People are constantly looking for ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle or shed some weight. Dieting has become a natural regimen for some, while others have gone into intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has gradually taken over in the wellness and fitness areas of life, and more people are looking to reap its benefits.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that is carried out based on the scheduling of your meals. It is not a diet as it doesn’t change what you eat but changes when you eat. This cycle of eating and fasting period has been proven to help with this fasting weight loss scheme and reduces the risk of diseases.
Benefits of Fasting (Intermittent Fasting)
Fasting for Weight Loss
This is probably the most obvious benefit to intermittent fasting. Eating strictly by following a routine diet helps to reduce the number of calories in your body. It helps to boost metabolism. Additionally, this also provides a digestive advantage for the body as well.
Intermittent fasting has been proven to prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, and cancer. It helps to reduce blood sugar, which protects you from type 2 diabetes. Also, bad cholesterol is reduced and thus prevents heart disease. As such, intermittent fasting is a good option when you want to learn how to lower cholesterol levels.
On tope of these benefits, the side effects of chemotherapy can also be brought to a minimal level by intermittent fasting. This is supported by certain intermittent fasting results. Fasting before beginning the chemotherapy process also helps in curing the disease.
Studies show that regular fasting can lead to a longer life span. Furthermore, such a practice may also reduce the risk of heart failure. Overall, a restricted schedule of eating activates mechanisms in your body that restrict too many calories, which can thus translate to a healthier lifestyle in general.
Advantage Over Regular Dieting
Many people go on a diet because of the nutritional benefits that come with it. They also do so to lose weight. However, going on a diet can only do so much for your body. Dieting is based on the nutrition your body receives, and at some point, it becomes difficult to maintain the diet routine. While it might seem easy to decide to go on a diet, it is not as easy to maintain it. Intermittent fasting, however, provides a vast range of benefits without making you change your entire lifestyle. This is because it, again, focuses on when to eat and not what to eat.
Methods of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can be done in various ways. It involves scheduling eating and fasting periods during the day or week. You can choose to eat very little or nothing at all during the fasting period. It is best to find a method that is suitable for you.
Here are the most popular methods:
Daily Time-Scheduled Fasting (16/8 Method)
This is the most preferred method of intermittent fasting because most people find it sustainable and easy to maintain. This intermittent fasting method is done by eating within a specific period of eight hours, following your usual eating methods. Then you would fast in between for 16 hours. This method of fasting is also known as the Leangains method of intermittent fasting. You can choose to eat at any time within the eight-hour window. It is easy to follow this type of schedule, and that is why it is preferred. If your goal is to lose weight, this is the best method for you.
Periodic Fasting (Eat-Fast-Eat Weekly)
This is a 24-hour method of intermittent fasting. It can be done once or twice a week by, for example, eating lunch one day and not eating anything else until lunch the next day. Then you can resume your usual eating for the rest of the week until the following week comes around. It has an advantage that allows you to eat every day while still fasting for 24 hours.
Alternate Day Fasting (Eat-Fast-Eat Daily)
This method of intermittent fasting is done with a longer period of fasting. Throughout the week, a restricted cycle of eating and fasting is done for alternate day fasting. This means that if you eat breakfast on Monday morning, you will not eat again until Tuesday morning. On Wednesday also, you’d eat in the morning but not for the rest of the day. This alternate day fasting method allows you to have longer fast in periods consistently while having at least one meal to eat every day of the week.
A study shows that alternate day fasting, which is done before the process of chemotherapy starts, is known to quicken the recovery process, yield better results, and reduce the mortality rate.
Note: Regardless of the method of intermittent fasting you choose, you should not compensate for your eating window period by eating more than you ordinarily would. This would provide you with more benefits of fasting.
How to do Intermittent Fasting
At some point in your life, you probably have done an intermittent fast without even realizing it. This occurred when you had dinner, and for some reason (maybe you just weren’t hungry, or you slept late), you find yourself eating again at lunch or dinner the next day. The chances of this happening are high.
Some people don’t like to eat breakfast in the morning and rather wait till later in the day to do so. If you keep track of time while doing this, you would realize you might have fasted for 16 hours or more.
As explained earlier, a lot of people find it easier to do the 16/8 intermittent fasting method. You should try this method of intermittent fast first if you have never fasted before.
Once you’re comfortable doing the Leangains method, then you can advance into the other intermittent fasting methods such as Alternate Week or Alternate Day Fasting. This is just one way of how to start intermittent fasting.
Another way to go about it without having a fixed routine to follow is to fast when it is convenient for you. Skip meals when you are not very hungry or when you don’t feel like cooking. It’s a win-win situation as it allows you the benefits of fasting and yields intermittent fasting results while you relax instead of stressing to cook.
Note: Be sure to find the method that suits you and your needs.
What to Eat During Intermittent Fasting
Knowing what to eat during intermittent fasting is good to maintain a good healthy eating regimen by eating a high metabolic meal to prevent the side effects of fasting from affecting you too much. Eating high metabolic meals promotes digestive advantage and aids better intermittent fasting results.
Here are foods that you should take when you are on an intermittent fasting diet.
This cannot be stressed enough. Going without food that fuels the body can be overwhelming and deteriorating to your health. As we go about our daily activities while fasting, the body gets its energy source from the sugar stored in the liver. The more the body is put to work, the more your body would require refueling. Staying hydrated while fasting helps the body to remain in good function and promotes blood flow as well.
A lot of people worry about the consumption of coffee during their fasting periods. Contrary to what many people think, taking coffee during intermittent fasting is very much allowed. In its natural form, coffee is free of calories. However, during a fast, it is best consumed without any additives or artificial flavors. Adding sugar or creamers would add calories to it. Keep this in mind when you’re on an intermittent fasting diet.
Intermittent fasting is scheduled in such a way that restricts you from eating at certain times, so you generally eat less, thus aiding fasting for weight loss. But this doesn’t mean you should lack the necessary vitamins your body needs. If you eat the necessary vegetables and fruits, supplementing with multivitamins would not be needed. But when you do not have these vegetables and fruits or life becomes hectic, multivitamin supplements can come in handy.
Eating low-carb foods this period reduces your hunger and makes your fast easier. It is also beneficial as it aids weight loss and reverses type-2 diabetes.
Vegetables, Fruits, and Fibers
Eating vegetables, fruits, and fiber during your intermittent fasting helps boost your metabolism and immune system as it provides your body with the necessary nutrients it needs to function during your fasting period.
Tips to Help You with Intermittent Fasting
Whether you are on a fast or not, you must stay hydrated always. Dehydration causes fatigue, thirst, and headaches. So if your body isn’t receiving its usual amount of fuel and you’re not hydrated as well, this can complicate issues. Drinking about 2 or 3 liters of water every day keeps you hydrated. Depending on your intermittent fasting method and body type, you might require more as the day goes. Listening to your body is the best way to stay hydrated. Drink enough water whenever you feel thirsty to prevent dehydration.
During a fast, a good intermittent fasting diet can help your body. Making sure you eat satisfying and sumptuous foods while fasting can reduce the number of calories in your body and aid weight loss. Eat more of whole foods, protein, high-fiber foods, fruits, and vegetables. Some satiating foods you can eat are eggs, oatmeal, bananas, yogurt, soups, potatoes, and chicken.
This is not to say you should eat too much, but during a fasting period, you want to eat right to achieve desired results.
Do Not Feast After A Fast
After a period of not eating, you may be tempted to eat a huge meal to fill your stomach afterward. Feasting after a fast contradicts your purpose of intermittent fasting. Doing this leaves you with stomach pains, tired and bloated, as well as slowing down your weight loss process. Break your fast by returning to the normal eating regimen or eating satisfying meals in small portions.
Exercise or Meditate
For some, during fasting periods is still a great time to exercise. If you are new to fasting, find an exercise routine that is not strenuous. Exercises such as walking, stretching, yoga, and even housework can help keep your mind and body alert while keeping hunger pangs at bay.
Another way tip for fasting periods is to meditate. This engages your mind while keeping it in a calm state. Take a bath, listen to a podcast, or read a book while you do so.
Being idle or bored on fasting days can make or break you. If it gets to you, it can destroy any progress you’ve made over time and drag you backward.
A lot of us have been moved to eating (even when we weren’t hungry) because we were bored. You are tempted to get something to eat just to pass the time.
A chemical in the brain known as ‘dopamine’ is known to be the reason for a reward-motivating behavior after the accomplishment of a goal. Eating stimulates the release of dopamine, and this can prompt you to eat food that is detrimental to your fast.
Finding something to do can help in times like these so that your mind and body stay occupied and resist the urge to eat when you should not.
Begin Your Fast After Dinner
If you are fasting daily or weekly, one good tip is to begin your fast after dinner. This reduces hunger pangs because you spend most of the fasting period asleep. For example, if you are following the 16/8 method, then schedule your 16 hours fasting to occur during some of the time, you would be asleep.
Take note that even while you are asleep, your body is still fasting.
If It Doesn’t Feel Right, STOP!
Fasting isn’t for everyone. One big question remains: Is fasting good for you? Despite that it is healthy to maintain an intermittent fasting diet, you may begin to feel extremely fatigued, irritated, and hungry during your fast. To be safe, observe your body and reduce the number of hours you fast. Keep a few snacks handy in case you begin to feel like fainting. Consult your doctor if you are stuck with the question of “is fasting good for you”?
For those who regularly exercise, taking BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) before you exercise can also help.
This prevents your muscle mass from breaking down and boosts your energy. If you are not breaking you fast after exercising, it is advisable to take another dosage. If you timed yourself to eat after training, then a second dosage is unnecessary.
Suppress Your Appetite
Hunger pangs can come during your fasting periods, and this is normal. Drinks such as black coffee, water, and diet drinks with no calorie content in them can help suppress hunger pangs that come from time to time. It is best to keep hunger at bay until it is time to break your fast.
The Right Mindset
Like everything else, it is adopting the right mindset of knowing when and how to do intermittent fast is necessary. Do not be unrealistic and expect to see results immediately. It takes consistency to see intermittent fasting results, and there are no shortcuts. So be consistent, patient, and realistic with your method and progress.
Who Is Not Suitable for Intermittent Fasting?
Knowing how to start intermittent fasting and engaging in the regimen has risks and side effects. It is advisable to consult a doctor if you start to feel irritated or tired while fasting. If you have an underlying medical condition (such as diabetes, high or low blood pressure, mental disorders, or ulcer), then you should consult a doctor for supervision before you begin making changes to your diet and eating habits.
Intermittent fasting is also not suitable for you if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, under 18 years of age, underweight, or have eating disorders.
There are so many benefits of fasting, such as fasting for weight loss and reducing disease risk. However, it is good to be aware of the side effects and risks (fatigue and hunger). Not every method of fasting may be good for you, so it is better to study your body and go with what works for you to achieve the best results.