To fast or not to fast? That is the question asked by many of my new clients. So many of my clients have tried to lose body fat by trying some form of fasting. But there are so many approaches. It is challenging to know which one works. Two of the most popular fasting methods you've probably heard of are Intermittent Fasting OR Six Small Meals.
Which method works best? Which method should you follow? Here's the rundown on which one works best and why.
What Is Intermittent Fasting Method?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern with cycles of extended breaks between meals. The nutrient ratio of your meals during eating periods is usually not considered. First, there's the 16/8 method, which gives you a window of 8 hours to eat and 16 hours of fasting. Then there's the Eat-Stop-Eat method, which involves eating one day and fasting for 24 hours, then repeating. Thirdly, there's the 5:2 method which involves eating only 500 calories two days out of the week.
Pros: Fasting can raise human growth hormones and reduce levels of insulin. It can also help reduce inflammation which is a crucial driver to many chronic diseases. Intermittent fasting also increases the brain hormone BDNF, which aids the growth of new nerve cells and protects against diseases such as Alzheimer's. Intermittent fasting can even extend your lifespan by improving markers of oxidative stress. Furthermore, it can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood lipid and cholesterol levels.
Cons: Intermittent fasting can still lead to weight gain from feeling starved. It can make you prone to binging and consuming more calories than your body can burn, thus creating an eating disorder and give you the yo-yo effect of weight fluctuations. It can even cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea by lowering your blood sugar levels.
What Is The Six-Small-Meals Method?
Eating six small meals is a popular eating pattern for athletes. The strategy is to eat six meals every three hours within eighteen hours. The nutrient content and size of each meal is an essential factor of this eating plan. In addition, your weight, height, and activity determine the required nutrient ratio and calorie intake for the day. For example, if your required daily intake is 1500 calories with a balance of 40% carbohydrates, 40% protein, and 20% fat, each meal will equal two hundred and fifty calories with the 40/40/20 ratio.
Pros: The main benefit of eating six small meals a day is to help manage your blood glucose levels. This method suppresses hunger, especially when maintaining a calorie deficit for weight loss. Also, by eating every three hours, you'll keep your metabolic rate steady. When eating only three meals a day or less, your body goes into survival mode, lowering your metabolic rate to conserve energy. Adversely, your body will store more fat, especially if you're eating more calories than you need to for the day.
Cons: You'll have to follow a specific meal plan that is well balanced and maintains a calorie deficit. There is no room for cheat meals with this method. You'll have to prepare your meals and take them with you on the go. I usually get a fair amount of griping from my clients when following this method because it takes effort. But that is what it takes, EFFORT, which isn't a con.
Conclusion: What it really boils down to is if your goal is weight loss, you have to eat fewer calories each day. Both strategies work, but I prefer to simplify it by giving my clients the six-meal-a-day plan, a more realistic approach, rather than starving all day with the intermittent fasting method. Usually, they accidentally skip a meal because they forgot their meal at home, or failed to prepare, which inadvertently gave them a short fasting period, combining the two methods. If they miss a meal, the easy fix is to skip to the next scheduled meal. So, in conclusion, both methods irrefutably work.
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