Intermittent fasting (IF) is gaining more popularity every day. If you think about it, fasting is the most ancient and effective nutritional remedy that is now experiencing a renaissance.
While it’s not for everyone, it can significantly impact your health in a holistic sense. Not only weight loss but improved blood sugar control, heart health, brain function, and cancer prevention are just a few of the potential health benefits linked to it.
Here’s what you should know about intermittent fasting before deciding whether or not it’s right for you.
What is it?
Hold on, but isn’t IF just a fancy way to address starvation? As a matter of fact, not at all. IF or time-restricted feeding (TRF) is a popular way of eating for many people looking for a solution to their health and weight concerns. Simply put, it doesn’t tell you which meals to eat but rather points to a timeframe on when to eat them.
Every time you’re not eating, you’re intermittently fasting. And it influences your holistic health in a variety of ways. Although nowadays it’s an increasingly popular fitness and health trend, primarily associated with weight loss, especially among those who follow bodybuilding or weight-loss circles online, it’s not just that.
What IF means for your health?
Intermittent fasting is a helpful way to impact your whole organism. It helps reduce insulin levels, elevates human growth hormone levels – responsible for facilitating muscle gain, and enhances noradrenaline concentration, helping the body break down fat and utilize it for energy. As a result, fasting not only decreases weight but also raises your metabolic rate.
It’s also an excellent indirect tool for boosting your productivity as it lends itself to greater discipline and focus. But that’s not all: Research shows that it can also ease the lives of those who have type 2 diabetes, as fasting lowers blood sugar levels. Some studies also imply that IF can positively impact lengthening lifespan.
Now we have an evidence base covered by considerable research showing the importance of IF for cellular repair mechanisms, such as the removal of waste material from cells. Moreover, intermittent fasting generates favorable modifications in various genes and chemicals linked to longevity and protection against neurodegenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s.
Intermittent fasting also enhances the number of metabolic factors linked to brain functioning. One of which is increased body resistance to oxidative stress – being one of the indicators of aging and many chronic diseases, it has a beneficial influence on all body functions.
How to approach intermittent fasting?
There are plenty of ways to approach intermittent fasting, and different people prefer different strategies. The main distinctions are based on the number of fast days and calorie limitations.
These are the most popular intermittent fasting techniques:
- The 16/8 method – measure your daily meal plan by a 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour eating window. This is a perfect option if you’re just starting your journey with intermittent fasting, as you don’t expose your body to rapid and sudden changes.
- Eat-Stop-Eat – pick one or two days in a week when you will fully restrain yourself from eating for the entire 24 hours. You can eat as much as you want the remaining 5–6 days of the week, but it’s encouraged that you make prudent food choices and don’t consume more than your body requires.
- The 5:2 diet – choose five days of the week when your eating schedule remains untouched and restrict your calorie intake to 500–600 for the remaining two days.
When you already know enough and feel comfortable with your body, you can be the master of your intermittent fasting strategies. Break between meals can be for any length of time, from a few hours to a few days, or even a week or longer if medical monitoring is provided. You can start a fast whenever you want, and you can finish it whenever you want. For example, you may fast for 12-14 hours between dinner and brunch the next day.
Suppose you’re looking for more in-depth advice. In that case, you can follow the discussion on many health and fitness subreddits that all the top keto and intermittent fasting pros, doctors, and nutritionists participate in.
IF may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done safely. Always listen to your body, be conscious of how you’re feeling, and don’t go overboard right away, no matter what you do. Your mind is powerful and well-aligned with your body, so use that to reach your full wellness.
For more health-related pro tips, check out the rest of our Nutritional Health blog section.