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Intermittent Fasting: The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Body

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Fasting itself has existed in many different terms for thousands of years, but it wasn't until recently that it started to become more of health-driven conscious choices. Moreover, the idea that someone would want to willingly starve themselves on their own terms seems far-fetched and very unappealing.

However, many different types of intermittent fasting (IF) have gained more and more popularity in health lifestyle trends, garnering the attention of medical researchers and blowing up on social media. What exactly is intermittent fasting? Is it more beneficial than harmful?

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Fasting has definite religious and historical implications in social conversation. Religions such as Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all practice some form of fasting associated with their religious practices-- a tradition carried on throughout history and still practiced today.

Ancient hunter-gatherers would often go days without finding or being able to reap food for energy, thus making a form of fasting prevalent in ancient times as well. Humans in crisis or poverty would also go for long periods without eating, and while it isn't voluntary, it can still be considered a form of fasting.

Intermittent Fasting is not necessarily a diet, so much as an eating pattern, with the focus not being on macronutrients or calories, though attention should still be paid to those, but on the times that someone eats. These scheduled patterns cycle between periods of voluntary and purposeful fasting, or a dramatically reduced caloric intake, and period of eating.

There are four other different types of fasting: water fasting, liquid fasting, calorie-consumption fasting, and dry fasting:

  • During a water fast, there is a consumption of water and nothing else solid or containing calories

  • During a liquid fast, anything goes in terms of drinking something-- caloric or not-- and many people drink smoothies and juices during this type

  • Calorie-consumption fasting does include eating, just ate a caloric rate far, far below a TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) caloric value

  • Dry fasting is the most dangerous of all types because nothing at all is to be consumed during this type of fast

Now let's talk about how you implement intermittent fasting into a day.

Intermittent Fasting Schedules

There are many different types of intermittent fasting schedules: alternating, whole-day, and periodic. Alternating fasting involves fasting for 24 hours followed by a 24-hour eating period. Whole-day fasting is just that-- a whole day of fasting and can be a more one-off, singular event, or even extended to be longer than a day. Periodic fasting is fasting for a certain number of hours during the day, but not going over 24 hours of a fasting period.

The most popular methods of intermittent fasting include:

  • The 16/8 IF Method: During the 16/8 intermittent fast, the fasting period lasts 16 hours and is followed by an 8-hour eating period.

  • Eat-Stop-Eat: During the Eat-Stop-Eat intermittent fast, one or two days of the week include fasting for 24 hours.

  • 5:2 IF Method: The 5:2 intermittent fast involves eating normally 5 days of the week while restricting calories to 500-600 for two days out of the week.

  • One Meal A Day (OMAD): The OMAD intermittent fast includes eating one meal a day, usually under a one-hour eating window, followed by a 23-hour fast.

It's important to note that on fasting days, many people practice the fast by eating around 500-700 calories, which is an intake significantly lower than what practically any human burns in a day just by existing.

What Are the Effects of Intermittent Fasting?

What about the effects? Are there any benefits?

There sure are! Here are a few intermittent fasting benefits:

  • Weight loss: Intermittent fasting can play a large role in weight loss through the burning of adipose (fat) cells and an increase in metabolism. When we eat, the food is broken down and turns into molecules that turn into sugars for energy. If there is too much sugar, our bodies put the extra sugars into fat cells. However, sugar can only enter the cells with insulin.

  • Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar, which should result in weight loss and a way to help those with diabetes.

  • Inflammation: Some studies show inflammation reduction, a key driver of many chronic diseases, many of which are located in the heart.

  • Heart health: Intermittent fasting may holistically increase heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, insulin resistance, and inflammation— all of which are factors that could lead to heart disease.

  • Brain health: Intermittent fasting aids the growth of new nerve cells, helps, to prevent the dysfunction of old nerve cells, and may help ameliorate effects of Alzheimer’s.

As with any and all changes in diet, it's important to contact and consult with your doctor before starting intermittent fasting in order to ensure your health. The studies conducted have also been on rats and the long-term sustainability and effects of intermittent fasting is unknown right now.

Intermittent Fasting VS. Traditional Fasting

Intermittent fasting is quite different from your traditional fasting trends. Some diets will restrict just what you eat, but intermittent fasting doesn't restrict you from eating certain things, only when you eat.

What do you think of intermittent fasting? Is it something that you already practice, are wanting to practice, or are wanting to not take part in? Let us know!

If you enjoyed this healthy dieting article, head over to our health page to read more just like it!

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