You may have heard about intermittent fasting, a growing lifestyle trend that has seen some promising results in terms of health improvements and weight loss.
Intermittent fasting was the most popular diet of 2018, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation.
What is intermittent fasting, how does it work, and is it right for you?
Let’s find out!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that involves regular cycles of fasting (not eating food) and eating. Some call it a diet, but it can be more accurately described as an eating pattern since it doesn’t embrace or limit specific foods.
Three popular methods of intermittent fasting are the 16/8 method, the 5:2 method, and the eat-stop-eat method.
Let’s dig into each method.
The 16/8 Method (Most Popular)
Using the 16/8 method of fasting, you restrict your eating window to eight hours and fast for 16 hours each day. The hours you fast and eat depend entirely on what works best for you. You can eat from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and fast until the next morning at 8, or you can eat from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and fast until the next day at noon.
This is the most popular method of intermittent fasting, and it’s also the most sustainable for many people.
The 5:2 Method
The 5:2 method of intermittent fasting involves eating normally for five days of the week and restricting your calorie intake to 500 calories on two, non-consecutive days.
For example, you’d eat normally on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, fast on Thursday, eat normally on Friday and Saturday and fast on Sunday.
The Eat-Stop-Eat Method
Using the eat-stop-eat method, you fast for 24 hours one or two times a week, on non-consecutive days. On the other days, you eat normally. This is the most challenging method of fasting for most people.
Regardless of the method you choose, during the fasting period, you can drink coffee, tea, and water, but avoid cream and sugar. You can also take your usual supplements while fasting, although fat-soluble vitamins are generally absorbed better when taken with food.
During the eating period, you want to consume healthy foods. Don’t go overboard to make up for the fasting period, or it will all be for naught.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Several things happen to your body’s cells and molecules when you fast.
For one thing, your body adjusts certain hormone secretions, which makes stored body fat more accessible to be used as fuel. For instance, during fasting, human growth hormone, or HGH, levels increase up to five-fold, which benefits fat loss and muscle gain.
Fasting also increases the release of norepinephrine, a fat-burning hormone. Additionally, insulin sensitivity improves, which also helps to promote fat loss.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, short-term fasting may increase your metabolism by up to 14 percent.
In addition to these hormonal changes, the cells in your body begin important repair processes during fasting periods, and the function of the genes related to longevity and disease protection improves.
Other proven health benefits of fasting include reduced inflammation, lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, and better brain health, including possible protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies show that intermittent fasting extends the lifespan of rats, with fasting rats living 36 to 83 percent longer than non-fasting rats.
Down Sides of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting may not be right for everyone. Women who fast should ease into the practice and stop fasting if it interferes with their menstrual cycle.
People who have diabetes, a history of eating disorders, a low body weight, low blood pressure, or who are pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding shouldn’t try intermittent fasting without talking to their doctor first.
Fasting can have a few side effects, but these are generally temporary and subside once you get into the swing of things. The most common side effect is hunger during fasting periods. Fasting can also make you feel weak, and you may find that your brain is rather sluggish at first.
Is Fasting for You?
If you’re in good overall health, there’s no reason not to try intermittent fasting. The easiest method to start with is the 16/8 method, but the best fasting method for you will be the one that you can easily sustain for the long-term without negative side effects or extreme hunger.
Intermittent fasting works great for some people, but others have trouble incorporating this eating pattern into their lifestyle. The only way to determine whether intermittent fasting is right for you is to try it for yourself.
Digestive Aid for Optimal Results
A probiotic is recommended when you’re fasting since it helps keep your gut flora in balance, even when your stomach is empty. Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Biotics contains 51 billion live cultures from 16 unique probiotic strains per serving, making it one of the most powerful and effective probiotics on the market.