How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

For many people, one of the biggest challenges in getting rid of excess weight and building their perfect body is cutting out excessive meals. Eating too much is obviously a major barrier to getting into the shape that you want to – and it’s why many people turn to intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is all about skipping specific meals. By going through a fasting/feeding protocol, we eat our food during certain windows of time in any given day. This means that we only eat during these periods, and that we starve our bodies for the rest of the time.

Some people choose to eat during specific times of each day, perhaps only skipping breakfast each day and stopping eating after dinner. Others might have just one meal per day and skip the others – it might be eating dinner at 6 pm and then avoiding dinner until 6 pm the next day.

The reason why we do this is because it allows us to eat plenty during our window of time or our chosen meal (because we are so hungry) but still staying well under the calorie count we want to hit to lose or maintain weight.

However, the science of such a process can be hard to nail down. Here is the general overview of what intermittent fasting does to our bodies.

How the process works

When we eat a meal, our bodies will spend time – a few hours give or take what it was – to process and use as much of the energy from it as our body can. This works because our bodies choose to use the food we immediately consumed as energy rather than our storage of fats.

When we go through that large period of time without eating, our bodies do not have the meal to use as the source of energy. As such, your body starts looking in all of those nooks and crannies to find some energy – usually turning to our source of body fats.

This gets your body burning fat over things like glucose or glycogen, meaning that we are burning fat to energize ourselves over muscle.

Our body has to find that energy from somewhere, and those big fat cells are just the perfect place to start taking from. This all occurs because our bodies have to react to the consumption of food with the production of insulin meaning that we want to have very sensitive bodies when it comes to insulin creation.

Over time, then, our body starts to learn through intermittent fasting that it has to be more efficient in the way it uses the resources that we provide for it. We use up all of our glycogen when we sleep, so that by the time we get round to training our bodies are far more sensitive to insulin.

Now, when we eat our meal, it’s going to be stored as efficiently and effectively as it can. Basically, intermittent fasting teaches our bodies to stop storing fat and instead use the food we do put into our bodies to start transferring it into glycogen for our muscles.

Normally, our bodies have a gorge of both glucose and glycogen, so just lets our fat reserves build and build.

Different intermittent fasting methods

As we referred to above, there are a number of different ways you can go about with intermittent fasting. Here are a few popular ones:

  • Alternate day fasting (ADF) – this method is basically a 24-hour fast followed by a 24-hour non-fasting period. A variation of this method involves fasting for 23 hours with one meal allowed per day
  • 5:2 diet – this methos invovles fasting two non-consecutive days per week with 400 – 500 calories (women) or 5 00– 600 calories (men) allowed during fasting days
  • Eat-stop-eat – this is one of the more popular methods, you just choose one or two days per week to fast. Nothing is allowed during the fast period other than water, coffee and non-caloric beverages.

While intermittent fasting has been a very successful diet method with plenty of people around the world showing great results, like anything in the health and fitness world, make sure you do your research before plunging right into it. Read up on the subject, do a couple trials then evaluate the results to see if it works for you.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.