A few questions come to mind when I think about Intermittent Fasting:
- Is starving my body for 12 hours or more a day good or bad?
- What are the pros and cons as far as ending results?
- Is this idea of Intermittent Fasting just a fad or has it been around for a long time?
The truth is that intermittent fasting has been commonly used for centuries. Most of our ancestors were either hunters or gatherers who went long periods of time without eating while their activity levels were well above what we achieve today. Even many religious groups practice forms of fasting with some even going longer than 4-5 days. So why is this now becoming popular amongst the general public?
Mainly, the science behind intermittent fasting shows that fasting allows the body to have an increase in the natural production of hormones (like growth hormone), and it even helps with insulin sensitivity, which could help combat many digestive and autoimmune diseases.
How would this benefit a fitness enthusiast?
Intermittent fasting could be useful based on if the approach was suitable with the activity of that individual. There are many approaches to timing, but would say the best method for a fit individual would be a 16/8 approach. This is where you would fast for 16 hours straight and allow an 8 hour window for eating. Here, I would still focus on hitting certain macro numbers so that we are developing lean mass or preserving it because the body (to some extent) will use muscle as an energy source. Your body is made to adapt so it will accommodate when it feels it is sub-metabolic. For a fitness enthusiast, full day fasts are not beneficial to the metabolism, and can prove to be more detrimental, especially if we are seeking to enhance a more developed physique.
A common misconception to some is that a fast can ultimately be used as a cleansing. Some people feel that if I go so long without eating then I can eat a lot in a short time frame. For the average person, this might throw them into a bad regiment that could lead to binge-like behavior.
So overall, intermittent fasting can be beneficial if still approached in a health focused direction.