Intermittent fasting is one of the most famous health and fitness trends across the globe. People are adapting this diet pattern to lose weight, optimise overall health and even lead a minimalistic lifestyle. Well, scientific evidence has revealed the incredible effects of this diet on the mind, body and it may even help a person live a healthy long life. Many diets pay attention to what a person has to eat, but intermittent fasting is all about when one should eat.
Read through this article to know in detail about intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating practice that cycles between phases of fasting and eating. In fact, this eating pattern doesn’t identify which foods one should eat but rather when one should eat them. The most common IF methods comprise daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.
Yes, we all know that fasting has been a practice in human evolution. Humans evolved to be able to carry out the normal activity without food for an extended duration of time, as there was no food available year-round or couldn’t find anything to eat. Fasting from time to time is more natural than eating 3-4 meals per day. Also, fasting is observed often for religious and spiritual reasons.
Also Read: 6 Popular Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting, You Should Know
Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are different ways of doing IF, all of these involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods, wherein the fasting state you either eat very little or nothing at all.
Some of the most popular methods:
The 16/8 Method: This is also called leangains protocol, which involves skipping breakfast and limiting the daily eating window to 8 hours, like 1-9p.m and then fasting for 16 hours in between.
Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours continuously, once or twice a week.
5:2: In this method, one can consume about 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, however, one can eat normally other 5 days.
Well, by decreasing total calorie intake, all these methods may help one to lose weight, as long as you don’t recompense by eating large quantities during the eating times.
Most people opt for the 16/8 method, as it is simplest, sustainable, and easy to follow.
How Intermittent Fast Impact Hormones And Cells?
During the fasting period, several changes happen in the system at the cellular and molecular level. For instance, the body adjusts hormones levels to allow stored body fat to be more accessible and also cells initiate viral repair processes and change genes expression.
Some of the changes that happen in the body when you fast:
Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of HGH increase tremendously as much as 5 times, this supports to loss of fat and gain of muscle mass.
Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves, and levels drop drastically, thus allowing stored body fat more accessible.
Cellular Repair: during the fasting state cells initiate the repair process. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and eliminate old and dysfunctional proteins that get deposited inside the cells.
Gene Expression: There are changes in the function of genes associated with longevity and safeguarding the system against disease.
These remarkable changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for the incredible health benefits of IF.
Also Read: Lose Fat Not Just Weight. What’s The Difference? 5 Ways You Can Slim Down To Get That Toned Look
Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting helps in losing weight and shedding stubborn belly fat remarkably, without restricting the calorie intake.
Promotes Insulin Resistance:
In certain people, intermittent fasting can decrease insulin resistance, lowers blood sugar spikes and fasting insulin levels, which offer protection against type 2 diabetes.
Inflammation is a key marker for the development of chronic disease, intermittent fasting reduces inflammation and optimises overall health.
Augments Heart Health:
Intermittent fasting is well-known to diminish bad cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides levels, inflammatory markers, and blood sugar surges, thus mitigating the risk of heart disease.
Boosts Brain Health:
This type of fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and supports the growth of new nerve cells and lowers the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Going for intermittent fasting speeds up the degradation of cellular waste and promotes the regeneration of new cells, thus slowing down signs of ageing.
Good hydration is essential to maintain bodily functions. While it's common to become dehydrated when you fast. During the fasting window, you don't get water from food. So, it's vital to monitor your thirst and make a conscious effort to drink adequate fluids. However, it is essential to keep in mind what you choose to drink while fasting. Sugar-laden or carb-dense drinks may trigger an insulin response, which makes the body secrete the hormone insulin. And insulin can make the system miss out on the merits of intermittent fasting.
Best Drinks To Have while Fasting
Water keeps you well hydrated and it can help you to shed weight. Increased hydration can boost metabolism and triggers the body's ability to burn fat. Therefore, include plenty of water during the fasting period. You can also infuse it with mint or cucumber for a more revitalising drink.
If you crave some nice flavour for your hydration instead of plain water, then lemon juice is the right option, as it doesn’t contain any carbs compared to other fruit juices.
Tea is an energising drink while fasting. Black, green, oolong and other herbal teas are some of the best options. Also, drinking tea may enhance gut health and keep you satiated.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
An infusion of apple cider vinegar is sure to keep your hunger pangs or food cravings at bay while fasting. The best way to have this drink is to dilute 2 -3 teaspoons of ACV in a glass of water and you may be surprised to know that it has reduced your food ravings remarkably.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I Drink Liquids During the Fasting Period?
Yes, fluids like water, tea, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed, however, you should not add sugar to the beverages. A small quantity of milk is fine. Drinking black coffee is highly beneficial during a fasting state, as it can curb hunger.
- Isn’t Skipping Breakfast Unhealthy?
Well, not really, as most conventional breakfast-skippers lead an unhealthy lifestyle. If you ensure to eat wholesome and nutritious foods for the rest of the day, then this practice is considered healthy.
- Can I Exercise While Fasting?
Yes, doing workout is perfectly fine while fasting but it is essential to listen to your body. If you feel weak or tired while working out, chances are you’re experiencing low blood sugar or are dehydrated. Then immediately go for a carb-electrolyte drink and follow with a balanced meal.
Also, on a 24-hour intermittent fast, opt for low-intensity workouts such as walking, restorative yoga and mild pilates. Exercise and intermittent fasting are highly personalised, as it may work for some people, while others may not feel comfortable.
- Will Fasting Lead To Muscle Loss?
All weight loss techniques can result in muscle loss; thus, it is essential to lift weights and increase your protein intake. Although, a study has revealed that IF causes less muscle loss than usual calorie restriction.
- Will Fasting Slow Down My Metabolism?