Intermittent fasting has been used by us way longer than we could imagine it would have been. It may be existing for 1000 of years.
Shocking, right? However, earlier people used to do it (from which Intermittent fasting kind of originated) mainly for their religious purposes and traditions. They would abstain themselves from a particular food or just any kind of food for a period of time every day or a series of days. This varied from religion to religion. Nevertheless, it was a practice similar to what we now know as Intermittent fasting.
And, I bet that more than half of you didn’t know about it whatsoever before it started trending for some years now. Before it was used by many of our idols, nutritionists, and stars to reduce their weight or just to maintain general health.
But, in this post, I will tell you all the relevant things you should know about Intermittent fasting. And whether you should go for it or not.
What exactly is intermittent fasting ?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a type of fasting in which we fast for some particular number of hours while we eat in the remaining hours of the day. In such a type of fasting, we don’t abstain ourselves from a particular food. But, we do abstain from eating for some number of hours.
There are many sub-types of IF like –
- Alternate-day fasting – In this form of IF, one would abstain himself/herself from eating either no calories or very less calories (less than 25% of their daily maintenance calories) on alternate days in the week. While following their normal diets on the remaining days of the week. Like, you may fast on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while eating normally on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
- Periodic fasting – In such type of fasting, you may fast on some days of the week while eating normally on the other days. One famous example of this fasting can be the “5:2” fasting. Here people would eat either 0 or 500-600 calories on any 2 non-consecutive days of the week while eating normally on the other 5 days.
- Time-restricted fasting – Here, you would restrict yourself from eating for a certain number of hours of the day while eating for the remaining time of the day. There are also some examples of this type of fasting, like the “16:8 diet” where you fast for 16 hours while eating only in a window of 8 hours. Like if you eat your last meal at 8pm today, you may now eat only at 12:00 pm tomorrow. You may eat up to 3 or more meals in this eating window. And note that you must eat only healthy food in this window. An extreme form of this example may be the “20:4 diet“. Here the fasting hours are 20 hours whereas the eating window is just 4 hours.
So, now that we know whether it’s really worth it or not. And I will also give some other benefits of Intermittent fasting.
So, is “IF” worth it?
I think its efficiency is clearly given in this study, conducted in 2014. It showed that IF can cause 3-8% weight loss over 3-24 weeks. This percentage is way better than most other weight loss studies. This study also showed that people lost 4-7% of their waist circumference, which clearly signs towards the fact that it leads to fat loss or weight loss.
And even if you don’t want to read lengthy studies, you can see for yourself the famous people who lost weight by IF.
But note that, the concept of Intermittent fasting is not ideal for everyone. Like if you are underweight or have a history of eating disorders.
Also, it is not necessarily for women either. As one study showed that it improved insulin sensitivity in men, but worsened blood sugar control in women. So they must consult a medical professional before they start IF.
Now, let’s see the other benefits of Intermittent fasting , according to Healthline –
- Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes.
- Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases.
- Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease.
- Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer.
- Brain health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
The point to be noted before getting excited after these points are that, these studies were small, short-term, or conducted in animals. Higher quality human research is yet to be done.
Now, let us see what we have made of IF so far!!
So, yes!! it is good for our health, for weight loss, and for many other things. So if you feel like doing it, go try it. As it gives plenty of benefits to our body, you will never feel bad about trying it.
But there are some important things which should be in our mind before trying it out.
First things first, if you are an underweighted person or have a history of eating disorders or you are a woman, kindly consult a nutritionist or a doctor before trying it out.
Secondly, it will work only if you don’t try to compensate for the meals or calories you didn’t consume in the fasting window. And also make sure that you are eating only healthy food during your “eating window”.
And last I want to say is that, if you don’t think fasting is your thing, then just leave it. Because not everyone can fast for long stretches of time. If you continue to do so even if you don’t like it, you will not make things good.
You see, there are many people including me who did their weight loss without Intermittent fasting. So it’s not the end of the day if you don’t want to do IF. Just go for the diet best suited to you and not everyone.