Stop counting calories, use your body's natural rhythms to lose weight

Stop Counting Calories Use Intermittent Fasting To Lose Weight


Choosing the Right Intermittent Fasting Plan for You

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes

Whether you’re interested in Intermittent Fasting (IF) as a lifestyle change or as a means of losing weight, there are details to pay attention to get the best health results that match your goals. In general, you are forcing your body to burn fat because it doesn’t have food to use as its energy resource (proteins, sugars, and carbs.) It’s important to ensure you don’t get yourself in a pickle such that your body cannibalizes muscle for energy instead of fat stores. Let’s take a look at how to use intermittent fasting in the best way for you.

First, What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Fasting has been part of our typical eating pattern for as long as humans have walked upright…maybe even before! Fasting simply means avoiding the intake of foods/calories for a specified amount of time.

We naturally fast every night when we sleep, but we might also want to fast for longer periods for health reasons, spiritual reasons, or physical training reasons. Interestingly, humans evolved as naturally fasting mammals because we are opportunistic eaters. When there’s food, we’re all in, but when there’s not, we can use the stored energy in our fat for survival. We can even learn something from our canine friends who naturally fast themselves to clean their blood when given a species-appropriate diet.

Life in 21st Century America doesn’t see us hunting wildebeests for our next meal anymore -- yaaay; most of us have access to food – in some ways, too much of the wrong kinds of food. Consequently, Intermittent Fasting has become intertwined with weight loss.

By timing your eating you can optimize how you body uses food and encourage fat burning.

The science behind Intermittent Fasting is simple: when you fast, your body enters a metabolic state called ketosis that helps you burn fat more efficiently. This means fewer cravings and more weight loss over time. Intermittent fasting has other long-term health benefits, like improving cognitive performance, boosting immunity, and reducing inflammation. Intermittent fasting also activates autophagy - the body’s natural process of detoxification.

If you have been wondering why everyone is so into intermittent fasting and why it seems so effective, here’s the short answer: by strategically timing meals, you’re optimizing your body’s response to food without counting calories or limiting food types (unless you’re combining it with another diet style.) The result is improved digestion, increased energy, stabilized glucose levels, and balancing hormones such as insulin and leptin. Plus, this natural cycle encourages better sleep habits which supports your overall well-being.

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity because as your body goes through cycles of eating and not eating, you’re allowing your digestive system to naturally reset and heal itself. This helps boost your metabolism and maximize the absorption of the nutrients from the food you do consume. As a result, you get the maximum health benefits from every bite. In addition, because it takes fewer meals and snacks to satisfy your hunger, you save time and energy to focus on other things during the day.

Who Shouldn’t Try Intermittent Fasting?

As with any change in diet, you should definitely consider your personal health and the ramifications of this type of eating style. If you are prone to hypoglycemia, diabetes, thyroid or adrenal issues, pregnant or breastfeeding, or on contraindicated medications, don’t try intermittent fasting without consulting your health care professional first. Depending on the eating style you want to try, you could be avoiding food for 12 to 40 hours at a time.

Choose an Intermittent Fasting Plan that fits your REAL-life rhythms

You also want to ensure your life pace works for starting something new. For example, changing your eating style will be a stress on your body at first. If you have a high-stress event in your life coming up, wait a bit before trying IF.

I also recommend you take a week or two to observe your life and note when and what you’re eating. I don’t typically recommend a food diary to my clients because, suddenly, everyone is on their best behavior and eating salads and vegetables. Instead, I recommend observing without making any changes to your habits. Are you a snacker? Are you woozy if you don’t eat breakfast? Do you notice if you’re hungry? Do you sleep eat? In the bigger picture, don’t set yourself up for failure (and desperation) by choosing an Intermittent Fasting style that just doesn’t work with your life!

What Are Popular Intermittent Fasting Plans?

There are as many ways to intermittently fast as hours in a day (or week), but six styles are generally popular. Here’s a quick synopsis:

The Ever Popular 16:8 Plan

This is a plan where you limit your eating to just 8 hours a day and fast for the other 16 (including sleep time); most people manage this by not eating until noon and being done with eating by 8 pm. This is a plan you follow 7 days a week.

While not required, you may want to be mindful of portion size and weight while eating in this style, although there are no recommendations on types of foods you should eat or quantities.

The 14:10 Plan

Similar to the 16:8 Plan, this Plan gives you a longer eating window, which might work for your lifestyle better. Most people start their day with a meal at 10 am but still finish eating by 8 pm. Some diets that have proven successful with this Plan are keto or paleo, along with consistent exercise like walking every day just enough to get your heart rate up (feeling a little winded while trying to talk while walking).

Without the diet and exercise component, this is often a fairly typical eating style for most people already, so it might not result in weight loss without the added focus on what you’re eating and movement. The good thing about this eating plan is that it is doable for most people, and you can stay on it for an extended period of time. You may want to throw in a short window of another IF style here and there for the metabolic disruption from time to time, just to ensure that your body doesn’t acclimate itself and plateau your metabolism.

The 5:2 Disruption Plan

This is a plan where you eat a very restricted amount of calories 2 days a week and eat normally the other 5 days. For women, you have just 500 calories on a fasting day, and men have just 600 calories. This eating plan keeps your body from becoming accommodated to a specific calorie intake and plateauing your metabolism. Generally, people don’t put their restricted calorie days back-to-back in this Plan. Typically, in a 7-day schedule, people on the 5:2 Plan eat a restricted calorie diet on day 2 and day 5. So if you start on Sunday, you have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to eat “normally,” which works well if you have an active social life.

The Eat-Stop-Eat Plan

Like the 5:2 Disruption Plan, on this eating plan, you completely fast for 24 hours on day 2 and day 5 (do not fast for two days in a row.) Again, if you have an active social life, you can eat normally Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. However, if you have a family you cook for, this may not be the easiest plan for your lifestyle since you need to avoid all foods for a full 24 hours on your fast days. Also, because this is a more intense system of eating and not eating, doctors do not recommend it for an extended period of time.

The Every Other Day Plan

In this Plan, you’ll eat normally every other day. On the opposite days, you’ll completely fast or eat only a few hundred calories. This eating style is a little more challenging to maintain. You may experience more side effects like headaches, mood swings, and intense cravings. Of all the Intermittent Fasting plans, this one has provided the fewest conclusive health and weight loss research results. But, for some people, this is a plan they can use to quickly shake things up to reset their metabolism. However, this is not a plan that is recommended for long-term use.

The Warrior Plan

This Plan reminds me a bit of the Fit For Life Plan by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond back in the 80s. For this eating style, you eat a small amount of fruits and vegetables in the main part of the day and then have a big meal within a four-hour window between 4 and 8 pm. Usually, people using this plan eat a paleo diet for their big warrior meal – so lots of protein and fat but no carbs. This is a good plan if you’re a nibbler and just can’t go without food for extended periods. You will also want to vary how calorie-dense that warrior-style meal is to challenge your metabolism. Don’t eat the same meal for dinner every day!

It’s important to note that dietitians caution this eating style can make it challenging to meet all of your nutritional needs because your calorie intake can be so limited. If you decide to follow this plan, you’ll want to ensure you take a good multivitamin (I just happen to know of a fantastic one) and monitor your energy levels. You will also want to be very conscious of the foods you are eating. I often recommend the book,Eating On the Wild Side, as a reference for understanding the nutritional values of your fruits and vegetables.

Some Added Simple Hints To Do It Better

One exciting bit of research to come along recently is that AminoSculpt Liquid Collagen does not break your fast!

Use AminoSculpt to help with headaches during fasting without breaking your fast.  you'll also get a better night's sleep

That means you can use the high-nitrogen amino acids in AminoSculpt that your body craves to ensure you burn fat and not muscle for energy during your fast times. You can also take AminoSculpt at night to ensure your body has the necessary peptides to rebuild, remodel, and rejuvenate itself; but again, it won’t break your fast, and it will help ensure you get a great night’s sleep.

Liquid collagen also can be a great resource if you get a headache while fasting.

Make sure you’re taking a great probiotic during fasting (or really any time.) The flora in our gut’s microbiome controls many of our cravings. Unfortunately, the “bad” microbiota love sugar and carbohydrates; they generate neurotransmitters to your brain that makes you crave the foods they’re hungry for, so you are obsessed with eating them. Crowding out the bad guys with more of the good guys can help keep your cravings in check.

Get your prebiotic fiber to feed and support your healthy probiotic friends and stabilize your blood sugar! One of the unsung heroes in the Health Direct line is Ready Fiber. Just 2 tablespoons supply half of your daily recommended fiber, and it naturally sweetens anything you add it to without adding sugar. Ready Fiber is a total win-win whether you’re trying intermittent fasting or not!

Finally, as a Health Coach, I encourage my clients to learn more about food and how they may crave certain foods because our food “science” system has wired us for “brand loyalty.” I have a packed bookshelf about food and nutrition, but two of my favorites are Food Rules by Michael Pollan for some simple rules of the road about food; and Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss to understand cravings and food engineering.

Whatever the reason is that has attracted you to finding out more about Intermittent Fasting, be sure to be prepared. Be kind with yourself and patient with your body’s reactions. Try to stay in the observer mode if you encounter challenges to see if there’s more than just a physical reaction to restricting when you’re eating. And, most important, don’t expect to get it perfectly right from the get-go; if you make a mistake, tomorrow’s a new day!

Want to Learn More?

About the Author

Lisa Moretti is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the largest nutrition school in the world. She was at the top of her cohort in 2015. She's been involved in the natural health and supplement world professionally since 1981. Some product recommendations result in a small affiliate payment from amazon.com.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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