How Many Days Should You Lift Weights Per Week?

Does training more often per week automatically equal better results? Some people can hit the gym five or six days a week, while others can barely manage two or three. Is it possible to achieve the same benefits?

If you’re like me, you may have no problem getting to the gym 4 times a week to train and lift weights. But, even I have to admit that I miss a day here and there. Hey, life happens, and the busier I get with my family and my career, the less time I’m able to devote to strength training.
In this article, I am going to take you through the research to answer the age-old question, “how many times per week should you be lifting weights?”

What Does The Research Say?

Studies show that in some cases the number of times per week you lift weights makes a difference, while in others it does not.
In older adults there is not much difference shown in strength, if the individual trains either once or twice per week, but there is a significant increase in strength when the time spent training jumps to 3 times per week.
When you look at studies of children training once or twice per week, there is a significant increase in the strength of the children who train twice per week.

What Does The Research Mean?

The research points towards the “sweet spot” of strength training somewhere between 2 and 3 times per week.
I typically recommend most people strength train roughly 3 days per week to make sure they hit that minimum effective dose, especially if they are not getting any other activity in during the week.
You could also consider adding a 4th day if you have a flexible schedule and have strength or sport-specific goals. In this case, make sure to deload your training and take a recovery week every month or so.

3 Rules If You Lift Weights 2-3 Times A Week

There is nothing wrong with only training 2 or 3 times a week, and most of the research shows that this is the perfect amount for most adults. As I mentioned, you should strive to lift weights 3 times a week, but if you can only make it twice, you will still get most of the benefits.

1. Full-Body Workouts

You will be able to train harder at each session, as most people’s bodies tend to recover faster from full body workouts.

2. Train Each Movement During Each Workout

Think in terms of movements, not muscles. You want to press and pull both horizontally (bench or row) and vertically (pull up or military press). For your legs, make sure to squat, deadlift, and train single-leg exercises.

You can train your core each day as long as you choose a different exercise (plank, side plank, anti-rotation holds.) 

3. Switch it up every 3-4 weeks

Your body will adapt to certain programs or exercises over time, so make sure to make your workouts progressively harder by doing different exercise variations, changing the sets and reps, and decreasing your rest time.
Strive to continually challenge your body and your limits.

4 Rules If You Lift Weights 4 Times A Week

If you have a more flexible schedule, are training for a sport, or are trying to make some serious changes to your physique, training 4 times a week might be the way to go. Again, it’s not necessary to get amazing results from your workout routine. But hey, it doesn’t hurt either.

1. Full-Body Workouts or Split Body Parts

When you train 4 days a week you can still train full-body each day, but if you are training to improve strength I recommend an upper/lower body split. This means you will train upper/lower/upper/lower throughout the week.

2. Train Each Movement 1x/Week

I recommend spending each day focusing on a specific movement pattern and choosing 2-3 exercises that train that movement.
Day 1: Horizontal Push/Pull (ex. bench press and dumbbell rows)
Day 2: Squats and Lunges
Day 3: Vertical Push/Pull (ex. pull ups and 1-arm dumbbell military press)
Day 4: Deadlifts and Hip Thrusts

3. Try Not To Train More Than 2 Days In A Row

It’s ok to train 2 days in a row, but I wouldn’t advise any more than that. Doing too many consecutive lifting sessions could affect your performance and increase your risk of injury.
Rest is a critical component of improving your strength, fitness, and body composition. It’s during rest that your body rebuilds and repairs your muscle tissue, so it’s always a good idea to take rest days to ensure proper recovery. This will allow you to keep training heavy week in and week out.

4. Deload Every 4-6 Weeks

Deloading doesn’t mean not lifting at all, just lightening it up a bit. You can either decrease the number of sets you do, the amount of weight used, or even skip a few workouts during this week to allow your body to recover more fully and repair damaged tissue. Believe it or not, this will actually help your progress.

To See Results – Lift Weights The Way It Works For You

The optimal number of days to lift weights per week ultimately depends on your goals and your schedule, but planning your training sessions ahead will allow you to get the best possible results for you. The best number to shoot for is three days a week, with two as a minimum and four as a maximum.
I’ll also add a disclaimer that you should be doing more to stay active than just lifting weights! Three days of strength training is great but make sure to get out, enjoy life and use that hard-earned muscle!

Can I Eat Pasta And Still Lose Weight?

Let’s role-play for a second – you’re a health conscious person who’s trying to lose a few pounds and shed some body fat. Now, imagine you’re at a restaurant and the waiter comes by to take your order.
You already know that the fish and chips, or the burger and fries might not be the best option considering your current goals.
You find yourself debating between a “healthier choice” of either grilled chicken or sautéed fish. You get the chicken, and then the waiter asks you to choose a side. You have 3 options: (1) a baked potato, (2) penne pasta, or (3) brown rice.
Which option would you choose, and why? In the context of losing weight, which side dish do you think best supports your goals?
Do you have your answer? How many of you chose brown rice?
What if I told you that the penne pasta would be the best choice? You might be surprised to learn that of those 3 side dishes, penne pasta has the lowest glycemic index.

The Glycemic Index and Fat Loss

While glycemic index (GI) is only one measure of evaluating a food, the fact that pasta has a lower GI does make it a more attractive option.
It’s inarguable that calorie intake has the biggest impact on the whole fat loss equation, but controlling your blood sugar levels by opting for lower glycemic foods definitely plays a role in weight and fat loss as well.
So, contrary to popular opinion, you can eat pasta and still lose weight. But this doesn’t mean you should make pasta the foundation of every meal. The key to eating pasta and getting a lean is to control your portions.

Strategies to Stay Lean While Eating Pasta

These 3 strategies will help you eat pasta while losing body fat:

1. Keep Your Portion Size In Check

Look to the Italians on this one. They love their pasta in Italy and eat it pretty much every day, sometimes even multiple times a day! How many obese Italians do you see? Not many.
The issue with pasta is that it’s very calorie dense (meaning that it contains a lot of calories per gram of food), making it very easy to overeat. But it all comes down to portion sizes. A single serving of pasta will do very little harm to your fat loss goals.
So if you keep your portion sizes under control, you should be just fine. One serving equals 1 cup of cooked pasta.
Pro Tip: When eating pasta, make it your side dish to complement a bigger portion of protein and veggies. See recipe below.

2. Choose Your Sauce Carefully (Or Make Your Own)

When I was a kid, I used to love fettuccini alfredo. The cream, the cheese, the fettuccini – it was incredible! I would order it every time my family went out to dinner.
But now that I’m an adult, I don’t eat it anymore. That is, unless I’m looking to pack on some weight. Why? Because alfredo sauce is loaded with calories – almost 900 calories in one jar!
When you decide to eat pasta, watch out for any cream-based sauces, especially when you eat at a restaurant. These dishes are guaranteed to be loaded with calories, and generally contain a much larger serving than if you were to make it at home.
But even if you avoid cream-based sauces, it’s important to be mindful of any store bought tomato sauces as well. Most contain added sugars, some variety of low quality refined oil, and possibly even corn syrup.
When you buy pasta sauce at the store, select one that’s tomato-based, contains no added sugars, and is made with olive oil.
Otherwise, you can try making your own sauce. It doesn’t have to be complicated and actually can be done in less then 5 minutes. Check out the recipe below
Pro Tip: Make your own basic sauce with garlic, olive oil, and basil with the simple below recipe.

3. Eat Pasta Post-Workout

After an intense workout, your muscle cells are more receptive to carbohydrates meaning you can safely consume carbohydrate-rich foods with little damage to your fat loss goals. There are two primary reasons for this:
• You need to replenish your glycogen (carbohydrates) stores, which get depleted by intense exercise.
• Intense exercise induces specific hormonal responses that make you more insulin sensitive post-workout.
This is why the bodybuilders at the gym freak the hell out if they can’t get their protein and carb shake right after a workout. It’s this post-workout anabolic window that they are trying to take advantage of.
While the research differs slightly on the duration of this post workout window, it is a safe bet to consume pasta within a 2-hour period post workout.
It’s important to note – this is a variation of “nutrient timing”, which is an advanced nutrition strategy that only works if you have a solid nutritional foundation already in place.
Pro Tip: Plan a pasta night after an intense strength workout that you do later in the day, preferably within 2 hours of eating dinner.

Regular vs Whole Grain Pasta

While regular pasta can definitely be a part of a fat loss diet, the same serving size of whole grain pasta packs a lot more nutrition with fewer calories.

Regular Pasta

Sure, regular pasta might be enriched with specific nutrients, including iron and b-vitamins, but it lacks dietary fiber which means that it’s less satiating. Without dietary fiber, regular pasta is digested faster and the sugars are released into your bloodstream more rapidly. This could cause you to be hungrier sooner, especially if you don’t include lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats in your pasta dish.

Whole Grain Pasta

Whole grain pasta, on the other hand, contains trace minerals like selenium in addition to b-vitamins and iron, and also has more dietary fiber. You’ll probably find a bowl of whole grain pasta to be more satiating, keeping you full for a longer period of time. If you add some protein and vegetables, you have a nutrient-dense meal that also keeps your blood sugar levels more stable.
NutritionRegular Enriched SpaghettiWhole Grain Spaghetti
Carbohydrates43 g37 g
Fat1 g1 g
Protein8 g7 g
Dietary Fiber3 g6g

Quick & Simple Healthy Pasta Recipe

Now that you know the best strategies to eat pasta on a fat loss diet, try this delicious and protein-rich recipe after your next workout:

Penne Pasta with Garlic Basil Chicken & Veggies

2 cups whole grain pasta, cooked
6 cloves garlic
3 chicken breasts, precooked
3 cups broccoli & cauliflower
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup fresh basil, diced
1 tbsp parmesan cheese

1. Boil about 6 cups water.
2. Dice the garlic and basil, and chop the cooked chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes.
3. Add the pasta to boiling water. Turn the heat to medium and set a timer according to package instructions.*
4. In a large pan, sauté garlic on medium heat for 2 minutes olive oil. Add in cooked veggies and cubed chicken. Sauté for additional 2 minutes.
5. Remove the pasta from heat and drain the water.
6. Add pasta, basil and butter to large sautéing pan with veggies and chicken. Sauté for approximately 5 minutes, or until the chicken and veggies are warm.
7. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and serve it up!

*Cook pasta to al-dente, slightly firm to the bite. I would sample the pasta about 2-3 minutes before the recommended cook time to make sure you don’t overcook it. Overcooking pasta is a double-whammy – it not only tastes bad, but it also boosts the glycemic effect.

Nutrition: Makes 3 servings.
Per Serving:
460 calories, 40 g protein, 23 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 23g fiber
I hope this article gave you some useful tools to help you make better decisions about your nutrition. Now you know that, with a few simple strategies, you can eat pasta and stay lean. Give this recipe a try! 

High Reps vs. Low Reps: Which is Better?

If you walk into most gyms today, you’ll see a major contrast between the weights used by men and women.
Some women will curl 5 pound dumbbells for 25 reps in an effort to “tone” their arms, while some guys will bench a ton of weight for only a few reps in an effort to put on muscle and increase strength.
The idea is that high reps help you lose fat and make a muscle more “toned”. On the other hand, low reps can help you build muscle and increase strength.
Is it really this simple? High reps for fat loss and low reps for strength and muscle building?
In this article, you will learn why it’s a smart idea to use both low and high rep ranges in your workout regimen if you want to build muscle, lose fat, or simply improve overall physical fitness. You will also learn why you can build muscle, increase strength, or lose fat with just about any rep range, but some rep ranges are more optimal than others for each training outcome. Finally, in terms of time-efficiency, safety, and overall effectiveness, the ideal rep ranges to elicit the greatest changes in body composition (both fat loss and muscle building) likely occur within the 6-12 rep range.

High Reps vs. Low Reps: The Strength Continuum

The Strength Continuum is a framework where strength and endurance exist on a continuum that defines the relationship between weight, reps, and training outcome. Strength is represented by the 1 repetition maximum (1RM), which is the maximum weight that can be lifted for one rep, and endurance is the ability to exert a lower force repeatedly over time.
Low repetitions with heavy weight increases strength, whereas high repetitions with light weight increases endurance. According to the concept, as repetitions increase there is a gradual transition from strength to endurance.
Below is a commonly used graph of the strength continuum. The training outcome “Hypertrophy”, which means muscle-building is not an entirely accurate label as you’ll learn more about in a moment.
This framework also works in line with our understanding of muscle fiber types. High reps develop Type 1 muscle fibers (“slow twitch”) that are endurance based and slow to fatigue. Lower repetitions activate Type 2 muscle fibers (“fast twitch”), which have greater power but fatigue quickly.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Strength

For optimal strength increases, the research conclusively supports low reps with heavy weight vs. high reps with light weight, but high reps can still elicit gains in strength as well.
For example, in one study, 23 cyclists were placed into high resistance/low repetition (LR), low resistance/high repetition (HR), or cycling-only groups for a 10-week program.
There were substantial strength gains in all 4 resistance training exercises tested for both LR and HR groups, but the LR group had “significantly” greater strength gains than the HR group in the leg press exercise. Interestingly, muscle hypertrophy and overall endurance was relatively equal.
As this study and many others highlight, for optimal strength gains, lift relatively heavier weight for low reps. This is in line with how Powerlifters train for competitions to help increase neuromuscular adaptation, which is the efficiency of the brain to control the muscles. You can get stronger as a result of increase in muscle size OR increase in neuromuscular adaptation.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Fat Loss

Some believe heavy weights are only good for building muscle, but what about fat loss? Can lifting heavier help you burn more fat, or does it turn you into the hulk?
One study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that dieters who lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as dieters who did just cardio, but all the weight lost by the weight lifters was fat while the cardio group lost muscle along with some fat.3. The common belief is that high reps magically get rid of fat. While high reps with light weight to fatigue can create a muscular response, it does not necessarily remove fat better than low reps with heavy weight.
While more studies are needed to compare the fat loss effects of high reps vs. low reps, substantial evidence is mounting that it’s not necessarily the amount of weight that is used, or the number of repetitions that helps burn the most fat, but the intensity of the workout. The goal is to create muscular failure with less rest between exercises, which can have powerful hormonal, metabolic, and calorie burn effects. In addition, for fat loss, proper nutrition will have a MUCH greater impact on fat loss than the specific rep range, or even workout.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Building Muscle

Similar to fat loss, the number of rep ranges that is optimal for muscle building is open to debate and the research is inconclusive. Most research points to reps under 15 reps as being better for muscle building, but other research shows muscle building can be equally effective with light weight and high reps.
For example, a recent study of resistance-trained young men found that light weight with high reps, performed until failure, was equally effective in stimulating muscle proteins as a heavy weight with low reps.
There is a common misconception that lifting heavier weights automatically helps you build muscle. That’s not the case at all. In fact, how much you eat in combination with the overall volume and intensity of the workout and how it becomes more challenging over time will make the difference, not necessarily the weight/reps. 
If you eat relatively less calories than you burn, you can lift very, very heavy weight and most likely not gain an ounce of muscle mass. This especially applies to women who have 1/10 the amount of the muscle-building hormone testosterone as men. In a calorie deficit, increases in strength are likely due to neuromuscular adaptation and not increases in muscle mass.

High Reps vs. Low Reps: Putting It All Together

So now we know just about any rep range can help you increase strength, build muscle, or lose fat, but what ranges should you use? What should be your focus? The following proposes what may be optimal rep ranges based on specific goals.

Primary Goal – Increasing Strength

Strength – Under 6 reps (80-100% of exercise volume)
Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (0-20% of exercise volume)
Endurance – 15+ reps (0-10% of exercise volume)
The top strength athletes in the world spend the vast majority of their time lifting very heavy weight for low reps. While we know higher rep ranges can also create strength gains, lower reps are optimal.

Primary Goal – Optimal Fat Loss

Strength – Under 6 reps (0-15% of exercise volume)
Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (70-85% of exercise volume)
Endurance – 15+ reps (15% of exercise volume)
As stated earlier, the intensity of the workout is more important than the specific rep ranges for fat loss, but the following is a smart approach that combines what I consider the “sweet spot” of the 6-15 reps, which can further be broken down into 6-10 and 10-15. For less advanced lifters and the general population, those ranges can be changed slightly to 8-12, and 12-15.
There a couple very compelling benefits of the 6-15 rep range. First, you are getting significant muscle stimulation with much less chance of injury than lifting very heavy weights for low reps (under 6 reps). Second, it takes less time to workout than using 15+ reps all the time, which does not offer much added benefit. If you are a beginner, I recommend against using under 12 reps. 
If you don’t want to push yourself with low reps, there isn’t any need to go below 6 reps, or even below 10 reps if you are older, or fear getting injured. Lifting in multiple rep ranges will help stimulate a maximum amount of muscle fibers to help burn fat and improve overall fitness.
So how do you implement high and low rep ranges in your workouts? There are few primary options (1) complete low and high reps in the same workout using different exercises, (2) start out with higher reps (say 15 reps) and go down in reps as you complete multiple sets for a given exercise, or (3) change up your workouts, so that some are geared towards strength vs. endurance.

Primary Goal – Building Muscle

Strength – Under 6 reps (30% of exercise volume)
Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (60% of exercise volume)
Endurance – 15+ reps (10% of exercise volume)
As you learned before, while research shows it is possible to build muscle with lighter weights, the traditional method is to lift relatively heavier weights and increase those weights over time. Of course, genetics play an important factor as does the composition of muscle fibers from one muscle to the next and one individual to the next.
I hope this article was enlightening to help dispel some of the common myths associated with lifting weights and has empowered you with useful information you can apply to your current exercise regimen.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

With intermittent fasting, your body operates differently when "feasting" compared to when "fasting": When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food, burning what it can from what you just consumed. Because it has all of this readily available, easy to burn energy in its blood stream (thanks to the food you ate), your body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat you have stored. This is especially true if you just consumed carbohydrates/sugar, as your body prefers to burn sugar as energy before any other source.
During the "fasted state," your body doesn't have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it is more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body, rather than the glucose in your blood stream or glycogen in your muscles/liver.
Burning fat = win.
The same goes for working out in a "fasted" state. Without a ready supply of glucose and glycogen to pull from (which has been depleted over the course of your fasted state, and hasn't yet been replenished with a pre-workout meal), your body is forced to adapt and pull from the only source of energy available to it: the fat stored in your cells!
Why does this work? Your body reacts to energy consumption (eating food) with insulin production. Essentially, the more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you'll be to use the food you consume efficiently, which can help lead to weight loss and muscle creation. Along with that, your body is most sensitive to insulin following a period of fasting.
Your glycogen (a starch stored in your muscles and liver that your body can burn as fuel when necessary) is depleted during sleep (fasting), and will be depleted even further during training, which can further increase insulin sensitivity. This means that a meal immediately following your workout will be stored most efficiently: mostly as glycogen for muscle stores, burned as energy immediately to help with the recovery process, with minimal amounts stored as fat.
Compare this to a regular day (no intermittent fasting). With insulin sensitivity at normal levels, the carbs and foods consumed will see full glycogen stores, enough glucose in the blood stream, and thus be more likely to get stored as fat. Not only that, but growth hormone is increased during fasted states (both during sleep and after a period of fasting). Combine this increased growth hormone secretion, the decrease in insulin production (and thus increase in insulin sensitivity), and you're essentially priming your body for muscle growth and fat loss with intermittent fasting.

Fasting the Way That's Right for You

    There are many considerations to take note when fasting intermittently:

    • Intermittent fasting is not a form of extreme calorie restriction. It's a practice that should make you feel good. If your fasting strategy is making your feel weak, you need to reevaluate it.
    • Typical fast time ranges from 14 to 18 hours, and the longest you'll ever abstain from food is 36 hours. You may also opt to delay eating, which is what I've been personally doing. I advise that you skip breakfast and eat your lunch and dinner within a six to eight-hour time frame, and stop eating three hours before you go to bed.

      Fasting will help your body adjust from burning carbs to burning fat. Eating on a six- to eight-hour window can take a few weeks and should be done gradually. Once your body has successfully shifted into fat burning mode, it will be easier for you to fast for as much as 18 hours and still feel satiated. Your craving for sugar will slowly dissipate and managing your weight will be easier.
    • It is not advisable to practice intermittent fasting if your daily diet is filled with processed foods. Addressing the quality of your diet is crucial before you venture into fasting. It's critical to avoid the wrong calories, including refined carbohydrates, sugar/fructose, and grains.

      Within the six to eight hours that you do eat, you need to eliminate refined carbohydrates like pizza, bread, and potatoes. Fill your diet with vegetable carbohydrates, healthy protein, and healthy fats such as butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, and raw nuts. 

      On the days that you work out while fasting, it's best to consume a recovery meal—ideally consisting of fast-assimilating whey protein—30 minutes after your workout. Finding out what schedule works for you may take some trials and errors.
    • Intermittent fasting is not something you should carelessly undertake. ALWAYS pay close attention to your body and your energy levels. Individuals who are hypoglycemic, diabetic, or pregnant (and/or breastfeeding) should avoid any type of calorie restriction until your blood sugar or insulin levels are regulated.

    Tips for Fasting and Exercising Safely: A Post-Workout Recovery Meal is Crucial

    An effective exercise program that incorporates high-intensity interval training combined with intermittent fasting can help counteract muscle aging and wasting, and boost fat-burning. If at any point you don't have enough energy or don't feel good, then it is likely time to shift your experiment and reduce the hours of fasting. Intermittent fasting should make you feel better, and if it doesn't then it is best to reevaluate your strategy.
    Make sure to keep the following two points in mind:
    1.Timing of meals: Intermittent fasting is not extreme calorie restriction. You're not supposed to starve yourself. Rather it's simply a matter of timing your meals properly by abstaining from food during much of the day, and limiting your eating to a small window later in the evening. If you were to limit eating to say 4-7 pm, you are effectively fasting for 21 hours. Ideally, you'll want to fast for at least 12-18 hours.
    If you can't abstain from food entirely during the day, limit it to small servings of light, low-glycemic, mostly raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, whey protein or lightly poached eggs every 4-6 hours. Whatever times you choose, it will be very helpful to avoid having any food or calories for three hours prior to going to bed as this will minimize oxidative damage to your system and give your body a major jumpstart in intermittent fasting.
    2.Break your fast with a recovery meal on workout days: On the days that you work out while fasting, you need to consume a recovery meal 30 minutes after your workout. Fast-assimilating whey protein is ideal. Then fast again until you eat your main meal at night. It's very important that you eat an appropriate recovery meal after your workout session, as this will prevent brain and muscle damage from occurring, so do NOT skip this meal.
    If the thought of fasting for 12-18 hours is too much, you can get many of the same benefits of fasting and exercise by simply skipping breakfast and exercising first thing in the morning when your stomach is empty. This is because eating a full meal, particularly carbohydrates, before your workout will inhibit your sympathetic nervous system and reduce the fat burning effect of your exercise. Instead, eating lots of carbs activates your parasympathetic nervous system, (which promotes energy storage – the complete opposite of what you're aiming for).

    Fasting for a Few Days Can Regenerate Your Immune System

    In related news, another recent study has found that a three-day long fast can regenerate your entire immune system, even if you're elderly. The researchers described the findings as "remarkable." Fasting for a few days, they found, has the power to kick-start your stem cells into producing more white blood cells, which are part of your body's natural defense arsenal. As reported by Daily Life: 
    "Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for those suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune systems become less effective...
    ''And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system."
    They discovered that longer fasts (two to four days) led to the reduction of an enzyme called protein kinase A (PKA), which previous research has linked to life extension in simple organisms. Starving the body for a couple of days turns off the gene for PKA, and this is the trigger that tells your stem cells to shift into regeneration mode. According to Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the University of Southern California, this is what "gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system." Fasting for three days also led to a reduction of IGF-1, a growth factor hormone linked to aging, cancer, and tumor growth. According to co-author Tanya Dorff:9 ''The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy."

    Three Reasons Why Intermittent Fasting Works

    For people who loathe the idea of dieting, intermittent fasting offers a simple alternative that doesn't involve calorie counting or starvation. In fact, I prefer to think of intermittent fasting as a lifestyle shift rather than simply a diet change. It's a way of living and eating that can help you live a longer, healthier life without feeling like you sacrificing too much. If you're still skeptical, there are three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your body, as it extends lifespan and protects against disease, including:
    1. Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency – Fasting increases insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, and thereby retards aging and disease, which are typically associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy.
    2. Reduced oxidative stress – Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
    3. Increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging – Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging.

    Intermittent Fasting Is Not a Diet – It's a Lifestyle

    While most people would think that intermittent fasting is a fairly new approach to healthy living, this type of lifestyle has actually been practiced even during the early times. For example, our hunter-gatherer ancestors rarely had access to food 24/7 – this may mean that our genes are likely optimized to consume sporadic, intermittent meals as opposed to regular cycles of feasting. During the 1940s, the benefits of intermittent fasting have also been widely appreciated. There are also religious sects that consider fasting a tradition, even until today.
    In my opinion, intermittent fasting is very different from fad diets that are widespread today. It's actually a lifestyle shift – it allows you to live and eat well, but without making you feel as if you are sacrificing too much.
    There are three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your body:
    • It increases your mitochondrial energy efficiency and insulin sensitivity. This helps retards aging and disease, which are both associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy
    • It reduces oxidative stress. The decreased accumulation of oxidative radicals in your cells helps ward off oxidative damage to lipids, cellular proteins, and nucleic acids
    • Increased resistance to stress, disease, and aging. It induces a cellular stress response that upregulates the expression of genes, helping increase your capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging
    Aside from these benefits and the apparent weight loss, one of the most wonderful effects of intermittent fasting is its ability to eliminate your hunger and sugar cravings. You lose the desire to eat unhealthy processed foods – a definite advantage that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
    Another boon of intermittent fasting that I would like to stress on: you're not going to starve yourself. You don't even have to restrict the amount of food you eat. However, please note that you have to be careful in choosing healthy foods. Avoid or minimize your intake of carbs and replace them instead with healthy fats like olive oil, olives, eggs, butter, coconut oil, avocados, and nuts.
    It may take a few weeks for your body to shift to fat-burning mode, but once you become "fat adapted," your body will be able to burn your stored fat and you will not need to rely on new carbs for fuel.

    Intermittent Fasting Reduces Your Diabetes and Heart Disease Risk

    Did you know that aside from helping you lose weight and supporting your fitness goals, intermittent fasting can also reduce your risk of chronic diseases, particularly heart disease and diabetes?
    According to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease, obese or overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes who fast on consecutive or alternate days not only lost more weight, but also acquired cardioprotective benefits and experienced better heart health.
    I believe that this clearly supports the notion that going against the customary "three square meals" a day in favor of intermittent fasting may have superb benefits for your overall health.

    Research Confirms How Intermittent Fasting May Be the Key to Fighting Obesity and Diabetes

    The report, which evaluated the various approaches to intermittent fasting, particularly its benefits and limitations in fighting type 2 diabetes and obesity, found that fasting had a broad range of therapeutic potential. These effects were seen even though the total calorie intake of the subjects did not change or was only slightly reduced.
    The review suggests that intermittent fasting may also play a role in:
    • Limiting inflammation
    • Improving circulating glucose and lipid levels
    • Reducing blood pressure
    • Helping prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes (or even slowing its progression)
    • Causing significant reductions in body weight (especially in obese individuals)
    • Improving metabolic efficiency and body composition
    • Improving insulin levels and insulin sensitivity
    • Improving pancreatic function
    • Reducing LDL and total cholesterol levels
    • Helping modulate levels of visceral fat, the dangerous fat that gathers around your internal organs

    Eating Breakfast Does Not Improve Metabolism, Study Finds

    Skipping breakfast is one form of intermittent fasting in which you restrict your daily eating to a specific window of time, say between 11am and 7pm, as an example. This type of eating schedule typically does promote weight loss—but what you eat is another important factor.
    This is especially true if you're severely overweight and eat a standard American processed food diet. Many people find that eating breakfast leads to feeling hungry again soon thereafter, which can lead to unnecessary snacking. This is reflected in another recent study4 into the metabolic effects of eating or skipping breakfast.
    As reported by Time Magazine
    "...contrary to popular belief, having breakfast every day was not tied to an improvement in metabolism. Prior thought—supported by research—has shown that eating early in the day can prevent people from overeating later out of hunger, and it boosts their metabolism early. The new study which examined causal links between breakfast habits and energy balance couldn't prove that."
    The study found that eating breakfast was linked to a greater overall dietary energy intake. And again, the type of foods you eat for breakfast may be the key ingredient that is being overlooked in this type of research—both past and present. Typically, you will find that eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast will tend to make you hungry again far sooner than a low-carb, high-fat breakfast will. The reason for this is because if your body is using sugar as its primary fuel, it will need a "refill" at regular intervals, as sugar is a very fast-burning fuel.
    Fat, on the other hand, is a slow-burning fuel, allowing you to feel satiated longer, and the more important fact is that you have loads more fat available than sugar stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. While glycogen stores will only last for less than a day, your fat store can last for weeks. In addition to that, eating first thing in the morning also coincides with your circadian cortisol peak, which has an exaggerated impact on your insulin secretion. When you eat during this time, it leads to a rapid and large insulin release and a corresponding rapid drop in blood sugar levels, more so than when you eat at other times of the day.
    If you're healthy, your blood sugar level won't drop dangerously low (such as can occur with hypoglycemia) but they can drop low enough to make you feel hungry again, even though you recently ate. This effect is amplified when eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, such as pancakes, muffins, cereal, or bread, with a large glass of juice for example.