Intermittent Fasting: What Is It?

Intermittent Fasting


What is Intermittent Fasting or IF? You may have heard or read the term at some time or another and are wondering what the hell it is? I know I had been. I fast weekly typically anyway but didn’t know that term was what was used to describe it and various other ways of fasting.

My research led me to the Internets and I found a few interesting resources that explore it in detail. The first was a website called The IF Life and page on their site called Intermittent Fasting 101.

The definition and benefits of IF as laid out by the site are as follows:

What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?

For those that may not be familiar to the term, intermittent fasting is just taking “intermittent” times of fasting (no food) and working them into your lifestyle. This can be either daily or a couple times a week (will get into that more below).

From what I have read/learned from years of independent research on reduced calorie intake (CR) and IF (**studies listed at end), the conclusions are that using short-term calorie restriction/fastingmay be effective when it comes to:

  • Reducing blood glucose and insulin levels (improving the state of the overall glucose metabolism)
  • Increasing fatty acid oxidation with increased FFAs (through increasing lipolysis hormones GH, glucagon and adrenaline)
  • Sparing and preserving muscle tissue (lean mass)
  • Increasing various health factors (lower inflammation, lower blood pressure, reduced oxidative stress, increased protection against neuro-degenerative diseases, and more)
  • Keeping the metabolism strong/healthy (as eating more meals does not “speed up” your metabolism)

There are also a multitude of lifestyle benefits such as not being a slave to eating all day long (like modern “diets” seem to preach), having more natural daily energy/focus, and even just learning how to enjoy eatingonce again (with good foods and friends).

Overall it can be a simple eating lifestyle that can not only help you lose weight, but more importantly let you relax and provide relief from obsessing about food or “diets” all day.

The site lists two main types of intermittent although there are multiple variations of IF. The ones listed are a 24 hour fast 1-2x a week which is pretty much what I do or a daily fast where you do all your eating in an 8 hour window of time and fast the other 16 hours of the day. Your calories aren’t less than you would eat in any normal day just confined to this 8 hour period. The editors of Men’s Health magazine have recently released a book regarding this phenomena called The 8-Hour Diet.

I’m all about shocking my body so I decided I would give it a shot beginning today. I’m actually 15 hours into my first day, with my eating window to be 2PM-10PM. I will be eating “breakfast” at 2PM, lunch at 4PM, dinner at 7PM, and a snack at 9PM. I’ve read about improvements in weight loss and overall health on doing it just 3 days a week but I’d like to aim for 6-7. Not to say I won’t have the occasional late night eating or go out to breakfast or brunch but, on a typical day, this will be how I will be eating until either I decide i don’t like it or I move on to the next shocking thing.

I can cosign trying something like this because it doesn’t tell me to give up specific foods or overly restrict my calories  which are two of the main reasons why I don’t do fads. This is no fad.

If you’re interested or curious about it, I suggest you visit the Intermittent Fasting 101 page from The IF Life or check out another page I found which  links to a PDF speaking on IF in great detail, not just in a theoretical perspective but from the perspective of someone who actually tries a bunch of different ways of IF and reports his findings. It’s a great ebook!

So, I’ll give the 16/8 IF approach a week and hopefully I’ll have some good news for you about my progress with it.


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Marc Applewhite (148 Posts)

Marc A. is the editor and founder of the blog, Dr. Marctagon™, and he also runs a techcompany and blog, Marctagon™ IT where he offers his consulting services and discusses the latest news, productivity tools and technology for homes and small businesses.

6 thoughts on “Intermittent Fasting: What Is It?

  1. As i was reading I noticed that the 8hr diet actually sounds like what most regular eating should be. I mean if I start eating my meals at 9am I have my last meal at 5pm which technically means I’m eating how most people should be because we wind down between 7-8pm. I’ll definitely take a gander at this IF thing and see what it’s all about. My largest issue is being hungry late into the night but I have to learn to discern hunger, from simple thirst or sleepiness. Another great and informative article.

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  3. Thank you for all the information. I especially enjoyed reading your bulleted list of the reasons for IF. Lowering inflammation, keeping metabolism strong, etc. I personally prefer the daily IF. The eating “window” of about 8 hours is easy! I find it more natural than the 2x a week-24-hour fasts. I heard for most of my life: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” So there I was in my 20s and 30s, waking up daily, repulsed by the fact that I better not skip the most important “meal of the day.” Who came up with that? On the flip side, I had always heard that fasting was “dangerous!” It could mess up your metabolism, it could waste muscle, I could die! The day I decided that my body would tell me when I was hungry was the most liberating day of my life. Thanks again!

    • Yes, totally, it took me a couple of weeks to get out of that stigma of not eating breakfast and I used to do the 24 hour fast once a week. I find the 8 hour window to do be much more practical and easier to do because it’s not caloric restriction. I still manage 3 meals and one snack a day and most times, I don’t even get all that because I’m simply not hungry. Some days I don’t follow it but 80% of the time I do and I love it. Gives my digestive system a break as well…thanks so much for your feedback and commenting! Feel free to keep in touch on Twitter or any other way you prefer.

  4. Pingback: Doc's Log #12: #Lent, The Daniel Fast and Exercise Stuffs - Dr. Marctagon

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