What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating schedule that you follow, which consists of lengthening the periods where you fast or don’t eat any food for longer periods of time.
We already fast everyday while we are sleeping. Intermittent fasting should not be confused with a diet such as vegan diet or keto diet. In fact it is more of an eating patter that you follow that guides you when you should eat your meals.
Intermittent fasting has become a popular trend but was highly popularized in 2012 by BBC broadcast journalist Dr. Michael Mosley’s TV documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer and book The Fast Diet( 1)
Intermittent fasting Methods
There are 4 common ways to do intermittent fasting. Lets have a look at them :
The 16:8 Method
When following this intermittent fasting cycle, you would have a 8 hours of eating window during the day and you would fast for the next 14-16 hours. For instance, you can have your breakfast at 12 in the morning and have your dinner by 8 pm. Outside your eating window, you can consume tea or coffee as per you like. Furthermore, one needs to mindful of consuming healthy and nutritious food while they have their meals. This 8 hour eating window should not be considered consuming as much as high calorie meals. This method is the most common since its easier to achieve.
When following this Intermitting fasting cycle, you would fast for full 24 hours once or twice a week. Lets say you eat your dinner today at 8 pm and not have any meals until 8pm the next day, this way you would have completed a 24 hour fast. You can again eat normally the next day . Again, while you are fasting, tea, coffee or zero calorie drinks can be consumed, but no food is allowed.
The 5:2 method
Under this method, you would eat normally do for 5 days of the week, and restrict your calorie intake for upto 500-600 calorie a day for the rest 2 days of the week.
In this intermittent fasting cycle you will fast all day and eat at night within a four-hour eating window. You can have fruits and raw or boiled vegetables during the day and consume a High calorie dinner.
In this method you restrict your calorie intake to 500 caleires per day. So one day you will eat normally and the next day will limit to 500 calories and again eat normally the next day.
Intermittent fasting to lose Weight
While you’re skipping meals, the reduced calorie intake will significantly result in losing weight. Short team fasting also brings changes in your hormone levels.
Fasting increases insulin sensitivity and lower insulin levels make stored body fat burn faster if you’re in calorie deficit. in addition, your metabolic rate will also improve helping you burn more calories faster.
Although you should be mindful about your meals and not consume massive amounts of food with high calories when not fasting. The ultimate goal is to create calorie deficit.
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight
A common reason for people to start intermittent fasting is to lose excess weight and fat. When you consume fewer meals, there would be calorie deficit leading to weight loss. Therefore, Intermittent fasting benefits in both ways, firstly increasing your metabolism and secondly helping you being in calorie deficit.(Unless you eat excess amounts of food in your non-fasting period)
Intermittent fasting changes hormones and cells for good
While you’re fasting, the cells in human body commence a process called “autophagy”, a waste removal process from cells. Furthermore, the cells start metabolizing stored fat and protein that has been stored for a long time. Fating also enhances the “Human Growth Hormone”, that helps accessing stored body fast and muscle growth.
Intermittent fasting can lower Insulin Levels
Intermittent fasting also ahs benefits for Insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood.(2)
Therefore, insulin resistance results in lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting can reduce body Inflammation
Calorie restriction every other day might reduce makers of oxidative stress and inflammation. (3)
Side effects of Intermittent fasting
Most common and obvious effect would be feeling hungry the time you are fasting. It will take time for the body to adjust to the new eating pattern.
Again its very common to have headaches while you are first starting out intermittent fasting.
Restrictive eating might result in constipation. Taking additional laxatives will help.
In addition to headaches you also might experience dizziness while fasting. Taking more electrolytes will help with dizziness.
How to start intermittent fasting
- Choose your fasting times/method first.
- Decide on the meals you want to have while not fasting. Meal prep can help and stay consistent.
- If you feel extremely dizzy or feel like starving then you can stop and try again the next day.
- You can continue will all your physical activities such as working out, running, your favorite sports. Follow this workout routine to do a full body workout at home with no equipment required.
- Don’t consume a heavy meal while you are first breaking you’re fast. keep it light and move ahead from there.
- Repeat the same.