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What You Need To Know: INTERMITTENT FASTING

24-May-2021

By Isha Sharma Gauli

Image src: shutterstock.com

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves eating for a period of time and then fasting for another. There are many types of intermittent fasting methods. This fast is usually done after eating the last meal of the day and by skipping breakfast the other day. This eating pattern which features a cycle of fasting and eating is making headlines due to its numerous powerful health benefits.

How does intermittent fasting work ?

There are many ways to do intermittent fasting, each of which has its own unique characteristics. For instance, one can try fasting for 16 hours a day and eating for the rest 8 hours. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week, this is often referred to as the 5:2 fasting method. But, one should not go longer than 24 hours without food. Doing that is considered unnecessary and rather dangerous. And it can also encourage your body to store more fat. Basically, restricting our eating window to 8-10 hours a day is considered having an  intermittent fast. According to the research, after 12 hours of fasting the fat burning process starts and it usually escalates between 16-24 hours of fasting.

Besides weight loss what are the benefits of fasting ?

When a person is not consuming food, their insulin levels drop. This causes their cells to release stored glucose and energy thus facilitating fat burn. Intermittent fasting allows the gastrointestinal tract to rest and repair which also ultimately results in fat loss. The blood levels of HGH (Human Growth Hormone)  increases dramatically during the fasted state which in turn results in fat burning and muscle gain with various other benefits. In addition to fat loss, it also helps in improving heart health as it can help lower cholesterol, reduce liver fat and improve blood pressure. Research says, intermittent fasting can also boost working memory and verbal memory in humans. It also helps in reducing tumor growth and thus helps prevent the recurrences of breast cancer. All in all, research clarifies that IF can actually slow the aging process too and it furthermore helps in prolonging the lifespan of healthy individuals.

What can one consume during the fasted state ?

During the fasting window zero calorie drinks such as water, black coffee, black tea, green tea etc are permitted to be consumed. Drinking lots of fluids during the fasting hours is highly recommended by the health experts. 

What kinds of foods are recommended during the eating window ?

In addition to Intermittent fasting if one avoids sugars, and chooses green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, proteins, healthy fats, they are more prone to achieve the optimum benefits of IF. 

Who can practice Intermittent Fasting ?

For people who have struggled to lose weight, intermittent fasting can be a very useful tool if they pay attention to the food they are eating during the eating window. During the eating periods, trying to eat precise portions of healthier foods can help minimize the chances of one  gaining weight or getting sick from high-calorie food. But, for those with eating disorders or brittle diabetic, it should not be attempted unless under close supervision of a doctor. Also, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are not recommended to follow the practice.

Takeaway:

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that is simple and safe and based on strong evidence. Making one’s way without food may seem intimidating at first, but as you begin to do it, it is a powerful way to enhance overall health, weight, brain health, and gut health. Intermittent fasting can be a lifestyle change, but one needs to remember that fasting may have different effects on different bodies. Therefore, if one experiences any unusual symptoms like headache, nausea, etc it is best to consult a physician before continuing with the diet.

Information Sources:

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/intermittent-fasting-may-be-center-of-increasing-lifespan/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hu-twitter-general

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/102/2/464/4564588


 

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