Intermittent fasting also known as Intermittent energy restriction is an eating pattern where you strive to maintain a balance between eating and fasting. Intermittent fasting does not indicate anything about which foods to not eat, but rather when you should eat your food.
Fasting is an age-old tradition that is carried out by various cultures all over the world. Earlier during 1915 intermittent fast was used as a tool to treat obesity among people. In the 1960s an enthusiastic report was published by various experts who had a keen interest in the medical community. This enthusiastic report spread awareness among the people about the use of intermittent fasting without medical monitoring. Intermittent fasting or short-term starvation periods ranged from 1-14 days in these early studies. A modern type of intermittent fasting emerged in the United Kingdom in 2012 and since then it’s spreading across various parts of the world.
Intermittent Fasting is prominent and has a scientific logic behind it. The food that we eat is broken down by enzymes in our digestive system and ultimately it ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains, are swiftly broken down into sugar, which our cells use up for producing energy. If our cells don’t use it to produce energy, it is stored in our fat cells. But sugar can enter our cells with insulin: a hormone that is made in the pancreas. Insulin brings the sugar in the fat cells and stores it there. If we don’t snack in between meals, then our insulin levels go down and our fat cells can then release the stored sugar to produce energy. Individuals lose weight if they allow their insulin levels to the drop down. The logic behind intermittent fasting is to allow the insulin level to drop therefore burning the fat.
It is studied that Intermittent fasting has similar effects as the calorie-restricted diet. Intermittent fasting is the practice incorporated by people in the 21st century to reduce the risk of diet-related diseases. A study which was conducted in 2019 proved that Intermittent fasting helps in treating obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, and inflammation. Some research also indicates that it can help protect against diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and may even help you live longer.
Intermittent fasting is an ‘effective life hack’ which makes your life easier, while also improving your health at the same time. The fewer meals you need to plan for, the simpler your life will be. Not having to eat 3-4+ times a day also saves a lot of time. No consumption of food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink tea, coffee, water and other non-caloric beverages during the window. Many people have reported that they feel better and tend to have higher levels of energy during fasting.
Intermittent fasting has become very trendy for few years and several different types have emerged. Below are some types of Intermittent fasting:
- The 16/8 method: Fast for 16 hours each day by only eating between noon and 8 pm.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, don’t eat anything after dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).
- The 5:2 Diet: It involves fasting of more than 24 hours. During the two fasting days of the week, eat only about 500–600 calories.
- Alternate-day fasting: involves alternating between a 24-hour “fast day” when the person eats less than 25% of usual energy needs, followed by a 24-hour non-fasting “feast day” period. It is the strictest form of intermittent fasting because there are more days of fasting per week.
With this, it is concluded that as long as you stick to health foods, restricting your eating window and fasting from time to time can have some very impressive health benefits. It is an effective way to lose fat and improve metabolic health while simplifying your life at the same time.
Rajvi Goyal ( Ayurvedic Nutritionist and Dietician )
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