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Intermittent Fasting: Should You Go For It?

Team AckoSept 23, 2022

Intermittent fasting has gained immense popularity in the past decade due to several celebrities touting the benefits.

Research shows several health benefits of intermittent fasting, including:

  • Weight loss

  • Preventing (even controlling) several chronic disorders

  • Living a healthier life

Intermittent Fasting

This article will discuss all the information needed for you to decide on your health and fitness journey with intermittent fasting.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Unlike popular diet trends, intermittent fasting for weight loss is a pattern of eating. It directs you towards when to eat rather than what and how to eat. 

Diet plans fail for most people due to the commitment required. If you get an option of becoming lean without crazy crash diets, would you be interested? 

In intermittent fasting, you eat the same amount and calories. The only restriction would be when and how often you eat. It can help you shed fats and maintain a healthy weight - in a short duration.

In simple words: you will require minimal effort to get the benefits.

How Does It Work?

Intermittent fasting has long been in practice throughout human evolution. The lack of refrigerators and freezers in the early ages, limited food availability. Ancient humans functioned without food for a long duration. Fasting was, in fact, natural to the human body.

When you fast, your body is under mild stress. Although the word stress receives a lot of negativity, it can do wonders for the body. Under stress, your body cells adapt and initiate repair and healing. It can also help resist several chronic disorders.

Fasting can also produce changes in hormonal levels. It can help your body access stored body fat, thereby reducing fat mass.

You can further enhance the effects of intermittent fasting by having a well-balanced diet and exercise regime.

What Does Research Say About Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting prolongs the period between meals - allows your body to burn the calories you consume with the meals. The stored fats are then available for your body to produce energy. It drops your insulin levels and improves insulin sensitivity.

Research establishes calorie restriction in animals improves survival rate and tolerance to metabolic disorders. There is, however, a lack of research on a similar response in humans.

When fasting, your immune response enhances. It promotes positive metabolic changes and repairs the cells at a faster rate.

What Are the Pitfalls of Intermittent Fasting?

A significant concern for many health experts with intermittent fasting is binge eating. When you devoid yourself of food for long periods, you may tend to indulge when you eat. This indulgence may be particularly difficult for people with eating disorders.

Another pitfall of intermittent fasting for weight loss may be the long breaks between meals; intermittent fasting may not be advisable for people who require food intake at regular intervals. Intermittent fasting is also not for breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women.

What Are the Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?

The various benefits of intermittent fasting have been mentioned below:

  • Weight Loss

As discussed earlier, intermittent fasting enhances your capacity to metabolize food and generate energy. Fasting automatically restricts the food you eat and creates a calorie deficit. Your body adapts to require less energy to maintain the weight. 

Studies show that intermittent fasting is as effective as any other diet involving calorie limitation when managing weight loss. It regulates your hunger and gives you a feeling of fullness.

  • Metabolic Disorders

It helps you lose and maintain a healthy weight and improves metabolic health. Intermittent fasting reduces blood pressure and blood sugar levels while also protecting brain health.

It also inhibits the inflammatory process - especially beneficial against chronic inflammatory disorders like asthma.

  • Sustainable Lifestyle Change

Another crucial benefit of this type of fasting is that it is sustainable in the long term.

You only have to change the time when you take your meals, not change what you eat. This type of fasting is convenient for anyone - including vegans and vegetarians.

As you can avoid buying or preparing any special meals, you can save time with meal prep. Intermittent fasting can be a suitable option for the modern-day busy person to schedule and follow in their lifestyle.

It does not mean you can eat whatever you wish. Intermittent fasting works best if you implement a variety of well-balanced and nutritious meals in your diet.

What Should You Eat When Fasting Intermittently?

Intermittent fasting for weight succeeds if you complement it with nutrient-rich food as your aim is losing weight and maintaining energy levels, such as given below:

  • Fibrous food

Food rich in fibre can help in reducing your hunger pangs. It fills you up, and you can avoid overeating. Another added benefit is that, it helps in retaining hydration; allowing easy bowel movements. 

Whole grains, vegetables such as beans, broccoli, and fruits like apples, bananas, and berries are rich in fibre.

  • Water

Although water is not food, it is crucial to hydrate yourself while fasting. The amount of water required will depend on your characteristics and activity level. The colour of your urine should be a good indicator of how much you will need.

You can also have tea or coffee instead of water. Minimal quantities of dairy or cream with your beverage should not be an issue. 

Foods to Avoid

While fasting, you are supposed to avoid eating anything. You can drink fluids but avoid calorie intake. If you are taking tea or coffee, you should avoid sugar.

You can also avoid particular foods during the eating period to ensure you get the most out of your eating pattern. 

You should avoid refined and processed food, such as processed meat and sugary products while doing intermittent fasting.  

What Are the Different Types of Intermittent Fasting?

If you intend to give intermittent fasting a shot, choose the right type to integrate into your schedule. It will ensure you sustain your healthy eating pattern.

  • Daily Intermittent Fasting

Popularised by Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com, this fasting method involves a 16-hour fast with 8 hours eating phase. You can skip your breakfast and eat from lunch to dinner and then fast for 16 hours.

This method is easy to comply with your routine. The one downside is that by skipping meals every day, you have to ensure to eat sufficiently to maintain the same calories every day.

  • Alternate Day Fasting

In this fasting method, you fast alternate days a week. Every alternate day, you will be fasting for long periods, while eating dinner and skipping the other meals. Essentially you will fast for 24 hours straight. 

Include sufficient calories in the diet.

  • Weekly Intermittent Fasting

If you are new to intermittent fasting for weight loss, you can start with a weekly schedule, where you fast once a week. Many religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism - practice fasting on particular days a week.

You can also incorporate the 5:2 method, where you consume calorie-restricted meals twice a week; and eat regularly for the remaining days.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

An intermittent diet is relatively safe, but avoid it if you have any of the following: 

  • Have an unstable blood sugar, low blood pressure

  • Have a history of eating disorders or are underweight

  • Trying to conceive

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Have a history of amenorrhea

Conclusion

Eating healthy can be simple but hard to maintain. While other diets involve restrictions on what you eat, an intermittent diet works by scheduling your meal times. Intermittent fasting is easy to integrate into your lifestyle as it does not include additional planning or prepping.

FAQs

Can I Take Supplements While Fasting?

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Yes, you can take supplements. Certain supplements require fats to metabolise. Ensure you have a well-balanced meal.

Is It Ok to Work Out While Intermittent Fasting?

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Exercising integrated with intermittent fasting has added benefits. It improves your lean muscle mass, helping you build a healthy weight.

Can Kids Do Intermittent Fasting?

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Children should avoid intermittent fasting.

Will Intermittent Fasting Slow My Metabolism?

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Studies show intermittent fasting increases the metabolic rate if done for a short duration.

What Food Should I Avoid When Intermittent Fasting?

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It is best to avoid processed and refined food and sugar while fasting.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. As this content piece is not vetted by a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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