Intermittent fasting is one of many diet and nutrition ideas that has been gaining traction. As the popularity of intermittent fasting has expanded, additional research is becoming available that, in certain situations, may support intermittent fasting as more than just a fad.
According to research, this type of eating can help you lose weight, improve your health, and live longer. Intermittent fasting advocates believe that it is simpler to stick to than typical calorie-controlled diets.
Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, might not be ideal for everyone, whether for medical reasons or because it doesn’t fit their vision of a healthy, long-term diet. Each person’s experience is unique for those who practice it, and different techniques will fit different people.
This blog takes a closer look at what intermittent fasting is, some of the most popular ways to do it, as well as a few pros and cons.
What is intermittent fasting?
Many diets emphasize what to eat, but intermittent fasting emphasizes when to eat. In this way, it’s more correctly described as an eating habit than a diet in the traditional sense.
Intermittent fasting is a type of eating that alternates between fasting and eating intervals. This time usually lasts between 12 and 40 hours. During the fast, water, coffee, and other calorie-free beverages are permitted, but solid foods and calorie-containing beverages are not.
You’ve finished a 24-hour fast if you finish dinner at 6 p.m. Monday and don’t eat again until 6 p.m. Tuesday. Some people opt to fast from one meal to the next, such as from breakfast to lunch. However, the optimal time frame for each person is different.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
Before beginning intermittent fasting, make sure to see your doctor. The actual technique is straightforward once you have his or her permission.
Intermittent fasting can be done in a variety of ways, but they all entail dividing the day or week into eating and fasting times. You eat extremely little or nothing at all during fasting times.
The following are the most widely used methods:
Fast for 12 hours a day
The diet’s guidelines are straightforward. Every day, a person must choose and follow a 12-hour fasting window.
Fasting for 10–16 hours, according to some researchers, causes the body to convert fat storage into energy, releasing ketones into the bloodstream. This should help you lose weight.
For novices, this form of intermittent fasting regimen may be a decent choice. This is due to the fact that the fasting window is rather limited, most of the fasting happens when sleeping, and the person can consume the same quantity of calories every day.
The most convenient way to complete the 12-hour fast is to include sleep time in the fasting window.
A person could, for example, fast between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. They’d have to finish dinner before 6 p.m. and wait until 6 a.m. to eat breakfast, but they’d be sleeping for the majority of the time in between.
Fasting for 16 hours a day
The 16:8 technique, often known as the Leangains diet, involves fasting for 16 hours a day and then eating for 8 hours.
Men fast for 16 hours a day and women fast for 14 hours on the 16:8 diet. This sort of intermittent fasting may be beneficial for those who have tried the 12-hour fast and found it to be ineffective.
People who fast this way usually finish their evening meal by 8 p.m., skip breakfast the next day and don’t eat again until noon.
Fasting for 2 days a week (The 5:2 diet)
The 5:2 diet requires people to eat a normal amount of healthy food for five days and then cut their calorie consumption for the remaining two days.
Men typically ingest 600 calories and women 500 calories during the two fasting days. When fasting, it’s vital to focus on high-fibre and high-protein foods to help fill you up while keeping your calorie intake low.
Fasting days are usually separated during the week. They may, for example, fast on Mondays and Thursdays and eat regularly for the rest of the week. Between fasting days, there should be at least one non-fasting day.
Alternate day fasting
The alternate-day fasting strategy, which entails fasting every other day, has various versions.
Some people practice alternate-day fasting by avoiding solid foods entirely on fasting days, while others allow up to 500 calories. People frequently opt to eat as much as they want on feeding days.
Alternate-day fasting is a more intense form of intermittent fasting that may not be appropriate for novices or those with specific medical issues. This form of fasting may also be difficult to maintain over time.
A weekly 24-hour fast (Eat Stop Eat)
Fasting for a full 24 hours is required for this procedure. It’s usually done only once or twice a week. The majority of people do not eat anything from morning to breakfast or lunch to lunch. The adverse effects of this type of intermittent fasting can be severe, including exhaustion, headaches, irritability, hunger, and low energy.
On non-fasting days, you should return to a normal, healthy diet if you use this strategy.
The Warrior Diet
The warrior diet was one of the earliest diets that use some type of intermittent fasting. It entails eating small portions of raw fruits and vegetables throughout the day and one huge meal at night.
Is intermittent fasting safe?
Some people use intermittent fasting to lose weight, while others use it to treat chronic illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, or arthritis. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, isn’t for everyone.
Experts advise that you consult with your primary care physician before attempting intermittent fasting (or any other diet).
Some persons should avoid experimenting with intermittent fasting:
- Children and teenagers under the age of 18 are considered minors.
- Women who are expecting a child or who are breastfeeding.
- People who have diabetes or other blood sugar issues.
- Those who have had an eating disorder in the past.
People who aren’t in these groups and can safely undertake intermittent fasting can continue the routine indefinitely.
Like anything in this life, there are pros and cons to practising intermittent fasting. While it might support weight loss, improve metabolic health and serve as a positive lifestyle change, there are still some substantial downsides.
It will take a while before you figure out the eating pattern that suits you. Even when you do, there will be times when you will feel weak and hungry which can naturally feel unpleasant and unsustainable in the long term. Consequently, hunger and tiredness can affect your mood. As the saying goes, “a hungry man is an angry man”.
Intermittent fasting may seem unnatural and difficult but it can be easy. It just requires discipline, restraint, planning and of course a go-ahead from your doctor or dietician.
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