Intermittent fasting or IF is rapidly becoming the most widespread fitness and health trend. Many people are using IF to lead a better lifestyle, improve health, and lose weight. There are several studies that have demonstrated the powerful effects that occur on the brain and body due to intermittent fasting. Some studies have even shown that IF can help you live longer.
The following information is your beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
This is an eating pattern that cycles through periods of eating and fasting. The Intermittent Fasting plan doesn’t specify exact foods that you need to eat, but when you ought to eat them. On this plan, a whole food, nutritious eating regimen is recommended. Hence IF is not a conventional diet, but an eating pattern or habit. In this method, fasting occurs for either 16 hours a day or 24 hours, two times per week.
Fasting is not an unfamiliar practice in human evolution. In fact, it is more commonplace than we know. Our ancient hunter and gatherer humans didn’t have refrigerators, year-round foods or supermarkets. Sometimes they couldn’t find food to eat. In response to this scenario, they learned to function without food for lengthy periods of time. In modern society, we see fasting occurring for spiritual or religious reasons. For instance, regular fasting is a common practice in many world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. In fact, when you think about it, periodic fasting is more natural than consuming 3 or more meals every single day.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are several ways to perform intermittent fasting. The most popular methods are:
1. 16-8 Method
This is also called the Leangains protocol. To follow, you will skip breakfast and restrict your eating period to 8 hours. For example, you may eat between 1 to 9 pm but then you will fast for the remaining 16 hours.
2. 5:2 Diet
On this method, you normally eat for five days and restrict your calorie intake to 500 to 600 calories on two non-successive days in the week, i.e. Tuesday and Thursday.
On this plan, you will fast for 24 hours, either once or twice a week. Then eat regularly on the non-fasting days.
On intermittent fasting, you’re reducing your calorie intake which leads to weight loss. However, it will only work if you’re not overindulging on junk food or compensating by eating more during allowed eating periods. Most people prefer the 16-8 method because it’s more sustainable, simple, and easy to follow. It’s no wonder that it’s also the most popular!
Is Intermittent Fasting Good for the Body?
To determine the answer to this question, let’s examine what occurs at the cellular and hormonal levels when you fast intermittently. Many things happen at the molecular and cellular level when you fast. For instance, your body begins to adjust its hormone levels so that it can make all stored body fat more easily accessible. Then your cells initiate vital repair processes and alter gene expression.
Here are a few changes that are occurring while you’re fasting:
- The levels of the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) skyrocket; sometimes increasing as much as 5 times. This benefits muscle gain, and fat loss.
- Your insulin sensitivity will improve. By fasting, your insulin levels will drop significantly, which helps make stored body fat easy to access.
- When you fast, your cells trigger cellular repair. Autophagy is an example of cell repair. In this process, old cells are removed and digested, including dysfunctional proteins that have accumulated inside.
- Intermittent fasting contributes to changes in gene expression which promotes longevity and protection against many diseases.
These changes that occur at the cell, hormone, and gene expression levels all contribute to the many health benefits of this fasting method.
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