Intermittent Fasting! So many people talk about it, so many people try it; some do it for health reasons, others do it to lose weight.
But why is it so popular? Well, there are some theories and some research done on the benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
These benefits include increased energy, weight loss, chronic headaches relief, relief from IBS, and much more.
So What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is a diet that requires its followers to calorie restrict, but only for certain periods of the day. The diet has many popular variants including the 16:8 (where the participant fasts for 16 hours of the day, and is allowed to eat during the other 8) and the 5:2 (where the participant fast for 2 non-consecutive days of the week, and eats unrestricted for the other 5).
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesn’t change what you eat, it changes when you eat.
The best way to understand Intermittent Fasting is to see it as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. As Clear said above, Intermittent Fasting is about getting your food to work for you, rather than being a slave to it.
Many people think of diets as being restrictive, painful, and unpleasant. Fasting is different.
It has been believed for many thousands of years that fasting can bring enlightenment and help the body function better. All the world’s major religions encourage fasting in some way.
Intermittent fasting is a more natural form of eating, as it more closely mimics how our ancestors would have eaten when they were hunter-gatherers. At this time eating three medium meals a day was near impossible, so their bodies developed to regulate their hormones around fasting for long periods of time.
‘Intermittent fasting, also known as intermittent energy restriction, is an umbrella term for various meal timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting (or reduced calorie intake) and non-fasting over a given period.
But simply, intermittent fasting is a cycle of time spent fasting, followed by a time that you are allowed to eat in. It is not a diet in the traditional sense as it does not tell you what you should eat. It tells you when you should eat.
The two most common methods of intermittent fasting are 16:8 (fasting for 16 hours, followed by 8 hours of being allowed to eat) and 5:2 (2 non-consecutive days of fasting, coupled with 5 days of normal eating).
So, if Intermittent Fasting is a cure-all for our bodies, why aren’t we all doing it?
Well, a lot of people have been put off the idea of Intermittent Fasting because they believe that it is a complicated or restrictive system. Diets have a bad reputation (and for many understandable reasons), however, Intermittent Fasting isn’t a diet, but more of a lifestyle.
If you’re looking to learn how to start Intermittent Fasting, or just want to learn more about it then you’re in the right place. You’ve found yourself reading The Best Guide To What Is Intermittent Fasting.
As we mentioned above the benefits of Intermittent Fasting have been preached by doctors, business leaders, and wellness gurus alike. A quick google will bring up 30,000 different people claiming that Intermittent Fasting cured a different ailment of theirs.
Even the Internet’s favorite Doctor, Dr. Mike is a fan of Intermittent Fasting.
Today, however, we are only going to be talking about the benefits of intermittent fasting that have been scientifically proven*. But don’t worry, there’s more than enough of those to convince you that you need to start Intermittent Fasting.
*(These studies include tests on both humans and animals)
Let’s dive straight into it…
THE BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
- Anti-aging benefits – in a study done on rats, scientists found that Intermittent Fasting caused the rodents to live between 31-83% longer. Whilst no long term studies have been done on humans, short term experiments have shown promising results
- Preventing Cancer – Multiple studies on animals have shown that intermittent fasting can severely reduce the likelihood of developing cancer in later life.
- Reduced Inflammation – Studies in both humans and animals have produced evidence that intermittent fasting can help to reduce and prevent inflammation. This symptom can cause a lot of pain in people suffering from chronic illnesses. Intermittent Fasting could be an effective pain relief method for people with chronic and gastrointestinal illnesses.
- Weight Loss – We will cover this in more detail later, however, increased weight loss is a huge benefit of Intermittent Fasting. Studies show that it is a more effective weight-loss method than calorie-restrictive diets.
- Improved Heart Health – Intermittent Fasting is backed and recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) because studies have shown how it can drastically improve heart health. Intermittent Fasting has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers, insulin resistance, LDL cholesterol, and blood triglycerides. All of those severely increase the risk of heart disease when too high.
- Insulin Resistance – Studies have shown that Intermittent Fasting can reduce insulin resistance in some people. Participants have also witnessed a 3-6% reduction in blood sugar levels, and a drop of insulin levels up to 31% while fasting.
- Improved Brain Health – Links have been made between Intermittent Fasting and the possible ability to prevent Alzheimer’s. Intermittent Fasting has also been recorded increasing the brain’s production of a nerve cell growing chemical called BDNF.
Another huge benefit of Intermittent Fasting is its simplicity. Unlike other diets, doctor it does not require a huge change in lifestyle or eating habits. Many people are drawn to the diet for its simplicity. In fact, the diet is hugely popular within the minimalist community. Here is Dr. Michael Eades talking about his Intermittent Fasting experience:
“Diets are easy in the contemplation, difficult in the execution. Intermittent fasting is just the opposite — it’s difficult in the contemplation but easy in the execution.
Most of us have contemplated going on a diet. When we find a diet that appeals to us, it seems as if it will be a breeze to do. But when we get into the nitty-gritty of it, it becomes tough. For example, I stay on a low–carb diet almost all the time. But if I think about going on a low–fat diet, it looks easy.
I think about bagels, whole wheat bread, and jelly, mashed potatoes, corn, bananas by the dozen, etc. — all of which sound appealing. But were I to embark on such a low–fat diet I would soon tire of it and wish I could have meat and eggs. So a diet is easy in contemplation, but not so easy in the long–term execution.
Intermittent fasting is hard in the contemplation, of that there is no doubt. “You go without food for 24 hours?” people would ask, incredulously when we explained what we were doing. “I could never do that.” But once started, it’s a snap.
No worries about what and where to eat for one or two out of the three meals per day. It’s a great liberation. Your food expenditures plummet. And you’re not particularly hungry. … Although it’s tough to overcome the idea of going without food, once you begin the regimen, nothing could be easier.”
— Dr. Michael Eades
The best way to reap the most benefits from Intermittent Fasting is to practice the diet safely and to be aware of any possible side effects.
SIDE EFFECTS Of Intermittent Fasting:
Let’s start with the side effects. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all diet and Intermittent Fasting may not work for everyone. Some of us will experience no side effects, others may experience all the main ones.
Below is a list of some of the main Intermittent Fasting side effects:
- Excessive Weight Loss
- Cold Sweats
- Extreme Hunger
- Stomach Cramps
- Ineffective Medication*
*Some medications (like heart and blood pressure medication) require a certain balance of nutrients in our body to function correctly. Intermittent Fasting can affect these balances. It is also worth noting that fasting affects how our body absorbs nutrients and chemicals. It is best to take any medication you have with your food if fasting (unless told otherwise).
Precautions To Consider:
Here are a few tips for participating in Intermittent Fasting safely:
#1 – Make sure you are eating enough during your non-fasting window. Adults need a minimum of 1200 calories (roughly) to function correctly. Whilst you may be trying to lose weight, starving yourself will do you more harm than good.
#2 – Drink plenty of water. You’ll see this advice on every health list, but it needs to be on there. Water is one of the most important parts of our diet, and many of us neglect our water intake. It is even more important to stay hydrated whilst fasting.
#3 – Find yourself a variety of tasty 0 calorie drinks so that you have something interesting to consume during fasting days. We love treating ourselves to fruit tea during the day.
#4 – It is not recommended that children and young people take part in any fasting or restrictive diet. There is insufficient scientific evidence to suggest that fasting has any benefit on a still-growing body. But there is a lot of evidence to suggest it does serious, long term damage.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should avoid fasting until you are given permission by your doctor. Restrictive diets and under-eating can seriously harm your baby’s health and your own.
You should also avoid Intermittent Fasting if you are under 18, and in some cases if you are under 25. Restrictive diets and under-eating can stunt physical and mental development in adolescents.
Anyone who is underweight, struggling to gain weight, or has body dysmorphia (or other diet-related mental health issues) should avoid Intermittent Fasting as it can result in weight loss and/or trigger an unhealthy relationship with food.
If you have any concerns about starting Intermittent Fasting then you should discuss it with your doctor or a registered dietician before beginning.
HOW TO GET STARTED?
All you need to get started with Intermittent Fasting is a little bit of advanced planning and to pick your pattern.
The first step in beginning Intermittent Fasting is to pick your eating pattern. There are many options (we have gone into more detail about them above). The two most popular options are 16:8 and 5:2.
You may find you need to experiment with multiple different patterns to discover the one that works best with your body’s natural hormone cycle. Most people take a few tries to find their best option.
Once you’ve picked your pattern it’s time to start planning. The best way to stick to a lifestyle change is to plan ahead to prevent any potential difficulties. You may be eating at unusual times, and will therefore want to have access to food so you can break your fast at the correct time.
1 Day Example Of My Fasting And Meals (16:8)
The first meal of the day – 10 am!
Last meal of the day – 6 pm
– – –
10 am – Breakfast:
13.00 pm – Lunch :
Vegan Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplant With Tzatziki
So, have I converted you? There are loads of benefits of Intermittent Fasting, but most importantly, you need to try it and see it for yourself, whether this is your thing or not. It’s not as complicated as you thought it was perhaps, but it just takes a little bit of time and commitment!