Intermittent fasting is a general term used in reference to various eating protocols that mostly revolve around a period of fasting and also non fasting both extending over a pre defined period. For a while now, this eating style has been subjected to various preliminary researches to establish its viability particularly in relation to weight loss. Intermittent fasting is therefore less a dietary and instead more of a lifestyle choice.
Looking back, there is evidence that throughout history, humans have continuously engaged in fasting whether it is for religious reasons or simply as a result of food scarcity. To date, the only new thing about this lifestyle choice is the ongoing clinical research centered around the longetivity and health benefits it is suspected to posess. For instance, ancient hunters and gatherers ate intermittently. What this suggests is a rare ability to still be able to function at a high level not only mentally but also physically throughout the extended periods without having taken any food item (something which now seems to have played such a crucial role in human evolution). It is safe to say that, overtime, the human body has done well adapting and performing relatively well (in fact at its best) as a result of intermittent fasting.
Research findings indicate that intermittent fasting has the capacity to fend off or better yet reverse common illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes etc. Same findings also suggest that intermittent fasting besides providing the above mentioned benefits also significantly improves the body's overall response to stress likely to damage it. Simply put, intermittent fasting serves to help the body quickly rejuvenate and repair itself and in the process promoting general health.
As a weight loss technique, intermittent fasting has been around all through taking different forms throughout time. It however was largely popularized through a media broadcast in 2012 by one Dr. Michael Mosley's Documentary titled "eat fast, Live longer" that featured on BBC and the book "the fast diet". Journalist kate
Harrison's book titled the 5:2 diet which was based on her own personal experiences also helped further popularize intermittent fasting. Other subsequent releases which further helped popularize this eating style include Dr. Jason Fung's "The obesity code" etc. All these works helped create a steady and positive buzz as the anecdotes of the effectiveness of intermittent fasting further proliferated.
If you are interested in further understanding the science then the publication "The Obesity Code" is one of the most evidence based summary resources.
First off, intermittent fasting is safe, it is simple and above all else, it is extremely sustainable. All these are evident in the outline below stating exactly how intermittent fasting is done.
In order to get started, choose an 8 hour window for which you would limit any and all of your food intake to that particular time of day.
Take note, many people are known to prefer eating between midday and 8pm in the evening. What this means is that you can easily fast overnight and then only worry about skipping breakfast. Good news is, you will still have the chance to eat a balanced lunch and dinner as well, not to mentioned a few snacks every now and then throughout your day.
There are those who prefer eating between 9 am and 5 pm in the afternoon. For such people, this period of time best suits their desire for 3 key things before they start fasting next, and these are:
i. A healthy breakfast in the morning around 9 a.m
ii. A normal lunch around midday
iii. A light and early dinner meal or better yet simply a snack around 4 p.m in the afternoon.
Whichever the case, feel free to experiment and select the time frame that you personally feels suits your schedule the best. Keep in mind, regardless of the time you choose to eat, it is very important that you focus on taking several small meals (including snacks) making sure they are evenly spaced throughout the day. Doing this is very important since it would help the body stabilize blood sugar levels and also keep hunger under control.
Also, in order to maximize the potential health related benefits of this lifestyle eating choice, it is imperative that you stick to nutritious whole food items and beverages throughout your eating periods. Filling up strictly on nutrient rich foods will not only help round out the eating style but also allow you to reap the rewards intermittent fasting is largely associated with. More specifically, try balancing each meal with an array of healthy whole foods such as:
A. Vegetables: Cucumbers, tomatoes, leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower etc
B. Healthy Fats: Avocados, coconut oil and olive oil.
C. Fruits: Berries, bananas, peaches, apples, pears, oranges etc
D. Whole Grains: Oats, barley, quinoa, rice, buckwheat etc
E. Proteins: Meat, nuts, seeds, legumes, poultry, fish etc
In addition to the above, restrict yourself to drinking calorie free beverages such as water, unsweetened coffee and tea. These would help you control your appetite while at the same time keeping you properly hydrated throughout your fasting period. Remember, focusing much on junk food would easily negate the positive effects which are commonly associated with the 16/8 intermittent fasting by causing more harm than good to your general health.
c) How long should intermittent fasting last?
The period of time depends on your objective. For instance, your intermittent fasting program can either last for a month or 2 months or 6 months or even 12 months. As a matter of fact, you can even have a fasting program that lasts forever (in which case, it would need to be a part of your normal eating plan). There are usually no set rules. As strange as it may sound, you might even start enjoying intermittent fasting.
Concerning how long intermittent fasting should last before you start noticing the desired results, well, that would vary from one person to the next. More specifically, the manner in which you manage your eating style throughout the intermittent fasting period would largely influence your results. It also goes without say that what you take in during the fasting period matters very much.
Generally speaking, in most cases, you would need an average of 10 weeks closely following basic fasting rules before you start seeing any changes. For instance, if you are comfortable fasting 3 days a week, the moment you will incorporate a workout plan, you most certainly can expect much better results.
So what is your intermittent fasting objective? Is it to lose weight? If yes, choose a plan and follow it through right until you realize your objective of losing weight. In case your objective is to lose body fat then get yourself a body fat estimator (preferably electronic) and roll out your plan in the process closely monitoring each and every step throughout the 5 - 6 month period right until you realize your body fat loss objective.
Even after realizing your set objectives, you should still consider maintaining intermittent fasting in order to sustain your already achieved goals. Feel free to adopt any method that suits your social and professional life and then tweak it to fit your usual routine. This way, you will carry on doing intermittent fasting for longer and in the process reaping big on its associated benefits for life.
There isn’t any specification or restriction concerning what type of food or how much food you should eat when following intermittent fasting. Eating a well balanced diet has so far proven to be the key to losing weight as well as maintaining energy levels. If you are therefore trying to lose weight, it is strongly advised that you focus much on food items that are nutrient dense such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains as well as dairy and lean proteins. Simply put, below are the foods and drinks you should eat or use when intermittent fasting? They include:
Even when you are not taking any food, it is still important that you stay hydrated. For instance, the health of just about every organ in your body largely depends on you staying properly hydrated. Even though the amount of water which the body requires usually varies from one person to the next, you should take enough water to make sure that your urine is always pale yellow at all times. Having your urine dark yellow serves as an indication that the body is dehydrated and according to reports, dehydration is known to cause fatigue, lightheadedness as well as headaches. Failure to take enough water coupled by limited food intake definitely serves as a recipe for disaster. In the event that taking plain water does not interest you, feel free to spice it using a squeeze of lemon juice or better yet add a few leaves of mint.
They might seem as counterintuitive for eating since they are considered high calorie fruits. However, the monounsaturated fat that exists in the fruit has been found to be extremely satiating. As a matter of fact, it has been established that adding half an avocado to your lunch can easily help keep you full for long hours hence the reason this particular fruit is ideal for intermittent fasting.
Not only is fish rich in healthy protein and fat, it is also known to contain ample amounts of vitamin D. This being the case, if you have restricted yourself to only eating a certain amount of food daily then the last thing you need is to mess with your cognitive ability and the best way to make sure this doesn't happen is to eat fish. Besides, fish has always been considered a brain food. It's rich in omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) which are good for the brain.
4. Cruciferous Veggies.
They include the likes of broccoli, sprouts and the cauliflower all of which are rich in fiber. When eating erratically, it is very important to take foods that are rich in fiber since they will be able to prevent constipation. Besides, fiber is known to have the ability to keep you full and this is something (a feeling) you definitely would need if you are looking forward to fasting for several hours.
Not all white foods are bad for you. For instance, potatoes have been found to be amongst the most satiating food items around. In fact, studies have established that eating potatoes has the potential of helping you lose weight if it is made a part of a healthy diet.
6. Beans and Legumes.
They might just be your favorite when on intermittent fasting. They provide the much needed energy for activity hence the reason you should include them in your eating plan. Keep in mind, food items such as chickpeas, black beans, lentils and peas have all shown the capacity to decrease weight even in the absence of calorie restriction.
A Common Smoothie addition, they are usually ripe with important nutrients. Strawberries for instance are a great source of immune boosting Vitamin C consuming a diet that is rich in flavonoids such as those present in strawberries helps control increases in BMI over time.
Protein is important not only for becoming full but also building muscle. One egg is estimated to carry around 6 grams of protein and can be cooked within a few minutes. Taking an egg in the morning as opposed to a bagel therefore will make you less hungry throughout the day. If you are taking up intermittent fasting then why not try out a hardboiled egg.
Even though they are considered to be extremely high in calorie compared to other common snacks, they contain something which most junk food doesn’t and that is good fat. The polyunsaturated fat that is present in nuts according to research is able to alter the psychological markers for satiety.
10. Whole Grains.
This food item is not only rich in fiber but also protein hence eating a little of it goes a long way in helping keep you full. Eating whole grains instead of refined grains has also been found to help rev up the metabolism. So feel free to try out sorghum, millet etc.
Yes, you can do intermittent fasting everyday. However, the frequency of the fasting period would largely be determined on a personal level taking into consideration the kind of results that you are interested in. Frankly speaking there is not a clearly defined way to do intermittent fasting. One thing is for sure though, you should only settle for a fasting routine that suits you. This means you should carefully choose the periods you engage in fasting and have control over exactly what you eat. In addition to the above, also make sure that you consult a professional just so you know exactly what it is you are doing.
Simply put, you do not necessarily need to do intermittent fasting nor should you just follow the new eating style blindly hoping to stumble upon something that actually works. When starting off, feel free to spread out your fasting intervals say over a few days, probably be twice or thrice every week and then increase the frequency as time goes by taking into consideration the results. The sad truth is if it was as easy as that, selling us all that fake diet crap wouldn’t be such a big market.
According to reports, many of the people who have taken up intermittent fasting are doing it on a daily basis. As a college student, the moment you decide that you would like to take up the 24 hour fasting method then it is strongly advised that you spread it out throughout the week. For instance, you can fast once every 2 or 3 days. And in the process of fasting just make sure that you pay close attention to how you body is responding to the change in lifestyle. More specifically, closely monitor your blood sugar levels, the ketone levels as well as the glucose ketone index changes. When planning the frequency of your fasting make sure that you also factor in any major changes likely to occur. Lastly, give yourself some time in order for your body to make the necessary adjustments likely to come up as a result of intermittent fasting. Remember, there are those who might need just a few days to adjust while others might require slightly longer before getting accustomed to the new reality which is intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting has so far proven to have several benefits both to the brain as well as to the general body. Some of the most notable benefits include:
1. Significant Loss of body Weight & Body Fat.
One of the main reasons why many people are interested in intermittent fasting is because they would like to shed off some weight. So yes it is possible to lose weight since this fasting technique guarantees you fewer meals and fewer calorie intake. Besides the short period of fasting would also significantly boost the metabolic rate which in turn would help you burn more calories.
2. Helps the Heart.
Heart disease is considered one of the leading killers of our time. Intermittent fasting has been proven to help manage some of the risk factors commonly associated with this killer. Some of the things intermittent fasting would help improve include cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels etc
3. Induces Cell Repair related Processes.
Intermittent fasting is known to prompt a waste removal process in the body which mostly occurs within the cells, a process commonly referred to as autophagy. This process is known to significantly help provide protection from multiple diseases.
4. Initiates adjustment of the Cells function, Genes & Hormones… For The Better!
There is no longer any doubt that when you start fasting there are a lot of changes that take place in your body. For instance, the most obvious would be the hormone levels would change to allow access to any stored fat hence prompting weight loss. At the same time as the growth hormone levels increase, muscles gain as well as fat burning becomes much easier plus cell repair processes around the body too kickoff.
5. Improves Brain Activity.
Certain metabolic process will definitely be improved which in turn would have an extremely positive effect on the brain. More specifically, intermittent fasting would significantly increase the level of the hormone that helps keep depression and other brain problems away.
It also triggers the release of BDNF(Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which is also usually released during exercise and significantly improves cognitive performance.
6. Improves control over Appetite.
Intermittent fasting has since proven to help bring under control the amount of food that you eat. Taking into consideration the rise in obesity, it is now more than ever important to have a properly structured eating plan and this can be achieved by intermittent fasting.
7. Lowers Oxidative Stress.
Oxidative stress is mostly linked to ageing. If ever you are interested in holding on to your youth, why not take up intermittent fasting? Findings from recent studies have indicated that fasting significantly helps the body to counter oxidative stress. Fact is, you won’t necessarily stay young forever; however, taking up intermittent fasting would most certainly slow down the ageing process of course when combined with a healthy lifestyle.
8. Helps the body cope with the side effects of Chemotherapy.
Though there still isn’t enough evidence to support this claim, it is worth noting that intermittent fasting has been linked to having the potential to help the body cope with the side effects of chemotherapy. It is for this reason that doctors from all over have openly advocated to have cancer patients incorporate this form of fasting into their lives.
9. Lowers Insulin Resistance & the Risk to Type 2 Diabetes.
Intermittent fasting is known to help lower insulin resistance in the body hence helps significantly reduce the body's risk to type 2 diabetes. In addition to the above, it also helps lower blood sugar level hence very ideal for anyone who is at risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes.
10. Improves skin condition.
Intermittent fasting has been found to help improve the skin condition in the sense that if you take up the fasting and adopt the new eating style; chances are any rashes which might be present in your skin would eventually fade away.
11. Improves the body's immune system.
Intermittent fasting helps foster regeneration within the cells which in turn helps significantly improve the immune system which consequently helps improve the body's ability to fight off any common ailments or any other ailments.
12. Improves general mood & motivation.
Intermittent fasting has been proven to help foster calorie restrictions which in turn directly serves to help improve the body's general mood as well as motivation especially amongst males.
13. Protect against Infections.
Research has established that intermittent fasting helps promote bacterial clearance which in turn helps the body stay immune to any common infections particularly throughout the fasting period.
Intermittent fasting is not meant for everyone; in fact it only works best on certain body types and not so well on other body types. This being the case, before making any changes to your lifestyle or better yet eating patterns, it is strongly advised that you seek the professional opinion of a physician or dietician or even an experienced nutritionist.
You might already be impressed with the presumed benefits of intermittent fasting such as weight loss, reduced inflammation, reduced bloating, better sleep, control over sugar cravings as well as increased mental clarity and improved digestion. What you need to know is that upon making the resolve to take up intermittent fasting, the body would need time in order to adjust accordingly. As a result you are bound to experience some side effects. Even though they would seem unbearable at first, your body would easily find ways to deal with them as time goes by. Below are some of the side effects of intermittent fasting including a summary of just how exactly to deal with each. They include:
Since we are used to eating food at certain times, the body then usually expects food at these times failure to which hunger sets in. Ghrelin is the hormone which is responsible for making us feel hungry and is known to peak at breakfast, over lunchtime and again in the evening during dinner and its production is usually partially regulated by food intake. As such, when taking up intermittent fasting, it will take some serious will power in the first few days in order to cope with this new reality.
In order to cope or better yet combat the hunger during the first few weeks, it is strongly advised that you drink a lot of water in order to keep your belly full. Not only will this help you feel more alert, it would also help satiate the feeling of constantly wanting to put something edible in your mouth. Keep in mind, drinking black coffee and tea also has the potential of taking care of hunger.
Since during intermittent fasting you are going to go for long period of time without eating, it is only normal that you would only be thinking about food throughout the fasting period. It is during such times that the cravings would kick in. In fact, it is during this same period that you are likely to develop a craving for refined carbohydrates since the body would be yearning for glucose.
In order to deal with the constant cravings, do everything in your power not to think about food. Keep yourself busy with other things. Also make sure that you get to indulge a little when feeding so as to have the chance to satisfy the cravings in question.
In the process of fasting, the body also gets accustomed to a new eating schedule and as a result, dull headaches are likely to be experienced occasionally. Such periodic headaches are largely attributed to dehydration hence it is strongly advised that you drink as much water as possible both during the fasting as well as the feeding periods.
For persistent headaches consider taking up yoga to help calm you down.
4) Low Energy.
During intermittent fasting, the body is no longer getting the constant source of fuel that it might be used to. You are therefore bound to start feeling slightly sluggish especially during the first few weeks into fasting. The best way to deal with this is to try as much as possible to exert the least amount of energy. For starters you should also consider giving your workouts a break or better yet simply engage in some light exercises such as yoga or walking. Also try as much as possible to get additional sleep.
Feeling hungry usually sucks. As such you can most certainly expect to be a little cranky when your blood sugar levels drop or when your body is trying hard to cope with some of the negative effects of intermittent fasting such as low energy and constant cravings.
The best way to deal with irritability is to focus on avoiding people or situations that might make you annoyed and instead pay close attention to things which will make you happy.
6) Heartburn, Bloating, and Constipation (Oh My!).
In case you were not aware, the stomach usually produces acid to help with the process of digestion, as such when you are fasting (not taking enough food) you are likely to experience heart burns that could range from mild discomforts to burping continuous or even round the clock pains. The best way to deal with this side effect is to wait it out while taking a considerable amount of water, avoiding intake of any greasy food items likely to further worsen the heartburn etc.
Remember, intermittent fasting is also known to cause constipation which is the main cause for discomfort and bloating. All these can easily be controlled by drinking enough water.
7) Feeling Cold.
Cold toes and cold fingers are very common when intermittent fasting. This is usually attributed to a reduction in blood sugar levels which in turn makes the body more susceptible to feeling cold.
The best way to combat coldness is to take hot coffee or better yet take warm showers. You can also restrict how much time you spend outside in the cold and choose to wear additional clothing when the weather is cold.
You can expect to overeat during the first few weeks of the fasting. In most cases this happens because you get excited so much you end up eating too much.
The best way to control overeating is to plan your meals ahead of time and keep your food portions in check.
9) Continuous Bathroom Trips.
Since in the course of intermittent fasting you are required to drink a lot of water in order to stay hydrated, expect to constantly feel like using the bathroom more frequently. The frequency might get up to as much as twice every hour.
The best way to deal with this is to control your water intake and always make sure you are close to a bathroom.
10) Discomfort shortly after Eating.
We all are used to eating several times daily and this makes it very easy to take in a lot of food without necessarily feeling overly full. The same however can’t be said for a shorter eating window as it usually is the case with intermittent fasting. Short feeding windows means you might be tempted to eat big meals which in turn will leave you feeling extremely uncomfortable and constipated that is besides a reduction in the quality of sleep.
The best way to deal with this would be to learn how to handle big meals and learn how to be comfortable with your stomach being stretched slightly longer than normal.
11) Reduction in Athletic Performance.
It is very okay to train with moderation when fasting. However, engaging in more intense workouts such as power lifting can hurt you. In fact, research has proven that athletic performance drastically diminishes when fasting.
Hence the best way to deal with this is to control the exercises you choose to engage in while fasting. Preferably settle for light exercises.
12) Over-Reliance On Coffee.
Intermittent fasting allows you to drink coffee in order to control hunger and also stay energized. However, the drinking of coffee can easily lead to over-reliance if left unchecked.
Besides, caffeine which is usually present in coffee is known to be responsible for poor sleeping habits, stress and anxiety all of which collectively can result in weight gain.
It is common knowledge that intermittent fasting has several benefits. The only concern is sustainability which in certain instances usually results in some side effects. The question therefore is, do the benefits of intermittent fasting outweigh the side effects or risks associated with it? To some extent. If you really are interested in intermittent fasting then it is strongly advised that you personally come up with a way to incorporate the workouts and eating periods into your lifestyle.
Doing so is very important since it will give you the much desired control over the side effects or the risks involved with intermittent fasting. More specifically focus on the following:
a. Why are you taking up intermittent fasting.
b. Coming up with a properly laid out approach to intermittent fasting.
c. Making necessary adjustments for interminettent fasting to work in your favor. This will also allow you to get a head of the risks involved.
d. Having a clear exit strategy to end your fasting once you realize the desired results.
Above all else always make sure that you consult your doctor just so you are properly taken through the links between the benefits and risks of intermittent fasting.