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What Is Intermittent Fasting?

October 22, 2018 4 min read

intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity in the last few years. It basically boosts your metabolism while ensuring you consume fewer calories, which makes it a highly effective method for losing weight and belly fat.

Regardless of which diet you consider, you can achieve weight loss using this simple concept. Daily calorie intake every day is less than what your body burns during normal activities. Intermittent fasting limits calories on certain days or specified hours in a day. You are making a conscious decision to skip particular meals.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

16:8 Fast

You fast for 16 hours, while eating within a specified 8-hour window. For instance, you can choose to eat from noon to 8 in the evening while skipping breakfast. Some people choose to eat in 6-hour or 4-hour windows as well.

24-Hour Fast

This technique involves skipping a couple of meals one day, where you don’t eat anything for 24 hours. For example, you eat dinner at 9 pm one day and don’t eat anything until 9 pm the next day. So you can eat 3 meals per day and then occasionally pick a day to skip breakfast and lunch the following day. If you are unable to fast for 24 hours, an 18-, 20- or 22-hour fast can also effective; it just depends how your body adjusts and responds with different timeframes.

5:2 Fast

This type of fasting is more extreme, as you will need to restrict calories or completely abstain from eating for one or two days a week. The 5 in 5:2 represents the number of days you eat normally, while 2 is for the days you restrict calorie consumption to 25% (500-600 calories) of your total daily energy expenditure of calories.

Skipping Meals

If you are opting for this method, you can select to skip any meal of your choice. It’s a step away from the conventional “3 meals a day” concept. Considered a beginner’s approach, this plan allows flexibility, some calorie reduction, and— depending on the meal you skip — could also mean fasting benefits if enough hours go by before the next meal is consumed.

Alternate Day

This is perhaps one of the most popular types of intermittent fast. As is evident from the name, it means you alternate between feasting and fasting days. On a feasting day, you have 1 meal at lunch that makes up about 25% of normal caloric needs. It involves modified fasting for durations or periods of anywhere between 30 and 40 hours, based your schedule.

Warrior Diet

This is an extreme fasting plan with numerous variations. It is also called the OMAD, or “One Meal a Day” fast, as it allows a window of time each day with only one feeding. You “undereat” throughout the day and “overeat” during the set window. It gives your body time to adjust to this sort of detox from food; the idea is to efficiently process food swiftly during a short feeding window.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Weight Loss

If you can diligently stick to a certain plan, you will notice a significant decrease in body fat, and subsequently your body weight will come down as well. Fasting drains the body of glucose reserves, which is the main energy source from food. Without glucose, you switch over to burning fat for fuel in a process called ketosis. 

Better Brain Function

Did you know that intermittent fasting helps boost brain power? Thorough research has been conducted regarding the strong effects of this time-restricted diet on cognitive performance (such as memory). A recent study found that weight loss in general is associated with improvements in cognitive function among overweight and obese people.

No Dramatic Changes in Diet

This diet plan isn’t like others; you don’t necessarily have to give up the foods you like. The idea is that you aren’t really taking away or changing the foods you eat. One word of advice: You can get much better results for your health with a whole-food, well-balanced diet that includes  choices from each of the 4 food groups.

Simple to Follow

This eating pattern – though it might seem tedious and difficult – is actually quite easy to implement. For those who are used to routine, you can stick to this plan with ease, as opposed to the traditional calorie restriction that may be hard to follow on a long-term basis. For some people, it can be a breeze to incorporate fasting into your present routine, so you don’t have to bother limiting types and amounts of food you consume on feeding days. For instance, are you aware that the “time-restricted feeding” type of intermittent fasting is often unintentionally practiced by those who skip breakfast and do not eat after an early dinner every day?

More Portions in a Shorter Period

Sound to good to be true? It’s not! You can actually eat more food at once, which leaves you feeling full and content. Hunger pangs are not an issue with intermittent fasting, so you don’t have to worry about controlling cravings. Intermittent feasting helps prevent the typical binge at night after not eating all day at work, or binge eating resulting from calorie-restricted diets that are tough to stick to over time.

A word of caution before you consider this type of diet: For people with certain conditions, like diabetes, skipping meals and severely restricting calories can be fatal. People who take medications for blood pressure or heart disease also may be more prone to electrolyte abnormalities from fasting. Proceed with intermittent fasting only if and when your doctor gives you the green light. 

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