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What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. So it’s not a diet per se, it does not change what you eat, but it does change when you eat. You get to make the conscious decision to skip certain meals on purpose. It is a very popular health and fitness trend with research to back it up and it’s gaining major traction among celebrities.
Where does it come from?
The concept itself isn't new. In fact, Religions around the world have long maintained that fasting is good for the soul, consider Ramadan, Lent and Yom Kippur. But the bodily benefits were not widely recognized until studies supported it in the early 1900s. However, with the arrival of antibiotics, the research on fasting sort of faded into history but now it’s making a big come back.
You also have to consider that from an evolutionary stand point, our ancestor’s food supply was volatile which brought on frequent unintentional fasting periods and the belief is that such evolutionary pressures selects for certain genes in our body that strengthened our ability to survive.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Essentially, fasting is not just about weight control, there are studies that link it with lowering the risks of age-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Fasting creates controlled stress for the body. Like exercise, if your body adapts to those stresses you can reap the benefits. One major benefit is better insulin and glucose regulation. Holding onto weight is typically a hormonal issue which is related to blood sugar regulation, and fasting helps with that. Also, fasting over time teaches your body adapt to tapping into fat stores for fuel as opposed to sugar.
How do you do it?
There is no one size fits approach, the different styles of fasting generally focus around eating at specific times, this includes everything from periodic multi-day fasts to skipping a meal or two on certain days of the week. It’s important for anyone interested intermittent fasting to find the right approach for them.
You may consider doing a 24 hour fast once a week or pursue a common fasting pattern known as the 16:8 ratios, in which an individual eats only during an eight-hour period. So an example would be from 12PM – 8PM or 8AM to 4PM. It depends on which meal you can see yourself go without. There is also the the 5:2 regimen which allows you to eat as usual for five days in a week, but then have a restricted food intake of about 500 to 800 calories for two non-consecutive days.
Tips to help out!
- Stay hydrated! It'll help curb your appetite and mitigate any side effects of Intermittent Fasting.
- Salt is an important mineral in our body and its important to keep it up when fasting. So make sure to add a pinch of salt into your meals or beverages.
- Aim to fast through the night. That way, you’re sleeping during at least eight of those hours.
- Change your perspective, think of fasting as taking a break from eating, not as depriving yourself.
- The best plan is to make yourself too busy, so overcommit because if you are sitting on the couch all day fasting will be a lot more difficult.
Who should avoid it?
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for anybody that requires the additional nutrients for their growth, that includes pregnancy, breastfeeding, or if you are in your adolescence. It’s best to consult with a health professional to tailor the right approach for you, especially if you are living with a health condition,