Just one thing is all it takes
The problem lies in that most people don’t understand the most effective way to reduce calories for overall health and weight loss benefits. When you mix the lack of calories plus the increase in activity (what we have been told to do for years), you have a recipe for metabolic disaster. Weight loss is governed by the food you eat and your chosen activity. Then we have something called hormones in the mix. Most people miss the “hormone” aspect. It’s a subject left undervalued but is the primary key to weight loss success. To put it simply, if you are not eating optimally & overexercising, your hormones get out of whack. That leads to fat gain, lost muscle, fatigue, frustration, and a downward spiral that never ends. This is why we go around in circles trying every weight loss program. Nothing works long term, so we keep changing, and then we’re always heading right back to where it all started — our fat and unhappy self.
Why calorie restriction does not work
When restricting calories, you allow your basal metabolic rate to fall below the most suitable levels for weight loss to occur. Caloric reduction forces the body into ‘Famine mode”, and then we burn fewer calories, making us tired enough to lower our activity levels. Once expenditure drops below the recommended intake, you start the chain reaction towards rebound weight gain. I’m sure we’ve all been at this point in our weight loss journey. The problem is, we don’t seem to learn our lesson — so I’m going to give you a better alternative.
Intermittent fasting — A restricted timeframe of eating — not an indefinite restriction
Fasting is such an excellent method in that we deliberately train our bodies to be a lot more metabolically flexible. Fasting triggers numerous hormonal adaptations that do NOT happen with simple caloric reduction. Insulin drops, preventing insulin resistance. Noradrenalin rises, keeping metabolism high. Growth hormone rises, maintaining lean mass. Over three days of continuous fasting, basal metabolism does not drop. Instead, it increases by 14%. During fasting, the body opens up its ample supply of stored food — body fat! As a result, basal metabolism stays high, and we change fuel sources from food to stored food (or body fat). We first burn glycogen stored in the liver. When that is finished, we use body fat. Since there is plenty of fuel, there is no reason for basal metabolism to drop. And that’s the difference between long-term weight loss and a lifetime of despair. That’s the knife-edge between success and failure.
Fasting is effective where simple caloric reduction is not. What is the difference?
Fasting provides beneficial hormonal changes during fasting, usually prevented by constant food intake. Lowering your calories is not the same as a window of opportunity to cease eating for a period of time. This is where the magic of fasting lies — because you don’t officially restrict eating over the long term. Instead, we eliminate a meal in its simple form, and that’s about it.
How to fast for fat loss and appetite control
Did you know that eating more food has more potential to make you hungry? I think back to my bodybuilding dieting phase, and hunger would start to rear its ugly head every 3–4 hours, just in time for the next meal. So, if we trigger hunger by eating more, then if we eat less, we should not feel as hungry? Over the long term, when we fast, ghrelin (the signaller of appetite) decreases, so we feel less hungry and eat a lot less.
This might not make sense if you have not delved into the dark world of fasting.
Don’t get me wrong. Once you begin your fasting journey, you will feel hungry. But don’t worry too much. Once your body adapts, you will naturally feel like eating less. One would expect to stay ravenously hungry all the time, but this doesn’t occur.
The hormones which control hunger are the key to weight loss success. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone, which can also reduce the effect of leptin (stops us from eating and switches off our appetite). Losing weight over the long term requires us to turn down the power of ghrelin, which is achieved quite easily through intermittent fasting. Fasting naturally helps us lower our appetite, whilst caloric restriction does the opposite. I don’t think I need to tell you how hungry you feel eating like a bird. Eating those small, regular meals triggers hunger. Ask any bodybuilder how full they feel after a meal on a high protein diet. They usually look at the clock, longingly awaiting their next meal rolls around. Yes, it takes a little while to get used to fasting, and hunger may seem overwhelming during week one, but that feeling doesn’t last too long, and it’s well worth the small sacrifice for the significant results you stand to gain. I urge you to try fasting for 30 days straight — just skip one meal a day, and see what that does for your health and life. The only way to uncover the secret health benefits fasting brings is to try it out for yourself. If you have tried fasting, let us know how it changed your own life.
To read more about fasting, appetite and fat loss, please check out these research pieces:
- The Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting to Reduce Body Mass Index and Glucose Metabolism.
- Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion.
- Fasting increases metabolism
- Health benefits of fasting
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