Intermittent fasting (IF) has become a very popular trend in health and fitness. People follow this method to lose weight and improve their overall health and wellbeing. It is not a diet but an eating pattern which involves cycles of fasting and eating. There are various methods of doing intermittent fasting.
- Alternate Day Fasting – Eat a normal diet one day and the next day you can fast the whole day or have a small meal of less than 500 calories.
- 5:2 Fasting – Eat a normal healthy diet for 5 days in a week and fast for any 2 days. Those 2 days can be of your choice, but you need to take less than 500 calories on these days.
- Time Restricted Eating – This is the simplest, sustainable and a popular method. In this method, you have to set your fasting and eating windows. For example, if you are fasting for 16 hours then your eating window becomes 8 hours. A good fasting window is between 14 – 18 hours.
Researchers have been studying Intermittent fasting for decades. These studies have shown many benefits for your body and brain. Few of them are as follows.
- Weight Loss – Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat if you follow healthy eating and avoid processed and high calorie foods.
- Insulin Resistance – Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels by 3-6%.
- Heart Health – Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure, all risk factors for heart disease.
- Brain Health – Intermittent fasting has important benefits for brain health. It may increase growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage.
- Cancer – There is some evidence that fasting reduces various side effects of chemotherapy in human cancer patients.
- Inflammation – Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation.
- High Energy levels
- Feeling of lightness
- Better Digestion and many more benefits.
It is very important that we focus on good health. Consume nutritious food, keep yourself hydrated and limit or avoid junk food. Everyone is different so don’t compare your progress with others. During the fasting period you can only have plain water. No tea, coffee, green tea or lemon water. You can break your fast with lemon water followed by dates and fruits. If you are a beginner, start with 12 hours and check your progress and monitor how you feel. Gradually you can increase your fasting window. Intermittent fasting is safe for many people, but it’s not for everyone. It is always better to speak to a doctor or seek advice from a dietician if you have any underlying health conditions.