By: Jason Lewis
In the never-ending quest to shed body fat, fitness enthusiasts around the world have tried just about every fad diet that has gone viral. Ask 10 people about sculpting a desirable body, and you will get 10 different answers. There are several programs that work, but some work much better than others.
One of the diet programs that’s producing incredible results is intermittent fasting, with the most popular version being the 16-8 diet. The dieter takes in the daily allotment of food over the course of an eight-hour period, and then fasts for 16 hours.
Intermittent fasting has been around in some form for decades, but it has recently taken the fitness industry by storm. The general public caught wind of it when reports of actor Hugh Jackman’s diet was revealed, as he used the 16-8 diet to build a muscular physique for the movie “Wolverine.”
Jackman’s version of the diet allowed him to burn so much body fat that every muscle in his body was prominent, and it also allowed him to bulk up at the same time.
“Fasting is like the Holy Grail,” said Jimmy Smith, who has an MS degree in Human Movement, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
Smith points out that most people don’t want to follow the body builder’s diets of either bulking – eating a high-caloric diet which leads to muscle gains, but also increases body fat – or cutting – usually done with a low-carbohydrate diet. Those diets do lead to weight loss, but they also lead to a loss in muscle mass and strength. Through fasting, people can benefit from the best of both worlds.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting increases growth hormones in men by as much as 2000 percent, which is great for overall quality of life and athletic performance. For people who are simply looking to get lean, higher levels of growth hormones can turn the body into a fat burning furnace.
Fasting also stabilizes and reduces blood sugar, it raises good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol, it reduces inflammation and improves insulin sensitivity, which is vital for fat loss.
Smith said that low-carbohydrate diets do work for weight loss, but intermittent fasting allows people to maintain proper carbohydrate levels– important for anybody who is participating in strenuous activities.
“Carbohydrates form muscle glycogen so that your body can use glucose, which is your body’s most efficient energy source while you train and during normal daily activities of life,” Smith said. “But on a low-carbohydrate diet, you do not have those carbohydrates coming in to make that make that muscle glycogen. You can get very little of it from protein and fat sources, so carbohydrate sources are needed.”
While on a low-carbohydrate diet, many people experience a loss in strength. The amount of weight that a person can lift in the weight room decreases. Speed and quickness slow down. The body doesn’t have the energy source that it needs. With the proper amount of carbohydrates the body has the fuel that it needs to get through a tough workout, which makes the body stronger.
On the intermittent fasting diet, a person can maintain normal carbohydrate intake, which fuels the body for workouts and still burns off body fat. In Jackman’s case, he was able to add muscle while burning body fat, as he ate 5,000 calories a day, all within an eight-hour period before fasting for 16 hours. Whatever the caloric demands of a person are, they don’t change while intermittent fasting. All of those calories are simply confined to the window of eating.
“Within reason, you can up your carbohydrates, and you will still get lean,” Smith said. “You will feel better and you will look fuller.”
For the 16-8 diet, the window of eating can be moved around based on a person’s work schedule, or workout program. During the fasting hours, it’s important to drink a lot of water, and it is ok to drink green tea and black coffee.
Many people are developing amazing bodies by simply switching from a low=carbohydrate diet to intermittent fasting, and the benefits extend to a better quality of life.
For more information on intermittent fasting, visit Smith’s website at www.jimmysmithtraining.com.