What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is actually not a diet per se. However, it involves following an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Not all intermittent fasting approaches are the same. It does not specifically state what foods should be eaten but often uses low-carb/calorie meals. However, it consists of a timetable that tells you when to eat meals making it an eating pattern.
Since time immemorial, intermittent fasting has been used for religious or spiritual purposes in Hindu, Christian, Islam, and Judaism religions. Today, intermittent fasting is not just for enriching the soul but it has been found to be useful in weight reduction and even diabetes reversal.
What are the health benefits of intermittent fasting?
Generally, the main benefits of intermittent fasting include weight loss, flat tummies, and it is an effective way to manage type 2 diabetes and even reverse it.
Research studies are suggesting that intermittent fasting is sustainable and effective when combined with other diets like low carb. According to a study from the University of Alabama, a small group of obese men with diabetes were found to benefit from a form of intermittent fasting loosely known as “early-time restricted feeding.”
All meals were scheduled into an early eight-hour period between 7 am to 3 pm, or spread out over 12 hours between 7 am and 7 pm. After five weeks, the eight-hour group had significantly lowered their insulin sensitivity levels as well as lower blood pressure. More so, despite having a decreased appetite, they were not experiencing bouts of starvation.
How does intermittent fasting work?
The human pancreas releases insulin which assists cells in utilizing sugars like glucose for energy whenever we eat. If glucose is not used immediately, Insulin converts excess sugars into FAT, which is stored in the liver, pancreas, and finally, subcutaneous tissue hence increases in weight.
When it comes to missing meals for long periods, insulin is not produced. Thus, the body turns to break down fat cells for energy leading to weight loss and low insulin levels.
This method of fasting is a potentially powerful habit that compels you to voluntarily eat fewer meals from a few hours, to a day or even a week. The habit allows the body to use its stored energy by burning excess fat off your body, effectively aiding in weight loss and reducing belly fat.
Fat is simply stored energy, therefore an increase in time of fasting means you are increasing the amount of time required to burn food energy in form of fat.
How long should I intermittently fast?
Those seeking to extend beyond a day or even to a week are encouraged to do so but under strict guidance from a medical professional. It is very important to note that fasting is not starvation.
When you fast, it means that you can access food but you have just chosen not to eat (Voluntary). Starving on the other hand means you suffer because there is no food. Caution should, therefore, be taken to avoid starving yourself to levels that pose a greater risk to your health or even lead to death.
This old-age secret is fast gaining popularity after slowly fading over generations as people begin to unravel many health benefits that can help to counter lifestyle diseases.
However, most people still fail on this powerful practice because the majority are not following the right fasting interval plans.
Types of intermittent fasting
If you have diabetes especially if on medications seek medical advice before starting to fast. Here are some of the recommended types of intermittent fasting that if followed strictly can deliver the desired results.
If you are seeking to lose weight, improve your blood sugar and proper functioning of the brain, you can opt to eat within an 8-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours a day. This method can be expressly adopted by anyone except those with underlying conditions that require guidance from a medical professional.
In this method, you choose to eat within a window period of four hours and strictly fast for 20 hours a day. In context, you might choose to eat between 8:00 am – 12:00 pm every day and fast for the remaining hours.
24 hours Method
This method lasts for 24 hours. It is a full day of fasting but it does not mean you do not eat anything. On-time shifts, you take one meal. You can arrange it the way you want. One can choose to fast from breakfast to breakfast or dinner to dinner.
Why opt for intermittent fasting?
There are a million reasons to try intermittent fasting over conventional dieting. Depending on your goals there are many benefits to intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting allows the body to use its stored energy by burning excess fat off your body, effectively aiding in weight loss and reducing belly fat. It has also been shown to reverse or put type 2 diabetes into remission, control blood pressure, control lipid levels. Intermittent fasting has also been shown to be very effective in the treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and many other medical benefits.
This is the most affordable and cost-effective way to stay healthy. Fasting is completely free allowing you to save some cash you would have used to purchase food to meet the conventional dietary needs.
One can save lots of time they would spend in looking for food that would meet the conventional diet requirements. It is also time-consuming to prepare three or more meals per day. You actually save more time to do other important things in life.
Intermittent fasting gives you the opportunity to choose a model that fits your schedule. One can opt to fast for 16 hours, 20 hours, or a week. You can always alter the fasting schedule to match your life’s schedule or suspend it for some time and resume later.
With flexibility, it makes it easy for one to lavish on what they crave for most including junk foods like French fries or ice cream. ‘Cheat’ days are very instrumental in build compliance among some people who find it difficult to fast.
Who can venture into intermittent fasting?
Despite its benefits, there are restrictions on who can venture into intermittent fasting. Those who have higher caloric needs such as youth less than 18 years, pregnant, or breastfeeding should avoid this plan.
Other individuals who are discouraged from following this diet include those susceptible or with a history of an eating disorder. All in all, it is important to seek medical advice from a medical practitioner while venturing into the intermittent eating plan.