When you hear the word fasting, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is feeling hungry. Even so, fasting is and has been an important part of spiritual, cultural and religious traditions around the world for centuries. Even though intermittent fasting may seem like a new fad in the diet world, it isn’t. According to research, cycling low-calorie periods into your regular eating pattern can potentially improve your mental and physical health. But before you start skipping breakfast and lunch, it is crucial that you know and understands intermittent fasting (IF).
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of eating and fasting. It is all about strategically timing your food intake and not restricting calories or food. Many combine intermittent fasting with the Ketogenic diet to get into Ketosis very quickly. There are two main approaches to intermittent fasting:
• Alternate day fasting (ADF)
This involves limiting yourself of up to 500 to 600 calories on fasting days, with alternate days that have no food or calorie restrictions.
• Time restricted fasting (TRF)
This approach involves limiting your eating time to an 8 to 10-hour window. The most common form of TRF entails fasting for 12 to 16 hours and only eating on the remaining hours within a day.
During the intermittent fasting hours, you should refrain from eating any food or shakes. Drinking water during the fasting period, however, is perfectly fine.
During the feeding period, it is crucial that you consume calories that correspond to your goals. Undereating during your feeding period may compromise your ability to build and maintain muscle mass and work out in the gym. Hence, make sure you get in all the nutrients you require, especially proteins.
How does intermittent fasting work?
Digestion is an energy-intensive process. It is for this reason that our digestive systems are not set to work throughout the day. Ideally, you should let it rest for 12 to 16 hours for it to effectively work on eliminating toxins and metabolic junk that tends to build up in the body over time. This is what happens during these 12 to 16 hour fasting period:
• Your body’s inflammation reduces. The production of human growth hormones increases, promoting the burning of fat while preserving muscle mass and increasing growth in bone, cartilage, and muscles.
• Your adrenaline and norepinephrine levels also rise, providing you with energy while you burn fat.
• Insulin levels decrease, allowing you to burn fat rather than store it.
• Your hunger hormone-ghrelin and satiety hormone-leptin levels normalize.
The various processes activated throughout the fasting period allow you to experience an array of health benefits. According to research, the beneficial metabolic changes associated with intermittent fasting start at around the 12-hour mark of fasting. The benefits compound the longer you go.
What are the health benefits of intermittent fasting?
Scientists say that you can get leaner from practicing intermittent fasting since a small eating window equals fewer calories consumed. Other than weight loss, research has also linked intermittent fasting to decreased risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as improved blood sugar levels. It may also ward off neurogenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease while improving mood and memory.
Other health benefits include;
• More stable energy
• Improved cognitive function
• Reduced oxidative stress
• Increased longevity
One of the reasons why most people advocate for intermittent fasting is that it is easier to stick to, compared to eating small portions of food or dieting for a week or even months. However, if you are considering intermittent fasting, it is crucial that you consult your physician as fasting may be unsafe for some people.
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