The world of diet and nutrition is prevalent with trends, and one that has been gaining traction recently is called intermittent fasting.
As intermittent fasting has become increasingly common, a growing amount of evidence is becoming available that, in some instances, might suggest that intermittent fasting is more than just a fad.
In recent years, intermittent fasting has emerged as one of the most well-liked and, to some extent, straightforward strategies for achieving weight loss and improved health. Some people might imagine fasting would be difficult and unpleasant, but this is not necessarily the case.
In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know how should you start intermittent fasting and have it successful.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Due to the fact that definitions of intermittent fasting vary depending on who you ask, it is important to define exactly what we mean when we use the term.
Intermittent fasting, or IF, refers to any period during which you voluntarily abstain from eating. It’s not technically a diet because it doesn’t tell you what to eat; it just tells you when to eat.
Some studies on intermittent fasting showed significant improvements even when participants weren’t restricted in what they ate, so paying attention to what you eat isn’t a must, but doing so may help you get the most out of practice.
Fasting for as little as 14 hours a day has been shown to improve weight loss, blood sugar, and lipids, and this was observed in a non-randomized trial where participants maintained their usual diet. While that may be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people can eat whatever they want during the designated eating time.
Many doctors believe their patients do better on intermittent fasting when they are on a low-carb or high-protein diet, but there isn’t enough data to support this claim.
Although the popularity of intermittent fasting has increased in recent years, the practice itself is not new. It is a long-standing tradition in many religions.
Definitive evidence is hard to come by, hunter-gatherer communities and people living in so-called Blue Zones have likely adapted to eating only two main meals and skipping snacks throughout the day for generations.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are three main types of intermittent fasting: low carb, light fat, and moderate protein. Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the right one for you.
Low Carb Intermittent Fasting
Low carb intermittent fasting helps to burn fat more effectively by limiting the amount of glucose available for energy.
During the fasting periods, you consume only very low-carbohydrate foods, such as water, non-calorie drinks, and a small amount of protein.
This allows your body to burn through its stored glycogen (sugar) reserves, which reduces insulin levels and encourages your body to burn fat for energy.
This can lead to quick weight loss, but it can also be difficult to stick to in the long term. Good food choices for this variation include eggs, avocado, nuts, seeds, and oily fish.
Light Fat Intermittent Fasting
Light fat intermittent fasting is a more balanced approach that still restricts calories but allows for a greater variety of food choices.
This can make it easier to stick to, but it may not lead to as much weight loss as low-carb intermittent fasting. To follow this approach keep these things in your mind.
First, you want to make sure that you’re eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods. This means plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean protein sources. Second, you want to make sure that you’re keeping your meals small and frequent.
This will help to keep your metabolism going strong and prevent hunger pangs. Finally, you want to make sure that you’re staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help to keep your body functioning optimally and prevent dehydration
Moderate Protein Intermittent Fasting
Moderate protein intermittent fasting is the most flexible approach and allows you to eat a normal diet while still restricting calories. This makes it easy to stick to, but it may not lead to as much weight loss as the other two methods.
The moderate protein part of the diet comes into play during the eating window, when you are supposed to consume moderate amounts of protein-rich foods.
This means avoiding high-protein foods like steak, but including leaner sources of protein like chicken or fish. The goal of the moderate protein intermittent fasting diet is to help you lose weight by forcing your body to burn fat for fuel.
How to Start Intermittent Fasting?
Relying on intermittent fasting doesn’t have to be challenging. There shouldn’t be any difficulty with it at all.
There’s really no secret to it besides spacing out your meals more. This can be as easy as not eating again between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. That’s the equivalent of going without food for an entire day.
The most widely practised forms of fasting and time-restricted eating include:
That’s right; you’ll be fasting for 16 hours and eating once every 8 hours. If you eat dinner at 7, skip breakfast until 11 a.m. the next day. 14:10, 18:6, and 20:4 are just a few of the many permutations on this theme.
This stands for “one meal a day.” This simply means that you only eat one meal a day and don’t eat any snacks in our comprehensive guide.
This type of Fasting has been linked to many health benefits, including weight loss. Fasting has been shown to have health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and LDL “bad” cholesterol, both of which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Alternate-Day Fasting (ADF)
Complete eating by 7 o’clock. Begin your fast on Monday, skip all food on Tuesday, and eat something on Wednesday morning or afternoon. That’s called an “Alternate-Day Fasting” schedule.
In rodents, this type of fasting extends their lives by 80 per cent, perhaps due to lower glucose levels and more stable insulin levels. It also has a protective effect against cancer in experimental animals with a predisposition to the disease.
Weight loss and lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol have both been linked to alternate-day fasting, the type of fasting that has received the most attention from the scientific community in humans.
Five days a week, eat normally, and two days a week, fast or eat very few calories (around 500) to lose weight. They need not be consecutive days, though.
One way to look at it is as a single weekly fast lasting 60 hours. To give just one example, you could skip dinner at 6 p.m. on a Sunday and not eat again until breakfast on Wednesday.
We advise beginning on a small scale and expanding later on. A three-day-a-week 14:10 schedule could be a good place to start. You can try lengthening the fasting window and/or increasing the number of fasting days per week as you find that to be less of a challenge.
Just so we’re clear, fasting in this context means not eating. You are allowed to drink. If you want to see results from your intermittent fasting, it’s crucial that you drink plenty of water. Still or sparkling water, as well as black or green tea without sugar or cream, are great options.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
The effectiveness of intermittent fasting can be attributed to a number of different mechanisms.
First, if you want to lose weight, skipping meals and avoiding snacks is an easy way to cut back on your caloric intake. Because of this, you shouldn’t try to “make up” for the missed meal by eating more during your eating window. That would be counterproductive to the goals of the fast.
Short fasts of 16 hours, without any other dietary modification, have been shown to lead to improved weight loss and metabolic health, but a study from Dr. Ethan Weiss and colleagues in 2020 casts some doubt on this.
Another intriguing possibility is that intermittent fasting may lengthen your life. Intermittent fasting may cause autophagy, which is the recycling and elimination of ageing and potentially diseased cells; this could ultimately result in longer lifespans.
However, human research of this kind is scarce and very challenging to conduct. Does eating only at specific times of the day lengthen life? Simply put, there isn’t enough data available to draw any firm conclusions at this time.
The Keys to Intermittent Fasting Success
Many people see the time and money benefits of IF and are willing to give it a try. However, for others, breaking their daily routine of three meals and two snacks may prove to be an unsolvable problem.
Advice for achieving success:
Determine the best time to begin: You might be tempted to jump right into three- or five-day fasts, but we suggest you focus on time-restricted eating instead (14:10, 16:8, etc.).
If that proves successful, you can think about lengthening your fasting window. Fasting for more than 36 hours is usually best done under the watchful eye of a qualified medical professional.
Don’t forget to drink water: To fast is to abstain from eating. The absence of alcohol consumption is not implied. Hydration not only helps reduce the severity of many adverse effects but also provides a distraction from the discomfort and a means of getting something into your stomach.
This can be helpful for the body and mind, increasing the likelihood of a successful fast.
Keep yourself busy: If we’re being completely honest, most of the time when we snack, it’s not because we’re trying to keep from starving. It’s a bad habit or a way to waste time. Distracting yourself is one option for dealing with this problem.
Try something new, whether it’s a walk, a book, a game, a crossword puzzle, or anything else. Do something different from your usual routine to break the association between snacking and boredom.
Take Protein: Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein and other nutrient-rich foods in each meal. Ketogenic and high-protein diets have been shown to aid in satiety. Fasting may be more effective for people on low-carb diets, which is why many doctors recommend them.
Does intermittent fasting decrease your metabolism?
There is no definitive answer since everyone’s physiology is different. However, it is generally accepted that fasting can lead to a decrease in metabolism since the body will be using stored energy (fat) for fuel rather than food that has been recently consumed.
Additionally, when you fast intermittently, your body may start to think that food is scarce and begin to hold on to calories more efficiently, leading to a decrease in metabolism.
Overall, the effect of intermittent fasting on metabolism is likely individualized and more research is needed in this area.
In conclusion, time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting may be the most straightforward approach to enhancing metabolic health and achieving weight loss goals. It saves time, it saves money, and it allows you to succeed regardless of the dietary pattern that you prefer to follow.
The important thing is to carry it out in a manner that appears to be sustainable and compatible with your way of life. Try it out for yourself!