Intermittent fasting is quickly becoming a popular dieting trend. You can't really call it a diet though, because it's not, it's more of a lifestyle or an eating pattern. Diets like low carb, paleo or weight watchers will tell you what to eat, whereas intermittent fasting does not. The only restriction that intermittent fasting places on you is when you can eat.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves restricting eating from anywhere between 12 hours to 36 hours in a row. There are a few methods but the most popular intermittent fasting patterns are the 16/8 method and the 5:2 method. The 16/8 method means that you fast for 16 hours a day and eat for 8 of them. If you have your first meal at 11 am, you should eat your last meal no later than 7 pm. If you have your first meal at 8 am, you should eat your last meal no later than 4 pm. The 5:2 involves fasting for 24 consecutive hours on 2 non-consecutive days each week. This allows you to eat normally the other 5 days of the week. When fasting during the 2 nonconsecutive days, you can eat something, but it's recommended that you stay under 500 calories is you're a woman and 600 calories if you're a man.
The 5:2 Method Of Intermittent Fasting
Another method of intermittent fasting, the eat-stop-eat is similar to the 5:2 method but dictates that you only need to fast for one day per week rather than 2. The more intense methods are the alternative-day-fasting method where you fast every other day and the warrior diet where you eat raw fruits and vegetables throughout the day and eat a huge meal at night. When following the warrior diet, eating is typically restricted to a 4-hour window of time. While fasting you can drink as much water as you want. You can also drink things like coffee, tea or any other beverage as long as they're not sweetened and has zero calories.
How Effective Is Intermittent Fasting?
So now that you know what it is, you're probably wondering is it effective and what are some of the benefits? Proponents of intermittent fasting say that the benefits are numerous. The first benefit that is usually what makes people consider it in the first place is the possibility of weight loss. One of the main reasons it is believed that people lose weight while following this regimen is simply because you're not eating as much. If you're only eating for 8 hours in a day or drastically restricting calories one or two days a week, you're greatly reducing your caloric intake.
Assuming you're not binge eating or making up for lost time when you can eat, the calories saved from these missed meals may be all that you need to kick start weight loss. You may experience slower weight loss when intermittent fasting than with weight loss diets that are geared towards fast results but if you're able to make it into a lifestyle, you may experience long-term weight loss and maintenance rather than the roller coaster weight loss that most fad dieters experience.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting also has many health benefits including reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. One of the highest risk factors of diabetes is being overweight. Since intermittent fasting can help with weight loss, it can help to reduce the chances of getting Type 2 diabetes or reverse the effects of the disease. Intermittent fasting has been said to help with heart health as well. It has also helped in the reduction of blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides (a type of fat that increases the chances of certain types of heart disease) and heart rate in both animals and humans.
Intermittent fasting has been linked to improved brain health and studies performed on animals have shown that intermittent fasting may lead to better learning and memory capabilities in mice. Other studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help to suppress inflammation to the brain which can help prevent certain neurological disorders like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and strokes. Intermittent fasting has also been linked to reduced risks of cancer but more research needs to be done with humans before researchers, scientists and medical professionals can confidently speak to these benefits.
What Can You Or Can't You Eat On The Intermittent Fasting Diet?
You can technically eat anything that you want when intermittent fasting BUT if you're looking to reap some of these benefits and get the most of it, experts advice that you eat a healthy well-balanced diet. People who love intermittent fasting love it because its easy to do. There's no list of foods to buy nor is there a laundry list of no-no food items to avoid. People who have been successful with intermittent fasting also like it because you can tailor and tweak it to fit your lifestyle.
If you know that you get hangry first thing in the morning, you can choose to have breakfast first thing in the morning and start your eating countdown from there. If on the other hand, you know that you won't be able to sleep when your stomach is grumbling, you can opt to skip breakfast and schedule your eating time span to include dinner. If you lead a high energy lifestyle and fear the effect that fasting will have on your ability to get through the day, you can choose to follow the method where you restrict your calories one or two days a week.