Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern in which you alternate between periods of eating and fasting. There are several different approaches, but the most common are 16: 8, which requires you to limit all meals for the day to an eight-hour window and fast for the remaining 16 hours, and 5: 2, where five days of the week are typically spent eating and two fastings. Studies show that it can have powerful benefits for your body and mind.
Let’s go through the benefits of intermittent fasting
Eating for a specific period can help people reduce the number of calories they consume. Also, it helps increase metabolism and lose weight and visceral fat.
Additionally, intermittent fasting improves hormonal function to expedite weight loss. For this reason, short-term fasting increases your metabolic rate, helping you burn more calories.
2. Regulates blood pressure
Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve several risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and inflammation markers. Also, research shows that these blood pressure benefits only last while you follow intermittent fasting. Once the diet was over and the people returned to eating, as usual, the researchers found that blood pressure readings returned to their initial levels.
3. Protects from cancer
Fasting has shown many favorable effects on metabolism that can reduce the risk of cancer. Gottfried says that a break from eating and digestion gives the body a chance to heal and clear itself of waste within cells that can speed up aging.
Furthermore, there is also some indication showing that fasting reduces different side effects of chemotherapy in humans.
4. Intermittent fasting boosts brain function
Intermittent fasting improves various metabolism; hence, it reduces blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and inflammation.
Dr. Gottfried says IF may improve mental alertness and awareness.
5. Increases longevity
According to the National Sleep Foundation, digestion is best done when standing or sitting, and lying down on a full stomach can cause acid reflux or indigestion at sleep time, making it difficult to fall asleep. Fasting regulates the circadian rhythm, which defines sleep patterns. A synchronized circadian rhythm means that you will fall asleep easily and wake up feeling revitalized. IF stabilizes blood sugar levels and reduces insulin levels, hence reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. To sum up, boosted metabolism, better sleep, low risk of heart diseases, increased cell turnover, better brain functioning slows down the ageing process and increases longevity.
How to choose your Intermittent Fasting Plan?
There are a few methods, and you can select one which suits you.
16/8 IF plan
The 16:8 IF plan is one of the most popular fasting forms for weight loss. The plan limits calorie-containing foods and beverages to 8 hours per day. It requires moderation from food for the remaining 16 hours of the day. While other diets may have strict rules and regulations, the 16/8 method is based on the Time Restricted Eating (TRF) model and is suppler. You can choose any 8-hour window for calorie consumption. The 16/8 intermittent fasting plan is one of the most popular fasting patterns for weight loss.
A balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein is essential to maximize the potential health benefits of this diet. Avoid eating lots of snacks or junk food during the 8-hour window because it can reduce the positive effects associated with 16/8 intermittent fasting.
5:2 IF plan
The 5: 2 diet involves eating what you normally eat for 5 days a week and reducing your calorie intake to 500-600 for 2 days a week.
For example, you can eat normally every day of the week except Monday and Thursday. On those two days, eat two small meals, each with 250 calories for women and 300 calories each.
Alternate day fasting
It is one of the easiest fasting plans to remember. In addition, with the exercise regime, especially endurance exercises, alternate day fasting has proven weight loss benefits. In this diet, you fast every other day but can eat whatever you want on the non-fasting days, but it is important to consume a nutritious and high protein diet.
Eat stop eat
This plan involves setting one or two non-consecutive days per week when you fast for 24 hours. And the rest of the days of the week you can eat whatever you like, but it is suggested eating a balanced diet and avoiding excessive consumption.