fitness, sport, healthy

Intermittent fasting health benefits – It’s worth a look

My experience

Over the years, I tried various diets and restricting calorie intake in conjunction with regular exercise to release body fat.  I found that they worked short-term, and I would reach a plateau after a few months.  I was always determined, but I could not get to that next level of shredding the mid-section.  Of course, I had habits that would undermine my efforts, particularly on weekends when we are known to put our feet up and wind down after a long work week.  Studies have shown that most people who diet achieve progress but only to gain it back over time.  It’s like lather, rinse, repeat, and the yo-yo effect becomes truly frustrating.  I seemed to have settled for the idea that it was too difficult to lean out my core, especially in my 40’s.  I was content with simply maintaining my physical condition until a friend of mine introduced me to the idea of fasting a couple of years ago.  I initially thought that the fasting periods were far too long for my liking, so I dismissed the idea.  As I observed my friend’s results after a couple of months, I took some time to research the benefits of intermittent fasting and tested the process.  I started with 15 hour periods and worked up my tolerance from there.  It certainly wasn’t easy during the adjustment period, but I managed to press on.  Watching my friend’s progress had built up my conviction that this was going to work for me.  Within the first several weeks, I began to see some results in my mid-section, and it fueled my determination to remain disciplined to this day.  It is now a three times-per-week habit for me.

How does intermittent fasting work?

Fasting is an ancient practice in various cultures globally.  In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is a regimen of abstaining from food or drink for a set number of hours on alternate days of the week.  The food we consume breaks down into enzymes in our gut and enters the bloodstream, where carbohydrates breakdown into sugars, which our cells use for energy.  If we do not burn our fuel throughout the day, we store it in our fat cells.  Sugar enters the cells with insulin, and intermittent fasting periods allow enough time for insulin levels to drop far enough so that we burn off fat.  I found great results when combining this regimen with regular exercise, proper nutrition, supplements, and limiting sugar intake.

Some will find it too challenging to allow the adaptation period to take effect, which is entirely understandable.  Taking small steps towards getting to an ideal fasting period is a good start.  Like anything, fasting becomes more comfortable once your body adapts to the process.

Diet Woman measuring her waist

How long do I need to fast to see results?

An optimal fasting period lasts between 16-20 hours for men.  For women, the suggested fasting period should be between 12-15 hours.  The longer the fasting window, the more fat loss you will experience, so you determine your results based on your desire level.

The easiest way to achieve a 20 hour fast is to stop food and drink intake at 8 pm until 4 pm the following afternoon.  You can drink water, coffee (no milk, cream or sugar) or green tea during this time, which will not break your fast.  It is okay to add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon to the glass of water at times.  You can try this out once per week and eventually work up to three times per week on alternate days.  Fasting at these lengths is said to trigger autophagy, which helps with disease protection.  In the absence of food consumption, the body begins to destroy and recycle its damaged cell bits and proteins to create new and healthy cells.  Autophagy is believed to protect against diseases like cancer and dementia.

The early stages’ adverse side effects that you may experience include feeling cold, irritable, and lower energy towards the end of a cycle.  Evidence suggests that intermittent fasting is not harmful physically or mentally in healthy adults.  It improves metabolic health for those who can safely tolerate intervals of fasting for the periods mentioned above.  People with diabetes should consult with their medical doctor before testing intermittent fasting.

Benefits of intermittent fastingHealthy Body IF Man with no shirt

Here are a few benefits in addition to the chief aim of achieving healthy weight loss and fat release.

1. Eliminates the boredom of following the typical low-calorie diet and provides a mental boost because of the flexibility you have from alternating days of reduced and increased food consumption.

2. Enhances brain function, focus and concentration as you increase into longer fasting windows. Fasting can eliminate cravings for trans-fatty and processed sugar food, caffeine and nicotine.

3. Lowers blood pressure.

4. Improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar.

5. Lessens inflammation and clears out toxins and damaged cells.

6. Improves mood levels through increased release of dopamine.

7. Increased longevity and resistance to stress.

8. Decreased incidences of disease, including cancer.

Everyone has different dietary needs based on factors such as physical activity level and body composition.  As I mentioned earlier, intermittent fasting may not be for everyone, but it is one method that I find works to release fat, manage hunger and improve focus and concentration.  It is important to note that you should not solely rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice, so I recommend speaking to your medical doctor if you decide to test this process.

What matters most is that you are doing what helps you feel your best.  Without good health, nothing else matters, so take the time to invest in your health and vitality.  I invite you to leave comments and share your experiences below.

12 thoughts on “Intermittent fasting health benefits – It’s worth a look”

  1. I love this website. I have used intermittent fasting in association with a low-carb (keto) lifestyle for about a year now. I have been keto for about four years. Like you said I got to where I hit a plateau. Once I introduced intermittent fasting I found that i was able to get back into ketosis very quickly, I felt more energetic and I felt good pretty much all the time. I would encourage anyone the give it a shot. I know it is much easier to fast if you are eating a high-fat, low-carb diet as I have for the past four years. This is simply because fat makes you feel full much longer. Anyway, yes try intermittent fasting it really does work.

  2. Good day, I’m pleased to come across  this important information. I’m thrilled to have read about intermittent fasting and how it is beneficial to our bodies. Well, I did not know that sugar enter the cells with insulin, so the intermittent fasting periods allow enough time for insulin levels to drop far enough so that we can burn off fat. This is very helpful indeed.

    1. Thanks, Kokontala.  I’m glad that you found the content to be helpful.   Drop me a line if you do decide to test, as I’d be curious to know about your experience.   Be well.

  3. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with intermittent fasting.  I have heard only good things about this health practice.  I am surprised to learn thought that the optima fasting period for men should be between 16-20 hours.
    I feel that 16 hours would be more manageable.  So taking 8PM as the last time to consume foods etc this then makes it 12PM lunch-time as the time to break the fast.

    I wonder though, not everyone’s body type is the “storers” of fat.  Many have this slow metabolism but also many such as myself have high metabolism.  So personally I have opted for many smaller meals throughout the day.  But to get the best of both worlds then starting this at say 10AM-12PM would be better.

    What criteria or independent studies/science have you relied upon in choosing your proper nutritional supplements?

    1. Thanks for your comments, John.   It very much does depend on the individual, as you say.   Most younger folks have a faster metabolism and do not need to turn to IF, but it does depend on their body type, too, as you put it.  I work with individuals 35+, particularly men in their 40’s who have trouble breaking barriers particularly with releasing belly fat.  A 20 hours fast will accelerate results in men over 40.   I have my own pro coach who has helped me get results with nutrition, supplements and training.    There are many other resources available online.   Feel free to contact me if you would like more information.

  4. That is a fascinating post.

    I think that if you fast from 8pm to 4pm this should be quite an easy period to be able to sustain it.

    As you suggest, if we start with one day a week and build it up slowly we could really benefit from it.

    Apart from loosing weight, the fact that it prompts the body to destroy damaged cells is a worthwhile reason on its own to do it.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hi, Michael,

    I’m not a body-builder, but I maintain a regular exercise schedule for health reasons. But your piece on Intermittent Fasting Health Benefits is fascinating. 

    I can understand how fasting or abstaining from energy-giving carbohydrates can make you lose weight. Or else the fat accumulates in the fat cells leading to weight gains. 

    It is interesting to learn from your post that insulin level determines the amount of sugar to be converted to energy. Understandably, the insulin level is very low during the long periods of fasting because little or no sugar (carrier for insulin) is entering the cells forcing the burning of fat to maintain energy levels. I think the expressions sugar level and insulin level can be used synonymously when referring to animal bodies’ energy supply. 

    But I wish you could throw some light on how the above process results in the eight benefits? 

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for sharing your comments and experience, Cal.   I experience the majority of these benefits each day for the past 24 months of practicing and getting results.  There are a couple of disease avoidance and science-based statements that you can find through other health resources online if you are interested in researching more detail.

  6. Hey Michael,

    I actually have done Intermittent fasting a few times during my life. It has been a fantastic way to control my weight and diet. I was doing the 16 hour of fasting and 8 of small meals to lose weight and gain a bit of muscle. It was a wonderful experience, however when I started working earlier during the day the hunger was just too much for me to handle due to stress and overall lack of sleep. This article inspired me to try it again, thanks for this.

    1. Hi Victor,  thanks for your comments.   I’m pleased to hear that you will give it another try.  I still aim to do 16 hours a minimum of twice per week combined with HIIT training 4x per week to maintain my ideal weight and lean physique.  I wish you success with your goal. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *