Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
It is an ancient process of fasting performed by people for ages. However recently people are re-discovering this dietary intervention.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.
Well, most notably, it’s a great way to get lean without going on a crazy diet or cutting your calories down to nothing.
Apart from just weight loss Intermittent fasting also aids in treating type 2 diabetes.
Let us understand in brief what exactly is Intermittent fasting and How to do Intermittent Fasting for beginners?
What is Intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a form of time-restricted fasting.
It involves consuming foods during an 8-hour window and avoiding food, or fasting, for the remaining 16 hours each day.
There is a myth that intermittent fasting is starvation.
Absolutely not! Starvation is referred to as the absence of food for a long period of time, this may lead to severe sufferings or even death.
On the other hand, with intermittent fasting, one consumes enough calories within the 8-hour window that helps to keep up through the withholding period.
How intermittent Fasting Works?
It is quite simple when you don’t eat, your body will simply “eat” its own fat for energy, intermittent fasting simply allows the body to use its stored energy.
Our body only really exists in two states – the fed (insulin high) state and the fasted (insulin low) state.
Either we are storing food energy (increasing stores), or we are burning stored energy (decreasing stores).
Insulin is the key hormone involved in the storage of food energy.
When we eat, insulin rises which helps to store the excess energy from food.
And when we do not eat (intermittent fasting). Insulin levels fall, signaling the body to start burning stored energy as no more is coming through food.
If eating and fasting are balanced, then there should be no net weight change.
Eating food at any desired time until we go to sleep we keep our body in the fed state(insulin high).
In results, we tend to gain weight because we did not allow our body to burn any stored fat.
In order to lose weight, we may simply need to increase the amount of time spent burning food energy. That’s intermittent fasting.
How to do Intermittent Fasting for beginners?
Referring to many experts there are 6 different ways to pursue intermittent fasting.
1. 16:8 Method:-Fast for 16 hours each day
This is the general method done by each of us daily. You should fast for 16 hours each day and eat within the 8-hour window.
With the 16:8 method people tend to skip their breakfast they directly jump to lunch let’s say take your 1st meal at 11:00 am and the last meal by 7:00 pm.
This time is quite convenient because we consume food in those hours when it is required the most.
2. 20:4 Method:- Fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night
This involves a 4-hour eating window and a 20-hour fast. For example, you might eat between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm every day and fast for the other 20 hours.
Generally, this would involve eating either one meal or two smaller meals within this period.
You can have a small number of raw fruits and veggies during the day time.
3. 5:2 Method: Fast for 2 days per week
This method is also known as the fast diet popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley.
In 5:2 Diet you eat normally for 5 days of the week and you fast for the remaining 2 days.
However, on these fasting days you are allowed to consume 500-600 calories each day.
You can have 2 shorter meals of 250 calories each or one large meal consisting of a whole 500 calories.
4. Alternate Day Fasting
It is the same as we do in 5:2 diet however in this method we fast every other day.
A full fast every other day can seem rather extreme, so it’s not recommended for beginners.
There are several different versions of this method. Some of them allow about 500 calories during fasting days.
5. 24 Hours Fast
This is also referred to as Eat-Stop-Eat, in this process, one must fast for a complete 24 hours.
For example, if you finish dinner at around 8:00 pm so you should not intake food until the next day’s dinner at 8:00 pm. And this way you’ve just completed a 24 hour fast.
You can choose any possible time as per your convenience like breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch that won’t affect the end results.
Do this once or twice a week. It might be a difficult one to opt for, however, you don’t have to go all-in right away.
6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
So you can call it as no plan fasting, actually, you do not need to follow any structure for such kind of fast.
Simply skip meals from time to time, such as when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.
If you’re really not hungry one day, skip breakfast and just eat a healthy lunch and dinner.
Or, if you’re traveling somewhere and can’t find anything you want to eat, do a short fast.
Some might say it leads to starvation or muscle loss however, it does not. Our body is well equipped to handle long periods of famine, let alone missing one or two meals from time to time.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
By eating throughout the day, your digestive system, liver, and kidneys are working continuously to absorb nutrients and flush out toxins. (1)
“But during the fasting phase, the body gets some rest and is able to break down leftover food effectively, leading to detoxification and reduction in gut inflammation,”
Our body gets energy from sugar and fats stored in our bodies. When our body needs energy the easily accessible source is sugar however it is a limited source.
That explains why its hard to burn fat cuz its not easily accessible.
So when you go on fast our body uses the accessible sugars first and once it is about to end we get access to burn fats.
3.Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes, Cells don’t respond to insulin, which helps control the amount of sugar in the blood.
As a result, the sugar level rises.
However, when we are on intermittent fasting. Insulin levels fall, signaling the body to start burning stored energy.
And the easily accessible source energy is sugar, our body start burning sugar in the body.
A study mentioned by Healthline states that 3 men with type 2 diabetes who were taking both drugs and daily doses of insulin to manage the disease, were put on intermittent fasting.
The trial lasted 10 months, the results revealed significant improvement.
All three lost weight, blood glucose was lower, and they were able to stop using insulin after a month from the beginning of the trial.
The effects of a specific diet may differ from person to person, but in general, those with diabetes should avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates.
4.Reduction of Inflammation.
Inflammation is one way the body fights infection, but if there is too much inflammation that can lead to various diseases.
Monocytes are the cells that cause inflammation.
A new study found that people on intermittent fasting experienced a strong drop in monocytes.
5.Improves Heart Health
Regular fasting leads to severely restricting food and drink for a 24-hour period on one to two days a week.
That can potentially improve your risk factors related to heart health.
It has been noticed that people who follow fasting show self-control over how many calories they eat and drink.
In fasting our body metabolizes cholesterol and sugar. Regular fasting can decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol.
6.Improves Brain Health
There are not any investigations based on humans however, Studies in mice have shown that intermittent fasting could improve brain health. (1)
A brief intermittent fasting diet had better learning and memory than mice with free access to food.
Further research in animals suggests that intermittent fasting can suppress inflammation in the brain, which has links to neurological conditions.
Other animal studies have found that intermittent fasting can reduce the risk of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
More research is necessary to investigate whether these findings apply to humans.
Intermittent fasting is the traditional way for weight loss, in the matter of fact lately is the most trending method to keep up good health.
Not only weight loss intermittent fasting has many other benefits as mentioned above.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It’s not something that anyone needs to do.
It’s just another tool in the toolbox that can be useful for some people.
If you decide to try Intermittent Fasting for beginners, keep in mind that you need to eat healthy as well.