Lately people have asked me this question a lot… If you know me you would probably know that if I hear something works, I need to try it before I can talk about it, I’ve done both and I’ll tell you what I think about them… A quick online search can also give you some science behind each one of them, here’s what I think…
What’s Intermittent Fasting? this eating strategy cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting. The content of your meals during eating periods is not a factor. Some cycle between eating and fasting each day, creating a small window for eating and fasting for at least 16 hours, while others cycle eating and fasting across several days, taking as much as 48 hours at a time to fast.
Pros: Humans have been fasting for thousands of years. Our bodies are well equipped to handle periods of fasting. Research shows that fasting produces benefits for disease prevention, metabolic health, weight loss and even life extension. Some find it less work to fast rather than to plan for several small meals. During eating periods you get to eat whatever you want.
Cons: Abstaining from nourishment for long periods of time can be challenging, especially when food is all around you. Socially it can be awkward to skip meals while your friends and family break bread together. Some find themselves overeating during eating cycles, and some find the ongoing absence of food to aggravate food obsession and to produce an unbalanced focus on food.
My thoughts: I honestly love fasting, specially after a bad weekend or festivities like Thanksgiving. To me, fasting brings an awareness of my body and energy that I wouldn’t feel otherwise… And I believe it helps me cope with hunger much better, I find it a lot easier to meditate and being mindful when I fast, I do not allow myself to binge on the eating periods, and incredibly I do find lots of energy to exercise while fasting. Maximum amount of time I can fast is 16 hours at a time, followed by healthy eating, fast again, no more than 2 days at a time.
Six Small Meals: this eating strategy, of breaking the traditional 3 square meals into 6 smaller meals that are spaced 2-3 hours apart, has been used by body builders and fitness competitors for years. The content and size of each meal is an important factor of this eating plan. Meals early in the day contain lean protein, fiber-filled veggies and a small portion of complex carbs, while meals later in the day are smaller and do not contain any complex carbs. All meals are low in fat.
Pros: You never feel hungry. By fueling up every 2-3 hours you never get the feeling of deprivation that comes with fasting. Energy levels are steady and high due to the constant supply of wholesome calories. Fat loss results are steady, and, when done with an exercise plan, muscle is maintained.
Cons: You have to plan ahead. Every. Single. Day. Get used to carrying around a small cooler filled with containers of chicken, broccoli, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Each meal is small, so restraint is required. Unless you are including the occasional cheat meal, or cheat day, there is no room in this diet for empty calories or comfort foods.
My thoughts: This takes work, but it’s so worth it, it allows me to keep my blood sugar at a good level and it helps when I want to build muscle. This I can do at any time, as for fasting it has to be when my body really needs it… I carry dry fruits and nuts to keep me going and I feel like I never feel hungry. I almost always recommend this method to all my clients who are just getting started.
The facts are out there to prove that both of these eat-for-fat-loss strategies work. There are photos of real, actual people who have subscribed to each of these methods and have gone from flabby to lean. Both methods irrefutably work.
But why? How can two methods that utilize opposing strategies both produce fat loss results? And which one is better? Let’s dive deeper into what makes these eating strategies work…
1. Meal Timing: When you eat is a factor with both of these eating plans. This means that subscribers to both plans are required to wait until the appointed time to eat. So mindless snacking, or grabbing a muffin just because it’s there, is out of the question. This reduces overall calories, which is key to weight loss, and explains why both plans produce results.
2. Meal Content: The Six-Small-Meals plan focuses on the content of each of your small meals in great detail. Your meals contain lean proteins, fiber-filled veggies, and limited complex carbs. This detailed control of calorie content is largely why this plan is a sure bet for fat loss, not just weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting does not consider the content of your meals during eating periods.
3. Meal Size: The Six-Small-Meals plan also focuses on the exact size of your meals, which makes sense since you are eating six times each day, and excess calories would quickly add up. Typically this is done by weight, so as you pack your meals for the day you’ll be using a food scale to ensure that you have exactly the right amount of lean protein and complex carbs. Veggies are often measured rather than weighed.
Intermittent Fasting does not consider the size of your meals during eating periods.
So What’s the BEST Eating Strategy for FAST Results? If I have to be 100% honest with you I would say that both work really well, but there is one and only one way to embrace healthy living that is sustainable:
Diets, programs, are great to jump start your metabolism, all work!! ALL OF THEM WORK, Paleo, Atkins, Whole 30, Intermitent fasting, Vegan… All have different benefits and you can’t argue with the facts, but as long as you learn to become mindful with what goes into your mouth, nothing will be sustainable.
I suggest that you try each one and see how it works for you, the most important part is to FEEL what’s going on with your body. Your body is extremely smart and will tell you, if you only take the time to listen 🙂
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