Intermittent Fasting: How it Works, Benefits, Is it Safe?

The Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting- Things You Should Know

Intermittent Fasting

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a strategy of eating rather than a diet. It’s a method of planning out your meals to get the most of them. Intermittent fasting does not alter your eating habits; rather, it alters the timing of your meals. 

Most importantly, it’s a terrific approach to lose weight without going on a fad diet or drastically reducing your calorie intake.

When you first start it, you’ll most likely strive to maintain your calorie intake constant. (Most people consume larger portions of food in a shorter period.) Intermittent fasting is also an effective technique to maintain muscle mass while losing weight. It is an intentional process that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. 

It is one of the most popular weight-loss techniques. When it comes to intermittent fasting, there is no specific eating plan that must be followed. Rather, it refers to a specific time frame within which you should consume. It is said to be more in harmony with the body’s circadian rhythm, and so advantageous. Fasting has been a part of human evolution for thousands of years. 

How does Intermittent Fasting Work?

The main premise of intermittent fasting (IF) is to give the body time to digest meals, allowing it to burn excess body fat and, as a result, cleanse. When our body digests and absorbs food, it is in a nourished condition. 

The fed state usually begins when you start eating and lasts three to five hours while your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. Because your insulin levels are high when you’re in the fed state, it’s difficult for your body to burn fat. 

Then after the period, your body enters a state known as the post–absorptive state, which is simply a fancy way of expressing that it isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until you enter the fasted state, which is 8 to 12 hours after your last meal. Because your insulin levels are low, it is much easier for your body to burn fat when you are fasted. 

Fasting allows your body to burn fat that was previously unavailable during the fed state. Our body typically faces this fat-burning condition since we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours following our previous meal. 

This is one of the reasons why many people who begin intermittent fasting lose weight without changing their diet, amount of food consumed, or frequency of exercise. Intermittent Fasting induces a fat-burning condition in the human body that individuals rarely achieve on a regular eating plan.

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3 Methods of Intermittent Fasting

When it comes to intermittent fasting, there are various patterns to follow, the most prominent of which is the 16/8 technique. Substitute Fasting, the 5:2 Diet, or the Eat Stop Eat pattern are all options. Satiety can also be enhanced by eating healthy fats and proteins. 

For people following the 16:8 intermittent fasting diet, beverages can help with fullness. Because people sometimes confuse thirst for hunger, drinking water throughout the day can help you consume less calories. This isn’t a problem if you’re trying to reduce weight. Even if you’re content with your weight, if you stick to the daily or weekly fasting regimens, this won’t be too much of a problem. 

If you’re fasting for 24 hours a day on numerous days per week, though, it’ll be unhealthy to eat enough on your feast days to compensate. As a result, It is believed that trying daily intermittent fasting or a single 24-hour fast once a week or once a month is a better choice.

1. 16/8 method

Intermittent Fasting

The 16/8 approach is essentially the above-mentioned eating pattern. It entails fasting for 14-16 hours every day and limiting your eating window to 8-10 hours. Within your feeding period, you can eat three to four meals.

While the 16:8 intermittent fasting strategy does not specify which items to consume and which to avoid, focusing on healthy nutrition and limiting or avoiding junk foods is advantageous. Excessive eating of unhealthy foods can lead to weight gain and contribute to disease.

Fiber-rich foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help a person feel full and content. It reduces your calorie intake, resulting in weight loss. It will, however, only work if you aren’t overeating junk food or compensating by eating extra within permitted eating times. The 16-8 technique is preferred by the majority of people since it is more sustainable, simple, and straightforward. It’s no surprise that it’s also the most widely used.

2. Eat-stop-Eat

Intermittent Fasting

You must fast for 24 hours once or twice a week to follow this schedule. Stop eating after supper one night, for example. The next meal you’ll eat is supper/dinner the following day.

3. The 5:2 diet

Intermittent Fasting

Since calorie calculations are involved, this is a bit more difficult. On two non-consecutive days of the week, eat roughly 500-600 calories. For the rest of the week, stick to your regular diet.

The 5:2 diet entails eating regularly for five days and fasting for the remaining two.

For instance, you may fast Monday and Tuesday and then eat normally the remainder of the week. You can think of it as one weekly 60-hour fast.

What to Consume while Intermittent Fasting?

  • Fresh, frozen, or tinned fruits and vegetables are available (in water)
  • Quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley.
  • Chicken, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, almonds, seeds, low-fat cottage cheese, and eggs are all good sources of lean protein.
  • fatty fish, olives, olive oil, coconuts, avocados, almonds, and seeds are all good sources of healthy fats.
  • If you’re on periods you should be extra cautious while selecting food items and avoid spicy & extra oily – fried food. And “eating normally” during your menstruation does not imply going insane. If you fill your meals with high-calorie junk food, super-sized processed foods, and desserts, you’re not going to lose weight or get healthier.
  • When you’re eating, go for black coffee, tea, cinnamon, or licorice herbal teas, and when you’re not eating, go for black coffee, tea, cinnamon, or licorice herbal teas.

7 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

1. Promotes tissue health:- Intermittent fasting in mice minimizes tissue damage during surgery and improves outcomes. Intermittent fasting (IF), a type of calorie restriction that occurs regularly, has been demonstrated to provide health advantages comparable to long-term fasting or caloric restriction.

In mice, IF improves metabolic homeostasis by promoting adipose thermogenesis , which protects against diet-induced obesity and metabolic dysfunction. There is no evidence found in human trace that it promotes tissue health but still few individuals believe it does.  

2. Intermittent Fasting regularly makes your life easier:- Intermittent fasting provides additional simplicity to life that individuals enjoy. It permits individuals to eat one fewer meal, which means one fewer meal to plan, cook, and worry about. It simplifies the life, which people appreciate & love to follow.

3. Intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of cancer:- Fasting before treatment may reduce the negative effects of chemotherapy, according to a study of ten cancer patients. Another study, which employed alternate-day fasting with cancer patients and reported that fasting before chemotherapy resulted in improved cure rates and fewer fatalities, backs up this conclusion. Finally, this review of numerous studies on fasting and disease concluded that fasting appears to lower the risk of not only cancer but also cardiovascular disease.

4. Insulin Sensitivity:- Intermittent fasting lowers blood sugar levels by up to 6% and improves insulin resistance. Insulin levels in the fasting state are lowered by up to 31%. Insulin levels in the blood are measured using fasting insulin. Fasting insulin levels that are higher than usual may suggest the presence of illnesses such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance is connected to higher insulin levels, which may raise the risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Fasting allows your body to normalize its insulin levels, allowing your pancreas to take a break from generating insulin. You can achieve healthier insulin levels by following an intermittent fasting (IF) lifestyle.

5. Provides Anti-aging property :- In a research looking at rats and fasting, those who fasted lived approximately 83 percent longer than those who didn’t. Fasting helped those rats live longer lives. Intermittent fasting causes several physiological changes that help to slow down the ageing process by keeping cells and DNA healthy. Intermittent fasting, in addition to contributing to a leaner body and a healthy immune system, can also benefit your skin through detoxification.

6. Pacify Cardiac health:- Fasting aids in the reduction of LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammatory indicators, insulin resistance, and blood triglycerides, all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Intermittent fasting has been shown in human trials to have cardiovascular benefits.

Intermittent fasting appears to have a significantly positive influence on numerous cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes, while the underlying processes are unknown. Fasting activates a chemical that slows the ageing of our arteries, according to new research.

Intermittent fasting has effects that are similar to intense exercise, such as boosting heart rate variability while lowering resting heart rate and blood pressure.

7. Promotes Weight loss:-while following this dietary pattern it allows you to eat less calories, which is why it helps you lose weight. Over 3–24 weeks, intermittent fasting reduced body weight by 3–8%.

When it comes to weight loss, it has been shown to generate weight loss of 0.55 to 1.65 pounds (0.25–0.75 kg) every week. People observed a 4–7% decrease in abdominal fat between 6–24 weeks in a review of studies on intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting.

When calories are matched between groups in studies comparing intermittent fasting with continuous calorie restriction, there is a difference in weight reduction. It is a simple technique to shed pounds without having to monitor calories. Many research have shown that it can aid in weight loss and the reduction of abdominal fat.

Tips to make Intermittent Fasting easy to Follow

1. Avoid being surrounded by food or ready-to-eat snacks: You’ll eat or desire to eat more if there’s more food in front of you. This is a fundamental aspect of the human mind. Keep food, especially the fattening, tempting ones, a little out of reach to keep yourself from chewing continuously.

2. A cup of lukewarm water in the morning helps to cleanse the digestive system and boost your metabolism. Drinking water can help you avoid overeating and consuming extra calories from other high-calorie beverages.

3. Carry a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day: Save calories by drinking water instead of coffee or soda. You may believe you are hungry, but you are not. Thirst and hunger signals are jumbled together.

4. Everything should be eaten, but in fewer portions. Also, pay attention to what you eat. Increase the portion size of the nutritious foods on your plate, such as vegetables or dal, and halve the size of your dessert.

5. Excessive refined sugar invites you to consume extra calories. Sugar can also be found in unexpected places, such as cereals, tomato ketchup, and packaged foods. Hidden refined sugar often contributes to a large number of empty calories, resulting in fat storage.

6. There are a variety of spices that can assist you in achieving your weight loss goals. Spices like fenugreek, coriander seeds, dhaniya (coriander) seed, and black pepper are well-known for their weight-loss properties. In soups and stews, use black pepper. Also useful are zeera (cumin) water, cinnamon water, and ajwain water.

7. Adopting meditation during the fasting time to help pass the hunger pangs

8. Reduce the amount of time you spend watching television to avoid being exposed to images of food that may cause you to feel hungry.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

Some people use intermittent fasting to lose weight, while others use it to treat chronic illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, or arthritis. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, isn’t for everyone.

Keep in mind that intermittent fasting can have a variety of impacts depending on the individual.

If you have unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea, or other symptoms after beginning intermittent fasting, consult your doctor. Intermittent fasting is a popular weight-loss method that works if you stick to it faithfully, which is the case with any diet plan. Meal restriction automatically lowers calorie intake. It also allows you to consume whatever you want and does not restrict your choices.

Side Effects and Risk factors of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting at a 16:8 ratio has some complications and negative effects. As a result, the strategy isn’t appropriate for everyone. Women may benefit less from intermittent fasting than males. Intermittent fasting has been shown in animal studies to have a deleterious impact on female fertility. Several studies on intermittent fasting diets have shown that following the diet for several weeks results in at least short-term weight loss. 

Women who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or attempting to conceive should avoid intermittent fasting. Consult your doctor if you have any problems during fasting or if you have any questions regarding this regimen. As previously said, to reap the full benefits of this health regimen, you must avoid consuming junk food and overeating during meal times. After one to two weeks of fasting, adverse effects such as headaches, dizziness, and constipation fade. 

Dehydration-related headaches can be alleviated by increasing water consumption during this time. Moderate to high-intensity endurance or resistance exercise can be done during this time, and some study participants reported having more energy on fast days. However, research shows that those who fast on alternate days should consume their fasting day meal after exercising. Alcohol is not recommended on fast days for people following an alternate day or 5:2 fasting schedule, as the minimal calories should be spent on nutritious items. Try not to consume alcohol during intermittent fasting to avoid serious complications.

Conclusion

Because it needs very little behavior modification, intermittent fasting is one of the simplest strategies we have for losing weight while maintaining a healthy weight. Fasting is used for spiritual or religious reasons in modern society.

Regular fasting, for example, is popular in many world faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. When you think about it, fasting regularly is more natural than eating three or more meals per day. Intermittent fasting works by extending the time between when your body burns off the calories from your last meal and starts burning fat.

Obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other ailments can all be exacerbated by eating too many calories and exercising too little. Several things happen during intermittent fasting that either don’t happen or happened extremely slowly in the background of glucose metabolism when we are always fed. If you aim to use intermittent fasting, however, you should eat a healthy, balanced meal to get faster benefits. Also, keep in mind that consistency is essential.

FAQ

1. Is 12 hours enough for intermittent fasting?

Every day, a person must choose and follow a 12-hour fasting window. Fasting for 10–12 hours, according to some researchers, causes the body to convert fat storage into energy, releasing ketones into the bloodstream. This should help you lose weight.

2. How much weight can you lose in a month with intermittent fasting?

You can expect a healthy weight loss of 2 to 6 kgs each month, outstanding inch loss, and a boost in energy levels and brain function if you execute the fast correctly and ensure that it is aligned with your mind, body, and soul.

3. Does intermittent fasting burn belly fat?

Yes, it leads to overall weight loss which ultimately causes inch loss in waist circumference & fat loss near the abdomen region can also be observed.

4. Why do you urinate a lot when fasting?

During intermittent fasting or normal fasting the storage form of sugar (glycogen) requires three molecules of water for each molecule of glycogen, and as your body uses up the stored water, you will urinate more frequently, leading your total body weight to decrease.

5. What happens to your body when you fast for 16 hours?

Weight gain, digestive issues, and the development of poor eating habits are all possible outcomes. When you first start 16/8 intermittent fasting, you may experience short-term unpleasant side effects including hunger, weakness, and exhaustion, but these usually fade once you get into a routine.

6. Can fasting damage your stomach?

The reduction in food intake that various intermittent fasting regimes entails may have a severe impact on your digestion, resulting in constipation and other unpleasant side effects. Additionally, dietary modifications connected with intermittent fasting regimens might result in bloating and diarrhoea.

Fasting can also cause heartburn because a lack of meals causes a decrease in stomach acid, which helps to digest food and kill bacteria. During fasting periods, however, smelling food or even thinking about it can cause the brain to signal the stomach to generate extra acid, resulting in heartburn.

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