Fast Facts About Intermittent Fasting
By Therese Aseoche
You might have heard about Intermittent Fasting from your friends who do it and/or swear by it. But before you dive right into this popular regimen, it pays to know a little bit more about what you’re getting into first.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is a kind of weight loss program that controls when you eat instead of what you eat. It totally depends on you how to go about it (more on this later on), but it is typically done by eating for only 8 hours — usually from 12 NN to 8 PM — and fasting for the next 16 hours.
It’s one of the most popular health trends because it’s a really simple way to lose weight and improve health. Without you needing to put much effort, you reap a lot of benefits!
How does it work?
After a meal, your body secretes insulin in response to the glucose from carbs and food that enters your bloodstream. The more you eat — and the more frequently you eat — the more insulin is needed, making it much more difficult for your body to burn that fat. Fasting helps create periods of time when the body experiences low insulin levels, therefore boosting your metabolism.
How does it compare to other diets?
First and foremost, intermittent fasting isn’t a diet; it’s an eating pattern. Compared to other fad diets like Keto Diet where you lessen your carb intake to replace it with high amounts of fat, Intermittent Fasting doesn’t require you to restrict your food choices at all. It’s relatively easier to do since all you’ll have to think about is when you can or cannot eat. There are even cases when those who undergo this program are able to shed a few pounds without changing their food consumption or exercise habits.
But, of course, results are much better when you’re able to couple your Intermittent Fasting with trips to the gym and calorie counting. Still, for little to no effort, there’s some merit to be given to this regimen.
Are there different types of intermittent fasting?
There are various types of Intermittent Fasting to choose from — you can even make your own customized regimen if you want to!
The basic and most commonly known types of Intermittent Fasting are:
- 16:8 Method — the most commonly followed method, popularized by Martin Berkhan of com, wherein you fast for 16 hours, and eat during the 8-hour window every day.
- 24-hour Fasting Method — wherein you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week; that is, eating dinner on Day 1 and then fasting until dinnertime of Day 2.
- 5:2 Method — popularized by Dr. Michael Mosley, author of “The Fast Diet,” wherein you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, but you’re allowed to eat a maximum of 500-600 calories at any time during each fasting day.
Won’t you die from not eating for 24 hours?
No, you won’t! Frankly, it’s possible to survive a whole day without eating anything as long as you’re ready and willing. Religious groups have been doing it, and you have most likely done it too without you realizing it. Have you ever eaten dinner at 8 in the evening only to wake up so late the next morning that you didn’t have time to eat breakfast as you rush to work? Congratulations, you’ve fasted!
In all seriousness, it’s often your mindset which hinders you from conquering challenges such as these. You just have to go through it in stages. For example, start with a 16-hour fast, and then a 17-hour fast, and so on until you’re able to hit 24 hours without breaking a sweat.
What are its health benefits?
There will be a lot of websites, nutritionists, and studies that will contradict one another regarding the health benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
Some of the claims, however, include restored circadian rhythm (a.k.a. a fixed body clock), lower risk of heart disease, and prolonged lifespan. It’s also believed to be beneficial primarily to those who are pre-diabetic as Intermittent Fasting helps drive down insulin levels.
Take note that you can reap the best rewards out of Intermittent Fasting when you still observe a healthy diet during your eating windows.
Is Intermittent Fasting good for everyone?
As long as you’re in good health, there’s no risk in trying out Intermittent Fasting. However, those with a history of eating disorders and/or diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, those taking prescription medicines, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t try this program out as it may cause them more harm than good. Always consult a health professional first!
What are its side effects?
Expect to feel hungry — really, really hungry — during your first few days of fasting. You’ll feel a bit weaker than usual and your brain may not function as properly. However, these aren’t instant red flags; your body’s just getting used to the change in your eating schedule.
As long as you’re a fit and healthy person overall, there’s nothing to worry about. Just remember to take it in strides!
Have you tried intermittent fasting? Share with us your experience in the comments section below!