Interested in trying intermittent fasting (IF)? For many, it’s part of their lifestyle. For others, they do it to lose weight or avoid overconsuming. Intermittent fasting has quickly become one of the most popular health trends.
And we’re going to cover it all. What is Intermittent Fasting? How do you do it? What else should you know? Let’s find out.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting, or IF, involves alternating between periods of fasting and periods of eating. For example, a popular form of IF involves fasting between 8 pm and noon the next day and eating between noon at 8 pm. In this way, IF doesn’t necessarily restrict your food choices. Rather, it determines when you can eat. In other words, it’s not really a diet but more so an eating pattern.
And it’s known to have an array of benefits, which is why many individuals choose this way of eating.
Benefit #1: It may help you lose weight.
Certain cellular and hormonal responses caused by fasting lead to the increased access of stored fat, meaning you can burn this fat faster and easier. First off, insulin levels drop, which causes your body to turn to fat for fuel. Second, your body produces more of the Human Growth Hormone, which further facilitates fat burning and muscle gains. This all contributes to a higher metabolic rate, which may result in weight loss.
Benefit #2: It may prevent late-night snacking.
Many individuals indulge late in the evening. But if your cut-off time is 8 pm, you’re less likely to snack on tempting foods. Again, this can help support your weight loss goals. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Benefit #3: It may help reduce insulin resistance.
In turn, this can help lower your risk of developing diabetes. When you fast, your blood sugar naturally drops. In conjunction with this, your insulin levels also drop. This can make your body more sensitive to insulin and thus, reduce your risk of diabetes.
Benefit #4: It may help lower stress and inflammation in the body.
Research shows that intermittent fasting increases the body’s resistance to stress caused by free radicals. This can further reduce wide-spread inflammation, resulting in a healthier and more robust body.
Benefit #5: It may lower your risk of heart disease.
Various studies have shown that intermittent fasting lowers many markers of heart disease, including triglycerides and cholesterol.
Intermittent Fasting for Beginners
So, how can you get started?
When it comes to IF, you have a few options to choose from. These include:
- The 16-8 Method - This is the most popular choice. As explained previously, you fast for 16 hours (often between 8 pm at noon the next day) and have an eating window of 8 hours (between noon at 8 pm each day).
- The 5:2 Method - You eat like usual for five days and on two days during the week you only eat 500-600 calories. These two days should not be back-to-back. For instance, you could fast on Monday but not also Sunday or Tuesday.
- The Eat-Stop Method - This includes fasting once or twice a week - depending on your preference. This means not eating for a full 24 hours, such as between breakfast one day and breakfast the next day.
All of these methods tend to reduce a person’s caloric intake, which is the main reason why many individuals use it to lose weight.
What Else Should You Know?
While this type of eating pattern has many benefits, there are a few things to note. If you want to truly get healthy, your diet should comprise mostly of whole and non-processed foods. This means eating mostly veggies and fruits and going easy on the pre-packaged food items. Since you only have a set time to eat, it’s important to focus on getting all the nutrients that your body needs in that short time span.
If you’re new to this way of eating, start slow. Don’t jump right into the 16-8 rule. Instead, start with 12 hours fasting and 12 hours eating and slowly build your fasting window. This can help your body adjust and also prevent you from getting hungry (and irritated due to hunger).
You’ll also want to carefully track how you feel as you begin. Fasting isn’t for everyone, and it should be about finding an eating pattern and diet that work well for you and your goals. It should never be a battle.
Also, while you fast, you are allowed to have as much tea, coffee, and water as you please. It’s important to stay hydrated during this time so go ahead and drink up!
Should you workout when fasting? You can but this is another one that comes down to how you feel. This is why it’s so important to tune into your body and pay attention to the cues it’s giving you.
The only way to find out if intermittent fasting works for you is to try it. Start slow and ease into it!