Are you looking for a healthy way to lose excessive weight? Intermittent fasting has recently started trending among people around the globe.
Other than losing weight, it has other significant health benefits linked to it.
According to an estimate by World Health Organisation, diabetes caused global 1.6 million deaths in 2016.
However, recent researches have supported the role of intermittent fasting in reducing insulin resistance and lowering risk for diabetes.
Let us have a comprehensive look at intermittent fasting, the meal plans and more health benefits related to it.
Intermittent fasting (IF) or alternate day fasting includes the cyclic approach between fasting and eating periods.
What is the difference between normal dieting and intermittent fasting?
It is viewed as an eating pattern rather than a diet plan as it focuses on when you eat rather than what you eat. It doesn’t emphasize a calorie restricted framework.
Basically it includes fasting for 16 hours per day or 24 hours twice a week.
Moreover, the people doing IF has reported improved immunity, muscle coordination and better sleep patterns than before.
Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
It is more popular among people because it helps in weight reduction in a healthy way.
Less food intake automatically reduces the calorie intake as well. Moreover, IF speeds up the weight loss process by regulating hormone levels.
Due to these hormonal changes, the metabolic rate also speeds up, up to 14%.
Affect on Cells and Hormones
The initiation of IF results in various changes in your body at cells and hormonal level.
For instance, it involves the manipulation of hormonal levels in order to make the stored body fat available during the fasting periods.
Moreover, it also leads to significant changes vital for repairing and also result in the different gene expression.
The other significant changes that occur as a result of IF include,
- Increase in Human Growth Hormone (HGH). The If increases the human growth hormone by 5 folds which has many benefits to it including excessive fat loss, prevention from weight gain and many more.
- Insulin levels. Insulin levels drop adequately, thus improving the insulin sensitivity in your body. These lowered levels enable body to consume stored body fats.
- Cellular Repair. Cells begin to repair with the initiation of IF. It includes digestion and complete removal of dysfunctional proteins that exist within the cells.
- Gene Expression. It helps in altering the gene expression for endurance and protection against illnesses.
Belly Fat Reduction
Is it helpful in getting rid of excessive belly fat?
Various researches have been conducted in recent years to check the efficacy of intermittent fasting. The results from a recent study have indicated instant 3% to 8% weight loss over the span of 3 to 24 weeks.
The studies show impressive results as compared to the other weight loss researches.
The same study indicated 4% to 7% significant reduction in belly fat, which leads to obesity and cause other related diseases.
Intermittent Fasting Plan
The intermittent fasting methods generally comprise of dividing the hours in your day or week into periods of eating and fasting.
However, fasting refers to very little or no food intake.
The most commonly accepted methods for intermittent fasting include,
1. Leangains Protocol
It is also referred to as 16/8 method in which you skip your breakfast and limit you eating period to 8 hours.
In simple words, you take one meal at 1pm, the next at 8 pm and then you fast till next day.
The both periods are divided by 16 and 8 hours.
2. 24-hour method
This includes fasting for a whole day twice a week.
For instance, it involves eating nothing from one dinner till the dinner next day.
3. 5:2 Diet
This method includes taking only 500 to 600 calories twice a week while eating on a normal pattern then rest of 5 days.
Moreover, the two days should not be consecutive days in a week.
Which plan is the best?
How to choose the best IF method?
We know it can be a tiresome job to find an appropriate method that fits right for you like eating on alternate days.
As mentioned above, there are different methods for eating patterns involved in IF and every method is affective in its own way.
Choosing the best method solely depends on your individual needs and expectations.
Therefore, if you are for opting intermittent fasting and start to experience symptoms of anxiety, nausea and headache then immediately consult your doctor.
Commonly the following eating periods are opted by the people with higher If success rate,
- Breakfast at 11:30 am
- Lunch at 4:30 pm
- Dinner at 7:00 pm
- Then 16 hours of fasting till breakfast
Intermittent Fasting Benefits
Other than weight loss, does fasting have adverse effects on body?
The intensive researches on intermittent fasting have revealed its significance in overall health other than just weight loss and gives long term results rather than a fast diet.
People opt it not only to deal with obesity but just to live a good and healthy life instead and it may even increase your life expectancy.
The health benefits related to it include,
1. Weight Loss
It is a very good source for reducing body fats specially belly fat without consciously worrying about calorie intake.
2. Insulin Resistance
It helps in lessening insulin resistance by lowering the sugar levels in blood 3-6%.
It also improves insulin levels and thus provide protection against Type-2 diabetes.
3. Lessens Infections
It has also observed to decrease factors that lead to infections, thus helps in reducing chances for chronic illnesses.
4. Prevents Heart Diseases and Cancer
The reduction of cholesterol, triglycerides and increased insulin resistance improve the overall health.
Moreover, it reduces risk factors for heart diseases and may prevent cancer.
5. Prevents Degenerative Diseases
The IF is believed to aid in the release of brain hormone BDNF and might produce new nerve cells.
All this prevents the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimers and Dementia.
7. Boosts Memory
Researches have supported the significance of IF in improving the overall memory in animals along with the verbal memory in human adult population.
6. Slows the Ageing Process
The researches on animals have indicated increased life span while fasting.
7. Physical strength and Performance
Fasting for 16 hours indicated loss of excessive fat without any negative effect on the muscle mass in young men.
Moreover, the animal studies related to IF showed improved running endurance in mice.
Intermittent Fasting for Women
The researches on animals have showed more reduction in insulin resistance in men as compared to women.
However, in case of female, intermittent fasting is considered to negatively affect the blood sugar levels.
Moreover, it causes female rats to become skinny, masculinised and causes infertility.
A number of studies have indicated the initiation of irregular periods in women, as soon as they start practising IF.
However, the irregularity seemed to fade away soon after they resumed their old eat patterns.
Does this mean that women shouldn’t opt for IF?
These studies have been performed on animals and the results are vague for human population. High quality and intensive researches are still required to back up the significance of IF in human population.
But keeping this all in mind, women should be extra careful while doing intermittent fasting.
They should immediately stop fasting as soon as they develop symptoms like amenorrhea or dysmenorrhea.
Is it a Safe Option?
Commonly people choose IF with the aim of weight reduction.
While on the other hand, some people opt it in order to deal with their chronic illnesses like high cholesterol, arthritis, blood pressure and diabetes.
However, this is not for everyone. It always advisable to discuss it with your primary health physician before starting it. For example those with type 2 diabetes should start only after the advice of their doctor.
You should intermittent fasting if you are,
- A child or teenager with age ranging below 18 years
- Pregnant women or those who are currently breastfeeding
- Anyone with history of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia etc
- Someone who is underweight
All these people should stop fasting as it can be harmful for some people, mostly women, in above mentioned cases.
Makes Your Life Healthy and Simpler
Healthy eating habits are simple but are often challenging and hard to maintain consistently.
The hardest part may be the planning and cooking of the healthy diet meals to consume during the eating window.
Moreover, intermittent fasting involves skipping meals and fasting more.
Therefore, it can help in easing the process by reducing the effort to plan and cook for a number meals as before.
For this reason, it has gained so much popularity among people and has proved to be a time saving, simple and nutritional way to lead a life without having to compromise on your health.
Research on intermittent fasting has provided dramatic results in most cases. Along with weight loss, it has many other health advantages related to it as well and it can also increase your life expectancy.
However, there are some evidences of side effects and negative effects in some cases.
Therefore, you should always consult your doctor before opting a diet plan or after experiencing side effects due to it.
Moreover, you can choose other methods like keto diet (Click here to read more about it).
Hope you now got answer to everything related to Intermittent fasting.
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