Intermittent fasting is an eating regimen that alternates between fasting and regular meals. Intermittent fasting is a way to work on reducing your calories and burning fat. It prevents weight gain, and in fact, according to some research, it may also help one manage certain medical conditions. But many people also question whether intermittent fasting is healthy for them or not. Moreover, some people question whether it is safe for them or not.
How does intermittent fasting work?
If you are a fitness enthusiast you would be interested in knowing about different kinds of diets prevalent in the market. Ketogenic diet, GM diet, DASH diet, paleo diet, and, last but not least, intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is certainly different from other sorts of diets. This kind of diet is not focused on food rather it is focused on the timings of when you consume the food.
You only eat during the allotted hours when you practice intermittent fasting. Your body can burn fat if you fast for a set period of time each day or consume just 1 meal a few days a week. There is some scientific evidence that points out some of the health benefits associated with it.
According to a neuroscientist, Mark Mattson has spent the better part of 20 years studying intermittent fasting, and according to him, our bodies have developed the capacity to survive for several hours, or possibly several days or more, without nourishment. Before civilization, humans were hunters and gatherers, which worked out well for them except the only issue was that they had to stay hungry for extended periods of time during the times when they couldn’t hunt or find any fruits to eat. Moreover, it took a lot of time to collect berries and nuts.
50 years ago, people were much healthier and were able to maintain a healthy weight because they did not have much technology to rely on; even TV shows were turned off at 11 p.m. In the current period where technological fronts are making progress more than ever before, people have become lazy, and with Netflix and other OTT platforms, they can catch up on their favourite shows and movies anytime of the entire day. Also, for people who work while sitting, a sedentary lifestyle becomes a habit.
We are more susceptible to the risk of many lifestyle disorders like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and other ailments that can result from eating more calories and being less active. According to scientific research, intermittent fasting might be able to buck these tendencies.
How do you go on an intermittent fast?
There are actually many ways you can do intermittent fasting, but they all hinge on picking regular eating and fasting times. You may, for instance, try eating only for eight hours each day and fasting the other sixteen. Or you could decide to only eat one meal each day on two days per week. There are numerous variations of intermittent fasting plans.
After several hours of fasting, our body exhausts all the glucose by burning it for energy and starts burning the fats stored in it.
Contrasting with the typical eating habits of most Americans, who consume food at all times when awake, is intermittent fasting. On the other hand, if a person eats three meals a day plus snacks and doesn’t exercise, they are burning those calories rather than their fat reserves every time they eat.
Intermittent fasting works on the principle of not eating for a long period of time when your body has already burned the calories from the last meal that you had and is starting to burn the fat reserves.
Intermittent Fasting Diet Plans
It is important that you check with your doctor before going on an intermittent fast.
There are actually different kinds of intermittent fasts you can try.
16:8: In this type of intermittent fasting you need to fast for 16 hours of the day while you can eat in the hours of eating window. It is the most popular one of all the other types.
14:10: This type of intermittent fasting is another popular kind. It is quite similar to 16:8 hours. The difference is that you need to fast for 14 hours and eat in your 10 hour window. Some people also use it as a progression to reach 16:8 of time.
12:12: This kind of intermittent fasting is rather easy to follow. In this kind, you can have a 12 hour fasting window and rest 12 hours you can eat.
5:2: This approach is entirely different from the others which we have just talked about. This kind of fasting is rather difficult. In this type of intermittent fasting you can have 500-600 kcals meal 2 days a week and rest of the days you can eat normally. These low calorie eating days do not have to come together. For example: you can keep one day to be Monday and the next one to be Thursday as well.
There are some other kinds of intermittent fasting as well. But these types are not as popular as all others. Some of these are 24, 36, 48, and 72 hours of fasting. Fasting for longer lengths of time—such as 24, 36, 48, and 72 hours—is not always beneficial for you and may even be harmful. If you go too long without eating, your body may begin storing extra fat as a defense against famine.
According to studies, your body can get used to intermittent fasting in 2–4 weeks. In this period, you may not feel very comfortable with the new eating duration you are trying. As you get adjusted to the new pattern, you can feel hungry or irritable. But over time, when you get habituated, it actually becomes a very comfortable choice for some people. It is a very convenient way of living.
What to eat when you are on intermittent fasting?
Although, it is definitely not recommended to go crazy with foods when you are not on your fasting window. But, intermittent fasting is not about what to eat but when to eat.
It is still recommended to eat more whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, millets, etc , high protein foods like milk products, soy products, dals, legumes, chicken, fish, etc., and healthy fats like olive oil, oil seeds like almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.
During fasting periods, you are allowed to have beverages that have zero calories, like green tea, water, black coffee, herbal teas, etc. The idea is to go without consuming any calories during fasting time. Complete fasting has to be followed.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Changes in this metabolic switch have an impact on both the body and the mind. This is what the intermittent fasting diet stands for. According to many dieticians and fitness experts, intermittent fasting is the way to go and can help you live a more energetic life.
Here are some advantages of intermittent fasting that science has so far identified:
Boosts cognitive health and improves memory: according to studies, intermittent fasting improves verbal memory in adults and working memory in animals.
Good for heart health: intermittent fasting helps you to reduce blood pressure and resting heart rate.
More energy: 16-hour fasting young males demonstrated fat reduction while retaining muscle mass. This has been proved in a mice study.
Tissue wellness: According to an animal study intermittent fasting reduces tissue damage in surgery.
Weight management: intermittent fasting helps you to reduce weight. It specifically works on burning stored fat which is usually difficult to burn. There have been many studies which have shown positive results when we talk about fighting obesity.
Type 2 diabetes management: Most of the existing data demonstrates positive effects of intermittent fasting of diabetic people. It aids in weight loss. It can also reduce the level of fasting sugar levels, fasting insulin, and leptin, as well as reduce insulin resistance, leptin levels, and even increase levels of adiponectin. Although to practice intermittent fasting for a diabetic person, doctor’s supervision is required.
Limitations of intermittent fasting
Quite frankly, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Some people use it as a method to reduce weight, others use it for diabetes management. But the question arises is there anyone who can not use it? Is intermittent fasting safe for everyone?
Intermittent fasting should not be given to a certain group of people. Let us check who:
- Kids who are under the age of 18 years.
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding mothers
- If you a history of anorexia nervosa or bulimia
- People with type 1 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting is a helpful diet for those who are trying to reduce weight. It has gained a lot of popularity in recent times. There are many different windows of intermittent fasting that can be followed, like 12:12, 16:8, 14:10 and 5:2. There are other types of intermittent fasting as well, but those are not followed as they can have a reverse effect on the body. Benefits of intermittent fasting include type 2 diabetes management, weight loss, fat loss, energy boost, improved memory, etc. There are some people who should not be following this type of diet. Those under the age of 18 are children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, people who have had eating disorders in the past, etc.