Obesity and weight gain have become a huge problem in the recent times. The reason for this apart from genetic issues or some disease is an unhealthy lifestyle. People now-a-days have stopped any kind of exercise to burn off the extra or calories that they have gained while eating.
Every other person is either overweight or obese due to which they acquire some fatal diseases. To lose weight people tend to do workouts at the gyms, try diet plans; take supplements, medications etc. which may not give them their desired results which demotivate them and result in overeating and eating unhealthy.
So, to keep people motivated and prevent them from eating healthy Researchers have found a new way- Intermittent Fasting.
It is believed that our bodies are designed in a way that it can work efficiently even without eating for some period of time. Fasting is a process where individuals avoid any intake of food during a day/s.
Intermittent fasting or IF is currently in trend for weight loss and improved metabolism, healthy living and other benefits. IF is practiced by individuals to help improve their eating habits which results in enhanced metabolism and weight loss.
IF is also acceptable to more people because it includes fasting which holds a religious significance in one’s life. Different religions across the world consider fasting a pious way to connect to God in order to please him by giving up food.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a technique of eating in alternate cycles and fasting. The fasting mentioned differs from the traditional fasting as it involves eating and fasting in cycles during a day to lose weight.
Intermittent fasting is also approved by Health Experts and Nutritionists and worldwide Researchers for good weight loss results.
Intermittent fasting along with right exercises has shown great results for individuals who for some reason were unsuccessful in reducing their weight. Intermittent fasting also develops healthy eating habits which also results in weight loss and healthy metabolism.
The fasting focuses on the time when you eat rather than focusing on what you eat. It gives you the freedom to eat whatever you want considering it is healthy and nutritious to your body. It is observed that fasting during a particular time of the day increases the metabolism.
The weight loss associated by fasting is considered to break down fat or excess glucose stored in the body during fasting period thus reducing the weight and increasing the metabolism.
Intermittent fasting plan
Intermittent fasting has a fasting time period and an eating window. Individuals can plan according to their convenience as well. The intermittent fasting plan can be followed every day or 2-3 times a week.
The intermittent fasting can be planned by the following ways: –
- 16/8 hours in which 8 hours window is for eating and 16 hours is for fasting. For ex- You can eat your first meal from 8am and your last meal at 4pm. After 4pm the eating window closes and opens in the morning of the next day.
- 14/10 in which 10 hours of eating window is open and 14 hours of fasting is done. For ex- You can eat your first meal of the day at 9am in the morning and last meal of the day at 7pm in the evening. After the eating closes and reopens the next day at 9am once again.
- There is another method for intermittent fasting which is known as 5:2 diet or Fast Diet. In this method individuals are advised to eat normally for 5 days a week and reduce their calorie intake for 2 days of the week. The calorie intake for the 2 days are- For women on a diet is advised to be 500 while for men it is 600.
- The beginner’s usually try Meal skipping method where they skip meals according to their body’s hunger response and their ability to tolerate hunger. For ex- You can skip any meal of a day and can then adjust your body into skipping 2 meals and then follow the fasting plan according to their own choice.
- Another method for fasting is known as Warrior’s diet which is usually a difficult method of fasting, where individual eat some raw vegetables and fruits and fast for 20 hours and the eating window is only for 4 hours where a hearty dinner can be consumed. For ex- When the eating window opens the individual can have a diet rich in proteins, healthy fats, vegetables and carbohydrates to cover up for the calorie count in the fasting window.
- Some people have also tried the method of fasting a whole day i.e. 24 hours in a week and eating normally the rest of the 6 days.
The above mentioned methods can be followed on a daily basis or on the alternate days as well, as per the requirement or wish of the individual or suggested by the doctor.
- Some people also fast for a period of 48 hours or 72 hours in a week. This might not work for some individuals and is generally not advised and might show adverse effects on individuals.
Usually the individuals eat during the day time and fast during the rest of the day. During eating period it is advised to consume a healthy balanced diet which is low in calories and high in nutrition. During fasting period any sorts of eating should be avoided but water, coffee, tea and other non-alcoholic beverages can be consumed which contain either low or no calories.
Benefits of Intermittent fasting
- Helps in weight loss.
- Improved and fast metabolism.
- Healthy eating habits.
- Avoids the habit of overeating.
- Keeps a check on calorie intake.
- Helps in prevention of fatal diseases
- It is said that fasting also helps in increasing our immunity.
- This also helps in preventing wastage of food.
- It is easier to follow than any other weight loss plans.
- It keeps the body and mind active and alert, prevents laziness.
Research has shown that intermittent fasting can also increase the life expectancy of an individual when experimented on a rodent.
Intermittent fasting also increases our controlling power on what to eat and whatnot to eat which is really helpful for weight loss.
A study in New England Journal of Medicine shows that practicing fasting has great effects on longer life, leaner body and sharper minds.
Results of the study show the benefits of intermittent fasting on:-
- Memory- It is found out that fasting increases the memory in animals and improved verbal memory in human adults.
- Heart- IF improves heart health by improving the blood pressure.
- Obesity- IF reduces the risk of obesity which also prevents the risk of diabetes as well.
- Tissue health- It is observed that IF can also improve tissue health in animals by repairing or healing tissues during an injury.
Is Intermittent fasting safe?
- There is no such risk in practicing fasting but one should always consult their doctor before fasting.
- This should be practiced by individuals who are 18+ and teenagers are advised not to practice it.
- Pregnant women or lactating mothers should not practice intermittent fasting.
- People who have or had history of eating disorders should avoid fasting as well.
- People with diabetes or have problem maintain their blood sugar level should also avoid fasting.
- People who require eating food before taking medicines.
Tips for Intermittent fasting
- Keep yourselves hydrated by drinking lots of water and other low calorie drinks.
- Avoid obsessing over food as it may become a reason to demotivate you and shift your focus from the goal.
- Practice Yoga and Meditation to keep your mind and body calm. It also elevates stress; stress can also lead to overeating so avoid stress.
- Consume foods rich in nutrients, minerals, proteins and fiber on the non-fasting days so that body gets enough nutrition. It also helps in maintaining blood sugar levels.
- Avoid any high calorie foods or junk foods when not fasting so that the calorie count does not increase drastically.
Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
With having so many benefits of weight loss and healthier lifestyle IF also have some side effects on individuals such as-
- Hunger and Cravings- During fasting people feel hungry and often have cravings of the food which they cannot eat. It is high in the beginning of the fasting but gradually the body adjusts to it and the feeling of hunger and craving go away.
- Headaches- Dull headaches are observed while fasting due to stress on the brain and body or due to low blood sugar levels but will disappear after sometime, try to remain stress free.
- Low Energy- You may feel lethargic in the first couple of weeks because the body is not getting any food but this symptom goes away after the initial change in food eating patterns.
- Irritability- Due to low blood sugar levels people may feel irritated at times.
- Overeating- During the open eating window people tend to overeat to soothe their cravings and hunger which results in up taking excess calories.
- Sleep disturbances- Some people might experience sleep disturbances such as unable to fall asleep or stay asleep for long period of time due to fasting.
- Dehydration- People tend to forget hydrated while fasting which may lead to dehydration. Dehydration can also occur due to the excess excretion of salt and water through urine.
At last it can be concluded that Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a revolutionary way in losing weight, maintaining weight, preventing weight gain and living a healthy lifestyle. Many individuals who have practiced this are satisfied with the outcome and recommend it to others as well.
Also, the fasting plan requires some time as our body needs to adjust to the change of intake of food. It usually requires 2-3 weeks for our body to adjust to the new eating habits.
It should also be kept in mind that it is not necessary that intermittent fasting works for everyone. Since human body is designed in a way that every individual is different from the other, his/her body may respond in a positive or negative way to a particular change in eating habits.
It should also be kept in mind that while choosing a fasting plan it may give you desired results and a single plan cannot always show positive results in every case.
So, we should always choose a plan that fits with our schedule, body and eating habits. It is also advised to seek professional help from the experts or doctors when you cannot decide on which plan to follow.
Intermittent fasting is a way for losing weight and if it is done rightly with some amount of exercise it can show wonderful and desired results. One should always keep in mind that everything takes time as does our body. We should not compromise our health or stress our body to undergo changes rapidly for immediate results, have patience and the results will show gradually.