What is intermittent fasting?
- Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating, not a diet. It is a way of scheduling your meals in a way that optimizes your body’s performance .
- It doesn’t restrict which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat it .
- There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
What happens during intermittent fasting?
- Humans have been successfully fasting for thousands of years. Sometimes it was done out of necessity, in other instances, it was done out of religious reasons — various religions including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, mandate fasting in some form. Moreover, humans and animals often fast instinctively while sick. There is nothing “unnatural” about fasting and our bodies are fully equipped to handle extended periods of not eating .
- After eating a meal, our bodies release insulin. However, it isn’t meant to be released all the time and high levels of insulin make it hard for our bodies to burn fat. Which is why eating small meals throughout the day doesn’t really help with weight loss .
- While we fast, we are letting our insulin levels go back to normal so that we can unlock our fat stores and start burning fat and losing weight! Most people enter the fasted state about 8-12 hours after their last meal.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting changes the function of cells and hormones :
- blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning .
- increases human growth hormone levels that also facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits fasting induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells.
Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight and belly fat :
- fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss .
- metabolic rate increases by 4-14%, helping you burn even more calories.
Intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative stress
- reducing oxidative damage has benefits against aging and development of numerous chronic diseases.
Intermittent fasting may be beneficial for heart health :
- fasting has been shown to improve numerous heart health risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels.
Intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer:
- research has shown that intermittent fasting helps prevent cancer in animal studies. There is also some evidence that fasting reduces various side effects of chemotherapy in human cancer patients.
Intermittent fasting is good for your brain:
- several studies have shown that it may increase growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage;
- studies in animals suggest that intermittent fasting may be protective against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
The 16:8 method of intermittent fasting:
This method involves fasting everyday for 16 hours per day, and restricting your daily “eating window” to 8 hours.
For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm, and then fast until noon the next day, then you are fasting for 16 hours between meals.
The 5:2 method of intermittent fasting:
This method consists in eating normally for 5 days and then restricting yourself to 500 calories per day for two days a week
For example, you can eat normally from Monday to Friday, and restrict yourself to under 500 calories/day on Saturday and Sunday
The 24 hour intermittent fasting method:
This fasting plan lets you eat normally most days, except for 2 days a week when you’re fasting.
It is important to note that the 2 fasting days are supposed to be non-consecutive.