Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesn’t specify which foods you should eat, but rather when you should eat them.
Why is it worthwhile to change your eating pattern?
The main reason people try intermittent fasting is to lose fat. It’s a great way to get lean without going on a crazy diet or cutting your calories down to zero. In fact, most of the time you’ll try to keep your calories the same when you start intermittent fasting. (Most people eat bigger meals during a shorter time frame.) Additionally, intermittent fasting is a great way to keep muscle mass while getting lean.
Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.
Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution. Ancient hunters and gatherers did not have the resources we have now and survived days without food. Thus, humans evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are many popular intermittent fasting methods. All of these require you to split 24 hours into fasting periods. Here are the most popular methods:
- The 16/8 method: This method is also called the Leangains protocol. It involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With these methods, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
The 16/8 method is the most popular method on this list. Many people find this method to be the simplest and easiest to stick to. If you’re an absolute beginner and are afraid you can’t fast for so many hours, you can reduce the hours to 14/10 to make it simpler.
If breakfast is your favourite meal of the day, then you can continue with it. But make sure you’re fasting for the require period of time before having your next meal.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can have powerful benefits for weight control and the health of your body and brain. It is even believed to help you live longer. Here are some of the many health benefits of Intermittent Fasting:
- Weight loss: Stating the obvious, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat without having to restrict calories.
- It requires less time: Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals. Instead of stopping what you’re doing six times a day to eat, you simply only have to stop to eat twice. Rather than having to do the dishes six times, you only have to do them twice. Intermittent fasting save you a lot of time for other things.
- Heart Health: Intermittent fasting may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease.
- Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting reduces insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes.
- Brain health: The brain hormone BDNF is increased by intermittent fasting. It can aid the growth of new nerve cells. Intermittent fasting is also believed to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Safety measures before trying Intermittent Fasting
Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting. Due to long time periods between meals, it can be hard to control your hunger pangs.
You may also feel a little weak and your brain may not perform as well as before. But this only lasts for 3-4 days due to the sudden change in eating pattern. When your body adapts to the eating pattern, everything goes back to normal.
intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if you’re healthy and well-nourished overall. But with that being said, if you have a medical condition you should consult a doctor before trying intermittent fasting. Particular if you:
- Have diabetes
- Have problems with blood sugar regulation
- Have low blood pressure
- Take medications
- Are underweight
- Have a history of eating disorders
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
If you have a good health profile, then intermittent fasting is all yours for the taking.
Common doubts regarding Intermittent Fasting
- Can I drink liquids during the fasting period?
Yes, as long as it does not contain sugar. Water, coffee, tea and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed. Coffee can be beneficial during a fast since it blunts hunger.
- Can I work out while fasting?
Yes, it is completely alright to workout while fasting. But it is important to stick to low-intensity workouts and do them after having a meal.
- Is it okay to take supplements while fasting?
Yes, you can take supplements while fasting. Keep in mind that fat-soluble supplements work better when taken in conjunction with meals.
- Can kids try intermittent fasting?
Since a child’s body is still growing, it would be a bad idea to let your kid try intermittent fasting. They need full nutrition that comes from three meals a day.
- Will intermittent fasting slow down my metabolism?
No. Studies show that short terms fast actually boost your metabolism. So intermittent fasting is a great way to increase your metabolism.
Overall, Intermittent Fasting is a wonderful eating pattern that comes along with many health benefits. If you’re scared of going on special diets that require elaborate meal planning and counting calories, then Intermittent Fasting is perfect for you. If you have been looking to try it for some time, then stop thinking and go for it NOW.