Dr. Mercola recently put out his top 10 articles for 2013. One of the articles in his top 10, addresses the concept of intermittent fasting, a way of eating I’d like to discuss here…
Mercola believes that intermittent fasting is one of the most powerful ways to get our bodies into a fat burning mode and reduce feelings of hunger. He also views it as a powerful tool for weight loss.

What is Intermittent Fasting, anyways?

Simply put, intermittent fasting means fasting for short periods and eating all of you calories during a specific window of time . It’s not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern. Mercola suggests skipping breakfast and eating lunch after a mid-morning workout. Dinner, according to him, should be consumed three hours prior to bedtime, so that you’re eating within an 8-hour time frame every day. In the 6-8 hours that you do eat, Mercola stresses the importance of eating healthy proteins, minimizing carbs like pasta and bread and potatoes and eating healthy fats like butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and nuts. He also stresses the importance of eating nutrient-rich foods and avoiding processed foods, which could have damaging effects on your body.

Why Fast?

Intermittent fasting is said to help shift you to fat burning mode from carb burning mode. It is also said to diminish cravings for sugar and snack foods, melt fat away, and make it easier to maintain a healthy body weight. Furthermore, research has confirmed that fasting can:

• Normalize insulin and leptin sensitivity
• Normalize ghrelin (the “hunger hormone) levels
• Promote human growth hormone production (which slows the aging process and play an important role in maintaining health, fitness and longevity, including promotion of muscle growth, and boosting fat loss)
• Lower triglyceride levels
• Reduce inflammation and lessen free radical damage
• Radically improves the beneficial bacteria in your gut, improving your immune system, sleep, energy level, and mental clarity.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

When you eat a meal your body takes a few hours to process the food you’ve just consumed, burning the energy it can afford to burn. When you eat often, the body burns energy from the food you recently consumed instead of from the fat you have stored. During fasting, the body is more likely to pull energy from the fat that you have stored because it does not have a recently consumed meal to use as energy. This promotes weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight.

Why does this work?

Steve Kamb author of “The Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting” states: “Our bodies react to energy consumption (eating food) with insulin production. Essentially, the more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you’ll be to use the food you consume efficiently, which can help lead to weight loss and muscle creation.” Glycogen is depleted during sleep, and even more so during a workout – this means that the meal consumed immediately after your work out will be stored much more efficiently when practicing intermittent fasting. In other words, fasting makes our bodies sensitive to insulin, and retrains the body on how to efficiently store food.

What a Day of Fasting Could Look Like

11am – Workout, preferably strength training
12pm- Immediately consume half your calories for the day
7pm- Eat the rest of your calories
8pm-12pm Fast for 16 hours

My Tips and Tricks

First of all I just want to say, that intermittent fasting might not be for everyone. Research has shown that women and man react difficulty to fasting and that women often do not benefit in the same way as men do. The truth is, everyone is different and will react differently. For some of you, intermittent fasting may be highly effective. While for others, it may produce very little results.

If you are thinking of trying it, I suggest doing it gradually and recording your progress. Start by minimizing the amount of food you eat in the morning until you are not eating until lunch. Keep a journal and record how you feel and your energy level. The first few days will be difficult, however your body will eventually retrain itself and hunger pangs and cravings should disappear. If they don’t, maybe fasting isn’t for you. Or perhaps you aren’t eating enough food…

I can’t stress enough the importance of eating the right amount of calories. Intermittent fasting is not about cutting calories; it’s about changing your eating pattern. It is incredibly important that you continue to consume the nutritious, whole foods providing your body with the nutrients it needs. If not, you could seriously harm your health.

Lastly, it’s important to be realistic. Don’t expect to drop to 8% body fat and get ripped just by skipping breakfast. Intermittent fasting is about adopting healthier habits, eating better foods, and getting stronger. If you are happy with your current level of health, great! Keep doing what you’re doing. If not, intermittent fasting might be the answer you are looking for. Do your own research before starting, and make sure that fasting is right for you!

Have you ever fasted? What were the results? Leave us your comments below and be sure to share this blog with your family and friends. Knowledge is power!

References
http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/08/06/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/
http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2013/01/18/intermittent-fasting-approach.aspx