Although the concept of fasting, in general, is not new to people, intermittent fasting has lately been doing the rounds in the diet and nutrition world like crazy!
Contrary to other diet plans, intermittent fasting does not focus on ‘what’ to eat. Instead, it is more about ‘when’ to eat. It is, in fact, a lifestyle change that can have some really powerful effects on your health and longevity.
In this guide, we go over all things intermittent fasting while also answering some of the most commonly asked questions concerning the subject.
Ready? Let us get started!
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves abstaining from eating for a certain number of hours each day, before taking regular meals again. That is to say when practicing this technique, you are supposed to switch between fasting and eating alternately. Not only does it help your body burn fat but is also easier to maintain than conventional, calorie-controlled diets. However, it is important for you to avoid cheating your diet.
One thing to note here is – intermittent fasting is not about starving yourself. Instead, it allows your body to reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks, which can, in turn, reverse some forms of obesity-related diseases, as well.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
When you practice intermittent fasting, your body simply prolongs its calorie-burning period. Once all the food you had consumed in your last meal gets digested, your body starts focusing on recovery and maintenance and begins burning the fat stored within. In other words, as your body exhausts its sugar stores, it moves on to cut down on the fat deposits.
So basically, during intermittent fasting, your body experiences a series of metabolic changes due to the unavailability of carbohydrates and enters into ketosis – a state in which the human body starts using fat as its primary fuel source. As a result, a person is bound to shed some kilos.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
If you have made up your mind to follow an intermittent fasting routine, know that there are several approaches to go about it.
Below, we discuss the three most popular intermittent fasting methods:
- The 16/8 Method — In the 16/8 method or the Leangains protocol, the eating period is restricted to eight hours, into which one can include two, three, or more meals. On the other hand, the fasting period continues for as long as 16 hours, which involves skipping breakfast most of the time.
- Eat-Stop-Eat — With this method, you fast for an entire day, that is, for 24 hours, once or twice a week. It means that you have to nullify your calorie intake entirely for those 24 hours and resort to no-sugar beverages, instead.
- The 5:2 Diet — This method involves limiting your calorie intake to something between 500-600 on two nonconsecutive days of the week. During the other five days, you may eat normally.
What Can I Eat While Intermittent Fasting?
While most experts suggest that you can “eat normally” during the eating periods of your intermittent fasting routine, high-calorie junk food is, without a doubt, strictly prohibited. It is indeed necessary to be mindful of your meals and make sure they are nutritious enough to compensate for your fasting mode.
Water, zero-calorie beverages (for example, black coffee and tea), and unrefined carbohydrates like whole grains and leafy greens are some ideal food items you can have during this time.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
Wondering what could be the benefits of fasting for such long durations?
Read on to learn some of the most prominent intermittent fasting benefits:
- Weight Loss — The primary benefit of practicing intermittent fasting is that it helps you lose weight and belly fat without using any supplement like modere trim.
- Heart Health — Intermittent fasting can improve heart health by reducing bad cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood triglycerides – all of which are potential risk factors for heart complications.
- Inflammation — Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting leads to a reduction in inflammatory markers, which are associated with many chronic diseases.
- Brain health & memory — Interestingly, some findings conclude that long-term intermittent fasting can increase the brain hormone BDNF, aid the growth of new nerve cells, and boost verbal memory in adult humans. It may also combat Alzheimer’s disease.
- Physical performance — Some animal studies revealed that mice who were fed on alternate days demonstrated better resilience in running.
- Insulin Resistance — Intermittent fasting has been found to reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels, which can together shield you against type 2 diabetes.
- Anti-aging — Intermittent fasting has shown positive anti-aging results in certain studies conducted on rats. It extended their lifespans by 36-83%.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?
Yes, intermittent fasting is safe for most people. However, it is certainly not recommended for everyone out there. You must always consult your health care professional before practicing this weight loss technique.
This is especially important if you:
- Are below 18 years of age.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Have diabetes or other blood sugar problems.
- Are underweight.
- Have a poor health record in terms of digestion and eating disorders.
Things to Remember While Breaking the Fast
It is more than necessary to eat the right foods after breakfast your fast. Here are a few tips to remember while you are at it:
- Keep your first meal light. Take small portions and eat in moderation.
- Consume foods that contain proteins, vitamins, and other healthy nutrients.
- Avoid carbohydrates on an empty stomach.
- Do not consume sugary drinks and desserts.
Overall, we can safely agree that intermittent fasting is a lifestyle strategy that can be a powerful tool to lose weight and improve your health when followed the right way.
With that said, intermittent fasting is not something everyone needs to do, and the only way to find out whether or not it fits your lifestyle is to try it out.
Some people find it easier to follow, while others have terrible experiences with intermittent fasting. So, one must always listen to their body and follow a routine that works best for them.