The Dos And Don’ts Of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting has been used to detox the body as well as for weight loss. But fasting can be harmful if done in the wrong way and at the wrong time. Know more about what intermittent fasting is, how it can help, and when to avoid it. Incorporate it in your lifestyle with complete knowledge of the fasting method.
As I’m always looking for effective ways to super-charge my health and to improve my energy levels, I’ve been playing around with intermittent fasting (IF) the last couple of months and I’m super excited to share my experiences with you.
You may have never heard of IF and may be wondering… I thought we should have three or even five meals per day! Why on earth should I stop eating? Isn’t it dangerous? Is there any science behind it?
I totally understand you and I’ve been very critical myself. That’s why I’ve been digging deep into the latest research and trying the method out myself.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Well, simply put, it’s all about eating, stopping eating, and starting eating again. With IF, you’re scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. It’s NOT a diet, but it’s a pattern of eating. So you focus more on WHEN you eat instead of WHAT you eat.
Why Go For It?
Well, magical things happen inside your body once you give it the much-needed break of digesting:
- After 12 hours of fasting, your body gets into a so-called fat-burning state, your insulin levels decrease, and your growth hormones increase. The fat that hasn’t been accessible during the fed state can be easily burned during the fasted state.
- Studies have shown that IF reduces inflammation within our bodies. This is super important because inflammation is one of the main triggers of various chronic diseases.
- It is beneficial for your heart health and may reduce your blood triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin resistance. These are all well-known risk factors for heart disease.
- During the fasting state, your body produces a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which may aid the growth of new nerve cells and protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
- I consider this method a secret (or-not-so-secret-anymore) anti-aging tool. Studies have shown that it extends the lifespan in rats by up to 40–80%.
Keep in mind that research is still in its early stages. Most of the studies were conducted with animals, short in duration, and rather small. There’s a need for more quality human studies to answer some of the open questions.
How To Start?
There are different forms and variations of IF. Here, I’ve given the three most popular ones:
- The 16/8 method: It’s also known as the Leangains protocol and involves skipping breakfast. You fast for 16 hrs and restrict your eating period to 8 hours. So, for example, you have your last meal at 7 pm and start eating the next day at around 11 am. This way, you “fast” for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This is one of the most popular IF protocols and works well for some people. You fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, for example, by not eating dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: You eat normally for 5 days and, on 2 non-consecutive days of the week, you limit your calorie intake to 500–600 calories.
I personally love the 16/8 method, wherein I usually skip breakfast and only eat two meals each day—the first at around noon and the second at around 7 pm. Then, I fast for 16 hours and start breaking my fast again the next day at around 11 am. Easy!
Who Should Avoid Fasting?
Generally, intermittent fasting can be a wonderful tool to boost your health without requiring a massive lifestyle change. But even though intermittent fasting is a part of my lifestyle now and I’m in love with its various benefits, I’m not fanatic about my diet. My main goal is to build healthy habits that guide my behavior 80% of the time so that I can do whatever I feel like the other 20%. A healthy balance is the key.
- If you have an eating disorder, intermittent fasting could trigger some old behavior and thought patterns, which are not worth the risk.
- If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive, step away from any form of fasting as your body needs all the delicious nutrients it can get.
- If you have diabetes, problems with blood sugar regulations, or lower blood pressure, make sure you consult your doctor before fasting.
Will It Help With Weight Loss?
If you’re trying to lose weight, I highly recommend you to start eating according to your own body type first and gradually integrate and play around with IF later. Take one baby step at a time! Eating according to your own body type gives you important information about how your body responds to food intake and your sympathetic nervous system characteristics.
It determines how much fat, carb, and protein your body needs in each meal to thrive and operate on its optimal level. This way, you’ll make sure that your body gets exactly what it needs during your eating window and you’ll end up losing weight naturally (and much faster).
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.