It is the longing of someone going on a diet that is able to eat whatever they desire for the majority of days with some minor caloric limitation for one or two days and achieving weight reduction. This is a common occurrence for individuals who start intermittent fasting.
Intermittent can do more than slim just your waistline. Research has shown that fasting can help balance blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and aid in maintaining a healthy heart.
There are different ways of doing intermittent fasting, like devoting an extended period of time each day to not eating or choosing to miss meals for a couple of days out of a week.
Let’s ponder how periodic fasting can be utilized to both benefit your well-being and meet your weight reduction objectives. Consider this your intermittent fasting beginner’s guide.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
The practice of going through cycles of fasting and eating, or what is known as intermittent fasting, is becoming increasingly popular nowadays as more studies reveal it’s usually both harmless and successful.
However, intermittent fasting is hardly a new concept. This method has been utilized for many years in situations when sustenance was in short supply, and it occupies a significant place in many religions. Muslims celebrate Ramadan annually; a period of fasting from sunrise to sunset.
In a 2016 Cell Metabolism research, the authors explain how fasting helps people depend less on glucose (sugar) for energy and more on fat stores and ketone bodies (intermittent fasting on a ketogenic diet). Consequently, fasting that is carried out sporadically or in an organized fashion has a range of outcomes – from avoidance of illness to increased effectiveness in treating medical conditions.
Even eating in a way that imitates fasting, which is not the same as abstaining from food completely, can spark advantageous transformations comparable to the ones resulting from fasting.
It is hard to lay down a precise definition of intermittent fasting since no single technique is the authoritative approach to fasting. There exist numerous different variations that are employed globally. Individuals have unique dietary habits that they often strictly stick to in order to achieve physical or spiritual goals.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The extensive research on the concept of intermittent fasting suggests it functions in two different ways to improve various facets of health:
- First, intermittent fasting results in lowered levels of oxidative stress to cells throughout the body.
- Second, fasting improves your body’s ability to deal with stress at a cellular level. It activates cellular stress response pathways similar to mild stressors, acting as a stimulant for your body’s stress response. As this occurs consistently, your body is slowly reinforced against cellular stress and is then less susceptible to cellular aging and disease development.
Common Types of Intermittent Fasting
- Alternate-Day Fasting: This entails eating only every other day. On fasting days, some eat no food at all, and others eat a very small amount, typically around 500 calories. On non-fasting calorie days, eat normally (but healthfully).
- The Warrior Diet: This diet involves eating only fruits and vegetables during the day and then eating one large meal at night.
- 16/8 Fasting (also often referred to as Time-Restricted Feeding): For this method, you fast for 16 hours every day and limit your eating to eight hours. Most often, a key component of 16/8 intermittent fasting is skipping breakfast. This approach involves not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast the next morning.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Practice the “Eat Stop Eat” method by picking one or two days out of the week in which you fast for 24 hours, then eat nothing from dinner one day until dinner the next day. On the other days, you should have normal calorie days.
- 5:2 Diet: For five days of the week, you eat normally. For the remaining two fast days, you should restrict your caloric intake to between 500–600 calories every day.
Methods/How It Works
What are the rules for intermittent fasting?
No matter what style of intermittent fasting you choose, you will be omitting meals (usually breakfast) but the specifics of how each type implements fasting will vary.
What can I eat during intermittent fasting?
In contrast to conventional diets, with intermittent fasting, there is no need to keep track of points, or kilojoules, or add your meals to a food diary at the end of each day.
Although IF may be a primary factor in achieving weight loss, eating enough healthy food and having an adequate amount of calories is still essential. You could be in danger of reducing the speed of your metabolism, which is not what you had in mind.
Missing meals is not an acceptable reason to indulge in unhealthy food items and “empty calories,” so it is important to keep eating food that is full of important nutrients.
While practicing intermittent fasting, here are foods to emphasize when you’re not fasting and within your eating window, all of which tend to be filling plus full of nutrients:
- Vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, cucumber, onions, ginger, etc.
- Fruits: strawberries, oranges, lemons, blackberries, limes, raspberries, pears, apples, blueberries, etc.
- Meat: grass-fed beef, lamb, venison, wild game
- Fish: wild-caught salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, sardines
- Poultry: organic chicken, turkey, goose, duck
- Cage-free eggs
- Nuts: almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts
- Seeds: hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds
- Legumes: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, chickpeas, lentils
- Whole grains: quinoa, barley, buckwheat, millet, brown rice
- Healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, avocado oil
- Dairy products: goat milk, kefir, goat cheese, probiotic yogurt, raw milk
- Condiments: hummus, guacamole, apple cider vinegar, mustard, salsa, balsamic vinegar, liquid aminos
- Herbs and spices: basil, oregano, rosemary, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, black pepper, etc.
- Natural sweeteners: stevia, raw honey, maple syrup, dates, monk fruit
- Beverages: water, tea, kombucha, bone broth
Risks and Side Effects
Why might intermittent fasting be bad for some people? This product is not designed for individuals with eating disorders, pregnant women, or individuals who are already underweight.
When taken too far, it can potentially cause side effects such as:
- weakness, brain fog
- increased hunger
- trouble sleeping (especially if you’re fasting at night)
If you have hypoglycemia, not having anything to eat during the day can potentially be hazardous because it can result in your sugar levels dropping, which can cause you to experience shakiness, heart palpitations as well as fatigue. It’s advisable to speak with a medical professional if you have diabetes to see if intermittent fasting would be a beneficial option.
This tool is not recommended for those who have suffered from eating disorders because it may exacerbate unhealthy behaviors and cause a relapse of the disorder’s symptoms. It is not recommended for young growing people to practice intermittent fasting.
It is best to avoid fasting if you have gallstone disease, as this may increase the chances of gallbladder issues.
Investigations indicate that abstaining from food can change the concentration of your thyroid hormones. If you are dealing with any thyroid issues, it might be advisable to reconsider intermittent fasting as it could cause disruptions in these essential hormones.
People who have an illness should think twice before not eating. Fasting can inhibit the body’s ability to gain the essential nutrients it requires to improve and recover.
Can Intermittent Fasting Help You Lose Weight?
The short answer: probably. Dr. Gottfried expresses that IF is frequently talked about for its capability for weight loss and he advises it for weight loss and maintenance in his practice. The connection between skipping meals and losing weight is based on the idea that long gaps between eating cause the body to use the fat in its cells for energy, according to Harvard Health. The body’s insulin levels drop as it breaks down fat.
study published in June 2018 in Nutrition and Healthy Aging involving 23 obese adults found that study participants took in about 300 fewer calories per day when participating in the 16:8 approach to IF. The National Institute on Aging notes that IF may work because there’s less time for eating, so you naturally take in fewer calories each day.
IF practices that forbid eating later than 7 o’clock can help reduce the likelihood of metabolic syndrome and obesity, as demonstrated in a research paper published during the month of December 2018 in BMC Public Health.
Despite this, some critics have argued that IF does not yield a larger weight loss than other types of diets which limit calorie intake. A report published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in November 2018 determined that a dietary plan that decreased calories by 20 percent led to the same amount of weight reduction as the 5:2 fasting regime after a single-year period. IF may be more viable to follow than other dietary regimens, so it could be a productive choice.
What Are the Touted Benefits of Intermittent Fasting, and Are They Legit?
Here are some of the proposed benefits of IF.
Boosted Weight Loss
A journal article featured in Current Obesity Reports in June 2018 reported largely positive outcomes of Intermittent Fasting (IF). According to the data, IF is associated with weight loss of at least 5 percent, ranging up to approximately 10 percent of body weight. A 2018 study in Nutrition and Healthy Aging suggested that interchanging days of fasting could result in more significant weight loss than eating during certain time intervals. Additionally, the study postulated that alternating days of fasting may be more difficult to maintain than eating during certain periods. In the end, further studies should be conducted in order to determine if intermittent fasting can aid in long-term weight reduction.
A Lengthened Life
A scientific paper released in March 2020 and printed in Cell used an experimental system to assess indicators of cell aging and postulated that reduced caloric intake may reduce aging by decreasing inflammation in the body. Despite this, the research is still in its early stages; it still has not been confirmed to have the same results in human beings.
Reduced Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance, which is indicative of type 2 diabetes, is more likely to occur if one is overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research published in Nutrients in April 2019 showed that it is possible to combat insulin resistance by decreasing calories eaten.
Improved Heart Health
A study found in Nutrition Journal showed that intermittent fasting aided the subjects in reducing their weight, losing fat, and decreasing their cholesterol levels. This brought the researchers to the conviction that the approach of eating with IF might assist individuals in reducing their risk of coronary artery disease.
Healthier Metabolic Markers
Lowden notes that many metabolic factors can be improved with weight loss. No matter how you shed the pounds, you will have a decrease in visceral fat, elevated glucose levels, reduced triglycerides, and other elements. Lowden cites a few animal studies that suggest this, however, actual studies involving people have not demonstrated this conclusively.
Lab studies have demonstrated that Intermittent Fasting can improve mental performance. A research paper published in May 2021 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, conducted on rodents, revealed IF (Intermittent Fasting) proved to be 10 percent more efficient than daily caloric restriction in boosting long-term memory. This research was done on animals, so it is uncertain if people would have the same outcomes. More research is ongoing.
What’s the Best Way to Manage Hunger While Fasting?
It is probable that you will experience hunger as your body adjusts to Intermittent Fasting, however, Gottfried asserts that it will eventually get used to it. According to her based on her experience and her patients’ testimony, the situation will become more manageable. Harvard’s research has concluded that Intermittent Fasting does not cause increased hunger overall. Gottfried claims that 16:8 dieting (or any variation of it) appears to be the simplest form of eating that majority of people can use without the feeling of unbearable hunger.
What Is the Best Way to Get Started on a Fasting Diet?
Besides taking into account your health objectives, carry out these steps prior to starting Intermittent Fasting.
Talk to Your Primary Care Doctor
They can decide if this type of diet would be helpful for your body. Lowden states that it is essential to converse with healthcare experts if there are queries regarding what is appropriate for someone. Everyone is unique, and your personal physician may have specific ideas about what is acceptable or not acceptable for you depending on your situation.
Make Sure You Have Water Handy for Proper Hydration
According to the 2019 Nutrients research, it is recommended to consume a lot of water over the course of the day in order to avoid dehydration and to replace any fluids that you usually obtain from food.
Limit Physical Activity
Gottfried recommends that until you know how fasting will affect you, you should restrain your actions during your fasting periods.