Intermittent fasting is very popular right now. Mostly used for weight loss, intermittent fasting is also being used to increase quality of life. Some studies are showing that it can alleviate inflammation and elevate your mood.
So here is the scoop on intermittent fasting and why It could be for you.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (intermittent energy restriction or intermittent calorie restriction) is an umbrella term for various eating protocols that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting over a defined period. Intermittent fasting is under preliminary research to assess if it can produce weight loss comparable to long-term calorie restriction.
It doesn’t focus as much on the type of foods you are eating, instead it is about the time you eat your food.
Intermittent fasting respectively is all about following a pattern. From my knowledge, the 2 typical fasting ‘gaps’ between meals are anywhere from 16-24 hours and usually 2-3 times per week.
Let’s not forget, this isn’t exactly a new trend. Fasting has been around since mankind start to evolve and quite often the early humans fasted without a choice (they simply had no food until they hunted and gathered).
How it Affects the Body
When fasting, your body makes stored fat more available to burn as energy and It does this by re balancing hormones.
Human Growth Hormone or commonly known as HGH vastly increases during fasting which with a nutritionally adequate diet and exercise routine can lead to fat loss and muscle gain.
Insulin levels will drop and reducing insulin sensitivity and promote the body to burn fat rather than store it.
Intermittent fasting helps heal your cells. During a fast, human cells often will start a ‘repair cycle’ and clean up old proteins that slowly build up within the cells.
In some more extreme cases of fasting and with a low-calorie diet there has been evidence that this can lead to living a longer life span.
What are the Most Common Intermittent Fasting Methods?
The most popular technique is the 16/8 method. Essentially you eat and drink your daily food rations during an 8-hour period and fast for the remaining 16 of a 24 period. Pretty straight forward right? I would recommend as a newbie to start with this fast and see how you feel afterward.
The 16/8 diet is the easiest when it comes to food choice. It is widely used for weight loss with generally well accepted results. It is more focused on timing and consistency then diet choice (I still recommend eating healthy). Furthermore, the 16/8 intermittent fasting is also widely considered to boost cognitive brain function and increase longevity.
The 2nd most common intermittent fasting technique is the Eat-Stop-Eat method which requires fasting (zero food) for a full 24 period 1 or 2 times per week. During your non=fasting days you would eat a balanced diet and do not over due it on the junk food! As for weight training, limit your cardio and focus more on weight lifting in order to preserve muscle mass. Eat-Stop-Eat is also pretty straight forward and has some scientific studies to support its health benefits. Just remember to limit your calories as much as possible if you absolutely have to eat during your 24 hour fast.
Last, is the 5:2 diet, with this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week but eat normally the other 5 days. You can decide what days you want to fast, and my personal suggestion is to prep small meals beforehand.
The Majority Use it TOO LOSE WEIGHT
It is easy too see why people so often lose weight while fasting. Not eating for longer periods, itself is a great method in reducing calorie intake (calorie reduction over calorie consumption is the only way anybody can lose weight). Furthermore, the re balancing of hormones can help further weight loss by allowing the body to burn more stored fat. Studies show that intermittent fasting can be a very powerful weight loss tool.
What are the Health Benefits?
As mentioned above, weight loss is the most common benefit. Everybody feels better when they are not packing on those extra lbs.
Insulin resistance: Keeping that blood sugar in check and reducing insulin resistance can help protect you from diabetes.
Inflammation: Studies are showing that fasting can reduce inflammation which is a major cause if chronic illness.
Anti-aging: This research is still very new, and more research need to be done in order to have more conclusive results, but intermittent fasting may increase lifespan.
When to Be Cautious:
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for anyone who is already under weight or is suffering from an eating disorder. Always play it safe and talk to your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle.
If you are feeling sick, weak or extremely light headed then make sure you eat something. Sometimes these symptoms are temporary or they are the cause of some other underlying issue (diabetes etc..) Please play it safe and go see a doctor before doing anything.
Take your time and experiment which type of fasting works best for you and your body. You can start by following someone else’s plan and gradually develop your own, Intermittent fasting is a very open platform and you will enjoy the results and hopefully sharing your experience for others along the way.