If you’re interested in fitness trends you have probably heard of intermittent fasting. Put in simple terms, it refers to an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. Unlike many other diet plans it doesn’t prescribe specific foods to eat or avoid, but rather focuses on when you should eat.
During the fasting periods, you either consume very few calories or no calories at all. As a rule of thumb, the eating window refers to the time when you consume your meals, while the fasting window is the time when you abstain from eating.
Why do people do Intermittent Fasting?
Research suggests that there are a slew of potential benefits to carrying out Intermittent Fasting. Some include:
By restricting the eating window, you naturally consume fewer calories, which can lead to weight loss.
Improved insulin sensitivity
Intermittent fasting may help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fasting periods can trigger cellular repair processes, such as autophagy, where cells remove damaged components.
Intermittent Fasting might improve various risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and inflammation.
Some studies suggest that Intermittent Fasting could enhance brain function and protect against neurodegenerative diseases.
Animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting could extend lifespan, although more research is needed in humans.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
The 16/8 method
In this method, you fast for 16 hours a day and restrict your eating to an 8-hour window. This often involves skipping breakfast and having your first meal later in the day.
The 5:2 method
This approach involves eating normally for five days of the week and restricting calorie intake to around 500-600 calories on the remaining two non-consecutive days.
This method involves fasting for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. For example, you might eat dinner and then not eat again until dinner the next day.
With this method, you alternate between fasting days (where you consume very few calories) and regular eating days.
This diet involves fasting for 20 hours and eating a large meal within a 4-hour window in the evening.
Of course, as when making any significant changes to your diet or fitness routine, be sure to consult a healthcare professional first before changing to an Intermittent Fasting plan.
Image credit: Christopher Campbell