In life, there are feast days and then there are fasting days. Over feasting might have an adverse effect on your body. Thus it is important that you sometimes switch off your metabolic switch. You can do so by going on intermittent fasting from time to time.
Intermittent fasting(IF) is a new trend where people alter their eating schedules from time to time depending upon different methods they practice. It is unlike any popular calorie restriction plan that requires counting calories.
It is a cycle of eating and not eating that never ends. By not eating you force your body to go on a starvation mode and results in fat burning. Your energy intake at the time of fasting is nearly zero.
It is beneficial especially to those who suffer from obesity and what to lose some extra pounds in a short period of time without having to give up on their favorite food items.
Intermittent fasting is known to lower the risk of different types of cancers including prostate cancer as well. It also helps in replacing the dead and damaged cells with new and healthy cells. The process of replacing dead and damaged cells with new and healthy cells is also called autophagy.
In this article, we will talk about different fasting schedules and surprising benefits. Which eating pattern to choose, depending upon your personal needs. Lastly, we shall also talk about the best way to get started.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Intermittent fasting is a cycle and involves fasting and eating periods. When someone practices intermittent fasting, it means that the person periodically eats and periodically fasts.
The eating and fasting periods and patterns vary depending upon the method of fasting. One can also say that intermittent fasting is a time-restricted feeding behavior.
While a low-fat diet involves a restriction of daily calorie intake, intermittent fasting involves calorie restriction for one to several days a week. It is one reason why it helps to prevent prostate cancer in the first place.
There are different fasting schedules that you can follow. The most common of them all being periodic fasting, alternate day fasting, and fasting for two days a week.
Intermittent Fasting Rules:
You can practice intermittent fasting in many different ways depending upon what you want to achieve through fasting.
If you are someone looking to live a healthy life without having to give up on your favorite meals or snacks, you can begin your fasting journey starting today.
But if you have a more specific purpose such as to lose weight, you could try the 12 hrs plan or the 16/8 plan for better results.
Below we have mentioned six intermittent fasting rules for you to understand:
Intermittent Fasting 16/8:
The 16/8 also known as 8/16 or 16 hours fasting diet plan is one of the popular and simple fasting methods.
In this method, one needs to fast for 16 hours and has an eating window of eight hours to enjoy your favorite meal. There is no calorie restriction for the food you eat. You can enjoy all your favorite foods and drinks within the feeding window.
Intermittent fasting 16/8 results in an effective yet simple weight loss without affecting much of your diet plan. You can, however, go on an intermittent fasting diet that is mostly a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet if you plan on losing body-weight fast.
If you decide to follow a low carb meal plan along with intermittent fasting, it is best that you eat meals rich in protein. That way you’ll reach ketosis faster and your body will convert body fat into ketones and result in fat loss.
Intermittent Fasting 101:
It also is known as alternate day fasting and is a popular fasting method. In this method of fasting, you do not eat every other day i.e. you fast for 15 days a month and 182 days a year.
Going on a 101 fasting means you skip all three meals in a row. Including your breakfast, dinner, and lunch.
This method of fasting is practiced by monks and saints as a way of offering gratitude to mother nature by taking only what they need.
Intermittent Fasting 5/2:
In this method of fasting, you fast for two days per week and get to enjoy your favorite foods in the latter days.
This method of fasting is very useful when you’re planning to manage your weight without going overboard.
Intermittent Fasting 12 Hours:
In this method of fasting, you have a fasting period of 12 hours while you get an eating window of 12 hours. It is one of the daily fasting methods that result in improved metabolism and an increase in energy.
The best way of practicing this method of fasting is to include your sleeping time on the fasting: period i.e to practice pasting at night till morning. You can choose to go on a low carb keto diet for better results.
Intermittent Fasting 20/4:
This method of fasting is also known as the warrior diet. In this method of fasting, one has to fast for 20 hours a day and gets an eating window of only four hours.
So, in order to fulfill the nutrients need of the body, one has to chow down more than regular amounts at a very small time period.
In this method of fasting, one can skip their meals whenever they feel like doing so. It does not have a fix time period for fasting or to eat.
The best way of practicing this method of fasting is to skip one meal per day. It would be easy for you to skip breakfast for starters. Or you might as well alter your meal frequency.
Why To Fast?
Intermittent fasting is highly beneficial to health. Especially if you are someone who is suffering from obesity or types 2 diabetes, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure. Fasting can help you take care of your health issue.
Below are some of the plus points of fasting:
- It helps to obtain ketosis and results in increased energy levels.
- May to lower the risk of Prostate cancer.
- It helps in activating a process called autophagy.
- It helps to burn fat for energy and ultimately weight loss.
- May improve your sugar level and lower insulin resistance in the blood.
- It helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases by improving your heart health.
- Might as well help to reverse and improve type 2 diabetes.
- It is linked with improved immune system and longevity.
- Might periodically increase the growth hormone.
- It helps to improve your metabolic health.
- It may also help your body retain muscle mass more effectively than calorie-restricted diet plans.
There are far more health benefits of fasting when done on a regular basis. The randomized controlled trial of the benefits of intermittent fasting is lacking making it difficult to understand its benefits in detail.
Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss
It is indeed a proven fact that intermittent fasting much like continuous energy restriction helps you lose weight. The actual reason or the cause for weight loss is, however, a debatable topic and needs further dedicated studies in the matter.
It might still be too early to say the exact cause or the mechanism behind weight loss. But the studies to date points out to three major causes of weight loss. They are:
1. Intermittent fasting helps your body reach ketosis and results in weight loss: You might have known by now what ketosis is or how it helps in the weight loss process. But if you don’t, let me help you out.
Ketosis is the process of switching to an alternative energy source for the body and brain. In other words, ketosis is the process of replacing glucose as a prominent source of energy by ketone bodies.
In this process, the body fat is converted to ketones in order to use it as the source of energy for cells. Thus, leading to weight loss.
2. It helps to restrict your calorie intake that results in weight loss: There’s no surprise there that while you follow intermittent fasting methods, you only have a small window to eat. This results in a lower intake of calories resulting in weight loss.
3. It may reduce the level of insulin hormone in your body: Insulin is a hormone that is associated with blood sugar management and a decreased level of insulin hormone lowers the blood sugar level which promotes the burning of fat and helps in weight loss.
According to a report published on Harvard, when we stop eating between our meals, our insulin level goes down and if it is continued for a prolonged period, it results in fat burn.
Should I Try Fasting?
The simplest way to answer this question is a definite yes unless you are someone who happens to be pregnant, breastfeeding, children below 18, and physically weak.
Even so practicing intermittent fasting for a long time is not recommended since it may lead to malnutrition and other health complications. You can, however, fast for few months if your goal is to lose weight fast.
You might as well fast if you are looking to a greener energy source that never runs out and keeps your sharp and physically active throughout your day.
But remember not to go overboard with fasting since it is the worst possible thing to do to yourself.
Which Fasting Schedule Should I Chose?
There is no one right way of fasting and thus you can choose any of the fasting schedules. But if you happen to have a specific goal in mind which you want to achieve from behind fasting then you might as well choose a method that suits your needs.
If you plan on losing a lot of weight and fast then you might as well choose the 16/8 fasting with a keto diet plan. It is a little difficult and may require you to give up on your breakfast. But it sure guarantees that you’ll lose a lot of bodyweight as super fast.
But if you are only looking to channel a more efficient and greener energy source to rely on then you might as well go for 12/12 fasting schedule. It is relatively easy and you need not to compromise a lot when it come to your eating pattern.
Can I Eat While Fasting?
It is only natural to feel the urge to eat and git hit by hunger pangs from time to time in the beginning days. So I would recommend that you eat lite snacks if you cannot bear your hunger pangs.
You might as well drink a lot of fluid during your fasting period to keep yourself full. By fluids, I am referring to water, bone broth, black tea, or coffee. But you must not add sugar to your drinks or your efforts will go in vain.
Sugar as you know is full of carbs which is not good if you are looking to activate ketosis in order to lose weight.
How To Start Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is unlike any diet plan that you’ve ever heard of or practiced. It is neither complicated to understand nor difficult to practice in your day to day life.
Another benefit of intermittent fasting is that you don’t have to be a picky eater when it comes to chowing down on your favorite meals. You can eat as much and whatever your heart desire.
Thus it is easier than any other diet you’ve ever tried and is cost-friendly as well. So, if you re looking to like a healthy lifestyle, one that is cheap and eco-friendly as well, you might give intermittent fasting a try.
Step 1: Begin with the easiest method i.e. the 12 hours method. This is by far the easiest method of all. Plus you do not need to skip most of your meals. It is healthy to practice and can be followed by the majority of people. Except for those who are underweight, pregnant, and breastfeeding.
Step 2: Once you get the hang of it, you can progress to the next method i.e. the 16/8 method. Here you get an eating window of eight hours which is more than enough to enjoy your favorite foods.
The 16/8 hours method is a great way to activate ketosis in your body. You will soon notice the benefits of fasting for 16 hours a day.
I personally have been practicing this method of fasting for the past two years. The results are amazing. I’ve lost all of my belly fat and have obtained lean body mass.
At first, I started with intermittent fasting as a way of offering my gratitude to heaven. I used to fast for a day or two per month. It was, however, a challenging task to fast for one whole day.
So, I switched to a more sustainable way of fasting i.e. fasting for 12 hours a day and later switched to 16 hours a day. Now that I have been practicing fasting for more than two years, I feel comfortable and at ease.
No more hunger pangs, nor any carvings for food or breakfast. I drink a lot of fluids, mostly water during my pasting period. It keeps me full and I do not feel an urge to eat anything else.
Step 3: If you are someone who needs to shade adequate weight and that too very soon, you can advance to the next method of fasting i.e. 20/4 fasting method.
You can eat plant-based foods for better and quicker results. But remember not to underfeed yourself or else you might suffer from malnutrition. Make sure you eat food rich in nutritional value.
And once you’ve achieved your goal you can switch back to 16/8 plan for consistency.
Step 4: Advancing beyond this is a matter of choice actually. You might as well go on 24 hours fasting once or twice a week or every other day. But it is wise to stick to a more flexible plan for a long term commitment.
You might as well make your own schedule that suits you best in the long run. Also, it is advised that before you commit to intermittent fasting, make sure to set your goals properly.
If you’re looking for a more fulfilling energy source without overeating, intermittent fasting will do wonders for you. The 16/8 method of fasting will provide you with results similar to that of the keto plan.
How To Break A Fast?
Most people make a mistake of rushing in order to break their fast which can prove fatal. Breaking a fast properly is equally important as it is to fast in the first place.
Rushing to break a fast can do more harm to you than good. So it is a must that you take time to break your fast and do it the right way.
Here are some healthy way of breaking the fast:
- Go for a low carb diet as soon as you break your fast. Low carb high fat meals are the best way of avoiding sudden upsurge of blood sugar and insulin in your body.
- Avoid doing water only fast and go for bone broth every 2-3 days. This way you’ll not miss out on nutrients.
- Drink plenty of water during your fast and try adding a pinch of rock salt. Rock salt are rich in minerals and will help you fulfill your body’s daily nutritional needs.
- Do not fast for more than three days in a row. Fasting for more than three days in a row can prove fatal and can have deadly consequesces.
Fasting Tips For Beginners
- Try to keep yourself busy so that the thought of hunger won’t pop on your head.
- Drink adequate water to surpass your hunger.
- You might as well drink black tea or coffee without sugar if you are unable to bear your hunger pangs.
- You might as well eat low carb food while fasting for better hunger endurance.
- Try to increase your fasting period slowly so that your body gets time to adjust to your eating patterns.
Intermittent Fasting Apps
You might as well get some help with scheduling your eating window and fasting period with dedicated Android and iOS apps.
Below are some of the best apps available for you to download:
1. Zero App
2. Life Fasting Tracker App
3. Fastient App
4. Vora App
5. BodyFast App
Apart from the fasting apps available in the market, there are few special intermittent fasting programs conducted by well renowned personalities such as Dr. Jason Fung. So, you can join one of such programs to for better and controlled results.
Possible Intermittent Fasting Outcomes
Intermittent fasting might be a good way of managing weight and all but it can cause some serious side effects on your health. Below are some of the side effects:
- It may cause an eating disorder.
- It is linked with low energy levels during the day and feeling of fatigue.
- Might make you more sensitive and irritative.
- Might cause headaches.
- It might also cause muscle loss if you do not eat healthy and nutritious foods during the eating window.
So make sure to consult your dietician or a doctor before going on an intermittent fasting. If your doctor suggests you that it is safer only then you should change your eating pattern.
The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition published a report on the health effects of intermittent fasting in August 2015. The objective of the research was to identify the clinical health benefits of different forms of intermittent fasting on human beings.
The research was conducted using sensitive search strategies to help identify randomized controlled clinical trials that evaluated the effects of fasting. Either on clinically relevant outcomes such as weight management and cholesterol control. Or on actual clinical endpoints such as diabetes, CAD, etc.
The research identified three randomized controlled clinical trials of fasting in humans. It was found that fasting indeed helped in weight management in the 3 trials. Two observational clinical outcomes were found in which fasting was related to a lower prevalence of CAD or diabetes diagnosis. There were however no outcomes of the randomized controlled trials.
How long does it take to lose weight on intermittent fasting?
Research on people practicing different intermittent fasting schedules shows that it can help burn fat by up to 16 % within a month and you lose around 8 percent of your body mass.
Now depending upon how much weight you are looking to lose from fasting, it may take from few weeks to few months to lose weight on intermittent fasting.
How do I stop myself from eating while being hungry?
The best way to stop yourself from eating while hungry is to divert your mind to other important stuff. Always remember that hunger is a passing wave and the more you think of it, the more it will engulf you.
Another thing you can do while hungry is to drink adequate water. Drinking water will help surpass your hunger for a prolonged period of time and in the meantime will keep your gastrointestinal fluid in check.
Can I eat as soon as the fasting period is over?
Going for a full course soon after your fasting period is over is a huge mistake that most people do. You should go easy on yourself and break your fast slowly.
It is advised that you take your time swallowing your food soon after the fasting period is over. And start eating the starters before you chow down a large portion of your favorite food.
What food should I eat when my goal is to lose body weight?
Although you can eat anything you want in while fasting. But if you are seeking to lose bodyweight then it is best that you eat a healthy diet. eating a balanced diet helps in weight loss – according to WebMD.
Is intermittent fasting healthy?
Many studies show that intermittent fasting has the potential to stabilize blood sugar levels, decreased blood pressure and blood cholesterol, improved brain functionality, good hearth health, increase resistance to stress, and suppress inflammation.
Furthermore, IF also helps to activate autophagy process in the body. Autophagy is a natural cellular mechanism that helps to promote cellular health. Thus we can say that IF is significantly healthy.
Are there any intermittent fasting rules?
There are different ways of intermittent fasting. Each of them, however, has one thing in common i.e. it requires you to fast. The time duration of fasting varies from 12 hours a day to 20 hours a day. Some other ways of intermittent fasting require you to fast for one to 3 days a week.
Is fasting good for you?
If you’re someone suffering from obesity and are looking to lose weight, intermittent fasting is good for you. But if you’re underweight or are suffering from any kind of eating disorder, it is strongly advised not to practice any kind of fasting.
Since, IF relies on longer periods of fasting, it might prove fatal in case you belong to one of the above mentioned group of people.
Is fasting safe?
Intermittent fasting is different from going on a diet that involves restricting calorie intake every day. It is, however, a topic of argument whether intermittent fasting is safe or not. It considered fairly safe though and needs further research before being able to call it 100 percent safe- According to Webmd.
Some people believe it to be beneficial and safe while others discard it. Intermittent fasting is also known to lower the risk of certain types of cancer.
In any case,under aged children, people who are underweight and pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid fasting at any cost. Since age matters when it comes to restricting your calorie intake.
I am a breakfast person. Is it good to skip my breakfast while am fasting?
Eating breakfast is not compulsory. In fact, there are many people around the world who do not eat breakfast at all. It is just an old misconception that people still carry with them.
In fact, it is advised that you skip breakfast while fasting since your hunger is at lowest during the morning and it is easy to get past your hunger wave. Also, your body gets more time to work on your fat reserves.
Will eating junk food after fasting result in weight gain?
It is a fact that you lose weight once you start fasting. However, once you stop fasting and start eating junk food, you’ll gain weight in no time at all.
So, make sure you stay from junk food even when you’ve achieved your goal of losing weight.
What is the difference between fasting and starving?
Fasting is deliberate and control situation where a person or an individual stops eating even when he/she has food to eat. The person can enjoy food once he/she gets past the fasting period.
On the other hand, starvation is an involuntary situation where a person lacks food to eat. A starving person has no means to food what so ever and may starve to death.
Is it harmful to exercise while fasting?
It is safe to exercise even while fasting. You can basically do any kinds of exercise even when fasting and it won’t have any side effects on your health.
It is however advised that you avoid intensive and exercises on an empty stomach.
Is fasting the same as restricting calories?
The answer to this question is a no it is not. While fasting is more about when to eat and do not concern about what you eat and how you eat.
On the other hand, restricting calories is all about what to eat and how to eat.
- Dr. Michael Mosley is the person behind the growing popularity of intermittent fasting.
- Intermittent fasting is a cycle of eating and fasting periods.
- It is beneficial for people suffering from diabetes and obesity.
- It is unlike any other diet plan that focuses on controlled calorie intake per day.
- You get to eat all your favorite food at lunch and dinner with no restriction on calorie intake.
- NCBI did comparative research on intermittent fasting versus caloric restriction in obese subjects and concluded that intermittent fasting without calorie restriction helps to enhance health and cellular resistance to disease without losing weight.
- The International journal of obesity found in their research that Intermittent energy restriction in obese men significantly improves weight loss efficiency.
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