Intermittent Fasting: Should You Do It?
It’s almost spring time. Let’s get this nutrition stuff nailed down so you can look amazing at the pool, beach, or when streaking down the street after a house party.
Earlier this week we talked about The Whole 30 diet, and whether you should you do it if you want to burn fat.
I got a great question in my Facebook inbox as a follow up.
A woman asked me, “What about intermittent fasting? “ (IF)
I asked her to expand a little on what she would like IF to accomplish for her. And like most of us, she wanted to burn fat and get a lean body.
So the question is, should you do IF if you want to burn fat and get lean? The answer, as always, is maybe.
Instead of giving a simple yay or nay, I’m going to give you the tools to scrutinize IF (or any diet for that matter) to see if it’s going to serve the purpose you want it to.
First, what is Intermittent Fasting?
IF means you limit your eating to a small window of time, and fast for the remainder of the day.
A common example is to fast between 8 pm and noon, and eat all your meals between noon and 8 pm.
Why would anyone want to do this? Well, IF boasts an impressive list of benefits.
A few of these are hormone optimization, cellular repair, longevity, and of course fat loss.
But the research that supports this is flimsy at best. Most of this research is done on animals, and the diets they pit against IF are “typical western diets”, which we know are typically trash.
OK, But Does It Help You Burn Fat?
Let’s consider the 3 fat burning pillars:
1. Energy Balance: The calories you consume vs the calories you burn via metabolism, exercise, and daily activity like brushing your teeth, fidgeting in your seat, and liking animal pictures on Facebook.
2. Macronutrient ratios: how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you eat each day.
3. Food Quality: where are these calories and macronutrients coming from? Whole, quality foods? Or processed foods?
If these 3 pillars are what matters most in fat loss, does IF affect any of these directly?
No. It doesn’t.
It’s possible to eat too many calories and processed foods while practicing IF.
Likewise, you can nail all three of these pillars and come out lean, strong, and healthy. Whether or not you practice IF doesn’t matter.
Now, the actual answer to the question: “What do you think of Intermittent Fasting?”
First, some positives.
Many people find that their mind is clear all morning if they don’t eat breakfast. They feel sharp, and their energy is constant.
Second, if you’re busy, packing your food into fewer meals can save you some time.
Finally, when you practice IF you’ll eat all your calories later in the day. This means bigger meals closer to bed time, all while staying within your calorie limits.
Have you ever gone to bed hungry? It sucks. Big meals later in the day is a nice perk when dieting.
But does IF help you burn fat directly? No.
In fact, it can be detrimental in the long run. When food is temporarily restricted people often eat more calories overall than they would have without Fasting.
This is clearly violates Fat Loss Pillar #1.
So IF does have its advantages. Unfortunately, they have more to do with scheduling than they do with fat loss.
When it comes to fat burning nutrition, the first three boxes to check off are food quantity (calorie in vs calories out), macronutrient ratios (eating the right amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and food quality (whole, quality foods).
It may not be sexy, but you will be if you follow it 😉.