People today are more health conscious than ever before, we care for our body and it’s fitness. We often choose our methods of taking care of our bodies rather hastily and irrationally. It is of utmost importance to know all the different methods that are available to achieve our set goal. There are several different ways of approaching a healthier life in which we see clear signs of losing weight and increasing body immunity, but intermittent fasting has been trending as one of the leading methods to approach the aforesaid. Before we go on discussing how and why intermittent fasting works, and all its health benefits, it is necessary that we understand what the term exactly stands for.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
The term intermittent fasting is comprehensive of many different diets that cycle between a span of fasting and non-fasting, i.e, cycling between a period of eating and fasting. It helps in weight loss, increasing the body’s metabolism rate, and may just help you live a longer life. It is almost like you are given the opportunity to eat whatever you desire, skip a few meals for a few days and still lose weight. This method is a God-send for all those foodies out there who just cannot restrict their food preferences and want a slimmer body. The best part about intermittent fasting is probably that there is nothing said about what foods you should or should not consume. It rather gives you a sort of detailed time schedule of when to consume your food.
Intermittent fasting helps in increasing the metabolic rate of the body. The mechanism of this can be simply explained- when your body has not consumed food in a while, all the digestive and food-breaking juices/enzymes in your stomach are eagerly waiting, prepared to break any food that enters it. It can be said that your food-breaking enzymes are highly functional when there is not much food to break down in the stomach. They start acting upon, quickly on anything that enters the stomach.
How to go about intermittent fasting?
Unlike other methods of dieting and practicing fitness, intermittent fasting is fairly easy to execute. We all fast almost everyday when we are asleep, this is the reason why in the morning we have a very high metabolism rate. There are a handful different approaches of going about intermittent fasting and they are discussed as follows-
#1 16/8 Method
This method is the most popularly trending and shows many benefits of fasting. It essentially involves eating within an 8-hour window and fasting for the rest 16 hours. It can be done by skipping breakfast and eating the first meal by noon, and the last meal by 8-9 pm. Also, you need to keep in mind that you are eating only healthy food in that 8-hour window. Consuming lots of junk food will be counter-productive and all your efforts will go waste. You can easily fit in at least two to three meals withing your ‘eating-window’, if not more. It is advisable to drink all non-caloric beverages when going about intermittent fasting and using this method to do so. The non-caloric beverages would include tea and coffee with little sugar, as this will help curb the hunger feeling for longer hours.
#2 5:2 Diet
In this method, you eat your normal meals for 5 days a week and eat foods ranging between 500-600 calories on any 2 days of the week. It is advisable for women to consume 500 calories and men 600 calories on those two days. Again, you should not eating outrageously unhealthy foods on those 5 days of the week which will defy the whole purpose of starting the diet.
This method involves not eating for 24 hours, You can do this by not eating after dinner one night till dinner next night, or same with lunch. You can have the non-caloric beverages within those 24 hours of fasting. It helps the people who want to lose weight. However, it is important that you eat normally when you are not fasting. Although this method has many health benefits, it is difficult for people to not eat for 24 hours straight. You don’t need to pressurize yourself with it right away, you can start by fasting for 14-16 hours then increase as and when you can.
#4 The Warrior Diet
This diet swings between fasting and feasting. You eat raw foods like fruits and vegetables the whole day, which is like fasting, and eat a really huge meal at night, which is like feasting. This method has proved to be quite rewarding, considering you do not eat anything cooked and unhealthy the whole day.
Now that we know how to go about intermittent fasting, let us have a look at intermittent fasting benefits.
Warning: Please consult your physician before going on intermittent fasting diet.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
#1 Induces weight loss
Intermittent fasting is one of the most successfully proven methods of dieting that will help you lose weight and cut down your belly fat. Many people take up this method of dieting instead of the traditional ones because in this case, you do not need to keep an ultra-careful constant track of the amount of calories you intake on daily basis. It is pretty apparent that if you practice fasting and eating, your appetite reduces considerably and you eat less, therefore consume lesser calories. As is mentioned earlier about how intermittent fasting increases the metabolism rate of the body, it breaks down any food vigorously and helps you reach your desired weight. The process of weight loss is triggered when your body starts using up all available fat resources as fuel to break down your food and hasten the fat burning. It is known that our body stores us the sugar(glucose) when we eat, uses it to break down the food and reserves the residue sugar or glycogen in our muscles and liver. Eventually even this glycogen is used up as a fuel resource and it results in your body slimming down. Intermittent fasting fasting works well because it increases your calorie discharge and limits your calorie intake too. It reduces your body fat while retaining the muscle forms and strength, which is an unusual benefit of fasting.
#2 Reduces blood sugar level
Intermittent fasting is a miraculous way of reducing your blood sugar, reduces the insulin resistance in the body and protects you fro Type-2 diabetes. It is already mentioned that our body stores up sugar(glucose) and allows it to flow through our bloodstream. Insulin is the hormone that helps transport this glucose to other cells in our body to increase energy formation. Diabetes hinders the work of insulin and lets the blood sugar level remain high. This has been proven by many doctors that intermittent fasting helps in reducing blood sugar level and insulin is allowed to work fully functionally, thereby breaking down the glucose and removing it from the bloodstream. Type-2 diabetes is rather common these days and it is so important that you protect yourself from falling prey to the disease.
#3 Positive changes in the body
In the period when we are fasting, there are many different things happening inside our bodies. Intermittent fasting allows for cellular repair by discarding the waste materials from the cells. It increases our body immunity by repairing the damaged cells. As is mentioned previously, it facilitates fat burning by reducing insulin resistance. There might be an increase in the increase of human growth hormones by increasing their blood levels in your body. It not only helps in the fat burning process but also helps in gaining muscle power.
#4 Healthy heart, healthy brain
Intermittent fasting reduces the risk towards heart diseases and heart attacks. It increases the chance of surviving heart attacks by nearly 66% than any other normal diet. It also increases the count of good HDL cholesterol and reduces bad LDL cholesterol, thereby keeping the heart healthy. In addition to this, intermittent fasting helps in enhancing the cognitive functions of the body and limits the damage done to memory. It also helps prevent or at least control the symptoms leading to Alzheimer’s disease.
#5 Reduces hunger
Intermittent fasting helps in decreasing the level of hunger in your body. It allows for less leptin resistance, leptin is a hormone in the body which signals when to stop eating. Lower level of leptin results in less hunger and that in turn results in more weight loss. The more the leptin in the body, lesser control you have over your hunger.
#6 Helpful for cancer
Reduced food intake or fasting might help prevent cancer. Cancer deals with uncountable growth of cells. It helps in the greater rate of metabolism and cell repair. It might definitely help in reducing the risks of cancer. Intermittent fasting helps in reduced risk of side effects of chemotherapy on patients.
#7 Increases life span
Intermittent fasting has proven to have many positive health benefits, and it could possibly increase the longevity of humans. Given the great markers of health like increased metabolism and so on, it helps regenerate cells. Daily repair of cells may prove to be a factor that will result your longevity.
The question whether intermittent fasting works or not has been sufficiently answered. It is probably one of the easiest ways of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Intermittent fasting more like changing your lifestyle than going on a diet. To ensure that you reap maximum benefits out of this, you need to pack as much nutrients as you can into your meals. After having a long period of fasting, you need to eat a powerful energy-packed meal. Intermittent fasting is beneficial if you restrain from doing things that will result in being counter-productive. Why does intermittent fasting work? Because it can easily fit into anyone’s lifestyle. It has so many different forms to try out. If you see one method does not pan out for you, you should try another one. It is highly likely that you won’t be able to fast for long hours and may want to snack in between, make sure these snacks are healthy and not in large portions. Intermittent fasting is now trending overall, make sure you make the most out of it!
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