Many want to lose weight. Some hit the gym and perform yoga asanas, while others take the dieting routine. In a world where we find ourselves with a gamut of information about various weight-loss strategies and diet plans, we are confused about what works best for us.
One such weight loss plan that’s here to stay is intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet plan but a timed approach to eating. This approach doesn’t indicate the food you can eat or not eat. It is an eating pattern that requires you to switch between fasting and eating at regular intervals. Research indicates that intermittent fasting helps manage weight and prevent, sometimes reverse, certain medical conditions.
How is this possible, and this it safe? Let us find out in this blog.
What is intermittent fasting?
As mentioned above, intermittent fasting is a fasting technique in which you don’t eat for a short period daily. When you fast for a short period, you tend to eat fewer calories which may result in weight loss. Although intermittent fasting can help reduce some risk factors associated with various health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it is not suitable for everyone. You should consult your physician regarding whether the intermittent fasting regimen is a good fit for you. Contrary to other diets, intermittent fasting has no dietary restrictions – foods to eat or avoid.
Intermittent fasting originates from traditional fasting used for health or spiritual benefits, as described in the books of Socrates, Plato, and various religious groups. Intermittent fasting cycles between a low-calorie level for a certain period followed by normal eating. You fast for a specific number of hours daily or eat just one meal a couple of days a week, thus helping your body burn fat.
What are the types of intermittent fasting?
There are different ways of intermittent fasting depending on the time you choose to eat and fast. Suppose you want to try eating only for eight hours daily and fast for the rest of the day. Or you may want to eat only one meal a day, twice a week. There are different types of intermittent fasting, and they are as follows:
The 16:8 method
This is one of the most popular types of fasting to lose weight. You can eat food and calorie-containing beverages for a set period, say eight hours a day, and for the remaining 16 hours, you can avoid eating.
The 16:8 method is flexible and based on a time-related feeding (TRF) model. It is up to you to select the 8-hour window to eat calorie-heavy food. While some people skip breakfast and directly start eating lunch, while others avoid eating late in the morning and start fasting early in the evening – say 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. When you restrict eating for several hours a day, it may help you in losing weight and lowers your blood pressure.
Research suggests that this method may prevent hypertension and reduce eating calories-heavy food, resulting in weight loss. Also, a 2016 study showed that the 16:8 method with resistance training helped to reduce fat mass and assisted in maintaining muscle mass in male participants. A recent study showed that this method doesn’t prevent from gaining strength muscles in women who perform resistance training with this method.
Any individual can fit this method into their lifestyle. However, few people find it challenging to avoid continuously eating for 16 hours. In addition, eating snacks and junk food during the eight hours can nullify any positive effect of this method. Thus, it is crucial to eat a balanced diet that should include fruits, vegetables, whole vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins to increase the possible health benefits of this method.
The 5:2 plan
In this plan, you eat without restriction five days a week, and for the remaining two days, you can reduce your calorie intake to one-quarter of the regular calorie consumption. Suppose you eat 2,000 calories each day; on the fifth day, you should eat only 500 calories for two days a week.
A 2018 study showed that the method is effective as daily calorie restriction for weight loss and control the blood glucose levels among type 2 diabetic patients. Another study indicated the same effectiveness as continuous calorie deficiency for reducing weight and avoiding metabolic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
The method is flexible in selecting the days you want to eat and fast. There are no set rules regarding consuming food and drinking beverages. However, this does not mean that you can increase eating junk food. However, cutting down your calories to 500 is not an easy task for you. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that you can experience dizziness or lightheadedness.
This is an effective method, but it is not for everyone. Before starting this diet, you must first check with your physician.
The warrior diet
As the name suggests, the warrior diet is based on the eating styles of ancient warriors. This method was first designed in 2001 by Ori Hofmeklerand is more extreme than the 16:8 method, but not as limiting as the eat-fast-eat method.
In this method, you eat minimally for 20 hours during the day and as much as your heart desires throughout the 4-hour window at night. In the 20-hour fast period, you are encouraged to eat dairy products, hard-boiled eggs, raw fruits and vegetables, and non-calorie fluids. In the four-hour window, you can eat anything you want, such as unprocessed, healthy, and organic foods are recommended.
There is no research on the warrior diet to thoroughly understand its benefits in losing weight. This is a challenging diet as it limits substantial calorie intake to only four hours daily. Overconsumption at night is a huge issue. However, it may also lead to or exacerbate any eating disorder-related issues.
Eat Stop Eat:
This method was popularised by Brad Pilon. He has authored the book with the same name. It is an unconventional method where you fast one or two non-consecutive days weekly for 24 hours. The rest of the day, you can eat a well-balanced diet freely without time restriction, and it is best to avoid overconsumption. This method is based on the rationale that fasting for up to 24 hours may cause a metabolic shift that signals the body to use fat as an energy source rather than glucose.
The drawback of this method is that you may binge eat and overconsume when you eat later, need immense willpower, and may lead to eating disorders. However, research is required to ascertain its health benefits, including weight loss.
Alternate day fasting (ADF):
As the name suggests, in this fasting plan, you fast on alternative days and eat a balanced, healthy diet on non-fasting days. In some versions of this diet, people do not completely fast, but eat around 500 calories during fasting days. It has proven weight loss benefits. Research indicates that this method has similar results with weight loss as a caloric-restricted diet in adults with obesity. However, if you want to maximize the weight loss results, it is best to add an exercise regime. Research shows that alternate-day fasting with endurance exercise may yield twice as much weight loss than simply fasting.
You may not be able to fast the entire day if you’re new to the fasting process. Therefore, you should ease into alternate-day fasting with a modified fasting plan. Whether you opt for a modified fasting plan or a full fast, you should eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet that includes high-protein food items and low-calorie vegetables so that you feel full
When to seek medical help?
Before starting intermittent fasting, it is better to consult a doctor, as this is not suitable for all.
How do intermittent fasting help in reducing calories and weight loss?
One of the main reasons intermittent fasting works in weight loss is because we eat fewer calories. In all the different types of intermittent fasting, one common element is skipping meals during fasting – that benefit in helping you lose weight. But if you overeat or eat more junk food during the eating period, it negates weight loss.
Research conducted in 2014 showed that intermittent fasting reduced body weight by 3-8% over a period of 3 to 24 weeks. Some people have also experienced a 4- 7% decrease in their waist circumference, indicating a loss of belly fat. Therefore, intermittent fasting can be a useful weight loss tool. Apart from weight loss, intermittent fasting boosts metabolic health and may help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
How does intermittent fasting help in maintaining muscle mass in dieting?
The drawback of dieting is that your body loses muscle mass and fat. However, research has demonstrated that intermittent fasting may help you maintain muscle mass while you lose body fat. A scientific review found that calorie restriction in intermittent fasting has the same effect as continuous calorie restriction, however, with a lower reduction in muscle mass. It is important to note that these research studies have limitations.
What are the advantages of intermittent fasting?
The following are the benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Boosts thinking and memory: Studies show that intermittent fasting improves memory in animals and verbal memory in human adults.
- Improves heart health: Intermittent fasting also decreases blood pressure and improves heart-related issues.
- Enhance physical performances: Men who fasted for 16 hours noticed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. In research, mice were fed on alternate days and showed better endurance while running.
- Reduced Type 2 diabetes and obesity: Fasting lowers insulin levels, helping the body store fat efficiently. It also reduces fasting glucose, fasting insulin and leptin, a hormone made by fat cells. Studies show that obese adults have lost weight through intermittent fasting.
- Improves tissue health: In a research conducted on animals, fasting reduced tissue damage during surgery with excellent results.
What are the side effects of intermittent fasting?
The possible side effects of intermittent fasting are minimal. You may initially feel sluggish, but as the body adjusts, it starts to function efficiently and effectively. People with medical issues must consult a doctor before beginning any fasting method. However, the following people are at risk of experiencing side effects of intermittent fasting:
- Pregnant women
- Women trying to conceive
- Diabetic individuals
- People who do not regulate their blood sugar level
- Individuals with low blood pressure
- People who are taking certain medications or have eating disorders
- Underweight individuals
Intermittent fasting is a weight loss program that is here to stay. However, knowing that it’s not for everyone, it is important to consult a physician before starting. Intermittent fasting is a weight loss program that is here to stay. However, knowing that it’s not for everyone, it is important to consult a physician before starting. Take the time to take care of yourself by scheduling an appointment at Apollo ProHealth. We believe that your health is our top priority, and we are committed to providing you with the highest quality care possible.