IF is one of the tools you will be taking advantage of during this fat loss journey so it makes sense to explain to you what it is and more importantly what it is not.
Restriction of calories is often the method of choice for reducing body fat and although a calorific deficit is required, our bodies still have high nutrient needs, so calorie restriction without limits is very dangerous.
Long term calorie restriction can lead to droopy skin and loss of muscle in the best case scenario. Worst case scenario is Thyroid problems making weight and fat loss almost impossible.
Thus the wanton restriction of calories is a dangerous game.
What is IF?
IF is simply the skipping of meals for a short space of time eg 24 hours. During this time the body must pull on its fat reserves in order to provide energy for day to day activity and exercise.
Hunger is not our body requiring food rather it is our body habitually reminding us that food is normally eaten at this time. IF helps our bodies control that hunger. Real hunger as we know it does not kick in until after 72 hours.
Our body produces a hormone called Gherlin which tells us to eat. It is this hormone that encourages animals to hunt for food, without it they would die out. This hormone produces the same reaction in humans. Our brain has no idea that for is readily available. This hormone is also produced when we are getting insufficient sleep, presumably to increase motivation to find an energy source to better survive what ever is causing us to miss sleep.
Ironically the very hormone that is designed to keep us alive is making us fat. IF teaches our bodies to produce less Gherlin and helps to regulate how much we eat from every meal.
I think the body hugely benefits from not having to be working 24/7 to digest food but there are many other benefits to fasting
improved insulin resistance
improved hunger sensation
increased enjoyment of food
improved feeding patterns
improved immune system
My take on fasting though is a little different to the mainstream.
Fasting is often used as a calorie deficit system which is fine but in my experience most people who are already paying attention to their health have a pretty nutrient dense diet. So getting less nutrients seems counter intuitive to me.
Health and weight loss both come back to digestion. This is where fasting is most valuable.
When our body is mostly operating from the sympathetic nervous system digestion does not occur.
From an evolutionary perspective if you were being chased by a lion you would not be served by thoughts of ‘What’s for dinner’ and you would rather have the blood pumped into the muscles for escaping rather than digesting.
Now there aren’t lions on every street corner but work pressures can illicit the same response. Any food consumed during this period will sit in the stomach and putrify.
For me fasting is something I use as a practise to obtain the above results but also so that on days where I know I require a high level of focus (sympathetic).
On these days I won’t eat until I am home and relaxed.
(Parasympathetic-rest and digest).
If I’m not going to be digesting what I eat I don’t see any point in eating.