In simple terms, intermittent fasting is an eating plan where you fast for certain hours of the day and eat anything you want in the other hours.
It has been practiced in India and some other regions in Asia for thousands of years. Over the past several years, it has gained popularity as an effective tool to lose stubborn weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Numerous studies have also proven that intermittent fasting has amazing benefits for your body as well as your brain.
One of the biggest advantages of this pattern of eating and fasting is that it is incredibly easy to maintain. There are no complicated rules where you are required to eat a particular diet and stay away from specific foods.
It is comfortable and does not have any hard rules to follow. You can choose any eight-hour window of the day for intermittent fasting. The ultimate goal is to be comfortable and keep doing it day after day.
You do not need to count calories which are entirely different from all the other dietary approaches that experts recommend for weight loss.
Most people are unable to follow the traditional dietary plans for weight loss as the scheme usually has too many restrictions and requires constant calorie counting which is difficult over the long term.
Also, most people who go on a diet often gain back the lost weight within the next few weeks when they lose all control and go back to their old eating habits.
Most people who try intermittent fasting do it to lose stubborn weight. Intermittent fasting helps as you eat fewer meals which mean fewer calories.
However, it is important that you do not compensate by overeating during mealtime. It can be of great help if you are trying to lose weight, but you need to follow it consistently.
Research studies have shown that short-term fasting helps in increasing the metabolic rate by up to 14%. Higher metabolic rate means you burn more calories even while resting.
Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight by making you eat less, and it also helps you burn fat stored inside your body by enhancing your metabolic rate.
This type of fasting also helps in improving the hormonal function in the body for weight loss.
It has been shown to increase the level of growth hormone in the body which helps in breaking down the stored body fat.
Some recent studies show that you can lose up to 8% of your body weight in 24 weeks by intermittent fasting.
Also, it does not cause too much muscle loss which is usually the case with continuous calorie restriction. In simple terms, it is a highly useful tool for weight loss as well as weight management. The key is to do it consistently.
Research has proven that more than 30% adults are at the risk of developing type II diabetes due to a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight. Intermittent fasting can help you in lowering the risk of developing type II diabetes. It works by reducing insulin resistance in your body which reduces the risk of type II diabetes. Research studies have shown that intermittent fasting helps in reducing the blood sugar level by up to 6% and the level of insulin by up to 30%.
Perhaps, the biggest benefit of intermittent fasting is that it does not require you to be hungry at all times. When you are fasting, your body starts using the stored fat as an energy source as this approach does not make your body go into starvation mode. On the other hand, the traditional dietary approaches sometimes force your body into starvation mode where your body tries to hang on to all the stored fat by slowing down the metabolism. In simple terms, your body starts doing exactly opposite of what you want. That is not the case with intermittent fasting as your body never goes into starvation mode when you do it in the right manner.
Some recent studies have shown that intermittent fasting is also great for your brain as it helps in improving various metabolic features that are essential for the health of your brain. Intermittent fasting helps in reducing inflammation, oxidative stress as well as blood sugar level and insulin resistance. All these factors are beneficial for brain function.
There are much fewer restrictions when you are on an intermittent fasting diet as compared to the other traditional dietary approaches. When you are an intermittent fasting, you do not need to change your approach to eating. Instead, you make this diet adapt to you. You do not need to worry about buying specific foods for this dietary approach. You can eat whatever you want. But of course, it's a no brainer that the healthier you eat, the better results you'll get.
There are several approaches to intermittent fasting. If you want significant benefits right from the beginning, it is recommended to fast in an 18-hour window and only consume calories in the last 6 hours of the 24-hour day. However, you should not jump start your new dietary approach with 18 hours fast in case you are a beginner. The goal is not to make the diet plan stressful for your body. I would recommend starting with a fasting window of 16 hours and consume in the remaining 8 hours. So, if you grab breakfast at 12, lunch at 4 and dinner before eight, you should be okay for the day.
If you are not ready for a 16-hour fast, you should try to make changes in your regular diet. For instance, try to skip the breakfast and have just fresh juice instead. If you feel comfortable, try skipping on your lunch. Take it slowly and find out how your body responds to various stimuli. Do the 16-hour fast only if you feel comfortable. If that's still too difficult, you can decide how long you want to start off with fasting for yourself. Do 14/10 for a week, then 16/8 for another week and if you want to go even further, do 18/6. Follow this routine, and I'll promise you that you'll see results.
Overall, there are many benefits of intermittent fasting. In fact, research studies performed on rats have shown that it can also help in enhancing your lifespan. Nevertheless, you need to make sure that it has to be pleasurable. You should not be too hard on yourself. The beauty of this dietary approach lies in its flexibility. So, do not make any hard rules and keep making changes to keep yourself comfortable.
If you desire to step it up even more, mix intermittent fasting with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and you'll lose weight faster than ever.