Your Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting

In previous years, intermittent fasting has grown in popularity and subsequent research data. However, that’s not a new phenomenon, as it was the basis of human survival. Intermittent fasting is a regular eating plan that alternates between states of fasting and small windows of eating.

Research demonstrates it’s a way to manage your health and help prevent specific diseases.

What is intermittent fasting?

In a nutshell, intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat. It means you only eat during a certain time window over a long period. That could involve a specific number of hours every day, or certain days a week, and fasting the rest of the time to enable your body to burn the stored fat.

Our bodies have changed to perform optimally despite going for long periods without food. Further, our ancestors were hunter-gatherers.  Research shows they had to spend days without eating, as it took a huge amount of energy and time to hunt and collect food. Thus, our bodies have adapted.

Centuries ago, it was simpler to keep a healthy weight—people ate smaller portions, spent more time outdoors doing physical activities or exercising. There were no video games, computers, social media apps, and even fast food wasn’t as abundant as it is today.

People’s modern lifestyle calls for a more focus on taking care of their health. These days, you spend hours lying or sitting in front of the computer, TV, or social media with an abundance of fast foods and snacks. The constant consumption of huge amounts of calories and insufficient physical activities has led to a massive increase in obesity, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and other illnesses.

How does intermittent fasting work?

Intermittent fasting works by selecting a regular time window within which to fast and eat.

For instance, you may want to eat during an 8-hour window every day and fast the rest of the day. On the other hand, you may prefer to eat one meal a day only over two days per week. You’ll find numerous ways to do intermittent fasting, and you can select a plan that is appropriate to your energy and lifestyle demands. The goal is to exhaust the body’s sugar stores and force it to burn the stored fat for function and energy.

Stopping yourself from eating three meals per day and snacking in between suggests you aren’t giving your body an ever-ready supply of sugars. As an alternative, the body is forced to create energy by burning your stored fats and depleting those.

What are the different types of intermittent fasting?

Always talk to your physician before you decide on starting an intermittent fasting plan. If you’ve been approved, it’s suggested to begin small, even with a smaller window of twelve hours fasting and eating within the rest of twelve hours.

  • 5:2 fasting – This diet works by regularly eating for five days a week and then limiting yourself to one meal with a limit of 500 to 600 calories for the remaining 2 days.
  • 16/8 fasting – This involves fasting for sixteen hours a day and eating during the eight-hour window. Most people find this pattern relatively simple to fit into their hectic lives and simpler to stick to over a longer-term.

Starting immediately on prolonged fasts of more than 24, 36, or 72 hours might shock your body and send it into a famine mode. It will begin storing fat for fear of starvation. That’s why you should find an intermittent diet plan that fits you and stick to that for a long period.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Now that you understand what intermittent fasting is, how it works, and a few common fasting plans, let’s check out the possible benefits of intermittent fasting.

  1. It supports weight loss

Intermittent fasting has been proven to benefit weight loss1 by raising fat burning. When you eat, the carbs in your food get broken down into glucose. Once you stop and enter a “fasted state,” your body starts to look for other energy sources.

The first place it turns is the sugar in your liver and muscles. However, your body only have a tiny amount of that stored glycogen. Thus, your body starts breaking down stored fat into energy molecules. Those molecules are called ketones, replacing glucose as the major fuel for your cells.

The more you practice intermittent fasting, the more insulin sensitive you will be.

  1. It keeps your brain healthy

One of the most agreed-upon advantages of the intermittent fasting diet is that it supports healthy brain function. The best part is it wards off Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.2 The act of foregoing food is a challenge to the brain, causing it to take preventative measures against illnesses.

The fasting period offers the body more time to deplete its glycogen stores and causes you to burn more fat than sugar. That fat-burning process creates ketones that increase your energy and expel brain fog.

  1. It minimizes inflammation

You often feel sporadic inflammation from coming in contact with allergy-triggering dust mites or stubbing a toe. However, suffering from chronic inflammation can result in weight gain and unwelcomed belly fat.

That is where intermittent fasting comes to the rescue. It was proven that fasting generates an anti-inflammatory effect on the body’s neuroimmune system that a high-fat diet would otherwise avert.3

  1. It may safeguard your heart

Intermittent fasting can also improve your heart health in many different ways.4 Research have discovered that it can enhance insulin sensitivity, lower LDL cholesterol levels while boosting HDL cholesterol levels, lessen inflammatory processes and minimize the levels of oxidative stress in your cardiovascular system that contribute to atherosclerosis.

  1. You may enhance your gut health

Intermittent fasting can play a role in fixing your gut microbiome by providing the gut a rest. Studies show that can help the gut lining do a great job at stopping inflammatory toxins from leaking into the bloodstreams.5

To sum up, it appears that intermittent fasting is a good thing for most people and can be a great way to establish mindfulness around eating patterns, which lead to healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Always consult your doctor before starting any fasting plan.

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