Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern, where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. By fasting and then feasting deliberately, intermittent fasting generally means that you consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time. Many people do intermittent fasting in order to lose weight, as it is a very simple and effective way to restrict calories and burn fat. Others do it for the metabolic health benefits, as it can improve various different risk factors and health markers.
Different Types Of Fasting
16/8 Intermittent Fasting: People who follow this eating plan will fast for 16 hours a day and consume all of their calories during the remaining 8 hours.
Alternate-Day Fasting: Alternate-Day fasting involves fasting every other day. Some allow a small amount of calories during fasting days.
5:2 Diet: The 5:2 diet involves fasting for 2 full days per week, and eating for the other 5. On fasting days it’s usually still recommended to consume a small amount of calories.
16/8 Intermittent Fasting Sample Schedules
You can adjust this window to make it work for your life:
- If you start eating at: 7AM, stop eating and start fasting at 3pm.
- If you start eating at: 12PM, stop eating and start fasting at 8pm.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
- Improve overall health
- Reduce the risk of chronic health conditions
- Improve brain health
- Promotes Blood Sugar Control by Reducing Insulin Resistance
- Weight loss
How Fasting works
We all use two different types of fuel to function: glucose and fat. If you eat and snack and eat continually throughout the day, your body gets a continual source of glucose from food to fuel your muscles. Any excess (if you eat more calories than you burn off through exercise) is then stored as fat. However, when you spend some time fasting, the glucose supply temporarily runs out, and your body has to switch to taking fat from your fat stores to burn as fuel.
Scientists call this fuel transfer ‘flipping the metabolic switch’. This has significant implications for our health if it means we are losing the metabolically active (and therefore dangerous) ‘visceral fat’ which lurks in and around the abdomen. This fat is associated with high cholesterol and high blood sugar levels.
During the “fasted state” (the hours in which your body is not consuming or digesting any food) your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy.Thus, it is more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body as it’s the only energy source readily available.
- Insulin: Insulin increases when we eat. When we fast, insulin decreases dramatically .Lower levels of insulin facilitate fat burning.
- Human growth hormone (HGH): Levels of growth hormone may skyrocket during a fast, Growth hormone is a hormone that can aid fat loss and muscle gain, among other things.
How To Do It Properly
How to Prepare Your Fasting Properly
Before picking an IF fasting routine, always check with your doctor before making any significant changes in your eating and dieting. This is especially crucial if you have a chronic condition or are taking prescription medication.
Fast In The Evenings
DO start fasting in the evenings if you are a beginner and plan to eat in the middle of your day for most of your meals. Fasting in the evening and overnight, then eating early or in the middle of the day is the pattern that has the most profound benefits for beginners.
Include The Period Of Sleep In Your Fasting Window
Choose the most realistic 8-12-hour eating time period. If you are just starting intermittent fasting for the first time, the best approach would be to decide on and adhere to a 12-hour fasting window every day that you can successfully accomplish. So without a doubt, the easiest way for beginners to do the 12-hour fast is to include the period of sleep in their fasting window!
Stop Eating 2 Hours Before Bedtime
Your main motive should be to stop eating after 9 p.m. (or at the very least two hours before bedtime). Usually, with any fast that you introduce to your diet, sticking to this strict night time rule you’ll better maintain your fasting times much more rigorously throughout the days.
Always Stay Extra Hydrated
Drinking lots of fluids will help ease your hunger and give your body the cleanse it deserves when going through the fasting period for the first time.
Move Your Body
Exercising just before or during the eating window, as exercise can trigger hunger.
Note: Fasting for 16 hours out of the day and then eating 5 donuts isn’t going to give your body the nutrients it needs. And it’s definitely not going to help you lose weight.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t have any specific restrictions regarding what, and how much to eat during your eating windows. Instead, it’s recommended to simple focus on a well-balanced diet that focuses on nutrient-dense food.
A balanced diet focuses primarily on:
- Fruits and vegetables : Green leafy vegetables and seasonal fruit.
- Whole grains, including quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley.
- Lean protein : Vegan Protein – sources beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, soy beans.
- Healthy fats : olives, olive oil, coconuts, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are high in fiber, so they can help keep a person feeling full and satisfied. Healthful fats and proteins can also contribute to satiety.
Beverages can play a role in satiety for those following the 16:8 intermittent fasting diet. Drinking water regularly throughout the day can help reduce calorie intake because people often mistake thirst for hunger.
Is Intermittent Fasting for Everyone?
While intermittent fasting can be a great option for a lot of people, it’s not for everyone.
If you fall into any of these categories, you may want to consider consulting with a medical professional before jumping into fasting:
- Pregnant or breast feeding
- History of eating disorders
- Chronically stressed
Intermittent fasting may be less beneficial for women than men. Some research on animals suggests that intermittent fasting could negatively affect female fertility.
Individuals with a history of eating disorders may wish to avoid intermittent fasting. The National Eating Disorders Association warn that fasting is a risk factor for eating disorders.
The 16:8 plan may also not be suitable for those with a history of depression and anxiety. Some research indicates that short-term calorie restriction might relieve depression but that chronic calorie restriction can have the opposite effect. More research is necessary to understand the implications of these findings.
Intermittent fasting may not be optimal for gaining muscle. In order to gain muscle, you must eat more calories than you burn, have enough protein to build new muscle tissue and have a sufficient exercise stimulus to cause growth.
Intermittent fasting could make it difficult to get enough calories to build muscle, especially if you are eating nutrient-dense foods that fill you up easily
Side effects and risks
16:8 intermittent fasting has some associated risks and side effects. As a result, the plan is not right for everyone.
Potential side effects and risks include:
- Hunger, weakness, and tiredness in the beginning stages of the plan
- overeating or eating unhealthy foods during the 8-hour eating window due to excessive hunger
- heartburn or reflux as a result of overeating
Summary : Intermittent fasting is great way to cleanse your body and may help with weight loss if it is done properly. If you are a beginner start with once a week and 12 hours fasting. You should exercise in the eating window period. If you have a history of eating disorders, diabetic, low blood pressure or any medical condition, consult with your doctor.