Intermittent fasting is a popular fasting practice that involves periods of entirely or partially abstaining from eating. There are many methods of intermittent fasting that vary in the number of fast days and calorie allowances.
An intermittent fasting pattern is based on a set schedule and does not follow random times. That said, each person’s experience of intermittent fasting is individual, and different styles will suit different people.
Does intermittent fasting lead to weight loss?
It might do. In several short-term studies, people did lose weight when they tried intermittent fasting. This is because you would likely be having less calories overall. But for some people, intermittent fasting can lead to overeating. This is because when you go without eating for a while your body makes more of the hunger hormone ghrelin. This can lead you to eat lots when you break your fast. So, eating healthily and being aware of how many calories you have is still important if you choose to try intermittent fasting.
Is intermittent fasting right for you?
That question is difficult to answer. Overall, it’s important to determine why you want to try intermittent fasting, and what you hope to achieve. Is this something you plan to do forever?
Many people try fasting to lose weight, but if this isn’t something you can do forever – and if the plan isn’t sustainable – then you may regain that weight. Intermittent fasting can help with weight loss because it may help you eat less overall. This is especially true if you eat sensible portions and choose balanced meals during non-fasting times.
Take a moment to think about your eating habits. If you notice that you tend to snack a lot at night, intermittent fasting could give you a cut-off time and help you eat less. If you notice your last meal of the day is late in the evening, maybe you can eat earlier to allow your body to start fasting at that time.
Is intermittent fasting safe?
Research suggests that it can be safe for healthy adults. But there’s not enough evidence to show what would happen if you did this type of fasting for a long time. There are also some circumstances where intermittent fasting would not be suitable.
- if you are pregnant
- have type 1 diabetes
- have a history of disordered eating
- have anxiety or depression
So, it’s worth checking with your doctor if you have any health issues or concerns.
How does intermittent fasting work?
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week. There are many different intermittent fasting schedules.
Experts say that after hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat. This is known as metabolic switching. Intermittent fasting contrasts with the normal eating pattern for most people, who eat throughout their waking hours. If someone is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and they’re not exercising, then every time they eat, they’re running on those calories and not burning their fat stores.”
Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.
Intermittent Fasting Schedule
The best methods are Intermittent Fasting Schedule are as follows:
- 5:2 fasting. Eat a normal diet five days a week and fast two days a week. Example: The 5:2 diet approach advocates no food restriction five days of the week, cycled with a 400-500 calorie diet the other two days of the week.
- Alternate-day fasting. Eat a normal diet one day and either completely fast or have one small meal (less than 500 calories) the next day. Example: Mon-Wed-Fri consists of fasting, while alternate days have no food restrictions.
- Daily time-restricted fasting. Eat normally but only within an eight-hour window each day. Example: skip breakfast but eat lunch around noon and dinner by 8 p.m.
Some studies suggest that alternate-day fasting is about as effective as a typical low-calorie diet for weight loss. That seems reasonable because reducing the number of calories you eat should help you lose weight.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Physiologically, calorie restriction has been shown in animals to increase lifespan and improve tolerance to various metabolic stresses in the body. Although the evidence for caloric restriction in animal studies is strong, there is less convincing evidence in human studies. Proponents of the diet believe that the stress of intermittent fasting causes an immune response that repairs cells and produces positive metabolic changes (reduction in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, fat mass, and blood glucose).
Health benefits of intermittent fasting
Researchers have studied intermittent fasting for decades, testing animals and humans to gather evidence of health benefits. More research is needed, especially to determine the advantages of practicing intermittent fasting long-term. But experts do know that fasting improves metabolism and lowers blood sugar, benefitting a wide range of health issues.
Evidence shows that when you consistently practice intermittent fasting, it may:
- Banish brain fog, by forcing you to get energy from stored fat (a process called ketosis) instead of sugar
- Decrease your risk for diabetes, by controlling blood sugar and reducing your body’s resistance to insulin, the hormone that helps control the amount of sugar in the blood
- Help you lose weight and visceral fat, the harmful fat around the abdomen that causes disease
- Improve sleep, by regulating your circadian rhythm (internal clock) and moving digestion earlier in the day
- Protect your heart, by reducing blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels
- Reduce inflammation, which can improve conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis and asthma