The Basics of Intermittent Fasting

by Haley Brandstater

Intermittent fasting might seem miserable to some since you aren’t eating for hours at a time, but sticking to this routine can actually produce the opposite result!

It is common to assume this plan can result in low energy and potential grumpiness. Ever heard of the term “hangry”? But there are numerous positive results that could be a game changer in your life. Let’s begin with the basics.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) does not necessarily focus on changing what you eat but more importantly it focuses on when you eat. When exploring the topic, you will commonly see the phrase “Delay, Don’t Deny” referred to often, referencing a well-written IF book by Gin Stephens.

When following an IF routine, calorie counting is eliminated, you do not isolate food groups, and you do not have to cut alcohol. IF is a time-restricted eating cycle executed through periods of eating and fasting. There are plenty of informative resources, however, The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, co-hosted by Gin Stephens and Melanie Avalon is one of the best places to start. The podcast is grounded in information about IF and is also quite humorous.

How does IF work?

To oversimplify, when your body goes 12 hours without food, it starts making changes. When you are eating (not in a fasting state) your body gets energy from the food you eat. However, during a fasting state, your body gets energy from its last reserve – fat. Therefore, the longer you fast, the more fat your body will burn. When you fast you are depleting your body of glycogen stores.

Once glycogen stores are gone, fat stores are released into your bloodstream to be converted into energy molecules in the liver. These are called “ketones”. Ketones suppress our hunger hormones and that is why you have intense energy highs when you normally might not.

What are the benefits?

You may be wondering what all the craze is about. What can it do for you and what are the benefits?

Honestly, the answers are endless while the results are fairly quick. Some of the most common benefits are weight loss, higher levels of energy, and lower risk for diseases.

Weight loss can happen rapidly if you stick to your fasting window and come directly from your body running off of fat stores versus food. It seems counterintuitive to think you will experience higher energy levels while fasting but it is a proven study nonetheless.

When your body is running on food or a high amount of sugar it will burn those items first because they give our system a quick source of energy. You will most likely experience a drop in blood sugar shortly after, and in turn, feel a significant drop in energy. However, if you deprive your body of food/sugar for a certain amount of time, your body will revert to burning stored fat. When your body is burning stored fat for fuel it does so without a drop in blood sugar, meaning no drop in energy according to Dr. Anne Zauder.

There are many ways to practice IF and it can be adjusted to fit your lifestyle. You can open your “window” for eating whenever you choose. I typically fast on a 16:8 schedule – this is also a great routine for beginners. My window opens at noon and closes at 8 pm. Therefore, I fast for 16 hours (your eating window is 8 hours).

If you live a highly active lifestyle, this should yield good results for you. On the other hand, if you are forced to sit for the majority of the day, you may need to shorten the feeding window to 4-6 hours to yield better results. Commit to a realistic schedule depending on your goals and lifestyle. Some people choose to exclude the weekend for the purpose of balance. While this is a personal choice, the decision should again be based on your goals and lifestyle. Results will be directly correlated to the level of commitment.

If you want to see fat loss quickly, practicing IF on a daily basis is a proven successful program. There are endless ways to incorporate it’s routine no matter what type of schedule, career, or social life you lead. Just like anything else, you have to prioritize, plan ahead, and commit to your windows.

NFM Staff
Author: NFM Staff

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