First of all, it is not a diet.
Intermittent fasting is a method of scheduled eating and fasting.
It’s a way of scheduling your meals without changing what you eat.
Unlike other techniques like counting calories and limiting food intake, it doesn’t make dieting a chore.
Research shows that counting calories cause stress which can lead to an abandonment of the diet, feelings of deprivation, uncontrolled cravings, and weight regain.
On the other hand, intermittent fasting relies on time.
Rather than saying ‘just eat less’, a fixed rule of IF is not to eat after a certain time.
It is simple enough that anyone can do it and meaningful enough that it will serve its purpose.
How does intermittent fasting work?
In intermittent fasting, there is a fed state and the fasted state.
In the fed state, your body is digesting and absorbing food.
This starts when you begin eating and lasts for three to five hours as your body digests the food you ate.
This period is characterized by high insulin levels, which makes it very hard for your body to burn fat.
After this time, the body goes into the post-absorptive state.
It is when your body isn’t processing your meal anymore.
This state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal.
The second state is now the fasted state when your insulin levels are low.
This makes it easier for your body to burn fat – even those that have been inaccessible during the fed state.
Types of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting has been very popular in recent years.
Because of its popularity, different types have been devised.
Here are 6 ways to do intermittent fasting:
1. 16/8 Method
This is when you fast for 16 hours every day.
It means restricting your daily eating to 8 hours only.
Within the eating window, you can fit in two or more meals.
This method was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan.
This means not eating anything after dinner and skipping breakfast. An example is when you finish your dinner at 8 pm then resume eating at 12 noon, the next day.
A person fasting can still drink water, coffee, and other non-caloric beverages during the fast to reduce hunger levels.
2. 5:2 Method
This method involves eating normally 5 days of the week. On the other two days, you restrict your meal to only 500-600 calories.
This method was popularized by Dr. Michael Mosley, a British science journalist.
In this type of intermittent fasting, you eat normally for from Monday to Friday.
But on Saturday and Sunday, you will eat two small meals only – 250 calories for women and 300 for men.
The Eat-Stop-Eat method means doing a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.
Brad Pilon popularized this method of intermittent fasting. You can do this by fasting from dinner one day, to dinner the next.
An example is if you finish dinner on Monday at 7 pm, you will resume eating after 7 pm the next day at 7 pm.
You can also choose to fast from breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch.
People who use the Eat-Stop-Eat method can still drink water, coffee, and other non-caloric beverages but no solid foods.
It simply means fasting every other day. For this method, you eat normally this day then no solid foods for the next.
Then, rinse and repeat.
Alternate-day fasting can make you go to bed hungry every other night, so this is not recommended for beginners.
This method makes you fast during the day and eat a huge meal at night.
During the day, you can eat small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables.
At night, you will eat one huge meal within a 4-hour eating window.
But this diet involves using whole, unprocessed foods just like the paleo diet method.
6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
According to an article, occasionally skipping meals may boost one’s health.
For this method, you don’t actually need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan.
You just skip meals anytime you want — when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.
The human body is well equipped to handle long periods of famine.
So, it can also handle meal skipping, from time to time.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Most people practice intermittent fasting because they want to lose weight.
A study shows that the participants lost 3 percent of their weight.
Participants were made of 23 people suffering from obesity, who were aged 45 years with an average body mass index (BMI) of 35. They can eat anything they want and how much they liked between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
After those hours, they were only allowed to drink water and calorie-free drinks – nothing more.
The participants were followed for a period of 12 weeks.
The results show that they lost weight and had lower blood pressure.
However, studies show that weight loss is not the only benefit of intermittent fasting. They are as follows:
1. Intermittent fasting makes your day simpler
With intermittent fasting, you can just grab a glass of water to start your day.
It provides a simple way of living because it reduces your meal planning activity.
2. Intermittent fasting helps you live longer
One study proved that intermittent fasting can prolong your life.
They found that restricting caloric intake to 60–70% of normal adult weight maintenance requirement prolongs lifespan by 30–50%.
Back in 1945, a study on mice also resulted in a longer lifespan.
With intermittent fasting, you get the benefits of a long life without starving.
3. Intermittent fasting improves your health
A study of 10 cancer patients shows that the side effects of chemotherapy may be diminished by fasting before treatment.
Moreover, another study also suggests that alternate-day fasting can prevent chronic disease.
In terms of diabetes risk, animal studies of fasting find lower diabetes incidence.
Intermittent fasting isn’t as crazy as you think it is.
With these science-backed benefits of intermittent fasting, it’s time to jump into the bandwagon now.