Chances are you have heard someone talk about intermittent fasting, but have you really stopped to learn about it? At first, it sounds intimidating, and you know you could never handle it because you need to eat regularly. However, when you learn about what intermittent fasting really is and how it works within your body, you might just want to give it a try.

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What Is Intermittent Fasting?

First, let’s talk about what this term really means. Basically, it means not eating for a certain period of time to help your body burn more fat. There are a few different forms of intermittent fasting out there, but today we are going to talk about one of the most common: the 16:8 fast. In this version, you fast for 16 hours per day and consume all of your calories within the remaining eight hours. But before you think that’s impossible, realize that you are sleeping for a vast majority of the 16 hours. Most people follow the schedule of only eating between the hours of 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM. So you would eat dinner before six, go to sleep, wake up, and then eat a few hours later.

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What Is Allowed While Fasting?

Intermittent fasting works by extending the “fat-burning mode” your body naturally goes into every night as you sleep. By giving your body a full 16 hours of no calories, you can burn fat effortlessly. In order to keep your body in the proper mode, you are not allowed to have more than 30 calories per “fasting” hour. That means you can have all the black coffee (with stevia if you prefer), water, and plain tea you desire without worrying about breaking the fast.

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Does It Work?

While there aren’t huge studies done on it, the people who follow this plan swear by it. A small study recently published in the journal Nutrition and Healthy Aging shows why. The researchers had 23 obese women and men follow the 16:8 intermittent fasting plan for three months and then compared their results to a similar group that ate normally. They found that the people doing intermittent fasting consumed 350 fewer calories each day (probably because they only had eight hours to eat) and lost an average of 2.5% of their body weight. And the most exciting part is that they had no restrictions on what they were allowed to eat during their eight hours, so the results could hypothetically be even more impressive if healthy foods were chosen.

While the research at this point is limited, intermittent fasting is definitely getting quite the reputation in the weight loss industry, and it is certainly worth a try. Just commit to at least a week while your hormones adjust before you give up (the first few days can be challenging), and chances are you will never look back.