Intermittent Fasting

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Intermittent Fasting is the new kid on the block in terms of weight loss. But is it just a fad or are the proclaimed benefits backed by science?

Text of Intermittent Fasting

  • 1.Fitness Fad or Weight Loss Miracle?

2. Benefits of Intermittent FastingProposed benefits include Improved blood lipid profilesIncreased growth hormone secretionAccelerated autophagy (the process of cells recycling waste matter)Increased insulin sensitivity and studies on animals have also suggested it mayhave some beneficial effects relating to the prevention of cancer and cognitivefunction.One of the main mechanisms behind intermittent fasting and all these healthbenefits, appears to be a reduced secretion of a hormone called IGF-1. This isa hormone that accelerates the aging process and has been linked to anumber of diseases, especially when present in the body in relatively highamounts. 3. Intermittent Fasting ProtocolsAlternate Day FastingThis protocol involves one day of consuming 1/5th of normally energy needs (between400 and 700 calories depending on bodyweight), and on the next day consuming whatyou would normally eat i.e. your usual daily diet. This alternate day fasting isnormally continued for a period of up to 8 weeks, although some nutritionists, somewhat controversially, advocate doing it continuously.The 5:2 FastFollowing this system, as you may have guessed by its title, involves spending 2 days a week on a diet that is extremely low in calories. Again 400 to 700 calories dependingon body weight, is normally recommended on fasting days.The fasting days should NOT be consecutive. Again this style of fasting is normally adhered to for up to 8 weeks at a time. 4. Example Intermittent Fasting Diet PlanHere is what a typical diet might look like during a fasting day:Drink plenty of waterMorning:Medium BananaWheatgrass drinkLunch:Chicken salad no dressingspiriluna drinkDinner:Steamed fish with lemon, ginger and chilli 5. Training and Intermittent Fasting Studies have suggested that exercising whilst in a fasted state, although should be doneunder supervision and with care, can actually lead to improved athletic performance. Keeping workouts short (less than 30 mins) and intense, can help enhance the use of fatas a substrate/fuel, whilst enhancing Growth Hormone secretion. Growth Hormone inturn, leads to an enhanced anabolic response i.e. greater potential to build muscle. Training in a fasted state can also enhance adaptation to endurance exercise. Studieshave shown that training with extremely low levels of muscle glycogen/carbohydratecauses an increased oxidative capacity by enhancing the formation of new mitochondria(an element of muscle cells vital to endurance). 6. Training and Intermittent FastingFor bodybuilding purposes, an example fasting workout programme may look like this:Day 1:Day 5:Deadlifts 2 sets of 3 6 repsSquats 2 sets of 6 10 repsBarbell Bent Over Row 2 set sets of 8 12 repsMilitary Press 2 sets of 6 10 repsLat Pull down (or chin ups) 1 sets of 6 10 repsBulgarian Split Squat 1 sets of 10 15Hanging Leg Raises 1 set of max repsreps on each legStability Ball Pikes 1 set of max repsDay 3:Barbell Bench Press 2 sets of 6 10 repsDips 2 sets of 6 10 repsExplosive press ups 1 sets of max repsTRAIN AT YOUR OWN RISK THOUGH!Ab roller - 1 set of max reps 7. Supplements and Intermittent FastingBCAAsMany fitness professionals advise people to take 10g of BCAA approximately 20 minutes before and 10gimmediately after training in a fasted state. The theory behind this is that, whilst the body is still starved ofcarbohydrate, it will experience the same increased secretion of Growth Hormone, and the BCAAsupplementation will capitalise on this, further increasing protein synthesis. Interestingly, fitnessprofessionals appear to disagree on whether or not the calories in BCAA should be counted towards yourdaily total. 10g of BCAA contains around 40 calories.Whey ProteinWhey protein isolate or concentrate can be taken after a workout but the additional calories need to beaccounted for when fasting. 1 scoop of whey protein powder will contain around 100 calories check thelabel to find out exactly.Fish OilOther supplements may be required to make meals during fasting days, nutrient dense you shouldmake those 500 or so calories as nutritious as possible. Supplements that could help you achievethis, include fish oil liquid or capsules, and green powders such as wheatgrass and spirulina can also beconsumed and are recommended by many nutritionists. 8. Intermittent Fasting ResultsA quick Google search of the phrase intermittent fasting results returns a huge number of beforeand after pictures that apparently substantiate the claims of fat loss achieved with intermittentfasting.Personally however, I believe it is best to look for information from trusted, authoritative sourcesand scholarly studies. The article on the BBC website for example, states that Dr MichaelMosley, lost a stone in 5 weeks, and his cholesterol profiles improved, as did his markers of type IIDiabetes. His IGF-1 levels also dropped. In addition, there are a number of studies showing thatintermittent fasting is equally as effective as continuous energy restriction for achieving weight lossand improving health. 9. Final ThoughtsDespite the mounting research and increasing amount of anecdotal evidence;clinical nutritionists and dieticians generally do not recommend intermittentfasting for weight loss or health benefits. They instead recommend eating at least2000 calories per day for men and 1500 a day for women, and suggest that fastingshould only be done under supervision.Keep this advice in mind if you do attempt an intermittent fasting diet. Rememberthat there are possible side effects that may include dizziness and sleepiness;something that could obviously be quite dangerous. I would also advise to keepproperly hydrated by drinking plenty of water and try a few days with a moremoderately reduced caloric intake before attempting a full fast. 10. About the Author Drew Griffiths 1st Class BSc in Sport Sciencefrom Loughborough UniversityMSc in Exercise & Nutritionfrom the University of Liverpool Exercise & train at your own riskI do not recommend I.F. withoutmedical supervision 11. My Blog