Intermittent fasting - What is it? How do I even do it? What are the benefits? Is it healthy?
Here’s the low down on one of the world’s most prominent health trends right now.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and normal eating.
This could mean everything from skipping a meal or two on certain days of the week, to carrying out monthly multi-day fasts.
It’s not about restricting what foods you eat, rather when you should eat them, therefore it’s more commonly referred to as a healthy eating pattern than a diet.
Many studies have shown that it can have huge benefits for your body and mental health, as well as being a very powerful tool for weight loss.
Intermittent fasting methods:
There are a variety of ways in which you can carry out intermittent fasting.
Different methods will provide better results for different people, and it’s important to choose a method that suits you and your lifestyle.
Here are the most popular methods:
- The 16:8 method: this involves restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 10am-6pm, or 11am-7pm. There’s no specific foods that you need to eat within this time frame (although they should be healthy!) as long as you fast for the remainder of the day.
- The 5:2 method: by adopting this method, you eat normally for five days of the week, and then on two non-consecutive days you restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 per day.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: this involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week. During the 24 hour fast, no food is consumed, but you can drink low-calorie beverages. Some people chose to practice this method by abstaining from eating from dinner one day until dinner time the following day.
Benefits of intermittent fasting:
Some worry that fasting might tire them out and dull their senses, but in fact, it can have an energising effect on the mind. Fans of fasting have said that it has increased their mental sharpness and clarity.
Intermittent fasting also makes eating healthy a much easier task, as you don’t need to plan, cook or clean up after a whole heap of carefully devised meals. It both improves and simplifies your life simultaneously.
How healthy is intermittent fasting?
Although the initial hunger as a result of fasting may make people feel weak, dizzy and suffer from headaches, many of these symptoms are only temporary as your body adapts to new eating habits.
Intermittent fasting is known for having many health benefits, such as reducing the body’s insulation resistance, which helps control hunger and regulates blood sugar.
This eating pattern has also been said to reduce many risk factors of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, and it may even help you live longer.
Is intermittent fasting good for weight loss?
Absolutely – short term fasting can boost your metabolism whilst helping you eat less calories, making it a very effective fat burning and weight loss tool.
Tips for starting your first fast:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Keep your schedule busy during the fasting window, if you’re busy you won’t be as likely to crave boredom snacks.
- Incorporate your sleep into your chosen fasting time, it’ll make the whole process much more manageable – and the time still counts!
- Work your way up to it – if that means adopting the 16:8 method at first, or even just delaying your breakfast by an hour in the morning. Every little change counts, and it’s supposed to be for your benefit so don’t push yourself too hard at first.
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