By now you must have heard a lot about Intermittent Fasting or you can say “IF”, what is it, how it works, its benefits and so on. It is undoubtedly the google most-searched diet of 2019. Many people have claimed that they have benefited from Intermittent fasting and they had also shared their stories.
I started Intermittent fasting in Nov 2018 and since then the IF journey is continued. Well, of course, I also faced many hurdles in between but then again I always put myself back on track. I skip breakfast and eat two meals i.e, lunch and dinner.
Intermittent Fasting does not only help you to lose weight but it also improves your overall health and simplifies your lifestyle. According to various studies, it has proven that Intermittent fasting has a great impact on your body and brain. (1, 2)
Why I started Intermittent Fasting?
Let’s face it, in this digital era, our lifestyle has completely changed. The long working hours, stress, sedentary lifestyle, junk food can really suck the life out of you. Research also shows that because of this you’re at a higher risk of obesity.
I was gaining weight, felt low in energy, lethargic and no motivation at all. At first, I tried KETO but it didn’t for work for me. No doubt, I was losing weight but at the same time, I find it more complicated. The whole process of eating only good fats, very minimal-carb, and expensive grocery bills, I find difficulty in adopting the KETO diet. Then I started doing Intermittent fasting just because it was very simple and easy to adopt.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
The concept of fasting has been around for thousands of years and is commonly practiced in major religions. Various studies have suggested the health benefits of fasting including weight loss, reducing cholesterol level and lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Just like its name suggests, Intermittent fasting is a periodic diet that includes a period of fasting and a period of non-fasting. Unlike the KETO diet, IF doesn’t indicate what to eat, rather it specifies when to eat.
Who can do Intermittent Fasting?
As you’re seeing on the internet that it works like magic and is great for everyone. Of course not. IF is not for everyone. It is not recommended to pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, the person with any health concerns such as diabetes. It is also worth noting that there has not been any research that shows if it will work on people who are underweight, very young or very old. If you fall in any of these categories and thinking to give it a try, first talk to your doctor and share your interest in Intermittent fasting.
What are the methods of Intermittent Fasting?
There are various methods of IF and every method is effective but finding out which method works is totally depends on the individual preferences and their lifestyle.
Some of the most popular IF methods are:
1. The 16/8 method
One of the easy and most popular methods of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method. It is a method where you have a fasting window of 16 hours and an eating window of 8 hours. Also known as the Leangains protocol, the 16/8 method is a method where you can skip your breakfast and can have lunch and dinner or you can skip dinner and have breakfast and lunch depending on your choice.
For instance- If you finish your meal at 8 p.m and then you eat at 12 p.m the next day. So, technically you’re fasting for 16 hours. No matter whether you’re sleeping or awake in your fasting window. Your body will still work.
Not to mention that you should always prefer healthy foods within your required calories in your eating window. If you will eat lots of junk food, the whole idea of doing 16/8 fast will be a failure.
The 16/8 method of fasting involves daily fast. So, in the beginning, you may find it difficult to adopt but within one or two weeks, your body will get adjusted to this type of schedule and eating pattern. However, if you think that doing fast for 16 hours is difficult in the beginning, then you can start with 14 hours of fasting window and 10 hours of eating window and gradually move to the 16/8 method.
During the fasting window, you can have water, coconut water, apple cider vinegar, and other no calories beverages. The 16/8 method of IF s the best for beginners.
2. The 24-hour Fast (EAT-STOP-EAT)
The EAT-STOP-EAT fast involves a 24 hour fast for once or twice per week. This method involves fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day, or from breakfast to breakfast or from lunch to lunch the next day based on individual preferences.
For instance- If you eat your dinner at 8 p.m Sunday and don’t eat until dinner at 8 p.m next day i.e, on Monday, then you’ve completed your 24 hours fast. However, you can have water, coconut water, tea, and coffee.
If your goal is to lose weight, then you should eat normally during your eating window. This diet can be difficult for many people. Therefore, if you’re a beginner then you can start from the 16/8 method and slowly move to 24-hour fast.
3. Alternate Day Fasting
In alternate day fasting, you choose to fast for every other day. This method of fasting can be really difficult for beginners as they will go to sleep without food and a feeling of hunger every other night.
4. The Warrior Diet
The warrior diet was created by Ori Hofmekelr. In this diet, you can either fast or can have small amounts of raw fruits & vegetables during the day and can have a large meal at night. This means you can fast all day and eat at night within four hours of the eating window.
5. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
For this method of diet, you don’t have to follow the systematic IF plan, instead, you can skip your meals from time to time when you don’t feel hungry or too busy to cook or eat.
For instance- you can skip your breakfast on Sunday and you can skip your dinner on Wednesday.
6. The 5:2 Diet
As compared to other traditional IF method, The 5:2 diet is a little different. It involves eating normally for 5 days of the week and then drastically limit your calorie intake to 500-600 for the rest of 2 days of the week. Women limit their calories by 500 for a day and men 600 calories per day. It is also known as The Fast Diet.
For instance- You can eat normally everyday of the week except Tuesday and Friday. So, for those two days, you have to eat 2 small meals of 250 calories each for women in a day and 300 calories for men.
What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
- Weight Loss- IF is a powerful tool for anyone trying to lose weight and the belly fat. This is the primary reason why people try intermittent fasting. (1, 3)
- Insulin Resistance- IF can reduce insulin resistance, lowers blood pressure by 3-6% which helps in protecting the body against type2 diabetes. (1)
- Cancer- According to the studies performed on an animal, it has been proven that it may prevent cancer. (4,5,6)
- Anti-aging- According to the studies performed on rats it has been proved that IF can extend life span. (7,8)
- Brain Health- IF may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease. It increases the brain hormone BDNF and may support the growth of new cells. (9,10)
- Heart Health- Intermittent Fasting may reduce bad cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammatory markers, blood triglycerides, and insulin resistance. (1,11)
- It simplify your days- Because of IF, I don’t have to worry about my breakfast, about the extra meal planning for breakfast. I woke up take my apple cider vinegar and start my day. I now only have to plan for two meals of the day. In short, IF has made my life a bit simpler.
What are the Highlights and Challenges of Intermittent Fasting?
The first and foremost thing you can do when you start IF is listen to your body. Don’t be hard on yourself. Know which IF method is suitable for you. As a beginner, it is highly recommended that you start with a 14/10 or 16/8 method of fasting.
Drink lots of water and have healthy foods during your eating window.
You may find headaches, hunger, tiredness, and cravings during your fasting period but they are temporary. Stick with your plan and it will go away. If the dizziness continued, then it’s not a good idea to continue Intermittent fasting. Stop right away.
Frequently Asked Questions of Intermittent Fasting
1. Can I have liquids during Fast?
Yes, you can, Water, coconut water, tea, coffee, and other non-calorie beverages can be taken. Do not add sugar and milk in your tea or coffee.
2. Can I do exercise while fasting?
Yes, you can, Workouts are an added advantage in the IF journey. You can do exercise just before your eating window start or during your eating window. If you’re comfortable, you can also do workouts during your fasting window.
3. Is it healthy to skip breakfast?
Yes, it is absolutely healthy. Breakfast simply means “break the fast” which you can do any time of the day according to your IF method. Just make sure you eat healthy meals during your eating window.
4. Will IF cause muscle loss?
If you opt for any weight-loss method, it causes muscle loss Therefore, it is very important to lift weights and keep your protein intake high.
5. Does Fasting slow down metabolism?
No, in fact, short-term fasts boost metabolism.
6. How long will it take for Intermittent Fasting to work?
It totally depends on the individual and their goals. For instance, if your goal is to lose 5 kg, it will take lesser time as compared to someone who wants to lose 10 kg. However, according to experts. you may need at least 10 weeks to see any changes.
Eating healthy foods, exercising, and having a better sleep is what needed in Intermittent fasting. For some people, it is great but for some, it’s not. If you do not find the idea of fasting impressive, you can skip and do what works best for you. For me, Intermittent fasting worked like a miracle.
I hope I have shared a good overview of the Intermittent Fasting and its method. Let me know which methods work for you and how you like the idea of Intermittent fasting.