Intermittent fasting is becoming one of the world’s most popular health trends. Now, the very idea of fasting may be ringing alarm bells in your mind, however, it has become a very hot topic as to whether it is actually good for you in the long run.
Not only has this diet been thought to help you shed the pounds, but studies suggest that it can help improve your rate of metabolism, protect you against disease and potentially help you live longer.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern rather than a diet, so you’ll be eating in certain time frames and then fasting for a certain period. It doesn’t necessarily matter about the type of foods you’re eating (providing it’s not fast food or junk), but more so, when you choose to eat.
So, the good news is that you don’t have to worry about cutting out all your favourite foods.
With this in mind, it’s not a standard diet as you may know it, but more about training your body to behave in a certain way.
There are different types of fasting to be aware of:
This eating pattern involves fasting for between 14-16 hours per day and then eating in a window of between 8-10 hours. Within this slot, it’s fine to eat up to three meals, dependant on what your body can take.
It may sound tricky, but it can be as simple as not eating after dinner and skipping breakfast. However, do be aware that while you’re free to eat whatever you like, it won’t work if you’re constantly stuffing yourself with junk and not paying attention to your calorie intake.
The 5:2 diet; otherwise known as the ‘modified diet’ involves eating normally for 5 days of the week, while the other two days of the week, you’ll stick to a strict calorie intake of around 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.
First introduced by fitness expert Brad Pilon, this diet is probably the hardest to manage, as you’ll undergo a full 24 hour fast, twice a week. So, while you may initially think you can’t eat for a whole day, it’s all about your timing.
For example, it’s fine to eat your evening meal at around 7 pm, before waiting until the next day to eat dinner at the same time. So essentially, you’ll still be getting a meal a day.
Water, coffee and tea are perfectly fine to drink too during your fasting period, but the key is to keep off solid foods.
There is some research which suggests that intermittent fasting could help you lose weight. This is reportedly down to the fact that you’re cutting your meals and limiting your calorie intake.
Research has also shown that intermittent fasting may increase your levels of norepinephrine; which is a hormone that kicks your metabolism into gear and increases the number of calories burned during exercise.
With that said, binging on junk food just won’t cut it for this type of diet, so if you were expecting to spend your ‘eating window’ consuming burgers and fries, you may need to rethink your options! Eating healthily to a certain extent is still important if you wish to notice weight loss results.
It’s a given that any type of fasting can pose obvious health risks, so it would be advised to speak to your GP before trying out any of the fasting methods mentioned above.
While fasting can be beneficial, there are several side effects to be aware of, including nausea, dehydration, fainting and even weight-gain if the diet isn’t managed correctly.
If you feel anxious, depress or detached in any way during your fasting journey, it would be highly advised to stop as soon as possible. It also would not be recommended for those who have previously suffered from an eating disorder or are pregnant.
Providing you stick to healthy foods, following an intermittent fasting diet could result in impressive health benefits. However, as with any diet, it may not be for you. You may wish to speak to a medical professional before trying out intermittent fasting, especially if you have any concerns.