Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting. Do you really know much about it? Are there actually benefits? We break down all you need to know.
WHAT IS IT?
Intermittent fasting, also referred to as IF, is currently the new trend in the fitness scene. It’s been around for a while but has recently taken off. People are using it to lose weight, maintain their health, and have more control over their lifestyle. Essentially it involves fasting, or periods of time when you are not eating. It does not restrict what you eat, only when. There are three main methods to IF. Depending on what you’re looking for and your willpower you can decide between them to see which best fits your lifestyle.
The 16/8 Method: This method is pretty simple. You eat for 8 hours a day and fast for the remaining 16. You would need to skip breakfast, typically eat between 1 pm and 6 pm, and then fast again until the next day at 1 pm. Depending on any medical restrictions this may be a good adoption. This is the choice that most people make because it is pretty simple to follow the rules.
Eat-Stop-Eat Method: This is a little bit more intense of a schedule. In this method you fast for 24 hours at a time once or twice a week. Start by eating dinner and then fasting until the next day’s dinner.
The 5:2 Method: In this method you eat whatever and whenever you want for 5 days out of the week. The remaining two days out of the week you restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 calories a day. These days should be non-consecutive. Although you are not restricted on what food you eat during your regular days you should be sure you are not overeating or eating too unhealthy of options. This would seemingly defeat the purpose of the restriction days.
Intermittent fast only works if you aren’t over compensating for your fasting time by over eating during the allocated times. Weight loss is common during IF as long as the rules are followed.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
When you fast there are several things that happen to your body. Fasting impacts both your molecular level and your cellular level. The first thing that happens in your body adjusts its hormone level so that stored fat is more easily accessible. Your cells also began a process of reparation. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) also skyrockets during this time. HGH has many functions but the most favored one is weight loss. Insulin levels dramatically decrease which is also another factor in weight loss. Be sure to consult a doctor before choosing this lifestyle.
As previously stated it also changes hormone levels dramatically. One of the hormones it impacts is norepinephrine (noradrenaline). This particular hormone is responsible for weight loss.
A study in 2014 found that this particular habit of eating reduced weight by 3-8% percent over the course of 3-24 weeks. Any diet that restricts your calories will give you results of losing weight and inches from your midsection. In addition to weight loss, it is also found to have less of an impact in muscle mass reduction compared to other caloric deficit diets.
The downfall of this eating pattern is that it has only been around and studied for a handful of years. We might not have all the information needed. It is always a good idea to consult a physician before trying a diet or changing your eating habits.