Intermittent fasting is a popular fitness trend nowadays. Studies show that it helps you to lose weight and stay fit, and can also positively impact your life and even make your life longer. Bright Side decided to do some research on this topic and figure out what intermittent fasting is and how it works. We were impressed by what we found and are excited to share the information with you.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where the period of eating and the period of fasting trade-off in shifts. It’s not a diet since it doesn’t change what you eat, but instead, it changes when you eat. Unlike diets, fasting is very natural for all living things, even human beings. People were fasting thousands of years ago since, in the past, food wasn’t always readily available and wasn’t a guaranteed resource. That being the case, our bodies are very well adapted to fasting. And even today, many major religions practice fasting in different forms, with many people following them and feeling great. Based on all of this information, we conclude that fasting is less stressful on our bodies than many diets are.
How does it work?
To put it simply, when you eat, your body spends a few hours processing the food you’ve recently consumed, taking all the energy necessary from that food. When you fast for a certain amount of time, your body doesn’t have this energy source and has nothing to do but use the fat you have stored. When we eat, our body produces insulin, which helps transport the glucose we absorb from our food into our cells for energy. If we eat often or eat foods high in sugar, there is always insulin in our bloodstream, trying to do it’s job. Our cells then become ‘numb’ to it’s effects, something called “insulin resistance”.The greater our sensitivity to insulin, the more efficiently we use the energy from our food. After a period of fasting, we become the most sensitive to insulin. All these changes lead to weight loss and help to build muscles.
The benefits of intermittent fasting
Different studies have proven that intermittent fasting not only helps you to stay in good shape, but it also can improve your health and prevent many diseases.
- It reduces the risk of cancer and makes its treatment easier, lessening the side effects of chemotherapy
- Normalizes blood pressure and protects you from heart diseases
- Reduces the blood sugar level and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduces inflammation in the body
- Increases the growth of new nerve cells and improves brain function
- Helps to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease or reduce its severity
- Helps you live longer
Six most popular ways to do intermittent fasting
The 16/8 method:
Your “eating window” lasts 8 hours during the day, and the other 16 hours are used as fasting time. During the fasting hours, you can only drink water, tea, coffee, or other non-caloric beverages. Women are generally recommended to fast 14-15 hours. When fasting, you can skip breakfast and have your first meal at noon, followed by your last one by 8 pm. If you have your first meal at 9 in the morning, you should stop eating at 5 pm. Choose the timing that suits you and your daily schedule best. Most people find that this way of intermittent fasting is the most effortless, so eating in this pattern is the most popular.
Once a week, you stop eating for 24 hours, from dinner one day to dinner the next. Or you can opt to fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch. During the rest of the days of the week, you eat as you usually would.
The 5/2 method
You eat as you usually would for five days a week, and two days a week, you only consume 20-25% of your average daily calorie intake.
Fasting every other day
This method is straight forward. Here you’re fasting every other day. That means you eat nothing on fasting days or a very minimal amount of food, not more than 20% of your daily calorie intake.
The warrior diet
If you follow the warrior diet, you are supposed to have only one 4-hour eating window at night when you eat just one very big meal. During the day time, you are allowed to eat only small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables.
This fasting pattern suits those who can’t follow any of the above-listed schedules. From time to time, you may choose to skip meals or have a whole fasting day when you feel like doing it. It’s all about what fits your lifestyle and schedule best. Intermittent fasting has already proven its efficiency with many different people, and you can see great results after a short time of implementing it. But it’s essential to remember that the quality of food you eat is crucial. Don’t expect to lose weight, gain muscles, and improve your health if you don’t give up junk food and sugar-sweetened drinks.