If you’re looking to get in shape for your next gig, you may be considering intermittent fasting.  You’ve heard that you can drop some pounds and build muscle mass fast.  But what is intermittent fasting exactly and is it really that effective?

Intermittent fasting is the practice of going an extended period of time taking in zero calories—basically drinking only plain water and either black coffee or tea.  This is followed by a window of time in which an individual will eat.  Because intermittent fasting is entirely schedule-based, it is relatively easy to follow.  It’s also easier than it seems, because much of the fasting takes place while you’re sleeping.  For example, you can have a protein shake before bed, sleep eight hours, and awaken halfway through a sixteen-hour fasting window.

It’s important to never under-eat or overeat.  Consuming a well-balanced diet within the calorie range recommended for your height and weight is the best way to stay on track and have enough energy to exercise.  Simple ways to reduce your intake of empty or diet-busting calories is by drinking only water (or flavored water) throughout the day and ingesting your recommended daily dose of fruits and vegetables.  Drinking enough water will keep you full and far from snacking when you’re not truly hungry.  Eating fruits and vegetables will ensure you are getting the proper nutrients while keeping any sugar cravings in check.

You’ll also want to ensure you are getting enough protein during your eating period.  Protein is part of every cell in the body.  It’s the building block of our bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood, and our hair and nails are made mostly of it.   Depriving yourself of protein can actually weaken the body.  Therefore, maintaining a protein rich diet is essential for staying healthy.

Academic studies have shown fasting-induced fat occurs because the body begins to use more calories for fuel, burning more fat in a shorter amount of time.  When you fast, your body turns on genes that encode for certain proteins and enzymes that increase fat oxidation.  This means, intermittent fasting (not starving yourself) really does work.

Make sure to talk with your physician before starting a new diet plan.  Of course, it’s also important to maintain a work out routine for optimal results.  Intermittent fasting, however, can certainly help you achieve your goals before a big photo shoot or an important role.

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