What Is Intermittent Fasting?
As one of the most popular trends right now, intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating to lose weight and improve health. Throughout human evolution, fasting has been practiced and therefore has resulted in our bodies being able to function without food for extended periods. Some may say that fasting from time-to-time is more natural than eating more than four times a day.
When you fast, your human growth hormone increases and insulin levels decrease which adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible – helping with fat loss. Further, cells initiate cellular repair processes and there is a change in the expression of genes. All of these factors can result in weight loss, reduced inflammation, improved heart and brain health, and aid in anti-aging.
Now that you understand the benefits, how do you intermittent fast?
Intermittent fasting relies on when you eat versus which foods you eat. There are various methods of approaching intermittent fasting but the most common are the 16/8 method, eat-stop-eat method, and the 5:2 diet:
- The 16/8 method
Popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan, it is also called the Leangains protocol. It restricts your daily eating period to 8 to 10 hours, such as between 1:00–9:00 p.m., and then requires you to fast for 14 to 16 hours in between. During the eating period, it is recommended to eat two to three meals.
- The 5:2 diet
Also known as the fast diet, you consume 500–600 calories for two days of the week (non-consecutive), then eat normally the other five days. In those two days, it is recommended to eat a 250 to 300-calorie meal in the morning and at night.
This involves fasting for 24 hours, once to twice a week, in a non-consecutive order. For example, not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day. For the remaining, five to six days it is essential to maintain a healthy diet.
It is important to note that intermittent fasting does not include skipping liquids. During your fasting window, it’s imperative to stay properly hydrated. You can drink coffee, water and other low-calorie beverages.
While intermittent fasting may sound intimidating, it can be fairly simple. All it takes is planning, preparation and diligence. Further, it’s important to experiment to find a method that works for your lifestyle. It’s recommended to start with the 16/8 method and work your way up to the eat-stop-eat method.
We recommend consulting with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about intermittent fasting.