If you love food and the thought of going on a diet seems like a difficult life choice, Intermittent fasting may be a great option for you.
It’s a lifestyle that, together with healthy eating habits and regular exercise, will have tremendous effects on your body and mind. In this article, you’ll discover what intermittent fasting is and how it can benefit your body.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting isn’t so much about what you eat, but when you eat. It entails setting a daily eating-no-eating schedule and rigorously sticking to it.
There are many intermittent fasting methods, including:
- ‘16:8’ Method: in this method, the daily eating window is restricted to eight to ten hours. Fasting lasts for 14 – 16 hours. During the eating window, you can have two or three meals. The easiest way to follow this method is by having your dinner no later than 8 PM and skipping breakfast in the morning.
- ‘5:2’ Method: using this method, you eat your normal diet five days a week and restrict your calorie intake to 500 calories twice a week, on different days of the week.
- ‘Eat-Stop-Eat’ Method: once or twice a week, fast for 24-hours.
- The Warrior Diet: you can eat raw fruits and vegetables throughout the day and have one big meal for dinner. You’re basically fasting the entire day and have a four-hour feeding window.
Intermittent fasting works for most people. It doesn’t matter which method you choose; you’ll enjoy the benefits by following any one of them. But binging on junk food during your eating window won’t help you lose weight, so stick to eating wholesome foods.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
When you fast, your body burns stored glucose for energy, which can last up to ten hours.
Once the glucose is used up, your body’s sugar levels go down, and it goes on to burn fat stored in cells for energy. As your insulin level drops, it encourages weight loss.
Aside from weight loss, intermittent fasting will have the following effects on your body:
Lowers Risk Of Diabetes
Diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or can’t properly use the insulin it makes. This causes a sugar build-up in your bloodstream, making it hard for your cells to absorb glucose and turn it into energy.
This makes your insulin levels spike and the unused glucose is then stored as fat.
With intermittent fasting, you give your pancreas a break from constantly producing insulin—this helps balance sugar levels, thus reducing insulin resistance and with it, the risk of developing diabetes.
Also, with decreased sugar levels, your kidneys enjoy added protection from damage (kidney damage is often associated with diabetes).
As you age, free radicals interact with other molecules, causing oxidative stress within your body. Oxidative stress occurs when there aren’t enough antioxidants in your body to neutralize free radicals.
This often leads to inflammation and chronic illnesses like arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
When you fast and your cells use up stored energy, they switch to ‘survival mode’. This leads to autophagy, a process wherein cells eat up other cells, leading to the production of new, healthy cells, and in turn, reducing oxidative stress.
Thus, intermittent fasting enhances resistance oxidative stress and helps fight inflammation.
Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is one of the top causes of premature death worldwide. Among many risk factors, high blood pressure and cholesterol are the most prevalent.
High blood pressure is often linked to unhealthy food habits and a fast-paced, stressed life. Intermittent fasting helps your body and mind take a break and helps to protect you from various high blood pressure-related heart conditions, such as heart failure.
Also, when fasting, your good cholesterol levels improve and bad cholesterol levels decrease, reducing your risk of coronary heart disease.
May Help To Prevent Cancer
Cancer results from unchecked cell growth in your body. As mentioned before, your body enters autophagy when you fast. This cell regeneration process reduces cancer cells and replaces them with new, healthier cells; thus, helping your body fight against cancer.
Other noteworthy benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Better memory and overall brain health.
- It may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- It may help increase your lifespan.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Intermittent Fasting
To get the most out of your intermittent fasting lifestyle, follow these tips:
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water.
- Drink cinnamon tea to suppress hunger; you can have it during fasting hours.
- Since exercise triggers hunger, do it just before or during your feeding window.
- Avoid junk food during feeding hours and stick to wholesome foods.
- Consume healthy teas (such as green tea) during your fasting hours, as low-calorie drinks are allowed during fasting hours.
Intermittent fasting is not just a weight loss program, but a holistic approach to make sustainable lifestyle changes for a healthier mind and body. With its many positive effects, from improved heart health to fighting cancer cells in your body, it’s definitely worth trying.