Intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular eating patterns in the world today. It is a trend for those who seek to maintain good health.
As a rule, people who begin to use this technique want to get rid of excess weight, improve health, simplify their lifestyle through diet.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It is a unique food system – cyclic repetitions between periods of fasting and eating. The essence of the diet is not in the characteristics but in the time of their use.
Intermittent fasting is hardly a typical diet, but rather a diet for long-term use.
Intermittent fasting techniques
Intermittent fasting is expressed in various forms, each of which involves dividing the daily or weekly diet into meals and periods of fasting (minimal or no food).
The primary forms of intermittent fasting:
- Meals “16/8” – in this case, you skip breakfast, you only have two meals a day and a gap between them of 8 hours. 16 hours is the gap between the last meal of the previous day and the first meal of the next (including a break for a night’s sleep). This form is considered the most straightforward and most stable.
- Mode “food-fasting-food” – you fast during the day 1 or 2 times a week. You can start with breakfast before lunch until lunch the next day.
- Diet “5/2” – for two days in a row you eat no more than 600 calories, the other five days you follow your usual diet.
Reducing calorie intake leads to fat-burning processes. However, it is essential on other days not to increase the amount of food and not “compensate” for fasting with portion sizes.
Intermittent fasting for weight loss
The main reason why people limit themselves to food is the desire to get rid of extra pounds. When you start to eat less, intermittent fasting will automatically reduce your calorie intake. Fasting also affects hormone levels, activating weight loss processes.
Affecting the decrease in insulin levels and an increase in the production of growth hormone, the level of release of the hormone responsible for fat burning – norepinephrine, also called the “predator hormone”, increases.
Intermittent fasting helps a person eat less food and burn more calories, speeds up the metabolism, thereby promoting weight loss. The essence of such a nutrition system is to consume fewer calories in general.
If you overeat too much on “meal” days, don’t expect to lose weight.
What about the health benefits?
For weight loss – it is enough to follow the fasting scheme and not overeat on ordinary days. Blood sugar levels are normalized – insulin is reduced, thus reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Reducing inflammation that causes most chronic diseases. Prevention of cardiovascular diseases – reducing the level of “bad” cholesterol, and other factors that, in high rates, provoke diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
Improving brain activity – the production of BDNF (neurotrophin) stimulates. Which is the main active neurotrophin that encourages and supports the development of neurons – nerve cells. And as a result, there is an increase in the body’s defence against Alzheimer’s disease.
It makes life easier
Eating healthy is very good, but the main challenge in maintaining a long-term diet is planning and preparing such meals. In the modern pace of life, most people do not physically have time to cook fresh food from “healthy” ingredients every time to eat it right away.
But the intermittent fasting regime in this regard makes life easier because you do not need always to plan the preparation of food, prepare it and wash mountains of dishes after that.
Are there any restrictions?
Intermittent fasting is not a miracle in itself, and there is no “universal” system for everybody. There are restrictions for people with:
- insufficient body weight
- disorders of the gastrointestinal tract
Its recommended consulting with a specialist who will assess the risks and the possibility of using an intermittent fasting regimen.
Effectiveness of fasting for men and women
Experiments with rats have demonstrated that intermittent fasting leads to masculinization and can provoke infertility.
The fasting scheme is not always suitable for women and can be useful for losing weight. In each case, the recommendations are individual, and it is necessary to take into account the characteristics.
You can not practice this type of fasting when planning pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Side effects and safety
It is mandatory to consult a doctor if you have:
- problems with blood sugar levels;
- low blood pressure
- taking any medications
- reduced weight
- past or present gastrointestinal disorders
- planning a pregnancy
- violation of the menstrual cycle
- pregnancy and lactation period
* Also, such a food system is contraindicated in children. Children should eat well.
Where to start if you decide to give Intermittent Fasting a go!
You will need to try and experiment with different approaches to find your balance and your comfort.
If you are not ready to immediately switch to the “intermittent fasting” mode, you can try it gradually. For example, skipping meals whenever possible (no time, no desire to cook, or just), thus “training” the body.
Its believed that the 16/8 hour scheme is the most straightforward and most affordable, so it is best to start with it.
If this scheme brings you a feeling of lightness and you are comfortable, you can move on to the next stage – 24 hours of fasting up to 2 times a week or eating the lowest calorie intake.
What you need to remember
Intermittent fasting is not a “test” or “lesson” to be learned and overcome. You don’t need to force yourself. The decision must be wholly voluntary and deliberate.
This system is just one of many options to lose weight. It cannot guarantee you the desired results, since each person is individual.
Do not forget about other effective ways of a healthy lifestyle: sports, quality food, adequate sleep and rest. And for giving up bad habits, the body will be 100 percent grateful to you and will answer you with excellent health.