Intermittent Fasting: What Is It?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a way of eating that involves not consuming any food or liquid during certain periods of time, such as every day, only on Monday through Friday, or only once per week. These types of diets are known as periodic fasting. IF is used to lose weight and improve health in many different ways. Some studies have shown that IF helps with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis and other diseases.
The benefits of IF are numerous but there are some drawbacks too. One drawback is that it takes longer than regular eating patterns to see results. Another drawback is that the body may not be able to handle all the nutrients needed for optimal health when these foods aren’t being consumed regularly. If your goal is to lose weight, then you need to eat less frequently than if you’re trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?
There are several benefits of IF. They include:
Weight loss – IF helps with losing excess body fat. Studies show that IF works better for women because they tend to store more fat than men do. In fact, women who fast regularly and eat less tend to live longer and suffer from less diseases. In some studies, women who ate 1 meal per day lived 40% longer than women who ate 2 meals a day.
Cancer Prevention – Fasting helps to kill cancer cells and prevents them from growing, which also helps with slowing the growth of tumors.
Antioxidant Capacity – Intermittent fasting helps to fight free radicals which are known to cause cancer and other diseases.
Heart Disease – Fasting has been proven to reduce cholesterol levels and artery blockage, which prevents heart attacks and other heart diseases.
What Are The Drawbacks To IF?
Like any diet or eating habit, IF has some drawbacks that you should know about before jumping into it. They include:
Stored Fat – While IF is good for losing weight by itself, it’s not very good when used in combination with exercise and a low calorie diet. This is because your body begins to utilize the fat that it has stored as energy instead of using the nutrients consumed during eating periods.
Fat Storage – Your body may have a harder time utilizing some of the nutrients you consume due to your body storing some of the fat. Make sure you take a quality multivitamin to make up for this.
Muscle Loss – IF can cause muscle loss, especially if you do a lot of exercising while fasting. Make sure you’re getting enough protein in your system so that this doesn’t happen.
What Are Some Common Forms Of Intermittent Fasting?
There are several common forms of intermittent fasting. The two most common ones involve eating nothing at all for a period of time or eating very little during that time.
One Meal A Day (OMAD) – With this method you eat one large meal in a day, maybe dinner, and don’t eat anything else. You should only do this if you can wait to consume your first meal until after your evening exercise routine. This is a great way to get lean and strip off excess body fat while maintaining muscle mass.
The 5:2 Diet – The 5:2 diet involves eating normally for five days of the week and fasting for two days of the week. You should pick two days where you will not exercise at all. Another option is to fast for 24 hours and then eat normally for the next day. This allows you to still do some type of exercise on your fast days.
Three Fresh Fruits A Day – This is a more relaxed form of IF and involves eating three fresh fruits per day and drinking 8 glasses of water. This will help keep your digestive system moving, but you should add a little fiber to your diet as well.
What Are The Benefits Of Three Fresh Fruits A Day?
Research shows that eating three fresh fruits per day can lower the chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. It’s also much easier to follow since all you have to do is eat fruits and drink water. There is very little else to it. You can make it even easier by using natural fruit juices in place of drinking water.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Three Fresh Fruits A Day?
There are no major drawbacks to this type of IF. It’s recommended that you get most, if not all, of your nutrients from real food first before turning to supplements. While fresh fruits are pretty good for you, they aren’t going to be as nutritious as whole foods like vegetables and meats. Make sure you take a multivitamin as well to make up for any nutrients the fruits may be lacking.
What Are The Common Forms Of Fasting?
There are several forms of fasting that you can try out. It’s recommended that you start with one of the milder forms first, like the three fresh fruits a day diet, before trying out some of the harsher forms. The two most common types of fasting involve eating no food at all or eating very little food.
The first type is water fasting, where you consume nothing but water for a set period of time. You should only do this for one day at the very most, otherwise you can suffer from dehydration and other electrolyte imbalance problems. This type is extremely hard on the body and shouldn’t be performed more than a couple of times a year at the very most.
The second type involves eating very little, as in 500 or less calories per day. You should consume these calories in one meal, then fast for the rest of the day. There are several different types of intermittent fasting.
1. The 16/8 fast involves eating your daily calories in an 8 hour window, then fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day.
For example, if you needed 2,000 calories per day to maintain your weight, you would eat all of your calories in an eight hour window, say from noon to evening. You would not eat again until the following day at noon.
2. Eat-Stop-Eat involves 24 hours of fasting, once or twice a week.
The first day involves eating nothing at all, while the second day you can eat normally, but don’t consume more than 500 calories.
3. The 5:2 diet involves eating normally five days a week and fasting for two days a week.
On your fasting days, eat only 500 calories per day.
What Are The Benefits Of Different Types Of Fasting?
Each type of fasting has its own benefits and drawbacks. Each type is also easier or harder to perform. The 16/8 fast is simple to do, but may be hard to stick with since you’re fasting for over 15 hours every day. Eat-Stop-Eat is much easier to stick with since you’re only fasting 24 hours total once or twice a week.
The 5:2 diet is somewhere in between the two in terms of ease and difficulty.
Which One Should I Do?
It really depends on your situation and goals. If your main goal is to lose weight and you have a lot of weight to lose, then I would recommend the 5:2 diet. The added calories on your “feasting days” will help you lose weight at a faster rate.
However, if your goal is something else, then it’ll depend on what that goal is.
To learn more about each type of fast, read this page.
Which Fasting Method Is Best For Weight Loss?
This is a common question, but the answer really depends on your situation and your goals. Most people will find that the 5:2 diet is best for weight loss since you feast one day and fast the next. Each of your feast days should include as much food as you want, so you never feel like you’re actually fasting.
You can learn more about the different types of fasting and weight loss by clicking here.
Which One Is Better, Water Fasting Or Juice Fasting?
This question is similar to the one above, but there’s less of a specific answer since it depends on your goals. If your goal is to lose weight as fast as possible, then water fasting will help you do that. There are no “empty calories” to take away from your weight loss.
However, if your goal is something different, or if you just want to take it easy and not feel hungry all the time, then juice fasting might be better for you. Be sure to drink a lot of water on days that you’re not drinking juice though, as you could otherwise get dehydrated.
You can learn more about the differences between water and juice fasts by clicking here.
What If I’m A Vegetarian Or Vegan?
Fasting can be done by anyone of any diet. There are many successful vegetarian and even vegan fasters. There are a few things you should keep in mind though if you fall into one of these categories:
1. You may not get as much protein as you need on a regular basis if you’re a vegan.
It can be very easy to do while fasting, but you should make sure you take protein supplements or eat lots of legumes on your feast days if you don’t normally do this.
2. You may not get as many calories on a regular basis if you’re a vegan.
It can be very easy to do while fasting, but you should make sure you eat lots of nutrient dense foods on your feast days if you don’t normally do this.
3. You may not get enough vitamins or minerals if you’re a vegan.
It can be very easy to do while fasting, but you should focus on this while you’re eating too. I’ve created a guide to vitamin and mineral rich foods for vegans here.
4. You will need to take a B12 supplement if you’re a vegan since it isn’t found in plant foods.
For the most part though, being a vegetarian or even a vegan shouldn’t really impact your experience. You might even find that it’s easier since you won’t have to worry about cooking meat!
What Else Should I Know?
The first few times you fast, it’s normal to be a little strange. This means you might feel slightly “weird” or maybe even a bit unwell in some cases. If this happens, then don’t worry, this is totally normal. Your body hasn’t experienced not getting food for a while and it’s adjusting.
Once again, while fasting your body is cleansing. This means you might get a buildup of toxins released through the urine and sweat. This could make you feel a bit off for a few days.
Fasting can actually release emotions that you might not normally feel due to the flood of hormones that come in when you eat. If you feel extra emotional or get into a funk, then this is probably why. If it gets to be too much, just end the fast.
Always listen to your body. If you feel faint, then stop and eat something right away.
You can learn more about other methods of fasting by clicking here.
Sources & references used in this article:
A Woman’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting by A Shah – breakingmuscle.com
The FastDiet-revised & updated: Lose weight, stay healthy, and live longer with the simple secret of intermittent fasting by M Mosley, M Spencer – 2015 – books.google.com
Plasma norepinephrine as a guide to prognosis in patients with chronic congestive heart failure by JN Cohn, TB Levine, MT Olivari… – New England journal …, 1984 – Mass Medical Soc
Fasting by R Foster – The Celebration of Discipline – angelafosterperformance.com
Deep brain stimulation in the subgenual cingulate cortex for an intractable eating disorder by M Israël, H Steiger, T Kolivakis… – Biological …, 2010 – biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com
Dietary fiber and the risk of colorectal cancer and adenoma in women by CS Fuchs, EL Giovannucci, GA Colditz… – New england journal …, 1999 – Mass Medical Soc
Effect of dietary adherence on the body weight plateau: a mathematical model incorporating intermittent compliance with energy intake prescription by DM Thomas, CK Martin, LM Redman… – … American journal of …, 2014 – academic.oup.com