Intermittent fasting is a program of eating that involves restricting or eliminating food on certain days or for determined time periods. There are many benefits associated with implementing intermittent fasting (IF). The flexibility of how IF can be practiced allows interpretation for everyone.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Research has gathered several theories as to why intermittent fasting is a viable option. Those who are committed to practicing IF may enjoy the following benefits:
Slowed Aging Process and Extended Life
Studies involving rodents have consistently shown that calorie reduction and fasting can help with living a longer, fuller life.
Reduced Oxidative Stress and Incidence of Disease
IF places mild stress on the body's cells, allowing them to adapt in order to better cope with stress and function more efficiently.
Intermittent fasting allows someone to reduce their nutritional intake without risking overall malnutrition, which makes it an effective tool for losing weight. Since the fasting periods are short, there is little risk of vitamin, mineral and other deficiencies.
Increased Brain Function
IF is also attributed with providing more brain power. When someone doesn't eat for 10-16 hours, the body will draw on fat stores for energy. Additionally, this process causes substances called ketones to be released into the body. Ketones have a protective effect on the brain's memory and learning abilities.
How to practice Intermittent Fasting
There is no one best way for an individual to implement intermittent fasting (IF). It can be interpreted into one’s diet in a variety of ways, including:
- Fasting only for certain time periods of each day. For example: consuming calories before noon, and then fasting until breakfast the next day.
- Restricting calories to under 500 each day
- Fasting completely for an entire day and then eating normally the next day
- Fasting only 1-2 days out of the week
Identifying A Goal Dictates How to Implement Intermittent Fasting
There is flexibility for interpretation in an IF diet. However, it's imperative to still have a strategy. To discover the best IF method suited for you, first determine your main goal.
If your goal is for enhanced body functions, make sure your IF is done on a consistent, regular basis. Deviating from the plan would be detrimental. For this goal the 5:2 plan, where you eat a healthy diet five days out of a week and fast the other two days, is a good place to start.
If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to restrict your calories so that your body is forced to draw on fat stores for its energy needs. You must create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. You may consider an IF routine in which you fast two days not in a row, and then eat normally the other five days. You will need to follow a sensible diet on the five “normal” days. Additionally, you would need to include some type of aerobic exercise, such as fast walking for a half hour at least three times a week, as part of your weight-loss plan.
Ask your Doctor
It’s important to be safe when changing your diet. Always check with your physician before adapting a new lifestyle. IF may not be suitable for those with certain diseases, such as diabetes.