Intermittent fasting has become very common among people seeking to lose weight or keep fit generally. The best way to describe this is to call it an eating pattern because that’s really what it is. It basically involves alternating periods of eating and not eating (fasting).
It is actually wrong to call it a diet because it doesn’t state what to eat or not. It rather states when to eat and not to eat. That’s why it is more accurate to describe it as an eating pattern.
There are different methods of observing intermittent methods. The most popular methods are:
- The 16/8 method: This is also known as the leangains protocol. This method involves restricting the period of eating to just 8 hours daily. Then you observe a fast for the next 16 hours before the next period. Breakfast are usually skipped in this method.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This method involves not eating for a period of 24 hours. And this happens Once or twice weekly.
- The 5:2 diet: This method involves eating just 500-600 calories for two non-consecutive days in a week while the other 5 days of the week you eat normally.
These intermittent fasting methods are all very effective for weight loss because they help to reduce your intake of calorie. The only way you can help make it ineffective is by eating much more during the eating period to compensate for the fasting period. You just eat normally during the eating period and not try to make up for the food you missed fasting.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Studies into intermittent fasting has provided accurate details of how our body benefits from it.
- Weight loss: This is the most obvious benefit and the reason many people start this eating pattern.
- Insulin resistance: Blood sugar is reduced by 3-6% and insulin levels are raised by 20-31%. This reduces insulin resistance and helps protect against type 2 diabetes.
- Heart health: Many risk factors involved in heart disease can be combated by intermittent fasting leaving your heart in a more healthy state.
- Brain health: It boosts BDNF (brain hormone) and aids the growth of new nerve cells. It may also help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
It is important to know that not everybody has to be involved in intermittent fasting. If you are someone who has an eating disorder or a history of one, you should stay away from it. If you are underweight also, I really don’t see the point in fasting. Stay away from it. At least till you have spoken to your doctor about it and you have his permission.
If you’re just starting out, it may take a while before your body adjust to this new eating regime. So you will feel hungry, weak and tired. Your brain may not also function to full capacity in the early days. These are the common side effects and they are very temporary.
If you’re someone who is or has diabetes, low BP, underweight, problems with regulating blood sugar in the body, taking medications, eating disorder, pregnant or breastfeeding mother, woman with (a previous history of) amenorrhea or a woman trying to conceive. You should see a doctor before undertaking intermittent fasting for the sake of your health