If you’re male and struggle to lose excess body fat, you are not alone. Currently, more than 38 percent of men are overweight, and 35 percent battle with obesity.
To shed your excess body weight and get on the path to wellness, you’ll need to implement healthy lifestyle changes, but it can be challenging to know where to start. One of the best places to start is with your eating plan.
Intermittent Fasting is a proven weight loss strategy for men, and a fantastic place to start your weight loss journey.
Intermittent Fasting is an eating plan where you alternate periods of eating with periods of fasting. Recently, Intermittent Fasting has become immensely popular, but many cultures fasted for religious and cultural reasons for thousands of years. You might be surprised to learn you already fast daily. When you sleep, you spend an average of eight hours in a fasted state.
Intermittent fasting essentially encourages you to extend that fasting period a bit longer. You can skip breakfast and eat your first meal later in the day, eat an early dinner, or choose to go an entire day without food. This nutritional change allows your body time to regulate your blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol levels between meals.
Intermittent fasting offers numerous benefits, including:
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves blood pressure
- Lowers cholesterol
- Reduces insulin resistance
- Reduces your risk of coronary heart disease
Unhealthy Lifestyle Implications
Your sex and genetics play an essential role in determining your body weight, but the influence of an unhealthy lifestyle is equally crucial, and one you have control over. Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently examined the link between an unhealthy lifestyle and long-term weight gain.
In a 20-year study, specific dietary factors such as eating starchy potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, red meat, and processed meats led participants to experience a steady weight gain every four years. Likewise, lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, limited physical activity, and poor sleeping habits all led to an increase in body fat.
With a rise in accessibility for unhealthy fast foods and prevalence of sedentary jobs, this study highlights the importance of making healthy nutritional choices for yourself. Your food choices and how often you eat can drastically influence your weight loss, and your metabolism and testosterone levels.
Your Metabolism is Unique
Your metabolism breaks down the food you eat into micro-nutrients your body can use. These substrates fuel your body and are essential to building, repairing, and maintaining healthy tissues and organ function. When you rest, your metabolism still burns calories to keep your heart pumping, your lungs breathing, and other organs working their best.
Men tend to have higher metabolic rates than women because their hormones promote lean muscle tissue. It takes more energy to maintain muscle mass, so you’ll typically burn more energy than a female. As you age or become sedentary, your lean muscle mass decreases and your metabolism will slow, which can cause you to burn calories at a slower rate.
To encourage weight loss, try to maintain a higher metabolism by incorporating healthy eating and exercise habits into your lifestyle. If you implement fasting, your body can improve metabolic function and create a calorie deficit to help you lose weight.
Does Intermittent Fasting Impact Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone found in both sexes, but is present in much higher levels among men.
It is responsible for many traditionally male characteristics, including:
- Development of penis and testes
- Libido (sex drive)
- Enhanced muscularity and bone strength
- Deeper voice
- Thicker body and facial hair
If your testosterone levels get depleted, you may experience a loss of muscle tone, increased body fat, and other side effects.Low testosterone can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Intermittent fasting increases Luteinizing Hormone (LH) levels in your body. This hormone stimulates the production of testosterone. As LH levels rise, so do your overall testosterone levels. One study showed men who participated in intermittent fasting increased LH by as much as 67 percent as well as boosted overall testosterone levels by 180 percent.
Will You Lose Muscle?
In comparison to other weight loss methods, your risk of losing muscle mass while intermittent fasting is low. Intermittent fasting can help you achieve body recomposition, meaning you’ll decrease your body fat percentage and increase your muscle mass simultaneously.
To avoid losing muscle along with your fat, it’s essential you increase your protein intake on non-fasting days. Experts at the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M University recommend you reduce your calories by 30 to 40 percent, and increase your protein intake to 0.55 to 1.4 grams per pound of body weight.
Try to distribute your protein sources evenly throughout the day, it will help you maximize protein absorption. Incorporate protein-rich foods such as poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products at each meal.
Popular Intermittent Fasting Protocols for Men
There are many intermittent fasting styles used for weight loss that share similar benefits. The best protocol is the one that fits your lifestyle and goals.
- 16:8 Method: This style is popular with celebrities Terry Crews and Hugh Jackman who use this pattern of eating to stay in shape. The 16:8 method uses an extended nightly fast of 16 hours and reduces your daily eating window to 8 hours. You can eat two-three meals during your eating window as long as you keep your meals within the eight-hour time frame.
- 5:2 Method: This method allows you to eat as you typically would five days a week, and restrict your calories to 600 (for men) the other two days. The 5:2 eating pattern is simplest for you if you don’t want to keep track of your eating windows daily, and would rather track calories two days a week.
- Alternate Day or Eat Stop Eat Method: These protocols have you choose one-three days per week to fast, (or eat very few calories) then you’d eat as you typically would in between your fast days. The Eat-Stop-Eat method is a more aggressive form of fasting, and you may find it more challenging to stick to over the long haul.
Fasting Isn’t For Everyone
If you’re healthy, fasting should be safe, but if you suffer from certain disorders or conditions, talk with your healthcare provider before you try intermittent fasting.
Avoid intermittent fasting if you:
- Suffer from disordered eating
- Have Diabetes
- Suffer from gout
- Are in treatment for cancer
- Need to take certain medications with food during the day
It’s vital to listen to your body and do what feels right for you. Fasting can make you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or low energy, especially in the beginning when your body isn’t used to fasting for very long. Be mindful when you fast and avoid fasting when you perform strenuous activity, or operate heavy machinery.
Why You Should Choose Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
If you’ve been contemplating how to begin your weight loss journey, intermittent fasting can be a great first step. The IF lifestyle can help you shed unwanted body fat, and it can help you improve your health overall.
Fasting can fight high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, so you can live a full life. It can be frustrating to be overweight, but it doesn’t have to be. Intermittent fasting might be the key you need to successfully lose weight, and feel your best.