Intermittent fasting is one of the latest trends that have hit the market by storm. People are quickly embracing it to improve their physical health and as a weight loss tool. Research has shown intermittent fasting to have several powerful effects on the body. What is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, is an eating pattern that revolves around specific periods of eating and fasting. It does not have a strict diet plan but more of an eating pattern whose main focus is when food should be eaten. Fasting has been around since ancient times when hunters and gatherers did not have a stable source of food and could do without a meal or two. As a result, human beings became ok with staying for extended periods without food. Intermittent fasting approaches There are several approaches to IF but the most common include: –
- 16/8 method – Also known as the Leangains protocol, this is a form of fasting that involves staying for periods of 16 hours without food and eating two to three meals within the rest 8 hours.
- Alternate day fasting – This is a type of fasting where you fast every other day. You could eat normally today then limit your intake to 500 calories the following day.
- 5:2 diet – This is almost the same as alternate fasting but here, you eat normally for five days then limit your calorie intake to 500 calories for two days in a week.
- Dubrow diet – This is the most recent form of IF that has three phases to it. You could also try this IF approach as it claims to have anti-aging effects.
Effects of intermittent fasting to the body Intermittent fasting is proven to be a powerful weight loss tool. It is the reason why most people go for it. Additionally, IF has several other benefits to the body. They include: –
- Drops the levels of insulin significantly which makes the body able to burn more fat.
- Encourage cellular repair. This is where cells remove dysfunctional proteins that have built up over time inside the cells.
- Promotes functionality of genes thus protection against diseases is enhanced as well as long life.
- Increases the levels of growth hormones.
These factors are what are responsible for the health benefits like reducing inflammation and reducing bad cholesterol; benefits that are reaped during and after intermittent fasting. How can you suppress hunger during the fast? There are various ways of suppressing hunger during intermittent fasting. They include:
- Eating foods that have a high-fiber content: Vegetables, fruits, and beans are foods that are rich in fiber. Additionally, eating fish, meat, tofu, and other high protein foods during your eating window will help curb hunger.
- Drinking water: Drinking lots of water during your fasting period will help keep hunger at bay. Besides, a lot of people will often confuse thirst for hunger. Thus, will reach for a plate of food instead of a glass of water.
- Drink black coffee: Sugarless black coffee is a zero calorie drink. It also has appetite-suppressing properties alongside cinnamon and licorice herbal tea.
- Stay away from the television: This may sound stupid to many but it worked for me. As you watch the television, many food adverts will come up, making you feel hungry when you are not actually hungry.
Should your exercise during intermittent fasting? Whether or not to refrain from exercise during the fasting period depends on several factors. First and foremost, exercising is a personal choice and also an integral part of our overall well-being. Exercising is completely safe during shot fasts. However, intense training is discouraged during long fasts as it may be overwhelming to the body. If for some reason you have to exercise, do light workouts like walking. Exercise tends to make people hungry. So, it is advisable to exercise just before your eating period. Who should fast? In as much as intermittent fasting is encouraged and there are many benefits to it, not everyone should practice it. For example, it is risky for an underweight person to do intermittent fasting. Also, people who have a history of eating disorders should refrain from it. IF is also not for children below the age of 18 and people who have a binging disorder. Additionally, consultation with a medical professional is vital before engaging in Intermittent Fasting if you have one of the following conditions: –
- Low blood pressure
- Have issues with your blood sugar
- If you are under medication
- If you are planning to conceive, are already pregnant, or breastfeeding (you need all the nutrients you could get for proper nourishment of your baby)
- If you have a history of amenorrhea (for women)
All in all, intermittent fasting is safe. Contrary to popular believes, intermittent fasting does not cause eating disorders or lower metabolism. There is nothing dangerous about skipping a meal or two if you are not feeling hungry, are of a safe weight range and are well-nourished.