Losing weight and keeping fit are just among the many health trends today. People spend time, energy, and money just to maintain their bulked-up physique and avoid reverting to their old selves.
Unfortunately, not everyone may be ready for the challenging road ahead, especially those who are just starting to live healthily and get fit. As a result, they settle for other popular ways to keep in shape.
One of those talked about fads is intermittent fasting or IF. Defined by most gym buffs and physical trainers, IF is an eating lifestyle that cycles between fasting and feasting (eating). Based on its methods,
IF is not a diet plan but an eating pattern because it does not specify which food to eat, but when to eat them.
There are different ways to do intermittent fasting. One option is fasting for 16 hours straight and eating within eight hours daily. This is referred to as the 16:8 method—arguably the most popular IF pattern.
You may also fast for an entire day (24 hours) and then eat normally the following day. IF enthusiasts refer to this as eat-stop-eat. Followers of the method believe that doing this twice a week yields optimal results.
Intermittent Fasting and Exercise Combo
Similar to other dieting methods, intermittent fasting boasts several health benefits such as boosting insulin resistance, improving heart health, and preventing cancer.
However, one of its most notable and famous benefits among gym buffs and fitness enthusiasts is its ability to promote weight loss.
Back in the day, working out on an empty stomach was utterly unheard of. For a long time, people who exercise have been taught to eat before doing their reps and sets, whether they are in the gym or not.
It was common knowledge that the meal would provide the energy they need to break through their limits and conquer their fitness goals.
So, what changed? Nothing, really. Food is still energy, and your body still needs it. But instead of eating to replenish your energy sources, you force your body to burn other energy sources, such as stored fat.
When this takes place, burning that frustratingly stubborn fat becomes possible within your lifetime.
Not So Fat, err, Fast
So, is this the ultimate solution to get that perfect, healthy, beach bod you’ve been dreaming of? Not quite. You see, the body slowly adapts to changes in your diet.
That means if it cannot find stored carbohydrates to burn because you did not eat before exercising, it wouldn’t just target fat but also the protein in your system. Breaking down protein is slow, thus slowing down your metabolism over time.
When this happens, you will find it more challenging to lose weight in the long run because your body has now adapted to your intermittent fasting.
No matter how less you eat, your body would be able to squeeze that energy source to meet your body’s most basic needs to stay breathing and healthy.
As a result, the efficiency of all your training and exercise will be significantly reduced. No wonder some people started with IF but simply lost faith after they hit the plateau.
Others who have high hopes about their training regimen and dieting lose motivation when training at home.
Combining Intermittent Fasting and Exercise the Right Way
While the risk of falling is always present, there is still hope that you can get the benefits of both IF and exercise. Experts believe that there are three critical factors to consider in getting the best of both worlds:
- Timing is Key – The schedule for fasting and feasting is crucial to make IF work. You have to plan when you’re going to fast and what you’re going to eat.
If you want to follow the eat-stop-eat method, for instance, then make sure you plot when you plan to fast for 24 hours within the week carefully. You wouldn’t want to be low on energy on important activities such as a major work project or a weekend getaway with your loved ones.
- Type of Exercise – Whenever you are in a fasted state, your body will not be able to perform at its best for longer periods of time. If you are just beginning this eating and exercising pattern, then you have to choose your type of exercise wisely so as not to deplete your energy sources quickly.
Some trainers advise low-intensity cardio exercises before eating and then going for high-intensity workouts after meals. When you’re going on a light jog, always take note of your breathing and make sure not to force anything. If you get dizzy or faint, take a short break, and then resume once you feel better.
- Fluids are your Friends – Drink plenty of fluids while you are fasting. Staying hydrated during simple exercises can make a world of difference. Prefer water over other energy drinks because some of them still contain calories.
Take It One Step at a Time
Intermittent fasting is indeed a helpful addition to the methods that promote healthy eating habits and lifestyle. Combined with exercise, it is definitely a great one-two punch combination to finally get rid of the excess weight and promote overall wellness. However, there are a few reminders for those who are interested in giving IF a try.
It is worth noting that undergoing intermittent fasting is a long-term commitment and not just a quick fix to get fit and healthy. Once you begin your journey on this particular eating pattern, you have to stick to it in the long run. Otherwise, you would just mess up your lifestyle, diet, and even your body’s processes.
Given the major lifestyle changes that accompany IF, it is best to seek the advice of a professional, especially if your health and medical history are factors that may hinder you from pursuing this eating pattern.
And even if you’re given the go signal, you have to test the waters first. Not every eating pattern is for everyone, and intermittent fasting is no exemption.