasting is that the smaller you can make your eating window, the more fat you’re going to burn, while still keeping and even adding muscle.
Sleeping takes up majority of the fasting time, but there are benefits to holding off on breakfast, to help promote addition fat burning. Luckily, many people don’t feel like eating right when they wake up, and so Dr. Berg says to go with that instinct and perhaps not eat for even up to several hours. This seems to contradict the conventional wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Intermittent fasting responds to this by saying, sure, as long as you don’t eat breakfast right away. Try to extend the fasting benefits as much as possible when you wake up, and then start eating a little later. Maybe even throw a workout in there before that first meal.
From person to person, there are no hard and fast rules for intermittent fasting in terms of how small your ideal eating window should be. You have to figure this out for yourself, according to what will work best for you in terms of your sleeping patterns, work schedule, and so forth.
Dr. Berg stresses that when it comes to intermittent fasting, cutting calories is not the idea here. You simply want to extend the period of time in which you do not eat, so that your body can start burning up your fat stores, rather than always metabolizing the food you just ate. That makes sense to us.
Other important information Dr. Berg mentions relates to the fact that most people who are overweight have issues with insulin, and that certain important hormones (ie. growth hormone) that might normally aid a person in burning fat / losing weight are blocked by spikes of insulin we experience when we “graze” or snack throughout the day. As he mentions in the video, you can’t lose weight in the presence of insulin, so that’s something to think about for sure if that is your goal.
Alright, now that we’ve got a better idea of what intermittent fasting basically is, let’s look at some more awesome videos we’ve found that really shed light on the whole topic.
Here’s a great video posted last year by Brix Fitness. Robert Glover, the man behind Brix Fitness, is someone who has undergone an amazing transformation from, as he puts it, “double chin to six pack”. Part of his weight loss journey has included intermittent fasting, which he talks about in the following video. Have a look!
We love this video because it not only talks about what intermittent fasting is and how to do it, but it shows someone who has put it to use in a big way to lose fat and gain lean muscle. For those of us who struggle with our weight, looking at Robert can give us hope, not just because he has lost a lot of weight himself and successfully kept it off, but because when he explains intermittent fasting, he does it in such a personal way that you just want to sit back and listen. His friendly, easy to grasp approach, goes a long way here.
Like Dr. Berg, Robert talks about how intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating, not a diet. He explains that his personal window is about 8 hours, and he breaks down how he goes about it. He doesn’t get into what exactly he’s eating (watch his channel to find out more about his daily habits), but one encouraging thing he says here is not to be too strict with yourself. Cheat days are allowed, and he stresses the fact that being too rigid with yourself is not going to help you adapt the interimittent fasting lifestyle. In other words, take it slow and go easy on yourself. Mistakes are going to happen, and you almost have to expect them to an extent.
Another important thing that Robert mentions is the idea of when a fast is broken. When he was getting used to the lifestyle, he used to drink energy drinks to help him go without eating for longer periods, although he does mention that technically speaking, energy drinks do break a fast. If you are seriously fasting, you can only really consume water, as it doesn’t trigger your metabolic processes. Nearly everything else you consume will, and that starts to defeat the purpose of the fast, which is to allow your body to burn your fat stores, not the energy you consume from other things.
Also, he talks about the idea of being in a caloric deficit at the end of the day, which is what is needed to lose weight. How can this be achieved? Eating less would be one way, and unless you eat like a fiend during the time that you do eat (ie. your eating window), you’re probably going to tend towards less calories during a 24 hour period, which will help you lose some of that stubborn weight you’ve been hanging on to. Robert has made this part of his life, and that’s another reason he’s done so well with it.
Next we are going to look at a video by Natalie Corona, who is a mom and personal trainer who likes to take a holistic approach to fitness. In this video, she explains how intermittent fasting fits into her overall fitness regime, with some of the things she says here being perhaps a little surprising to some.
As someone who seems to love food quite a bit, you might be surprised to see this mom of 2’s mid-section, imagining that she must at the gym all day every day, with a crazy fast thrown in just for good measure. But, as this video shows, this is not at all the case for Natalie.
Natalie goes into some detail about the concept of macros, as in macronutrients, and how she’s changed her eating habits around those. What is surprising is how this relatively thin girl says “I’m all about the fat!”, meaning she changed her diet and her consumption of good fats, and started steering away from things like fruit, fruit being typically thought of as a good healthy snack for most people. It so happened that fruit was causing some issues with yeast, due to the amount of sugar in fruit, sugar also doing bad things to a person’s skin.
Instead, its all about fats and proteins for Natalie, as well as meat. Hearing her talk about big cheeseburgers and meat and cheese in general, not to mention the fact that she doesn’t seem to live at the gym, might seem odd to some of us. For those who struggle with weight loss, there is a belief that one thing you ought to do is work out hard, and for a long time. Like really sweat you brains out at the gym, right? Well, Natalie doesn’t do that, and it doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting her that she doesn’t do that. In fact, she looks amazing. Sooo…what gives?
Well, based on what she says in this video, Natalie is a big fan of customizing your lifestyle to your own life, which makes a lot of sense, of course. This means, no two people will have the same meal plan. Our bodies need different things at different times, and it is up to us to explore our own bodies and habits and decide what is best for us. Tweaking your own individual plan for a healthy life is the name of the game here, and we couldn’t agree more.
That said, there are some tips we can derive from this video that are worth a try. Such as, trying to avoid grains and dairy (although she seems to love cheese). As Natalie says, she’s not uber strict on how she goes about things, and will eat bread sometimes, but she just doesn’t stock her house with it.
In terms of fitness habits, she seems to love the high incline treadmill while walking slowly, over running quickly on a flat surface. She’ll also do less reps but make them count more, and then stop when she’s tired. We gotta say, she does sound like a very sensible gal, so why not try some of what she suggests? Like putting heavy whipping cream in your tea instead of milk or creamers. Alrighty then!
Overall, we love Natalie’s approach to intermittent fasting, and there’s a lot more info on her channel as well.
Next we have Michael Dickson, a fitness buff who points to intermittent fasting as the answer to the question everyone asks him, which is…how did you get that physique? Take a look!
Once again, Michael says what has been said by everyone throughout this article which is that intermittent fasting is a way of eating, not really a diet at all. He puts it simply by saying that if you manage your macros and maintain a healthy diet, you’re set.
Going into more detail, Michael mentions how there are a variety of intermittent fasts one can do, which are essentially all based on the same strategy, but are customized for a person’s particular lifestyle and schedule. For himself, he says he likes the “16 and 8 protocol”, which means, as you might expect, fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours. Simple enough, right?
We like how Michael explains the process of establishing your eating window. He mentions that if you want to aim for, say, a 2-10pm window of eating, then you’re going to wake up, skip breakfast, and learn to push back lunch until 2pm, at which point your window opens and you’re free to eat until 10pm. Of course, it is strongly implied here that you should not go crazy and stuff your face for 8 hour straight. Have your lunch, then your supper some time later, and add in some snacks. Michael mentions his window is from 4pm until midnight, and he even mentions having <gasp!> beer sometimes.
This leads to our next comment on what Michael talks about here, which is that we really do appreciate how he manages to defuse the idea of guilt that many of us feel who are trying to lose weight. For those of us who aren’t “there” yet, as in looking exactly how we want to look, food and guilt go together, and so one bad move can trigger another bad decision, and it just spirals out of control from there.
Based on what Michael is saying, as long as you make a good honest effort to incorporate intermittent fasting into your life, daily, you will see results. And then, once you’ve established generally good eating habits, having chicken wings that odd time (with fries), or making pancakes with chocolate chips on a holiday, isn’t going to send you back to former no holds barred eating habits. In a way, you can learn to appreciate these “treats” more because you behave yourself most of the time, and hopefully see the results you want to see to become a healthier person.
The final point we will touch on based on what Michael said really cuts to the heart of the matter in a lot of ways when it comes to intermittent fasting, and that’s the regulation of insulin. Dr. Berg mentioned this as well. As Michael says, when you eat the muffin on the way to work in the morning, your body produces insulin which then blocks growth hormone, which is what your body needs to lose fat / gain muscle. That one little muffin has already sabotaged your day to an extent, as the hormones needed for you to stay in good shape are now thrown off. As such, this gets to a major point here, which is that unregulated production insulin is a big part of why we can’t lose weight, and intermittent fasting tends to deal with this problem, fixing our metabolism as we get used to our new fasting protocol.
Michael adds, it is good to work out towards the end of the fasting period, so that you can optimize your fat burning potential. For instance, you could wake up, do a workout, and then eat sometime after that, and you will have greatly assisted in doing away with some of the pesky fat stored on your body, as you picked the right time to target it.
As with the others we’ve watched today, there is much more information on Michael’s channel as well, so be sure and give it a look!
Hopefully this article has provided you with a little guided tour of what intermittent fasting is all about, and possibly piqued your interest as to whether you may wish to try it. If you try it, and it works for you, comment below. We’d love to hear from you!