Fact or fiction: It’s possible to lose weight, curve cravings, boost immunity, and, perhaps, help you live longer…all without changing whatyou eat.
You may be pleasantly surprised to know it’s FACT. It’s called intermittent fasting. And the key change is when you eat.
Intermittent fasting, which means fasting discontinuously or sporadically, has become mainstream due to its achievable requirements and moderate restrictions. Now a popularly known form of diet, it requires programmed periods of fasting – not entirely withholding yourself from any caloric intake, but simply limiting it on some days of the week or some hours during the day.
Different Forms of Intermittent Fasting
The most commonly practiced form of intermittent fasting is what Dr. Michael Mosley (author of The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting) calls the “5:2 plan.” Under this diet program, you’re required to limit your food consumption to only 25% of your regular caloric intake for two days of the week, and then you resume your normal food consumption during the remaining five days. To give you an idea, 25% of normal calories is usually only 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.
If you find two days of fasting too daunting, try fasting (limited or no energy intake) for 16 hours per day and then eating as desired during the remaining eight hours. Another option is alternate-day fasting (this is the most studied form of intermittent fasting), wherein, as the term suggests, you fast for one day and then eat as much as you’d like on the next.
How Does It Work?
Studies show that the human body, when deprived of calories for more than a few hours, burns first, its stored sugar and then, fats consecutively for energy. Six or seven hours of zero calorie intake will force your body to use up your sugar storage, but fasting for longer than that period will leave your body burning its unnecessary fat. Even better, during this state of nutrient scarcity, your body triggers the production of specific proteins which are known to promote longevity and cell repair, which means that your immune system could possibly benefit from a naturally activated reboot.
Since intermittent fasting is similar to training the body to regulate itself naturally, studies on this weight loss method have discovered not only its efficacy but also its additional advantages. Here’s a list of some of its benefits:
Intermittent fasting is a relatively new form of diet, so most of the studies conducted were limited to short-term experiments. Although it has gained much popularity, its long-term effects are still undetermined.
To Fast or Not To Fast?
Fasting is not a one-size-fits-all weight loss program, so it’s always best to consult an experienced provider before giving it a try. People who need to take precautions when fasting are those who are prone to electrolyte abnormalities and who take medications for blood pressure. Alternate-day fasting is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as people with eating disorders or type 1 diabetes.
But, If you are a healthy individual who’s trying to lose or maintain your weight, you may want to try intermittent fasting instead of your usual calorie-restricted diet and see if it’s a better fit for your life.
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