Unlike other diets, rather than eliminating the consumption of certain foods, intermittent fasting focuses on a restrictive eating schedule. While what we eat is reflected in our overall health, studies have proven that the feeding time patterns are just as important. This is why intermittent fasting is about “when” rather than “what” to eat.
Beyond being a popular trend in the wellness industry, intermittent fasting has shown a positive outcome for weight loss management. Also, the diet seems helpful for reducing insulin resistance and maintaining good brain health.
In this article, we will elaborate on intermittent fasting benefits and effects.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
It is not about starving yourself or simply skipping breakfast. Intermittent fasting works by naturally lowering insulin levels.
Our bodies transform the carbohydrates into sugar, which later can be used as a source of energy. Nonetheless, if such energy is not used, our bodies store it as fat. Insulin is the hormone responsible to regulate the energy in metabolism. If the insulin levels are too high, the sugar is stored as fat, but if the insulin levels are low, then the sugar is used as energy.
Insulin levels drop low when there are long and separated time lapses between fasting and eating. This can occur when we avoid snacking between meals.
Through managing this metabolic process and controlling your insulin levels, you can achieve many health benefits. Weight loss is one of these.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are different approaches on how to fast, such as:
- Time-restricted feeding. Fasting or not eating last about 12 or more hours per day. Including sleeping hours.
- Alternate-day fasting. Fasting or calorie reduction — about 500 calories allowed per day — is done for 24 hours. This approach should be done only every other day.
- The 5:2 Diet. It consists of eating for 5 days and fasting for 2 non-consecutive days. You are allowed to eat 500 to 600 calories throughout the 2 fasting days. Meaning, you are in charge of distributing the calories as you please. For example, you can eat 500 calories 1 day and eat nothing for the remaining fasting day.
- The 16:8 Diet. Involves fasting daily for 14 to 16 hours, leaving 8 to 10 hours to eat.
- Eat-Stop-Eat. Fasting is done for 24 hours, once or twice per week.
Benefits of Intermittent fasting
Some studies show that intermittent fasting provides health benefits like:
- Weight Loss. People can lose weight through a metabolic reaction.
- Heart Health. Studies show that in some communities people who fast have 35% fewer chances to have coronary artery disease.
- Insulin Resistance. Fasting, by lowering insulin levels, helps in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
- Longevity. Studies done on animals suggest that fasting preserves memory and delays aging in cognitive and motor functions.
Is Fasting for Everyone?
Fasting is not for everyone. Your health and lifestyle may not be suitable for a restrictive feeding schedule. For example, some might struggle with adapting the eating schedule to their daily routine. Also, fasting is not recommended for people who fall under any of these conditions:
- Suffering from malnutrition
- A history with eating disorders
- Cardiovascular issues (unstable blood pressure, diabetes)
It is advisable for women to immediately quit fasting if they notice irregularities in their menstrual cycle. Also, it is best to avoid fasting if you are trying to conceive.
Whether you are trying to lose weight or simply want to develop healthy eating habits, we assure full support from our nutrition experts at Z.E.N. Foods.