I’ve never tried intermittent fasting (aka IF) but I have a few friends who have and they love it. Recently a friend asked me about it and I couldn’t really tell her anything because I don’t really know too much about it so I looked it up to see what I could learn and share with you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Basically, IF is just cycling between periods of eating and periods of fasting. We all fast while we’re sleeping and IF can be as simple as extending that period of fasting. For example, you could eat your last meal by 8pm and then skip breakfast the next day and eat your lunch at 12pm. This works out to an 8 hour eating period followed by a 16 hour fasting period. This seems to be one of the more popular ways of doing IF.
No food is allowed while fasting, but you can have water, tea or coffee. You can also take supplements as long as they don’t have any calories.
Why Practice Intermittent Fasting?
Humans have been fasting for thousands of years. Whether it was due to food shortage, religious reasons, due to illness or for weight loss fasting is nothing new. Your body adapts quite well to fasting and will change bodily processes in order for you to thrive during periods of famine.
Some things that happen when your fast are:
- Significant reductions in blood sugar.
- Significant reductions in insulin level.
- Drastic increase in human growth hormone.
Some benefits of fasting include:
- Possible increase in lifespan (studies on yeast, worms and mice showed evidence of this).
- Can help protect against diseases including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
- Convenience in not having to plan for 3-4 meals a day.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
There’s more than one way to practice IF. Most people seem to prefer the 16/8 method. Fast for 16 hours and then have an 8 hour window to eat. People tend to consume the same amount of calories but their body gets 16 hours of not having to break down and digest food.
Another popular method is the 5/2 method. For 5 days, you eat normal and then for 2 days you eat only about 500-600 calories.
Then there’s the eat-stop-eat method. For this one you pick one or two days a week where you don’t eat anything between dinner on day one and dinner on day two, ie a 24 hour fast.
My Take On It
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of fasting but that’s coming from my own personal experiences so if you want to try it do it. I have friends who swear by it and research has shown some benefits. The only instance where I would advise against it is if you have a history of eating disorders as fasting could be a trigger for some people.
As always, I stand by the notion that everyone is different and what works for some might not work for all. If you’re curious talk to someone who can guide you so you can do it properly. There are tons of Facebook groups if you don’t know anyone to ask.