You’ve probably heard it thrown around fitness circles online, or in the gym, but a lot of people aren’t totally sure what intermittent fasting is all about. Here’s a brief overview of what intermittent fasting is, some popular intermittent fasting schedules (there are quite a few), and who it is, and isn’t, good for. *Note, there are a lot of reasons some people should avoid intermittent fasting. Make sure you consult with a physician before starting any new diet regimen. The idea is to get healthier, not make any conditions worse!
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is the process of alternating between a narrow window of consuming food, and an extended period of not eating. We are technically all fasting from our last meal in the evening, until our first meal the following day. There is nothing too crazy about intermittent fasting. It is just purposely extending the length of this period.
You will undoubtedly have done a moderate length fast in the past, simply as circumstances dictated. Perhaps you forgot to eat breakfast and next thing you realize it’s the middle of the afternoon and you’re having your first meal. That was a fast.
Of course, the idea behind intermittent fasting for fitness is to do it consciously and purposely.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Some of the benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Increased insulin sensitivity, important for weight loss, muscle gain and good health.
- Increased usage of fat as an energy source, mobilizing fat for energy makes it readily available to burn off and lose weight.
- Improved relationship with food and hunger. You come to understand that you can survive for a few hours without food and that hunger is just a mild feeling that actually goes away pretty quickly. This makes dieting easier, and food is less of a hassle in your life when you know you can go a few hours without it.
- Cutting down on time spent preparing and eating food, for easier scheduling. Especially if you tend to eat a lot of small meals. Switching to a couple of large meals can be liberating.
- Increased satiety, after a small adjustment period many people report actually not feeling hungry until they begin to eat. Large meals then leave them with a sense of satiety and satisfaction.
- Research – at least in animal models – suggest intermittent fasting can reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke), reduce blood pressure and inflammatory markers, reduce cancer risk; while increasing metabolism and growth hormone levels.
Intermittent Fasting Schedule
There’s a bunch of different intermittent fasting schedules. Some of the most famous are detailed below, along with their pros and cons:
‘Eat, Stop, Eat’ is a 24 hour fast, once per week. The benefits of this schedule include being able to eat normally for the majority of the time and the ease of scheduling just one 24 hour period without food.
Downsides include 24 hours being a long time to fast for and it having an impact on your ability to socialize through that day. While you could attend a meal and not eat, being around food and other people eating is likely to make you hungry.
‘Lean Gains’ is a daily fast of 16 hours, followed by an 8 hour eating window. Lean Gains is devised with bodybuilding in mind – with a workout in a fasted state, immediately followed by the first meal. This differs from other fasting regimes which are more focused on weight loss. Lean Gains is also concerned with maintaining muscle mass.
Downsides include having to time your workouts around your feeding window and the associated scheduling requirements.
‘The Warrior Diet’ is a daily 20 hour fast, followed by one large nightly meal. However, this diet allows for a limited amount of consumption during the fasting period of raw fruit and vegetables, and protein. The small snacks throughout the day may make this style of fasting easier to follow.
The drawback of The Warrior Diet are that the instructions on what to eat are strict and for some people, one large meal at night will not sit well and possibly interrupt sleep.
‘Alternate Day Fasting’ as you might assume, rotates between a fasted day and a fed day. The fasted day is not really fasted, but rather a very low calorie day, followed by a normal eating day. The focus is purely on weight loss and it will induce a heavy caloric deficit.
The downside is that it can be hard to eat a little, it’s often easier to not eat at all than it is to eat something small and then stop. Couple this with being able to eat whatever you wish on the normal days, so long as it stays within your calorie limit, it has the potential for binge eating.
‘Eat, Stop, Eat’ is likely the best option for people interested only in general health and wellness. ‘Lean Gains’ and ‘The Warrior Diet’ are designed with athletic oriented people in mind, to maximise muscle mass and strength. These are also the best options for body re-composition – getting lean, while maintaining muscle. ‘Alternate Day Fasting’ will lead to the quickest weight loss, though may not be the most sustainable plan.
Who Should, and Should Not, Try Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting might be a good option for you if:
- You want a simple way to get a better handle on what you’re eating without having to weigh and measure food, or be overly strict in what you can eat.
- You want to reduce calories, but struggle with hunger throughout the day.
- You want to increase focus and concentration throughout the day.
- Your schedule or job makes it difficult to eat consistently, or for a long period of time.
- You are naturally inclined towards eating more at night and do not feel like eating much or at all earlier in the day.
- You workout later in the day and want to keep the bulk of your calories around/after your workout.
- You prefer to eat a couple of large meals, rather than more frequent smaller meals.
- You have limited time to prepare or cook food and eating less meals will make it easier for you to eat in the way required to achieve your goals.
Intermittent fasting is likely not a good option for you if:
- You have any kind of medical condition, are on medication, are pregnant, or are otherwise unhealthy.
- You have diabetes, or a problem with blood sugar control and have energy dips if you do not eat consistently.
- You have a history of any kind of eating disorder.
- Feelings of hunger lead you towards binging or indulging in foods you are trying to avoid.
- You don’t like to eat later in the day, or it affects your sleep pattern.
- You can’t function in the early part of the day without food.
- You’re trying to gain weight and struggle to eat large meals, finding it easier to consumer more calories split over many smaller meals.
- Hunger or not eating negatively affects your mood.
- You have commitments to breakfast meetings or other functions that would conflict with fasting.
Wrapping It Up
Intermittent fasting can be beneficial for many people, improving their focus and energy, and making weight control a more conscious effort. However, it is definitely not for everybody. If you are interested in giving it a shot, I would choose the regime that resonates with you and your goals, and test it.
Give it time to adjust. If you’ve never fasted, it may take a little while to get used to it. Then assess your outcomes. If it works for you, great! If it doesn’t, no worries. There’s plenty of other styles of eating available that will fit better with your unique needs.
*Medical Disclaimer: Always see your physician before starting any new diet or fitness regimen. The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Both Spinning (indoor cycling) and running on a treadmill have their advantages, and both go a long way toward improving your cardiovascular health. Many people swear by one or the other. However, depending on your goals, the two exercise are definitely very different and one might better suited for you.
Comparing the Calorie Burn
In terms of calories, a 30 minute treadmill running session at 6mph for an 155lb adult will burn around 350 calories. The same size adult will burn around 260 calories in 30 minutes on a Spin bike at a steady pace. However, a Spinning class is much more intense so you can expect to burn anywhere from 400-600 calories if you push yourself. Woman.thenest.com reports that “a 160-pound person can burn over 600 calories per hour at the leisurely pace of 5 mph. Increase the speed to 8 mph and that figure jumps to over 800 per hour.” That’s a whole lot of calories.
According to Spinning.com “an average 40-minute class at a cadence of 80–110 rpm is equivalent to approximately 15–20 miles on the road.” Spinning on a bike is therefore more likely to burn more calories due to the environment. Yet, using intervals in your treadmill training is a great way to ramp up the calories burned in that session. Intervals also increase your metabolic rate after exercise. This means that even after you’ve stopped your activity your metabolism is ramped up from the session. It all comes down to how much effort you are willing to put in. If you would like to work out how many calories you will burn in a session of either running or swimming visit this site http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/activity/calculators/spinning and input your details.
Consider Your Joints
Spinning is also much more gentle on the joints. For people who experience ankle, hip or knee pain, running on a treadmill can put great stress upon the areas of the body. If you’re landing heel first, this pressure increases drastically. It’s always important to land with you forefoot first and then follow through with your heel by rolling your sole, otherwise you may develop serious joint injuries. Spinning does not have this effect as there is no impact on the lower body.
Mind Your Posture
Although, cycling can also be bad for your posture. Due to the stance that you need to be in alongside the activation of the quadriceps (the muscles on the front of your legs), you can get very tight hips and a bad back. Keeping a neutral spine instead of curving or arching at the lower back is very important for maintaining a strong and healthy spine. Stretching out your legs after your session is also a good idea.
The activation of the quadriceps makes cycling on a Spin bike a great way to build muscle on your legs. Many people who frequently compete in bike races have very large thigh and calf muscle. This makes it perfect for anyone from pro football players to normal people trying to improve the aesthetic of their lower body.
Cross-training – Do Both!
A cross-training routine can be very good if you’re just trying to improve your aerobic fitness or lose some weight. This means that each time you go to exercise you choose a different method. Monday might be running while Wednesday could be spinning then back to running on Friday. Throwing in a bit of swimming, too, can maximize the rewards you get across your whole body. Those who only run may tend to develop knee problems, where as those who only Spin can develop poor posture and tight hips from the forward lean. So the answer may be to mix them up.
At the end of the day both running on a treadmill and indoor cycling can be very good for all fitness goals. If you tend to experience joint problems in your lower body then cycling will be the better option. If you’re more prone to rounding your back and maintaining poor posture then you might want to think about running instead. A cross training regime where you utilize both cardio methods alongside others such as swimming is best so that you can reap various different rewards without causing any negative effects caused by repetitive strain. If you play a sport then choose whichever will transfer the best. Running will be better for football and athletics where as cycling will be better for rugby and power sports.
Choose the exercise which suits you best. Make sure that it’s something you enjoy and something that you can commit to. Choosing one because it burns 50 more calories over the other even though you hate it will mean that you’ll give up after a while anyway. The best exercise is the one that you can do best and do for a long time.
When the long, sunny summer days begin to fade into fall and winter, health and wellness seem to take a backseat for a lot of us. Of course, tempting desserts and entrees begin to hit the table for the fall and winter holidays, and many people forget about their workout regime and health goals in favor of comforting, warm foods and drinks. Studies have shown that holiday weight gain is a real issue and a big part of the growing obesity epidemic. Some people can gain as much as five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). And losing that holiday weight is of course, a lot harder than gaining it.
As the days grow shorter and the temperatures start to plummet, staying under the cozy covers and watching Netflix seems far more enjoyable than having to brave the cold to get to the gym. However, skipped workouts and indulging in one too many holiday treats can lead to undoing all the hard work you’ve put in, as well as gaining unwanted weight.
If you want to still fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans after the holidays have passed, here are 3 tips for you to stay healthy and fit during the winter months:
1. Track your calories
Sometimes, tracking how much food you eat can seem meticulous and time-consuming, but it will pay off in the long run. During the holidays, you will inevitably eat more food between work parties, family get-togethers, and more unhealthy snacks lying around the house. To make sure you don’t eat more than you burn, you can keep track of your calories using online counter such as Cronometer or other tools. If you’re serious about keeping up your health and staying on track, taking the time to log your calories each day can help you tremendously with your goals. Plus, it will open your eyes to just how many calories that eggnog has, and might encourage you to look for healthier alternatives in the future.
2. Pair an unhealthy snack with one or two healthy ones
Practicing moderation means to indulge in something you really enjoy without having to totally compromise your lifestyle. If your friend serves potato salad or mac & cheese at a party, put one scoop of that on your plate, along with a couple pieces of fruit or a handful of nuts or seeds. This way, you won’t feel totally left out from everyone at the party, but you also won’t be damaging your health or throwing away your workout and health routine.
3. Modify workouts to fit a new calorie intake
Those pumpkin pies and green bean casseroles may taste wonderful, but the rich flavor doesn’t come without packing some serious calories. You can still eat these higher calorie foods if you want, but you need to offset it by working out more if need be. This is why tracking your calories during the holidays is so beneficial, because you can see exactly how much you need to work out in order to maintain or lose weight. Indulging in your favorite foods is perfectly fine, and you should feel like you can enjoy them without obsessing over your weight. However, make sure you ramp up your exercise during the Fall and Winter to avoid that holiday weight gain and having to buy a whole new wardrobe once they’re over.