Intermittent fasting, or IF, is growing in popularity among bloggers, fitness gurus, and YouTubers primarily for weight loss. Intermittent fasting is turning some commonly-held ideas about weight loss on their heads, especially about the importance of breakfast. Because of this, as with all new approaches to weight loss, it has been gaining steam in mainstream health and wellness. Before you decide intermittent fasting is for you, take a little time to learn more about it.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not another fad diet; it is a pattern of eating. Many cultures around the world practice intermittent fasting for religious reasons or to mark special occasions. Only recently has it become popular in Western culture. In intermittent fasting, you are given an “eating window” during which you are allowed to eat; you fast during all other times outside of that window.
There are essentially three ways to follow this eating pattern.
The 16/8 method:
This method is also known as a “lean gains” method. In this method, you are given an eight-hour window to eat whatever you want; for the next 16 hours, you do not eat anything. You are allowed black coffee, natural juices, green smoothie or water to keep you going.
You can easily set your timings according to your routine. For example, you would start eating at 1:00 p.m. and then stop at 9:00 p.m., fasting until the next day at 1:00 p.m. This is the most common method because it fits in easily with most people’s current routines and produces results quickly.
Eat- Stop- Eat:
The eat-stop-eat method is one of the most difficult. It most closely resembles a weekly body cleanse or detox as opposed to an eating pattern. In this method, you fast for 24 consecutive hours once or twice a week. You are allowed low-calorie drinks to help you get through your day.
Individuals may opt for this method if their routine or strenuous work hours do not allow them to skip breakfast. They may intermittently fast on the weekends or on a day off throughout the week.
The 5:2 diet:
In the 5:2 method, you consume only 500 to 600 calories for two consecutive days. It is also known as “The Fast Diet.” There are no requirements about what you can or cannot eat. You can eat a 600-calorie burger and be done with your eating for the day or you can eat more low-calorie foods throughout the day; how you stay within your 600-calorie limit is up to you.
Why Intermittent Fasting?
People commit to intermittent fasting because it is easy to adopt and relatively convenient. Most people see rapid, visible results and report a host of other health benefits, such as:
Quicker, easier, and more convenient weight loss
Reduced risk of illnesses and diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, stress and inflammation in the body
Better brain support
Improved body health similar to results from a cleanse or detox
As with any change to diet or eating habits, consult a physician or nutritionist before embarking on intermittent fasting.