Although fitness fundamentalists, when hearing about the intermittent fasting, think the other people are crazy, there's no doubt that this controversial nutrition concept may be efficiently used as a tool in the process of shaping the body. However, the decision of using short-term starvation, as well as the process of introducing it and long-term use, should be considered thoroughly. In other case, the attempts and sacrifices may be useless or even harmful for health and shape.
You should definitely read:Intermittent fasting – what is it?
Many sides of intermittent fasting
On sports forums it's easiest to find the variations of intermittent fasting, which derive from leangains, which assume inroducing everyday, short-term starvation and shortening the eating window to 6-8 hours (i.e. the time for eating meals). It's good to know that there are also other versions of IF, within which there is a total or partial fasting only on the chosen days of the week. The example may be alternate day modified fasting (ADMF), when you can eat only one meal covering 25% of the daily demand for energy every other day, and on the remaining days there is no limit of the intake of food under the condition it's of good quality. Quite an interesting option may be the concept called eat stop eat, which assumes introducing a 24-hour starvation once or twice a week. Practically speaking, it can look like this: on Saturday at 8p.m. you eat the last meal before fasting and the next one is eaten at the same time the following day.
Before you start to starve
For people who already are in a constant nutrition regime based on five or six meals a day, resigning from one point in the menu may cause some kind of discomfort. Turning the current order upside-down and limiting the eating window to only few hours a day, or using the whole-day starvation doesn't seem to be the best idea, that's why in majority of cases it is advised to use the method of small steps. Depending on the chosen method, you can gradually shorten the eating window (leangains), or deepen the energetic restrictions on the days of the planned starvation (ADMF, eat stop eat). I suppose, for some individuals it will be quite easy to introduce the intermittent fasting, they may do it from day to day, but for many people the practical realisation of its assumptions will be more troublesome. In case of some – the concept will be so inconvenient, that its continuation will be burdensome and unproductive.
What to eat during fasting?
If you assume fasting for a certain amount of time, it's good to resign from eating any kind of food or beverages, which would supply calories to the body. Some versions of the IF allow the possibility of eating low-calorific vegetables or symbolic snacks, but it's quite controversial. Also in case of fluids, you should be consequent: water, unsweetened tea and coffee, as well as herbal infusion are wanted, but, unfortunately, other beverages are not. If it comes to the supplementation, the opinions are divided. It may be potentially advantageous to use thermogenics. Some concepts allow the possibility of using products, which include branched chain amino acids or medium-chain fatty acids. But it's hard to give one simple answer for the question of which solution is optimal and if using high dose of amino acids would correct the advantages caused by introducing the intermittent fasting...
What to eat during feast?
You can find a lot of reviews of people, who are satisfied with the results, and who try to convince others, that the method they use gives the opportunity of unpunished eating sweets and fast food remaining slim with aesthetic body. Unfortunately, such practices are naïve and harmful. Of course, in case of a short eating window, realisation of the daily supply of energy may require introducing products of high energetical density, but it does not mean, that you can eat junk food. The diet, independently from the layout of the meals, length of the eating window and fasting, should be based on low-processed food. The consequences of unprofessional choice of foodstuffs may be nutrition insufficiency, disturbed intestinal microflora, lowering the immunity and worsening the physicall condition and body aesthetics. You can read more about the quality of choosen food here:
How to combine the intermittent fasting and physical activity?
Physical activity is an inseparable element of the work on the shape and combining the properly aimed training with intermittent fasting may bring excellent results. In case of the layout of meals, which refers to the leangains concept, there are few different protocols, from which the most recommended one is doing a workout on empty stomach during the beginning of the eating window. Another option is doing the workout between the meals. It is advised to have more energetic meal after training with larger amount of carbohydrates. In case of ADMF and eat stop eat, the situation is slightly different. Intensive physical workouts whould take place on the days, when the intake of food is not limited, but they may take place before the first meal (on empty stomach). On the days of total or partial fasting, you may theoretically do a light workout, although it is potentially risky, as the after-workout time is when you should include some amount of such nutrients, like protein and carbohydrates.
What should we be careful about?
The reason of majority of problems during introducing or using the nutrition concepts, which include intermittent fasting are usually following: lack of proper knowledge and restraint. It happens, that people with no special preparation combine various methods of intesification of the fat reduction process and lead to adverse changes in the metabolic processes. Both, too drastic decrease of energy supply, too low supply of carbohydrates (combining IF and KD), or too high frequency of training, may lead to the increase of the level of cortisol, lowering the level of thyroid hormones, which leads to stagnation in slimming and overtraining. Insufficient amount of sleep also has adverse influence on the efficiency of reduction procedures. I would also like to underline the fact, that the quality of food is extremely important, and you should remember to include all indispensable nutrients in it.
Diets based on intermittent fasting may be an interesting solution for people who want to get rid of excessive amount of fat and improve body aesthetics. However, it's good to remember, that such nutrition solutions require extended knowledge and experience and that they shouldn't be used on your own without proper preparation. It's best to introduce the intermittent fasting carefully, observing the reactions of the body, as the carefree attitude to this matter may occur to be harmful.