Fasting, if done right, can be a great way to stay healthy and lose weight.
Intermittent fasting (IF), for one, is becoming an increasingly popular fitness tool around the world, not for nothing.
It has shown to simplify lifestyles, help in weight loss and even enhance longevity.
Here's what Intermittent fasting means, its various methods, effects, benefits and side effects.
So, what really is Intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves demarcated periods of fasting and eating.
It doesn't tell you the kind of foods/meals you should eat, but rather when you should have them. In that sense, it is not really a diet plan, but more of an eating pattern.
Some common Intermittent fasting methods include 16-hour and 24-hour fasts.
Popular Intermittent fasting methods
1) 16/8 method: It involves skipping breakfast and eating during a daily restricted time period of 8 hours (say from 2 PM-10 PM), and fasting for remaining 16-hours.
2) Eat-stop-eat: It involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice every week.
3) 5:2 diet: It means consuming only between 500-600 calories on two consecutive days of the week, while eating normally on other days.
How does Intermittent fasting affect your body?
Intermittent fasting increases levels of growth hormone by as much as five times, which further helps in fat loss and muscle gain.
It also brings changes in function of genes related to longevity and immunity.
Further, it can lead to drop in insulin levels, thus making stored body fat more easily accessible.
This form of fasting also promotes the process of cell repair.
These are the benefits of Intermittent fasting
These are some potential health benefits of Intermittent fasting:
Intermittent fasting can help you shed unwanted weight and belly fat, without requiring you to consciously quitting calories.
It can reduce insulin resistance and help lower blood sugar levels.
It can fight inflammation and reduce risk of cholesterol and heart disease.
It may even help prevent certain cancers, improve brain health, and increase lifespan.
A word of caution
Since Intermittent fasting requires you to stay hungry for extended time periods, it may lead to some undesired side-effects such as fatigue, weakness, and poor brain function. However, these are mostly temporary. If you have a medical condition, consult your doctor before starting Intermittent fasting.