The world has never been so focused on illness, or health, as it has over the last two years. One health trend that’s become popular is intermittent fasting. Once considered an extreme eating plan, intermittent fasting today has gained huge popularity in the health and wellness space as a way to not only lose weight, but to also detox the body and improve one’s overall health and wellbeing.
What is intermittent fasting?
The basic premise of intermittent fasting is that you eat your meals within a defined window of time. Fasting periods can last anywhere between 12 to 24 hours, during which you don’t eat or drink anything except water.
The most common version of intermittent fasting is 16:8, where you fast for 16 hours and then have an 8 hour window in which to eat. People take different approaches to when they eat and when they fast – the most popular is to have the fasting window during the time you’re asleep. For example, you may eat an early dinner at 6pm, and then eat your next meal 15-16 hours later at 10am the following day.
Besides 16:8, there are other variations to this, such as fasting only for 14 hours, or pushing it up to 18 or even 24 hours. Another approach is the 5:2 plan, which is where you eat normally for five days a week, but then reduce your food intake for two days a week to a quarter of your “normal” intake. In this way, the 5:2 diet gives you more flexibility, as you can choose the days you fast, and you don’t have any rules to follow on your “non-fasting” days.
The benefits of intermittent fasting
The primary reason to do intermittent fasting is to lose weight. Longer periods of not fasting means your body begins to burn fat reserves for energy, rather than glucose, leading to effective weight loss.
Beyond just losing weight though, intermittent fasting also has other health benefits. Intermittent fasting can also assist in managing insulin resistance, reducing inflammation and fewer age-related diseases. Other benefits include:
– Reduced sugar cravings
– Helps to improve the body’s metabolism
– Helps increase energy levels and general mood
– Helps to lower blood pressure
– Helps improve mental clarity, which in turn helps boost concentration levels
Guidelines for what to eat during intermittent fasting
Technically, intermittent fasting does not prescribe what you eat, but many people combine it with a keto or low-carb diet. Overall here are some guidelines for healthy eating while intermittent fasting:
• Eat food that is varied and high in nutrition
• Avoid processed foods and refined carbohydrates, as they will spike your sugar levels.
• Use moderation: don’t see your eating hours as an opportunity to binge: eat moderate portions, just as if you weren’t fasting in between.
• Drink plenty of water: staying hydrated is essential. Remember that we get a lot of fluid from food, so dehydration can happen easily when fasting.
Finally, it’s important to listen to your body. If you suffer from fatigue and headaches during your last few hours of fasting, you may want to shorten the gap between meals in the window in which you do eat.
Is intermittent fasting for you?
Like any new kind of weight loss plan, results with intermittent fasting show over time, so it’s best done daily in order to be most effective in its overall health benefits.
As with most eating practices, finding out whether intermittent fasting works for you involves trying it out*, listening to your body and for best results, combining it with other healthy practices like exercise and getting enough sleep.
Looking for a starter guide to introduce intermittent fasting into your daily routine? Try our Extreme Weight Loss Meal Plan.
*Before starting any new diets or eating methods, consult your doctor or dietitian, especially if you have any concerns or if you have any underlying health conditions.