Intermittent fasting is a unique approach to eating where you alternate between periods of fasting and eating. It does not alter what you eat; rather it changes your eating pattern. The amazing principle core to intermittent fasting is that you can continue to eat healthy foods. It would be unwise for us to advocate eating ‘whatever you like’, as fast food / mass produced food is not quality nutrition. You must strive to take in quality and nutritious foods. A diet that requires you to stop eating enjoyable foods is one which is more difficult to adhere to.
Although there are several paths you can take on your intermittent fasting journey, most people prefer fasting for 16 hours daily or 24 hours twice a week. This practice is highly popular worldwide because it not only improves your health but it also reduces weight and simplifies your lifestyle. There are even some studies that indicate that fasting intermittently will have long-lasting effects on a person’s overall wellbeing. You would be surprised to know that humans are evolutionarily adapted to intermittent fasting being hunter/gatherers where food was not easily available. It could also be one of the reasons why they were stronger and healthier than the people of modern age.
In today’s piece we will be discussing different methods of intermittent fasting and what benefits you can enjoy by following a systematic pattern. Let’s get started.
The most common methods of intermittent fasting:
There are plenty of options when it comes to intermittent fasting. From fasting for only a couple of hours a day to the longer fasts there are several methods that you can adopt. It is preferable to try each method to ascertain which one suits you the most, but we would strongly advise quickly settling into a routine in order to allow your body to adjust. Here we have outlined all the methods that many people have chosen to implement.
- 16:8 rule
The core element in this approach is: 16/8. You eat meals within the 8-hour time window only and then fast for the next 16 hours. This method is generally adopted by the people who like to fast daily. They eat healthy fruits, vegetables and meat in the 8 hours and then do not go near any food for the next 16 hours. The best way to follow this rule is to eat two to three meals within the 8-hour period. Studies have shown the best way to achieve success is to eat between 12:00 – 20:00hrs only as the majority of time will be used by sleeping.
- 20:4 rule
The 20:4 rule refers to the 20 hour fast after eating for a time period of 4 hours. For instance, you can eat everything from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm every day and then fast for the next 20 hours. This rule is best for those who are overweight and want to lose the fat drastically. Eating one large or two smaller healthy meals in the 4-hour period would be a pragmatic approach.
- 24-hour fasts
This approach involves fasting from lunch to lunch or dinner to dinner. For instance if you eat lunch on day 1 you would skip the same day’s dinner and breakfast the next morning returning to food at lunchtime on the second day. This technique is also known as nomad one meal a day and can be implemented 2 or 3 times a week.
- 5:2 fast
In the 5:2 plan, you fast for two days after the five regular eating days of healthy meals. For example, you can eat normally from Monday to Friday and then fast on Saturday and Sunday. However, it is recommended that you take at least 500 calories on each fasting day. This method of fasting is advised by the majority of medical experts. In his book the fast diet Dr. Michael Mosley has also advanced this rule and argued that it has a significant effect on weight loss.
How intermittent fasting is conducive for weight loss?
Majority of people who try intermittent fasting because they want to lose fat. A 2014 review study unveiled that intermittent fasting weight loss plans can reduce weight by 3 to 8% in the 3-24 weeks which is highly-significant as compared to other weight-loss techniques. When you are fasting, you are basically reducing the calorie intake which then leads the body to naturally burn fat. Not only do you eat less but you also burn more calories simultaneously. Moreover, intermittent fasting also balances the levels of certain hormones such as norepinephrine to facilitate the weight loss.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Though there are countless dividends associated with the intermittent fasting approach, the most obvious of them is weight loss. When you abstain from eating food you are basically cleansing and detoxifying your body. This abstinence not only rejuvenates you but also cleanses your stomach from unnecessary chemicals. Here we have unveiled the most pivotal intermittent fasting benefits that will be instrumental for your health.
- Reduction in insulin resistance
intermittent fasting can prove to be remarkably effective in reducing the insulin resistance and lowering the blood sugar levels. Since type 2 diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels fluctuate. Intermittent fasting keeps can help to reduce severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
- reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
oxidative stress is the primary factor contributing towards aging and serious illnesses. Its’ unstable molecules adversely react with DNA and protein molecules in the body. Fasting enhances your body’s ability to resist the oxidative stress. In addition, it also enables your body to fight the inflammation thereby keeping some ailments bay.
- improved heart health
Intermittent fasting also lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol which are inflammatory markers and blood triglycerides. These compounds are contributing factors for heart-related complications.
- removal of waste material from cells
Autophagy is a process of waste removal that is initiated when we fast. In this process, unnecessary cells break down and the dysfunctional proteins are metabolised. Fasting increases the speed of autography and offers protection against common factors of ill-health.
Finally, though intermittent fasting offers exceptional health benefits it is not for everyone. If you have stomach disorders or are already underweight you should first consult with your doctor before making a lifestyle change. That said, we are confident that intermittent fasting can do magic to your body if you are overweight.