Intermittent fasting has grown in popularity, and people are adopting it rapidly. In this article, you’ll get to know intermittent fasting in detail, its different variations, benefits, and precautions.
The facts that are provided in this article are backed with scientific studies.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet plan, but we can call it an eating schedule.
While on intermittent fasting, you’re not restricted to certain types of diet and particular food.
But here’s the catch – you’ll need to follow an eating schedule. It is essentially an eating schedule based on meal timing.
Intermittent fasting is more of an eating pattern where you eat during a specific window and then fast during the rest of the hours.
There are various approaches to intermittent fasting. Before we go into different types of intermittent fasting, we’ll learn about how intermittent fasting works and why it is adopted.
Intermittent fasting is adopted to achieve certain health benefits, including weight loss, blood sugar control, blood pressure control, and various others.
During intermittent fasting, what most people do is eat anything between 8 hours of the day and fast for the rest of the 16 hours.
The purpose of fasting is to give the body enough time to burn excessive fats as fuel.
Apart from burning fats, the blood sugar level and insulin level also reduce while our body is in the fasted state.
What are the types or methods of intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting doesn’t have specific restrictions. Many people adopt intermittent fasting based on how easy it is for them and depending upon their body needs.
That said, there are three popular variations of intermittent fasting that we’ll talk about here.
16/8 intermittent fasting
This is the most popular type of intermittent fasting. 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating is followed in this approach. E.g., eating between 12 pm and 8 pm and fasting for the rest of the 16 hours.
24 hours fast twice or once a week
This is another popular approach to intermittent fasting. Many people opt to fast once or twice a week instead of the whole week.
This approach involves eating the next meal after 24 hours of eating your previous meal.
5:2 intermittent fasting
This is a relatively lesser-known intermittent fasting approach but very effective, like the other two.
People who adopt this approach consume only 500-600 calories for 2 days a week. The type of intermittent fasting is more of a dieting plan rather than a dieting pattern.
What happens to the body when you’re doing intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting benefits your body in several ways, and one benefit leads to another. There are two states in our bodies. One is fed state, and the other fasts state. I’ll explain so read on.
When we eat something, our body goes into the fed state and stays for 5-6 hours in this state.
Our diet has nutrients like glucose and carbohydrates. Glucose is the primary fuel for our body, and it is used by our body to run its functions.
Glucose is either used immediately or stored for later use. After it is used, the insulin production also stops, and blood sugar level drops down.
Once we stop eating after 5-6 hours, our body goes into a fasting state.
While in this state, our body won’t have glucose or carbohydrates to use as fuel.
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found something fascinating about the effects of intermittent on metabolic health.
The researchers found that our body burns fats to use it as fuel for functioning. When your body starts burning fat, you’ll start to slim down.
How does intermittent fasting lead to weight loss?
There are several ways to lose weight, and intermittent fasting has become one of them. It is a proven method for weight loss; let’s look at how.
The primary reason for how intermittent fasting leads to weight loss is because your calorie intake is limited.
You fast for many hours and skip multiple meals and then eat between a particular time window, this leads to fewer calorie intake. A study has shown the results of intermittent fasting in obese people.
Limiting calorie intake is one way that leads to weight loss; Ketosis is another procedure that initiates during fasting and burns fat.
When your body is in the fasted state, it consumes all the glucose and as fuel and then need something to use as fuel.
That’s where your body fat comes into play. Your body starts burning fats to use it as fuel.
Intermittent fasting reduces insulin levels, and it starts burning stored fats, and you start losing weight.
When you fast regularly, your metabolic system is reprogrammed to use more stored energy as fuel. Your resting metabolism is boosted during fasting, and it helps to burn more stored energies during the fasting period.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Apart from weight loss (which we just discussed), intermittent fasting also helps to avoid several health risks and offer many health benefits. Let’s look into five of them.
1. Avoid the risk of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a common disease, and particularly obese people are more prone to get this disease.
Eating more food increases insulin levels and stored energy. Fasting decreases insulin production that ensures more absorption of blood sugar.
2. Human growth hormone
During fasting, human growth hormones increases. Our bodies, during fasting, produces hormones like adrenaline and leptin.
These hormones are great fat-burning hormones.
3. Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the body
It increases the body’s ability to resist oxidative stress.
Inflammation can also be cured by intermittent fasting, and you can avoid many chronic diseases.
4. Good for brain
A healthy and fine working brain ensure good overall functioning of your body. Intermittent fasting is beneficial in terms of improving many metabolic functions that are critical to brain health. It increases the levels of BDNF, a brain hormone.
5. Cellular repair processes
The waste removal process, which is known as autophagy, is initiated in the body as a result of fasting. This prevents the build-up inside cells and helps to avoid several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s.
What are some precautions to take if you’re doing intermittent fasting?
If you’re doing intermittent fasting, you need to consider certain precautionary steps.
It is always a great start, but before you jump on to the intermittent fasting, make sure to consult your doctor.
If you’re already a patient, then you must visit your doctor or certified nutritionist.
Getting a plan tailored for your health needs is a good way to start intermittent fasting.
Don’t try to overcompensate during the non-fasting period. You’ll need to control and measure the calories you consume during your eating window. Don’t forget to go on a walk or meditation during intermittent fasting.
What should you drink when you fast?
Drinking enough water during your fast is crucial. Dehydration during intermittent fasting as it can cause nausea, make you feel weak and lose energy.
In addition to water, you can drink any supplements that do not contain any calories.
Apple cider vinegar can be a good choice as a drink during fasting. You can regularly drink it during your fasting period.
Further reading: 10 Weight Loss Rules if You Want to Lose Weight.