Why Is Intermittent Fasting The New Trend?
There are numerous diets, fitness tips, and tricks to lose weight. But, can a fasting technique help you in reducing weight? It seems intermittent fasting can. This technique has become a hiking trend in recent days. If followed with discipline, it assures weight reduction, improved metabolism and can even increase your lifespan.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a voluntary fasting method that ensures regular and prolonged gaps between food consumptions. It is mostly a change in the eating pattern that could change your life. Also, fasting is more common than eating 3 or 4 meals a day. This method is a bit similar to calorie restriction diet as it follows the principle of reduced calorie intake. As this diet offers a lot of health benefits and the fact that it is so prevalent in recent times, it is also known as fad.
The American Heart Association (AHA) also vouches for this technique, saying that intermittent fasting can help in weight loss, reduce insulin resistance but its credibility over long is unsure. It states that this diet lacks effectiveness when followed by older adults. Also, fasting is a common practice in many religions like Hinduism, Christianity, Jainism, Islam and Buddhism.
Can Intermittent Fasting help you lose weight?
There are a lot of ways in which intermittent fasting can get practised. Each kind varies with the other; the fasting can be for a few hours to a few days in a week or cutting short your regular meal portions to skipping your meal a few times. But can this technique help you lose weight? The answer is yes.
A comparative study shows that following intermittent fasting results in weight loss and various metabolic benefits like better glucose tolerance, good lipid profile and improved blood pressure. It is possible to lose over 4 to 8% of body weight by following this rising trend. The effectiveness of any weight loss is analyzed only by maintaining the reduced weight for an extended period. Intermittent fasting works great for short time weight reduction but doesn’t help much over a long time as it is challenging to get followed regularly.
The concept of intermittent fasting is straightforward. When fasting gets done for very long hours of the time, the insulin levels in the blood drops, thereby burning off excess fat. The low insulin blood level causes the cells to release already stored glucose in the form of energy. By repeating this process continues, there will be loss of weight. When combined with the right type of exercise, intermittent fasting works at its best.
How can Intermittent Fasting be done?
There are a lot of methods that intermittent fasting can be done in. Every method is different in its own way and effective based on the nature of the individuals. Here are some ways on how it can be followed for better results,
1. The 16/8 Method
The 16/8 method is nothing but performing the fast for 14 to 16 hours in a day and altering your food habits to the timeframe of 8 to 10 hours. During the timeline, you can customize your eating habits to three or fewer meals. This technique is also called a Leangains protocol. This method is the simplest of all because you can adjust the time window in a way that after dinner, you skip the breakfast. By doing this, you will be able to fit into the timeframe of intermittent fasting. It also gets advised that women take a short duration fast for 14 to 15 hours as it does the work for them. For people who find it difficult to skip breakfast, this method may be hard in the beginning, but eventually, over time, your body gets used to it. Drinking water, coffee and other drinks that don’t have calorie can help you beat your hunger. During the eating window, it is necessary to eat healthy foods for a person who does this technique. The results won’t be accurate if you eat a lot of junk foods or take excessive calories.
2. The 5:2 diet
2This diet involves regular eating pattern to be followed for five days of the week while cut shorting your calorie consumption to 500 to 600 calories for any two days of the week. The 5:2 diet is also called a fast diet. On the days you are consuming low calories, it is sensible that women stick to 500 calories and men take 600. You are allowed to eat your regular diet for a week except for any two days of your choice. For those days women can consume two meals each of 250 calories and men 300 calories for one meal. There is no evidence for the working of this diet, but intermittent fasting is proved valid.
3. Eat stop eat
This strategy requires 24 hours fast once a day or twice a week. This method has become popular over a few years. After you consume dinner, you should try not to eat anything until the next day’s dinner. This will fulfil the requirement of 24 hours of fasting. It is up to you if you follow the fast from breakfast to next day’s breakfast or lunch to next day’s lunch; finally, everything ends up the same. You can consume water, coffee and drinks that contain zero calories if you wish but no junk foods are allowed. If you are following this technique to lose weight, you must consume healthy foods during your eating days.
Another thing you should be aware of is you should eat the same amount of food every day. The difficulty in this fasting method is that it will be difficult for some people to go on without eating anything for a whole day
4. Alternate day fasting
In this method, you carry out the fast every alternate day. There are too many versions of this technique. Some of those let people consume about 500 calories even on fasting days, but its effects are not guaranteed. As this every other day fasting is extreme, it is not suitable for beginners. By implementing this method, you sleep nights staying hungry which may result in giddiness when you wake up.
5. The Warrior diet
The warrior diet has become a growing trend among the western population. It is followed by adding little amount of fruits and vegetables to your diet during the day time and consuming one massive meal at night. Eventually, you get to fast all day and end with a feast at night within the time frame of four hours. This diet is one of the significant diets to consider a form of intermittent fasting. The warrior diet’s food preferences are quite familiar to the Paleo diet consisting of high-calorie unprocessed foods.
6. Spontaneous meal skipping
A structured intermittent fasting plan is not required to acquire its benefits. Skipping meals when you are not feeling hungry or when you don’t want to eat is also an option. The human body was created in the way of handling a long time fasting, so it will be easy for you to feel skipping meals from time to time. So if you are not hungry at any point in time, skip breakfast, lunch or dinner. This type of method, where you skip meals when you don’t feel like eating, is called a spontaneous intermittent fast. After fasting makes sure, you eat a healthy and wholesome meal.
Time-restricted eating Vs Intermittent fasting
Often time-restricted eating is associated with intermittent fasting. Time-restricted consumption is nothing but the method of eating within a timeframe usually of 3 to 14 hours in a day. It is also closely related to intermittent fasting. When the time duration is cut short to 3 hours in a day, it narrows down to intermittent fasting, and when the 14 hours gets followed it is the usual diet that most of the humans follow.
In olden days people use to follow significant breaks between meals to ensure a healthy diet routine. Also, 12 hours of night sleep without food in between was considered mandatory. A study shows men who underwent a 2-week diet of eating between 6 am to 7 pm have lost nearly a pound per week. Another long term study revealed that overweight people who were successful in losing 7 pounds in 3 months were restricting their eating time between 10 am to 6 pm. Some people even showed improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol insulin and glucose levels. Cutting late-night eating, avoiding poor food choices have indeed resulted as a significant positive.
What changes does it do to your cells and hormones?
When you undergo fasting, a lot of change happens at the cellular level of your body. Your body releases stored glucose and start burning the fat available. Your cells undergo rejuvenation process, and therefore changes are observed in your body. When you fast, you might see the following changes,
- Human Growth Hormone – you can see the rapid increase in human growth hormone. This results in loss of fat and helps you to gain more muscle.
- Insulin – the levels of insulin drops and its sensitivity enhances. It makes the stored fat available for usage.
- Gene expression –they will be changes in the gene functioning which leads to the increase of your lifespan with immunity.
- Cellular repair – During fasting, your cells initiate self rejuvenation process thereby, constituting new cells by removing the old ones.
Health benefits of Intermittent fasting
Many studies conducted on intermittent fasting revealed many of its health benefits. They are listed below,
- Weight loss – as guaranteed intermittent fasting surely results in the reduction of weight and belly fat, without following any rigorous exercises.
- Insulin resistance – intermittent fasting also helps you by reducing your blood sugar level by 3 to 6% and insulin percentage level by 20 to 31% which gives you protection against diabetes type 2.
- Cancer – there might be a possibility in the prevention of cancer with the help of regular fasting.
- Heart health – reduced fat levels eliminate the bad kind of LDL cholesterol in your blood thereby eliminating the risk associated with heart problems.
- Anti-ageing – intermitted fasting is said to lengthen your lifespan if followed correctly.
- Brain health – it also increases the growth of brain cells thereby enhancing the production of the brain hormone BDNF. It may protect you from Alzheimer’s disease.
These researches are still in their early stages. And many studies were conducted on animals. There are a lot of things yet to discover and there is no proper evidence for these benefits.
Safety and side effects of intermittent fasting
Hunger is the constant backlog of intermittent fasting. If you are a beginner, you may feel week for a while and may not be able to function as you used to. But there is no need to panic. Once your body gets accustomed to this eating pattern, you will find it very easy. If you have any medical conditions or currently following any medications, you should consult your doctor before following this diet. This diet may not be suitable for people will ulcer, those who suffer from eating disorder, people with diabetes etc. If you are a pregnant woman or a breastfeeding mother, kindly do not follow this diet. Avoid this diet if you are women with a history of amenorrhea. This diet is not for underweight people. With all potential possibilities of this diet analyzed, there is no significant risk in following intermittent fasting as long as you are healthy and well-nourished.
The bottom line
Intermittent fasting may work for some people and may not work for some. It is entirely based on their body type. It is also said that this type of diet is more beneficial to women than men. So, if you are willing to try intermittent fasting please make sure you consume healthy and wholesome food rather than junk foods.