BY CAROLYN HANSEN Anytime Fitness, Whangarei

It's no secret that typical calorie restriction to lose weight tends to be miserably unsustainable. Most people who use this method end up binging or consuming low-calorie 'frankenfoods' in an attempt to fill an ever-expanding ravenous black hole.

But what if I told you there was a way to indulge without restriction while stoking the fires of your metabolism, boosting energy, saying goodbye to cravings, and likely losing even more weight than with typical dieting?

This new way is a type of scheduled eating plan where you simply restrict your normal daily eating to a 6-8 hour window of time without cutting calories.

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It's called Intermittent fasting (IF) and is a powerful approach to eating that is becoming very popular because it can help you lose weight without feeling hunger and help reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Research overwhelmingly supports the notion of ditching the 'three square meals a day' approach in favor of IF and it can do wonders for your health. This type of scheduled eating was practiced by our ancestors, since they did not have the frequent access to food that we have now.

Many of the multitude of health benefits of IF are related to changes in hormones, gene expression and improved functioning of cells.

With IF, you simply restrict the hours you eat each day rather than what you eat. No conscious 'dieting' required! The simplest version of this way of eating is to eat just two meals a day in an eight- hour window. For example the first being around 11-1pm and the second around 6-8pm.

There is no restriction of food groups or macronutrients which many mainstream weight loss type diets require leaving you constantly craving for what you can't have. Once you get used to it, it's really easy to stick to as hunger is not an issue from reports of people who eat this way.

IF is not a diet, it's a pattern of eating. It's a way of scheduling your meals that doesn't change what you eat but when you eat. You can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.

While typical diets often yield lackluster results replete with weight regain, practicing IF fosters sustainable, automatic fat burning than typical calorie-restricted diets despite similar calorie intakes! In fact, most of the time you will be keeping your calories the same but you will be eating bigger meals during a shorter time frame.

You will love the simplicity of this type of eating. Eating two meals a day allows you to eat one less meal, which also means planning one less meal, cooking one less meal and stressing about one less meal.

It makes life a bit simpler and that is a good thing. Perhaps most importantly, IF is one of the simplest strategies we have for taking fat weight off while keeping good weight on (muscle tissue) because it requires very little behaviour change. It falls into the category of 'simple enough that you'll actually do it, but meaningful enough that it will actually make difference.'

Given the known benefits for metabolism and all sorts of health markers, it makes sense that IF could help you live a longer and healthier life.

Today, modern science has proven that fasting yields the following benefits:

Promotes insulin sensitivity - crucial for health, as insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity contributes to nearly
all chronic diseases;

Normalizes ghrelin levels, also known as your 'hunger hormone';

Increases the rate of HGH production, important for health, fitness, and slowing the aging process;

Lowers triglyceride (blood fat) levels;

Helps suppress inflammation
and fight free radical damage.