Do you need to eat 6 meals a day to increase metabolism? Not Anymore! Intermittent fasting a popular way to lose fat. Read more to find out.
What is intermittent fasting?
Wikipedia defines intermittent fasting as “an umbrella term for various eating diet plans that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting over a defined period.” In simpler words, intermittent fasting is a kind of eating pattern where you forego eating for a certain amount of time.
There are different variants to this modern idea which are as follows
- Alternate Day Fasting is a rigorous form of fast; this involves not eating anything for 24 hours. This is then followed by a day of a normal diet.
- Whole-day fasting is where you fast for one or two days every week. During the days of fast, it is recommended to have only 25% of the normal calorie needs.
- Time-restricted feeding is where you don’t eat for a particular number of hours every day. For example, a 16-hour fasting cycle followed by 8 hours of eating food normally. This is commonly known as the 16/8 intermittent fasting.
INTERMITTENT FASTING PLANS
- THE 16/8 INTERMITTENT FASTING METHOD
It is also called the Leangains protocol. This method involves restricting food intake for 16 hours. The idea is to skip breakfast and have 2 meals a day between 1 and 9 pm. The period may be varied according to convenience.
This is by far the most popular method of intermittent fasting and people say it is the easiest to follow. The only drawback is that you may find it difficult to meet the calorie requirements of your body as you’re essentially skipping a meal or two.
- THE WEEKLY INTERMITTENT FASTING METHOD
Fasting once every week or even once every month is a great way to ease into the lifestyle. This way, you’re not reducing the calorie requirements, but you can enjoy a lot of the health benefits anyway. This is the best idea to acclimatise yourself with the idea of fasting. Also, people who’re not aiming to lose weight can just follow this way to keep in health.
- ALTERNATE DAY FASTING
These involve longer fasting periods but still at least one meal will be eaten every day. Hypothetically this could increase the benefits of fasting as you’re doing it regularly, but it doesn’t seem to be very popular.
INTERMITTENT FASTING FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Losing weight is the most common reason why people try a variety of diets and fasting methods. In the case of intermittent fasting, it encourages weight loss because of the reduced calorie intake.
Because your body is not getting food for a certain amount of time regularly, it changes the hormone levels as well, thus facilitating weight loss. It lowers insulin and increases growth hormone levels. Moreover, it increases the release of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine. All this helps in reducing weight because these changes in hormones can increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14%, as per studies.
The main factor behind the massive success of intermittent fasting is that it is a completely organic process. The reduction of weight happens naturally because of the fewer calories we have. Studies have also shown that this method causes a less drop in muscle mass when compared to conventional diets.
However, we should always be careful not to binge on every food item we see during the non-fasting period. This is a method that involves disciple and if not followed properly, the results may not be seen.
THE BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
- Long life
Intermittent fasting claims to reduce body weight by reducing calorie intake. Studies show that following this religiously for a long time can even increase your longevity of life.
- Easy life
It makes for a simple life. Starting your day without breakfast means that much less work for you. Since you’re skipping a meal, you only need to buy fewer ingredients, cook less often and all in all, this creates a simpler schedule to follow.
- Risk of cancer
Certain studies show that intermittent fasting could reduce the risk of cancer in humans.
There is a lot of speculation and debate going on about the validity of the statement but studies and research are being done in the field. It is said to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy as well. According to studies, fasting may reduce the risk of cancer as well as cardiovascular diseases in people.
- A better option than diet
Don’t get fasting and dieting mixed up. Fasting is said to be much better than following modern-day diets. This is because, in the case of fasting, there is no restriction on the type of foods one can or cannot eat. This makes it easier to follow.
In case of a diet, we’re only changing the nutrient intake to our body. This could lose its effect as soon as you stop dieting. Dieting will also come with a huge lifestyle change as you accommodate the need for a certain type of food items.
Intermittent fasting provides benefits without all the hassle. It has been proven to be a good tool for weight loss.
- No diabetes
Because intermittent fasting reduces the amount of insulin produced in the body, it naturally reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes as well. It lowers the blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%.
- Healthy brain
There has been a marked increase in the brain hormone BDNF seen during studies. This gives a conclusion that fasting may encourage the growth of new brain cells, also reducing the risk of getting diseases like Alzheimer’s.
INTERMITTENT FASTING FOR WOMEN
Debates are still underway on whether women will get as many benefits from intermittent fasting. For one thing, people who are underweight or who have eating disorders are not suited for the fasting methods.
There was a study that showed that while intermittent fasting increased the insulin sensitivity in men, it had an opposite effect in women. It worsened blood sugar control in women. Though studies haven\’t been done extensively, research supports that women fasting regularly may become emaciated easily. They could miss their menstrual cycles, and it could even affect their fertility.
As a result, women should be careful before taking up intermittent fasting. Check for side effects like stoppage of their cycles. If that happens, doctors’ advice to stop fasting at once to negate any long term impacts. Women who are actively trying for children are also better off not taking this method as a lifestyle.
To conclude, this is a modern way of life, often said to reap a lot of health benefits and provide quick results as well. The jury is out on whether is a fad or an actual way of a healthy lifestyle. It is said that a person should fast at least once in their life to get the experience.