Intermittent fasting has become progressively popular as a weight loss dieting therapy. Many celebrities or fitness enthusiasts may recommend intermittent fasting to lose weight. In addition, it is said to help prevent or even reverse some forms of diseases. So let’s know what it is, how to do it, or is it worth the hype?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
During intermittent fasting, you skip eating for a specific number of hours and eat only one meal at a particular time a couple of days a week. It cycles between short periods of fasting with no food or considerable calorie reduction and periods of unrestricted eating. It helps your body to burn fat.
The human body has the ability to go without food for many hours, days, or even longer. So starving yourself and cutting back on calories for short periods makes your body satisfied with smaller portions. In addition, a prolonged low-calorie diet may cause your body to adapt to calorie restriction and prevent further weight loss.
How does Intermittent Fasting Works?
There are three most common methods of intermittent fasting, which are as follows:
- Alternate Day Fasting is the method in which you restrict yourself to eating only one meal one day and normally eating the next day. You will consume 25% of your daily calorie needs on the fasting day. For example, you choose Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as days of fasting and alternate days with no food restrictions.
- Whole Day Fasting includes fasting for 1-2 days per week or restricting the calorie intake to 25% with no food restriction on the remaining days of the week. It is about maintaining a 5:2 diet approach with no limits on five days of the week and consuming 400-500 calories on the other two days.
- Time Restricted Feeding involves following a meal plan daily with a designated time frame for fasting. For example, meals are eaten from 9 am to 4 pm with fasting during the day’s remaining hours.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting for a short period initiates ketosis, a process that happens when the body does not have enough glucose for energy. So it begins to break down stored fat and increases substances called ketones. It combines with less calorie intake, which can lead to weight loss. The alternate day fasting works the same as the typical low-calorie diet for weight loss.
Intermittent fasting improves blood sugar regulation, reduces physical stress, and decreases inflammation caused by arthritis, asthma, and multiple sclerosis.
Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting may have unpleasant side effects, including headaches, lethargy, crankiness, and constipation. In addition, the fasting period overdrives the hunger center of your brain, which may push you towards overeating during the non-fasting days or hours. However, all the minor side effects go away within one month.
Intermittent fasting can be unsafe for people with diabetes, people who take medication to control blood pressure or heart patients. Skipping meals is also not recommended for people under the age of 18. So it is better to consult a doctor before trying it out.
The Bottom Line
Intermittent fasting helps lose weight. However, you can enjoy the full benefits if you do not overeat during your eating windows. Secondly, it becomes difficult to consume necessary vitamins and minerals when you shorten your eating window, so it is important to eat meals with quality and healthy ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. Finally, people who struggle to stick with a calorie restriction diet can follow intermittent fasting to control their weight. However, it is worth nothing if you do not combine it with regular exercise.