Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a popular term and has gained much attention in the past few years, credits to various fitness influencers and YouTube fitness coaches. Many people confuse this with a diet plan since it helps you lose weight! Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern to describe the term better, also known as 'energy restriction.' This serves as an umbrella term for various meal timing schedules and includes voluntary fasting and non-fasting in a specific period--- usually 24 hours!
There is no specification on 'what' you should eat, but the emphasis remains upon 'when' you should eat. It is not a diet in the conventional sense, but for an accurate description, the term you should be looking for is 'eating pattern.'
It is currently one of the most popular fitness trends and has helped masses reach their goal weight in a brief period. It helps lose weight, improves overall health, and contributes to a simpler lifestyle that is beneficial in the long-term.
There are many ways you can incorporate this eating pattern into your life because all the methods require splitting of your day or week into two periods:
This involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. For instance, if you are going to start your routine, the best way to go about it is not to eat between two dinners. Let's say you don't eat after you dinner on Saturday until your dinner on Sunday.
- 16/8 Method
This method requires you to skip breakfast and restrict your daily eating period to 8 hours which is followed by a fasting period of 16 hours. It allows your body to digest food in a given period and does not burden your system.
- 5:2 Diet:
With this method, you must consume around 600 calories on any two non-consecutive days of the week; you eat normally on other days.
As method involves controlling calorie intake, you can quickly lose weight provided you don't overeat in the non-fasting periods.
The 16/8 method is a preference for most people because it is simple, sustainable and allows you to eat anything during the 8-hour window.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions. Here is how it affects the body:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH):
This is excellent for fat loss and muscle gain as the production of HGH skyrockets and increases by as much as five folds.
- Insulin Sensitivity:
The levels of insulin drop, and it helps in lowering body fat.
- Cellular Repair:
During the fasting period, the cells initiate a repair process to digest and remove old cells and all the dysfunctional proteins inside the cells.
It also helps with gene expression by changing the functions related to protection against disease and longevity.
The cell function and hormone levels are the main contributing factors behind health benefits due to intermittent fasting, helping against aging, inflammation, heart risks, and overall brain health.