Countless eating plans and weight loss programs promise health benefits and a better physique. While most of these plans focus on your diet, intermittent fasting focuses on the duration you can eat. People following intermittent dieting plans switch between windows where they are and aren’t allowed to eat.
The concept of intermittent fasting is derived from the nature of humans in prehistoric times. Humans used to be hunters and gatherers who often went for days without getting something to eat. The ease of food availability allowed humans to eat more regularly and gradually, even at night.
Intermittent fasting targets the extra calorie intake humans have become accustomed to, helping regulate weight. Weight reduction and fewer calories daily reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and other chronic illnesses. Since the introduction of the diet plan, it has been at the center of many studies. While some studies prove it is effective in weight management and avoiding or reversing some diseases, others are less positive.
Different Intermittent Fasting Plans
Intermittent fasting plans vary in intensity based on your experience with diet plans and fasting. Each person chooses a specific window for eating during the day or week and fasts during the rest. What this does is help the body burn its fat reserves by depleting the sugar reserves. This process is called metabolic switching, and the body needs to get accustomed to this mode of producing energy.
Time Restricted Eating
This is the most recommended fasting method for beginners. This is a daily schedule of intermittent fasting where you can eat in a window of 8-10 hours a day and fast for the rest. The intermittent fasting 16/8 plan is one of the most common time-restricted eating plans. In this method, fasters eat for an 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours afterward.
This method allows you to include your sleeping hours in the fasting window. As most people rarely eat anything at night, this is one of the most adaptable and popular fasting methods. The 8-hour eating window is commonly set from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. It might take a while to figure out if you want to change the eating window. But in any case, the best schedule should restrict eating hours to before it gets dark outside.
Alternate Day Method
The alternate-day fasting method is more easygoing than the time-restricted eating plan. In the alternate-day method, most fasters follow a modified fasting routine, limiting their food intake to under 500 calories every other day. You can continue with your regular food intake on non-fasting days. Some variations of the alternate-day method include zero calorie intake on fasting days, which is a much stricter plan.
If the alternate day method is tough, some people follow the 5:2 plan. This is very similar to the alternate day method, but instead of fasting every alternate day, you fast two days a week. An excellent way to maintain the 500-calorie target and stay energized throughout the day is to have two meals, one of 200 calories and a second meal of 300 calories later in the day.
The eat-stop-eat method is one of the most intense intermittent fasting plans. It involves a full-day fast once or twice a week. The usual way is choosing a meal and fasting for 24 hours until the same meal the next day. People following this method are highly recommended to return to a fully nutritious diet to boost their energy and immunity on other days.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is popular because of its numerous benefits. Several researchers have given conclusive feedback about the benefits of Intermittent fasting, and here are some well-known benefits;
Better Weight Management and Metabolic Health
People turn to intermittent fasting because of its widely accepted weight management and metabolic health benefits. Metabolic health is defined by how effectively your body regulates blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol, and blood fat levels. Diets that integrate calorie restriction reduce the amount of sugar reserves in your body, creating a calorie deficit. This calorie deficit is then compensated with the burning of fat reserves. As a result, intermittent fasting is very effective for weight regulation and, as a result, for your body’s overall metabolic health.
A Permanent Lifestyle Choice
Unlike several other hardcore diet plans, intermittent fasting is relatively easy to accommodate in your daily life. Sometimes, you may even feel that fasting has made your day easier, as you have fewer meals to plan. Some diets require you to check your calorie intake strictly, and keeping tabs on it can be a hassle in the long run. Most people almost already follow the same eating/fasting window and can integrate this method into their daily routine with little to no change.
Compatible With all Diets
This also makes IF more adaptable than other diets because you will not have to shop specifically for your diet. Unlike other diet plans, you can eat as usual in your specified eating window. This is a perfect plan if you are happy with the food you already eat but still want to take a positive step for your health.
Is IF Safe for Everyone?
The short answer is no. Intermittent fasting may have numerous health benefits, but like other diet plans, it is not for everyone. Unless approved by your physician, people advised not to partake in intermittent fasting plans are children, elderly, pregnant, and people with chronic diseases. Some chronic diseases sometimes improve with intermittent fasting, but conditions such as hypoglycemia can worsen.
Recent studies show that people with Bulimia and other eating disorders are negatively impacted by calorie restriction. Eating disorders are more common in people who partake in intermittent fasting than those who do not. While the relationship between the two is unclear, and people may have taken up intermittent fasting due to their disorder, the research is still worth considering.
If you do not fall into any of the categories above, you can safely integrate intermittent fasting into your daily life. Taking your primary physician on board is still a good idea before you make such a lifestyle choice.