Intermittent Fasting is an incredibly famous health and fitness trend where you alternate between periods of eating and fasting. Like we naturally “fast” every night while sleeping, intermittent fasting is merely extending that process a little longer.
The most popular method of this type of fasting is known as 16/8. Here, in 24 hours, you fast for 16 and eat in the rest 8. No food is allowed during the fast period, although you can have non-caloric beverages like water, tea, or coffee. Other methods include:
- Eat-stop-eat: It involves fasting once or twice a week for 24 hours.
- The 5:2 diet: It allows you to consume 500-600 calories for two non-consecutive days and normally eating the rest of the week.
Hunger is the most common side effect of this diet routine. You might feel weak and less energetic than usual. It can be temporary because it takes time for your body to adjust to it.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone; if you are underweight or have a history of medications, you should not fast without consulting a health professional first. If you are diabetic or have problems related to blood sugar regulation, this is not for you.
Benefits from Intermittent Fasting
It is found in research that people who fast, reported feeling better and having more energy. Many studies have shown that this type of fasting has powerful effects on your brain and body and also may help you live longer. It helps you lose weight by making you eat fewer and burn more calories.
Apart from weight loss, it helps reduce insulin resistance and improves heart and brain health. All that been said, intermittent fasting has a good safety profile. If you are healthy overall, then there is absolutely nothing wrong or dangerous about this method.
Myths regarding Intermittent Fasting
1. You are going to lose weight no matter what
Intermittent Fasting does not always make you lose weight. The duration of your fast will not matter if you eat food full of calories like pizza, burger, etc. after the fast. It goes hand-in-hand with a healthy diet.
2. Fasting will slacken your metabolism
In lieu of slowing down your metabolism rate, it accelerates the release of adrenaline which increases your metabolism and induces lipolysis i.e, fat burning. This method was used by our ancestors. It gave them the energy to gather food during famines, inclement weather, and caloric scarcity. If fasting slowed down metabolism, our ancestors would have been fatigued and fat, but instead, they are lean and energetic.
Also, eating in regular intervals to boost metabolism is another myth which leads to fat storage and slow metabolism in the long run. Low-calorie diets slow down metabolism, and this technique does the opposite of it; you cannot equate fasting with a low-calorie diet.
3. Fasting induces hunger
Fasting does not trigger hunger or overeating, eating does, especially modern-day food items which are full of sugar and specifically designed to be addictive. You have to start eating right first, only then intermittent fasting or any kind of fasting will help you. When your glucose and insulin levels start to equalise, only then will your body be prepared for the intermittent fasting.
With a substandard diet, and you begin to fast, you are going to feel terrible and might not even try it again. Your hormones are not habituated to tread effortlessly through a fast. Therefore, a proper diet is necessary to start any sort of fasting.
4. Intermittent Fasting is the best option for weight loss
This type of fasting is an exercise for restriction of calories at the most basic level. Research and studies have shown that this technique has not proven to work better than other weight-loss strategies.
5.It is not possible to work out while you are fasting
It is a very commonly believed myth that it is not possible to work out while you are fasting. It is a good thing to work out on an empty stomach in the morning. It allows you to burn the fat that is already stored in your body and not from the calories consumed. You can then eat breakfast to replenish your body.
6. Eating a big breakfast is vital as it is the most important meal for the day
Although, consuming breakfast fuels your day, it is not necessarily the truth. One must eat what works for your body. It is not essential to eat a heavy breakfast. You can always go for a light breakfast and a substantial amount for lunch, especially if you have been working out in the morning. It is all about how your body works. You can choose whatever meal you want, to be the biggest meal of the day; it should depend on your body and lifestyle.
7. Intermittent Fasting works because the body does not digest food at night
It is a huge misconception on how this technique works. Our bodies digest food no matter what the time is. Even if you eat at 3 a.m, your body will digest it. It is a matter of allocating time to your body to focus on other metabolic processes rather than digestion.
How to start intermittent fasting
- The easiest way of intermittent fasting is choosing the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours, including the time you are spending asleep. It makes the process easy as you will be sleeping for most of it.
- Experts suggest that you should finish all your meals in the early evening because metabolism slows down after that. However, it is also feasible to avoid food 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- You choose one of these 8 hours windows – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. You can use these time frames to eat meals and snacks according to your convenience.
- Eating now and then is particularly essential to balance sugar level peaks and dips, and to avoid extra hunger.
- If you feel good and think it is easy to fast, you can advance your level by fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
Type of meals to consume while you are at it
- Even though intermittent fasting does not say what foods to eat, you should follow a healthy diet and limit or avoid junk and fatty food items. If you consume unhealthy food, it will result in weight gain and diseases.
- Focus on a balanced diet which would include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (from olives, coconut, fish, avocado etc.). Having a diet containing a considerable amount of fibre keeps you feeling full and satisfied for longer.
- Drinking lots of water is especially important if you are fasting as it helps in satiating hunger because people often mistake thirst with hunger. It is necessary to consume fluids to avoid dehydration.