Intermittent fasting or IF is rapidly becoming the most widespread fitness and health trend. Many people are using IF to lead a better lifestyle, improve health and lose weight.

There are many studies that have demonstrated the powerful effects of intermittent fasting on the brain and body. Some studies have even shown that IF can help you live longer.

The following information is your beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting.

Table of Contents:

What is Intermittent Fasting?

It is an eating pattern that cycles through periods of eating and fasting. The intermittent fasting plan doesn’t specify the exact foods you need to eat, but when you should eat them. On this plan, a whole food, nutritious diet is recommended. So IF is not a traditional diet, but an eating pattern or habit. In this method, fasting is either 16 hours a day or 24 hours, twice a week.

Fasting is not an unfamiliar practice in human evolution. In fact, it is more common than we know. Our ancient hunter-gatherer humans didn’t have refrigerators, year-round foods, or supermarkets. Sometimes they did not get food to eat. In response to this scenario, they learned to function without food for long periods of time.

In modern society we see that fasting is for spiritual or religious reasons. For example, regular fasting is a common practice in many world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. In fact, when you think about it, intermittent fasting is more natural than having 3 or more meals every single day.

Intermittent fasting methods

There are many ways to do intermittent fasting. The most popular methods are:

,1. Method 16-8

16/8 Intermittent Fasting Method

It is also known as LeanGain Protocol. To comply, you’ll skip breakfast and limit your eating times to 8 hours.

For example, you can eat between 1 pm and 9 pm but then you will fast for the remaining 16 hours.

,2. 5:2 Diet

5:2 Intermittent Fasting Diet

On this method, you typically eat for five days and limit your caloric intake to 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days a week i.e. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

,3. Eat Stop Eat

On this plan you will fast for 24 hours, either once or twice a week. Then eat regularly during fasting days.

On intermittent fasting, you are reducing your caloric intake which leads to weight loss. However, this will only work if you are not consuming much of the junk food or compensating by overeating during the allowed eating period.

Most people prefer the 16-8 method because it’s more durable, simpler, and easier to follow. It’s no wonder it’s also the most popular!

Is intermittent fasting good for health?

To determine the answer to this question, let’s look at what happens at the cellular and hormonal level when you do intermittent fasting. When you fast, many things happen at the molecular and cellular level.

For example, your body begins to adjust its hormone levels to make all of the stored body fat more easily accessible. Your cells then begin important repair processes and alter gene expression.

Here are some changes that are happening during your fast:

  • Human growth hormone (HGH) levels skyrocket; Sometimes it increases up to 5 times. This leads to muscle gain, and fat loss.
  • Your insulin sensitivity will improve. By fasting, your insulin levels will drop significantly, which helps in getting the stored body fat easier.
  • When you fast, your cells trigger cellular repair. Autophagy is an example of cell repair. In this process, old cells are removed and digested, including inactive proteins that have accumulated inside.
  • Intermittent fasting contributes to changes in gene expression that promote longevity and protection against many diseases.

These changes at the level of cell, hormone and gene expression all contribute to the many health benefits of this fasting method.

Does Intermittent Fasting Help Lose Weight?

Intermittent fasting helps in weight loss

Most people try intermittent fasting as you lose weight when you follow this plan. Intermittent fasting reduces calorie intake by eating less food. It directly affects the levels of hormones and insulin which aid in weight loss.

In addition, fasting also helps trigger the release of norepinephrine; A fat burning hormone. Even if you fast for short periods of time, your metabolic rate increases by 3.6 to 14%. By eating fewer calories and burning more calories, you’re effectively changing the calorie equation and promoting weight loss.

Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting is an effective weight loss tool. According to a 2014 study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, intermittent fasting resulted in up to 8% of weight loss over a 24-week period.

This is a remarkable amount of weight loss compared to other methods. The same study found that people who followed intermittent fasting were able to reduce waist and abdominal fat by up to 7%, a known contributor to diseases. The participants in this study were losing about 0.55 pounds each week.

It’s also important to exercise with IF, as it has been proven to help with fat loss and muscle gain. So in short, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and compensate if you don’t overeat during an acceptable period. In addition to weight loss, it has significant benefits in metabolic health and the prevention of chronic diseases.

benefits of intermittent fasting

The benefits of intermittent fasting have been demonstrated in both human and animal studies. It also has powerful positive effects in weight control and brain and body health. Apart from this, did you know that intermittent fasting can also help you live a longer life.

Listed below are some of the health benefits of intermittent fasting:

1. Insulin Resistance

low insulin level

Intermittent fasting reduces insulin resistance and helps lower blood sugar levels by up to 6%. Fasting reduces insulin levels by 31%. It provides significant protection against type 2 diabetes.

2. Anti Aging

In a study examining rats and fasting, fasted rats survived about 83% longer than non-fasted rats. Apparently, fasting helped extend the lifespan of those mice.

3. Brain Health

When you fast, the BDNF hormone in the brain increases. It promotes the growth of new neurons and also provides protection against Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Heart Health

Helps reduce fasting LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammatory markers, insulin resistance and blood triglycerides. All risk factors that contribute to heart disease.

5. Inflammation

Studies have shown that fasting contributes to the reduction of markers of inflammation that are a major cause of many chronic diseases.

6. Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting helps in weight loss

Perhaps the most noticeable benefit of all, intermittent fasting will help you reduce belly fat and visceral fat.

Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan

To ensure that you get the most health benefits from intermittent fasting, it is important that you consume nutritious foods and beverages during the eating period. Consuming nutrient-rich whole foods will help you get the most out of this health regimen.

Although there is no diet plan, include the following during your eating schedule:

, fruitAll fruits are good choices, especially oranges, apples, pears, peaches, bananas and berries.

, vegetablesYou can eat all vegetables. Opt for broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, tomato, etc. along with several green, leafy options.

, Whole grainsAvoid all products that contain refined wheat. Choose grains such as buckwheat, barley, quinoa, oats, rice, etc.

, Healthy Fats: Skip all saturated fat. Choose oils made from coconut, olive, avocado, mustard, peanut, sesame, etc.

, protein: Choose lean protein options (without fat) such as poultry, meat, eggs, seeds, nuts, legumes, lentils, etc.

During the fasting period, you can consume calorie-free drinks such as unsweetened tea (green tea), coffee (no sugar), and water. These will help you stay hydrated. Avoid junk food or overeating during the eating period as it will prevent you from experiencing the positive effects of this health regimen.

Other dos and don’ts of intermittent fasting

Say no to processed and junk food

Intermittent fasting is a safe and sustainable way to lose weight, improve health, and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Although it is safe for most adults to follow this method, it is recommended that you talk to your general practitioner before starting an intermittent fast.

This is especially important if you have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, eating disorders, low blood pressure, etc.

Intermittent fasting is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or trying to have a baby. If you experience adverse effects during fasting or are concerned about this regimen, consult your doctor. As stated earlier, to experience the maximum benefits of this health plan, you should avoid eating junk food and over-compensating on food during the eating period.

summary

Intermittent fasting is rapidly becoming a health and lifestyle trend around the world. Although there are several types of intermittent fastening, the 16-8 method is the most popular. This enables you to consume whole foods during the 8-hour period and fast for the remaining 16 hours. You can consume non-calorie drinks like sugarless water, green tea and coffee during the fast.

Intermittent fasting has many proven health benefits such as weight loss, disease prevention, reduced inflammation, improved blood sugar levels and brain function. More importantly, it can increase both your quality of life and longevity.

Intermittent Fasting – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why. Does intermittent fasting make you feel weak?

A. Since intermittent fasting is a cycle of eating and fasting, the long gap between your 2 meals can make you feel weak. It is important to follow this diet under the guidance of an expert along with a disciplined diet of eating healthy food at the right time.

Question. Can we drink water or eat any kind of fruit during fasting?

A. During the fasting phase, you should avoid eating fruits or really any foods. But you can definitely consume water or low-calorie drinks like sugar-free black tea or black coffee.

Why. Which exercises can be done during intermittent fasting?

A. Due to prolonged fasting, you may feel lethargic and tired during exercise. Hence, it is necessary to consider essential factors like timing of workout, adjustment of nutrients according to workout type and most importantly, how your body reacts! If you feel dizzy and get tired easily, it is better to do light workouts of short duration, such as yoga and low-intensity workouts. Along with heavy exercise, timing and the right balanced nutrition are of the utmost importance. This is why the supervision and guidance of an expert play an important role.

Why. Does intermittent fasting reduce muscle mass?

a. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting does not lead to loss of muscle mass compared to other calorie-restricted diets, as long as it is not followed over a long period of time. Loss of muscle mass occurs due to calorie deficit. Therefore, the right proportion of macronutrients plays an important role.

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