Intermittent fasting is the term used for the eating pattern in which you fast between periods of eating. It is not about the foods you should eat or avoid, but more about when you eat. You can decide to choose from intermittent fasting methods which are recommended by experts, so that your body does not suffer while you stop eating for a particular time. Fasting is actually normal for humans, as our ancestors have fasted for many reasons throughout history. If you can follow this eating pattern, it can reward you with many benefits.
How does intermittent fasting works?
After a meal, your body converts into to post-absorptive state. In this state, your body will not process any food, and this state usually lasts 8 – 12 hours after your meal. Your body will burn fat in the fasting state, as insulin levels come down. Therefore, those who begin intermittent fasting can burn more fat without making any radical changes to their diet.
Intermittent fasting methods
The 5 most popular fasting methods are:
In this method, women can fast for 14 hours, and men – for 16 hours in one day. After that, you can eat in the 8-10 remaining hours. While fasting, you cannot eat any solid food, but you can consume black coffee, sugar-free chewing gum, or diet soda. Most people fast for 8 hours in the night (while sleeping), and eat 6 hours after getting up in the morning. This is a method which is very popular with athletes. Time your meal intakes around your workout schedule, eat more protein, except on the days when you exercise. Then you should eat more carbohydrates. You will observe the benefits of intermittent fasting using this method.
Eat, stop, and eat
In this method of intermittent fasting, you should fast for a whole day or 24 hours for one or two times in a week. During the fast, you can drink beverages which are calorie free. Don’t just jump into a 24 hour fast – work to it by fasting for 12 hours, then 14, and so on. This fast is helpful to maintain your weekly calorie intake. The impact of fasting can cause fatigue, headaches, and mood changes. Be careful that you don’t binge eat after fasting.
Eat like a soldier
Soldiers eat just enough to keep them alert and slim. So you can follow their diet and try this partial fasting for 20 hours. In this method of ‘undereating’, you can eat raw fruits and vegetables, protein shakes, nuts, or boiled eggs in very small portions. The main meal is dinner, in which you eat vegetables first, then protein, and then the fats/carbohydrates. This big meal is supposed to help repair, recuperate, and grow the muscles. If you’re still hungry, fill up with healthy carbohydrates.
Fat loss forever
This method uses all the three methods used above. This hybrid method claims to give you a way of intermittent fasting in which you can burn calories faster in 12 weeks. The authors of this method claim that you would learn to adopt a lifestyle in which you get a cheat day, and then fast according to their rules for 36 hours. The longest duration of fasting is on the days which are the busiest for you. It includes weightlifting to optimize fat loss.
Alternate day fasting
As the name suggests, in this method, you eat very little on the first day, and eat your normal diet on the second day. So if your normal calorie consumption is 2,000 -2,500 calories, then on the fast day, you’d be eating 400-500 calories. What people usually do is drink smoothies or protein shakes instead of having meals.
How do you benefit from fasting?
Intermittent fasting has been linked to weight loss, as you eat less calories and burn them off. It has also been seen to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes, as your body fat decreases.
One of the benefits of intermittent fasting is the balancing of hormones. The hormones Leptin and Ghrelin regulate the storage of fat and hunger signals. These hormones are normalized by fasting, which leads to weight loss.
Alternate day fasting method has been shown to reduce lymphoma incidence and improved longevity after tumors.
Intermittent fasting is great for healthy people, but if you are underweight or have eating disorders, then it can be harmful for you. Women trying to be pregnant or pregnant women should avoid fasting.