Intermittent fasting (IF), also known as intermittent energy restriction, is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends.
But what exactly is IF and how can it benefit you?
It is an umbrella term for various meal timing schedules that cycles between voluntary fasting and non-fasting over a given period. In human terms, it is an eating pattern where you between periods of eating and fasting.
It doesn’t say much about which food to eat but rather when you should eat them.
IF helps in improving your health, causes weight loss, and increases your immunity. You might experience headaches, an increase in stomach acid or nausea in the beginning, but that’s because your body isn’t used to it.
There are three methods of intermittent fasting – Alternate-day fasting, Periodic fasting, and Daily time-restricted feeding, and all the different types of fasting fall under either of these three methods.
The 16/8 Method:
If you do the math yourself, you’ll understand that it’s a method where you fast for 16 hours in each day and get only 8 hours to stuff yourself. It’s pretty straightforward in itself.
You have your first meal around noon (12 PM) which means, before that, you’re in your fasting zone. Your last meal is around 8 PM, which makes it a total of 8 hours. After that, you enter your fasting zone again, until the next day (noon).
I personally recommend this method because it’s the simplest and easiest to stick to.
The 5: 2 Diet:
In this method, you fast for 2 days a week. Well, not that you don’t have to eat anything at all, but there is a limit on the calorie intake, which is different for both men and women.
It won’t happen on consecutive days, so you can fix two days such as Tuesday and Friday as your fasting days. So, on that day, women can eat only 500 calories and men, 600 calories. On other days, you get to eat normally.
Not that bad, right?
Eat- Stop- Eat:
In this method, you do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week. You eat on other days, stop eating for a day, and then resume eating. Well, you can decide if you want to fast once or twice a week, according to what your body requires.
IF you’re thinking it’s similar to the previous method, sorry to disappoint you. In this method, you don’t have to eat anything for 24 hours. So, there’s no calories count for you.
(All the best!)
The Warrior Diet:
In this method, you fast during the day and eat a huge meal at night. Well, a night here doesn’t mean late at night, because eating a heavy meal at that time isn’t healthy.
So, during the daytime, you can only eat small portions of vegetables and fruits, nothing else. Around 4 PM, you can eat a large meal that will fill your tummy. After that, you don’t eat anything until the next day.
Living up to its name, this method allows you to skip meals whenever it’s convenient for you. It can be practiced twice or thrice in a week (or how much ever suits your body). You can skip breakfast on one day and continue having lunch and dinner that day. On another day, you can have breakfast and lunch but skip dinner.
So, this method is totally based on your choice.
But wait! This doesn’t mean that if you follow this diet, you can eat anything and everything and still experience the benefits. If you want to maximize the effects of the diet, you’ll need to sacrifice a few things too.
- Avoid sugar (of course!) and refined grains. Instead eat fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Don’t snack in between meals.
- Don’t be lazy and lie down all day to save energy. Be active!
- Try to make your eating hours early in the day, before 6-7 PM, and not right before going to bed.
- Avoid munching snacks late at night.
- During the fasting period, no food is allowed but you can definitely have water, tea, coffee, or other non-calorie beverage.
This method is unsafe for people who:
- Are underweight
- Have an eating disorder (or had it in the past)
- Any medical history, because your fat might not reduce but your life span may.
- Also, you may want to consult a doctor first before going neck-deep into this fasting method.
Despite looking scary, it’s fairly easy to practice and will definitely make you feel better about your body. It might take time in the beginning, but if you’re determined, your body will get used to the method you choose and you’ll see results in no time.