An eating strategy known as intermittent fasting alternates between fasting and regular mealtimes. According to research, intermittent fasting can help you control your weight and even prevent or even reverse some diseases. But how do you go about it? Is it secure, too?
Intermittent fasting is what?
While many diets concentrate on what to eat, intermittent fasting only considers when to eat.
You only eat during the allotted hours when you practice intermittent fasting. Your body can burn fat if you fast for a set period of time each day or eat only one meal a couple of days a week. Additionally, there are some health benefits, according to scientific evidence.
Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins, has been researching intermittent fasting for 25 years. According to him, our bodies have evolved to be able to survive for several hours, or even several days or longer, without eating. Prior to learning how to cultivate crops, early humans were hunters and gatherers who developed the ability to live for extended periods of time without food. They had to: Hunting game and gathering nuts and berries required a lot of time and effort.
It was simpler to maintain a healthy weight even 50 years ago. Christie Williams, M.S., R.D.N., a dietitian at Johns Hopkins, explains: “There were no computers, and TV programs ended at 11 p.m.; people stopped eating because they went to bed. There were much smaller portions. In general, more people exercised and worked and played outside.
TV, the internet, and other forms of entertainment are now accessible around-the-clock. To watch our favorite programs, play games, and chat online, we stay up later. We spend the majority of the day and night sitting around and munching.
A higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses can result from eating more calories and being less active. According to scientific research, intermittent fasting might be able to buck these trends.
How does a periodic fasting process work?
There are many different approaches to intermittent fasting, but they all start with deciding on regular eating and fasting windows of time. You could, for instance, try eating only for eight hours each day and fasting the other sixteen. Or you could decide to only eat one meal per day on two days per week. There are numerous variations of intermittent fasting plans.
According to Mattson, the body runs out of sugar after several hours without food and begins to burn fat. This is referred to as metabolic switching by him.
“Intermittent fasting contrasts with the typical American eating pattern, which involves eating throughout the day,” claims Mattson. “If a person is eating three meals a day plus snacks and isn’t exercising, they are burning off their fat stores instead of burning those calories every time they eat.”
By extending the time until your body has burned through the calories from your most recent meal and starts burning fat, intermittent fasting works.
Plans for intermittent fasting
It’s crucial to consult your doctor before beginning an intermittent fasting regimen. Once you have their approval, the actual practice is easy. You can choose a daily strategy that limits daily eating to one six- to eight-hour window per day. Consider attempting the 16/8 fast, which involves eating for eight hours and fasting for sixteen. Williams is an advocate of the daily routine, claiming that most people find it simple to maintain this pattern over time.
One more is the “5:2 approach,” which calls for eating consistently five days a week. You restrict yourself to one 500–600 calorie meal on the other two days. For instance, if you decided to eat normally every day of the week except for Mondays and Thursdays—those days would be your one-meal days—you would choose to do so.
Fasting for longer periods of time—such as 24, 36, 48, and 72 hours—is not always better for you and may even be harmful. If you go too long without eating, your body may begin storing more fat as a defense against starvation.
According to Mattson’s research, it can take the body two to four weeks to adjust to intermittent fasting. As you get used to the new routine, you might feel hungry or irritable. But he notes that once the adjustment period is over, research participants often continue with the plan because they start to feel better.
While intermittent fasting, what can I eat?
Water and zero-calorie drinks like black coffee and tea are acceptable when you aren’t eating.
Additionally, “eating normally” during your eating times does not entail bingeing. If you fill your mealtimes with high-calorie junk food, enormously sized fried foods, and treats, you won’t likely lose weight or become healthier.
Williams appreciates that intermittent fasting permits a variety of foods to be consumed and enjoyed. She explains, “We want people to be mindful and enjoy eating good, nutritious food. She continues by stating that dining with others and enjoying meals together increases satisfaction and promotes good health.
Williams agrees with the majority of nutrition experts in that whether you choose to practice intermittent fasting or not, the Mediterranean diet serves as a good example of how to eat. When you choose complex, unrefined carbohydrates like whole grains, leafy greens, healthy fats, and lean protein, you almost never go wrong.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
According to research, intermittent fasting does more than just burn fat. The body and the brain are affected when changes to this metabolic switch take place, according to Mattson.
Data about a number of health advantages connected with the practice were revealed in one of Mattson’s studies that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. A longer lifespan, a leaner body, and mental clarity are a few of these.
According to him, a variety of physiological processes that take place during intermittent fasting can shield organs from chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, age-related neurodegenerative disorders, even inflammatory bowel disease and many cancers.
Here are some advantages of intermittent fasting that research has so far identified:
- both memory and thought
According to studies, intermittent fasting improves verbal memory in adult humans and working memory in animals.
heart wellness. Blood pressure, resting heart rates, and other heart-related measurements were all improved by intermittent fasting.
- physical activity
16-hour fasted young men demonstrated fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice that were fed on different days displayed greater running endurance.
- obese people with type 2 diabetes
Intermittent fasting prevented obesity in animal studies. Additionally, obese adult humans lost weight through intermittent fasting in six brief studies. Type 2 diabetics might gain from: The majority of the available research demonstrates that intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, decrease fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and fasting leptin levels while increasing adiponectin levels and reducing body weight. According to some studies, some patients who practiced intermittent fasting under their doctors’ supervision were able to stop requiring insulin therapy.
- tissue wellness
Intermittent fasting decreased tissue damage during surgery and enhanced outcomes in animals.
Is sporadic fasting safe for me?
Some people experiment with intermittent fasting in an effort to lose weight, while others use the technique to treat long-term conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, or arthritis. But not everyone should practice intermittent fasting.
Williams emphasizes that you should consult with your primary care physician first before attempting intermittent fasting (or any diet). Some individuals should refrain from attempting intermittent fasting:
- under-18 kids and teenagers
- women who are nursing or pregnant.
- those who take insulin and have type 1 diabetes
There have been no studies in individuals with type I diabetes, despite an increasing number of clinical trials demonstrating the safety of intermittent fasting in those with type 2 diabetes. According to Mattson, there is concern that an intermittent fasting eating pattern could lead to unsafe levels of hypoglycemia during the fasting period because people with type I diabetes take insulin.
- those who have a background with eating disorders
However, according to Williams, those who are not in these categories and who can safely practice intermittent fasting can keep up the regimen indefinitely. It can be a beneficial change in lifestyle, she says.
Remember that different people may respond differently to intermittent fasting. If you begin to experience unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea, or other symptoms after beginning intermittent fasting, consult your doctor.