All you need to know about intermittent fasting
The diet approach that will transform how (and when) you eat
Intermittent Fasting can quite literally transform your eating and diet regimen and lead to weight loss. Its innovative approach doesn’t necessarily change what you are eating but instead changes when you are eating. This isn’t to say you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight but changing the time you are consuming food does make a major difference on how your body metabolizes food.
What is intermittent fasting?
It’s quite simple…when you eat, your insulin levels rise to keep blood sugar at a safe level. However insulin tends to cause fat storage and doesn’t help your body burn any fat. Intermittent fasting takes this simple fat and reverses it. By going a long period of time without eating, your body will focus burning its fat storage. There are several methods you can choose from when trying intermittent fasting.
Choose which “fast” is best for you
- Time-restricted fasting 16/8 Protocol: This method is chosen to fast for a certain number of hours. There are several options. You will fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8 hour span of time. Many people call this the 16/8 protocol. An example is waking up and eating your first meal around noon. Then you stop eating within 8 hours of your beginning time. So you must eat your last meal before 8 pm. Not so bad, right?! You can move and adjust the 16/8 protocol to fit your lifestyle. If you are an early bird and wake up at the crack of dawn, then you may choose to start your eating state (first meal) at 9 am and then eat your last meal of the day before 5 pm. This still follows the guidelines of the 16/8 protocol.
- Time-restricted fasting 24-hour Protocol: This option is a bit more extreme but gives more variation during certain days. For this method, a person essentially chooses a day where they will fast for 24 hours. A person skips two meals on one day with the goal of going 24 hours without eating. You eat on a regular 3-meal-a-day regimen for 6 days of the week. Then you occasionally choose one day to skip breakfast and lunch. You are fasting for 24 hours since your first meal of the day is dinner and your most previous meal was dinner the day before. This can be done with any meal. Some people opt to do the 24 protocol more than once a week. For example, you may choose to fast ALL DAY on Wednesdays each week. You will eat regularly for 6 days and then on the fasting day you will skip breakfast and lunch and not eat until dinner. Therefore, you have fasted for 24 hours since dinner was your last meal the day before!
- Alternate day fasting: Also known as the “Every-other-day diet.” For this approach, a person chooses to follow a very calorie restricted diet plan one day and then eat normally the next day. Some studies have shown people who practice alternate fasting lose anywhere from 3 to 8% of their bodyweight in the first 2 to 12 weeks of this method. That’s quite a bit of weight!
Health benefits of intermittent fasting
Along with weight loss, intermittent fasting has many other benefits. How about lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes, chronic diseases, anti-aging benefits and less inflammation to name a few!
Type 2 Diabetes risk goes down because intermittent fasting helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Studies on rats have even shown that intermittent fasting helped lower kidney damage which is a problem that usually comes with diabetes.
Chronic diseases are often tied to insulin, a glucose. As fasting helps diabetes, it also helps lower a person’s risk of developing a chronic disease. A recent research study shows intermittent fasting cuts a person’s chance of having a heart attack and stroke. People in the study had a reduced level of systolic blood pressure which plays into heart attacks and strokes. High systolic blood pressure also creates more pressure on the arteries.
Anti-aging benefits too? Intermittent fasting helps the body to defend itself from molecular damage which would normally cause aging. The diet plan also keeps your organs healthy and your body at a high level of cell function.
Is intermittent fasting right for you?
The best advice is to maybe just try it out. There are tons of approaches and different methods to tackling intermittent fasting! If some are too extreme for you then you can pick a different one until you feel comfortable and feel your body is benefiting from this very intriguing diet regimen.
- J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Aug;115(8):1203-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.018. Epub 2015 Apr 6.
- University of Surrey. “Fasting diets reduce important risk factor for cardiovascular disease.” ScienceDaily , 19 March 2018.