Intermittent fasting is a different dietary approach in that it is more about when you eat rather than what you eat. It’s about finding a pattern of eating and scheduling your consumption of calories in a way your body gets the most out of them. Depending on past or current health issues you may have it is important to consult your doctor or an informed specialist before you make drastic changes in your health plan. Although effects can differ slightly for men and women, incorporating short-term fasting as a lifestyle change can help you successfully lose body fat, and reduce the risk of several health issues.
What’s Intermittent Fasting And How It Works?
The idea of fasting is often off-putting because people assume it means days without food or only consuming water and tiny, unappetizing meals. Essentially intermittent fasting relies on a scheduled eating pattern to help you reduce your calorie intake. You may need to experiment with a couple of different fasting windows to find what works most effectively with your schedule and your body. When fasting you are only to consume black coffee or tea and water, but no foods. When you are eating you can eat as you regularly would because there are no added restrictions or regulations. However, being mindful to not overeat and try to adhere to a diet of whole foods offering high-quality nourishment that will last you throughout the day.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Gut bacteria is something that isn’t talked about much until you have an acute problem. However, the bacteria in the digestive system plays an essential part in regulating your immune system and absorbing the nutrition from your food. Intermittent fasting can help those suffering from SIBO which occurs when an abnormally large amount of bacteria builds up in the small intestine. While antibiotics are often the first response to eliminate any bacterial overload, they can also be the cause of imbalances. The key solution is to eradicate the build-up and rebalance the good bacteria between both intestines. Intermittent fasting can help this process along by giving the digestive system regular breaks, essentially starving the bacteria.
Several studies have proven that in addition to benefiting the microbes in your gut intermittent fasting also can improve your mood, aid in muscle growth, and increase your metabolism which in turn can lead to fat loss. Reducing fat levels in the body can help reduce risk of cardiovascular issues as well as positively benefit insulin sensitivity. Fasting has even been linked to improved brain function, because of its ability to increase the production of the protein brain-derived neurotrophic factor which is crucial for neural health and neural production. Fasting regimens usually require participants to stop eating several hours before sleeping, thereby also improving your sleep patterns.
How to Get Started With An Intermittent Fasting Diet?
The following are some of the most common methods of structuring your eating periods:
- The 16/8 protocol: This is probably the most common and the easiest method for beginners because of its flexibility. It requires that you only restrict your daily eating period to 8 hours and you fast for the remaining 16 such. Depending on your daily activities this is the result of just skipping breakfast, so that could mean only eating from 12-8 pm or 11-7 pm.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: With this protocol, you fast for 24 hours but only once or twice per week. This is another more difficult option to get used to but the flexibility of it can make it easier once you get into the routine. A good example would be not eating after dinner on a Tuesday until dinner time on Wednesday.
- The 5:2: Another common method is only consuming 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week. Then you can eat normally for the other 5 days.
- Alternate-day fasting: Super simple concept this method is pretty self-explanatory. Fasting every other day, either completely forgoing all solid foods or drastically reducing calories to only a few hundred on an off day.
- The Warrior Diet: In this drastic style you commit to only eating small amounts of fruits and vegetables throughout the day in preparations for your big meal in the evening. These 20 hours of fasting and 4 hours of overeating is based on the idea that primitive ancestors spent the majority of most days hunting and gathering, reserving eating for a feast in the evenings.
Intermittent fasting can have long-lasting positive effects for both men and women but is especially not meant for those who are underweight, pregnant, or diabetic. There are many different methods so it’s important to do your research and find which method works best for you. The best results will be seen when intermittent fasting is paired with regular exercise and consuming a balanced diet during your feeding windows.