We all know what we put inside our body matters. However, it may surprise you to know that when you eat matters too! Intermittent fasting, also known as Time Restricted Feeding, is one of the most popular trends currently in the health and fitness communities. And unlike a fad diet that may come and go, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern as opposed to the conventional diet.
Learn everything you need to know about intermittent fasting and how you may be able to use it to shed pounds and increase your mental and emotional well-being.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Similar to how it sounds, intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. In addition to weight loss, studies have shown benefits such as improved brain and heart health. While there are many different methods of intermittent fasting, the one that works best for your body is the one you can easily add to your lifestyle and reap benefits from. Here are three popular forms of intermittent fasting.
The 16:8 method involves fasting for 16 hours a day and only eating during an 8-hour window. For example, you might fast from 6 pm to 10 am and then only eat between 10 am and 6 pm. Because there are no calories to count, this may be an easier form of fasting that is good for beginners. However, some people find it hard to fast for 16-hours straight.
The good thing about this type of fasting is the flexibility it offers. Whether you incorporate this into your diet as little as twice a week or decide that you like it, and follow it every day is up to you.
This method involves fasting for a 24-hour period once or twice a week. The days you fast is up to you, however, they should not be back to back.
Furthermore, sleeping is included in the 24-hour fast, so in essence, you should be eating every day. For example, if your 24-hour fast starts at the 8-am mark you will want to eat a meal that morning prior to 8-am. When your fast ends on the following day, you should eat a meal soon after that 8-am mark. For those using this method twice a week, they would wait at least 24-hours before incorporating it again. This ensures they are not fasting on consecutive days.
As you may imagine, this form of fasting is more difficult due to the longer restriction of food.
The 5:2 Fast
Popular and less restrictive, this fast involves fasting for two non-consecutive days, and eating as you normally do the rest of the week. For the two days you are fasting, however, you aren’t going without food but you are restricting your caloric consumption to a quarter of your daily needs. So for women, this is about 500 calories, and for men, 600 calories.
So, for example, let’s say you decide to fast on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday you would eat 2-3 small meals that total out to 500-600 calories for that day. Then, you would do the same on Thursday. On the days you are not fasting, you eat as you normally would.
Modifying the 500-600 limitation may be helpful for those new to fasting and help them ease into this form of fasting.
Benefits of Fasting
Thanks to its simplicity, intermittent fasting is a popular choice for those looking to lose weight without excessively counting calories or restricting certain foods. Plus, the benefits may include weight loss, body composition, disease prevention and well-being.
Intermittent fasting may support:
- Weight loss
- Help regulate hormones
- Improve digestion
- Boost metabolism
- Reduce blood sugar levels and inflammation
- Improve heart health
While intermittent fasting may be an effective way to improve overall health, it’s important to stay mindful of your body’s needs and consult a doctor about any changes you may experience.
Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?
Intermittent fasting is not a new concept. In fact, it goes back to the ancient days of hunting and gathering, when food sources weren’t as readily available. However, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for children, individuals with a history of eating disorders, or those with certain health conditions. According to the National Institute of Health, it is not safe for anyone with kidney disease, heart-related issues, or those with diabetes.
So, is Intermittent fasting right for you? It has been successful for many people, however, it’s not a one-size fits all approach. If you’re thinking about it, it’s important to remember to stay hydrated and consume a healthy diet when you aren’t abstaining from eating.
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