What Happens When I Do Intermittent Fasting?
1. Beginner’s Luck
The most popular form of intermittent fasting (IF) is the 16:8 diet, which involves extending your overnight fast for 16 hours, then squeezing your daily kilojoules into the other eight in two meals. The benefits are instant. Pushing back breakfast causes your cortisol to drop – high levels of the hormone are linked to fat gain – and makes weight loss easier in the long run, explains Max Lowery, trainer and author of The 2 Meal Day.
2. Give It Time
After a day, your body can become confused, says Lowery. Going without food spikes the hunger hormone ghrelin, which makes you feel lethargic, irritable and tired. Wait it out. Within a week, your ghrelin levels will normalise, and tapping into IF’s benefits will become easier as other hormonal changes take place. While short-term fasting has no real physiological downsides, successful diets are those you can stick to – and adapting to IF takes time.
3. Join The Resistance
When you’re eating every few hours, your body is flooded with insulin as often as five times a day. Restrict yourself to two meals, and your insulin sensitivity increases. In the short term, this will help to direct carbs to your muscles, instead of converting them into fat – giving you swifter gains, according to Lowery. The process can also reverse your march to type 2 diabetes.
4. Chemical Bromance
Another benefit you’ll experience in the second week is an extra shot of growth hormone (GH), which boosts muscle growth, bone density and cartilage. GH also breaks down stored body fat into fatty acids that can be used for fuel instead of fast carbs. This provides more stable energy levels throughout the day, and can help to curb your reliance on caffeine when you’re fighting the midafternoon slump.
5. Long-Term Loser
All diets live or die by their sustainability. Breaking your fast later takes some getting used to, but IF is a simple route to caloric restriction. Calculate your basal metabolic rate (the number of kilojoules you burn at rest each day) and subtract 2 100kJ. Create a two-meal menu matching this total, and you could lose half a kilo per week. You may miss a meal, but you won’t miss the belly.