Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Intermittent fasting specifies when you should eat food and not what food you should eat. In this way, it’s a very flexible approach to dieting. The intermittent fasting methods split the fasting period into days or weeks depending on what you prefer. Read on to learn about intermittent fasting, the benefits of intermittent fasting and the side effects of intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a dieting method in which you alternate between periods of eating and periods of not eating. There are different ways to practice intermittent fasting, but the most common is time-restricted feeding (TRF). With TRF, you fast for a specific amount of time each day, usually 12-16 hours, and consume all your calories within another window. For example, if you eat between 1 p.m.–7 p.m., then fast for the rest of the day and night until 8 a.m.
Popular Types of Intermittent Fasting Regimen
There are several types of intermittent fasting methods that people practice, some of the most popular types of fasting include:
- The 5:2 Diet
- Time-restricted feeding (TRF)
- Alternate-day fasting (ADF)
- Periodic fasting
The 5:2 Diet
This type of intermittent fasting involves eating normally for five days out of the week and restricting calories to 600-800 calories on two nonconsecutive days per week. This type of intermittent fasting may be hard to practice for many people who may forget to maintain the routine without concerted efforts.
Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF)
With this method, you eat within a nine-to-12-hour window each day. For example, your fast could start at noon and end at nine p.m., so that you avoid snacking after dinner but still have plenty of time to get in some daytime meals before your overnight fast begins. This type of fasting is very popular among people wanting to practice intermittent fasting because it is much easier to operate.
Alternate Day Fasting (ADF)
On alternate days, dieters consume only 25 percent of their usual daily caloric intake with no restrictions on what they can eat and then they repeat the process over again on another day later in the week or month if desired though it may be hard to stick with an ADF schedule unless you’re trying to lose weight quickly by cutting overall calories rather than focusing just on macros like protein grams versus carbohydrate grams versus fat grams per meal consumed during each 24 hour period.
This type of fasting is similar to ADF except that it doesn’t involve weighing yourself every day; instead there’s only one weigh-in during each “fasting cycle” which lasts anywhere from one day up until several weeks depending upon how quickly the results are shown through changes such as improved blood pressure levels or lower body fat percentages
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are several benefits to doing intermittent fasting, some of the benefits of fasting include:
- Weight loss
- Improved blood sugar control
- Improved Sleep Quality
- Decreased risk factors of heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Improves Physical performance
- Boost thinking and memory
- Improved insulin sensitivity and level
- Reduction in markers of oxidative stress
- Changes the function of hormones, cells, and genes
Intermittent fasting can help you shed pounds by boosting your body’s fat-burning abilities. In one study, alternate-day fasting (similar to the 5:2 diet) helped overweight women lose an average of 7% of their body weight.
Improved Blood Sugar Control
Studies suggest that fasting can improve blood sugar control as well as reduce insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome, all conditions that may be associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Improved Sleep Quality
Research has shown that fasting leads to better quality sleep than continuous calorie restriction (CCR), which could help you feel more rested throughout the day.
Decreased Risk Factors of Heart Disease
Intermittent fasting helps to reduce the risk of heart diseases that may occur from obesity caused by over feeding.
Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is good but also has side effects, some of the side effects of intermittent fasting include:
- Headaches and lightheadedness
- Hunger and cravings
- Fatigue and Low Energy
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood swings and changes
Intermittent fasting may lead to malnutrition, which is the condition of eating too little food. If you’re not getting enough calories or protein in your diet, you can develop nutrient deficiencies that might cause health problems. This can exacerbate any health conditions you already have, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Headaches and Lightheadedness
Eating too little can cause headaches because the brain needs glucose (blood sugar) to function properly. When your brain is deprived of energy-providing nutrients like glucose or protein over time, it might become sluggish and start malfunctioning.
Hunger and Cravings
If you’re not eating frequently enough during fasts, hunger pangs can make it hard for people to stick with their plans long term.
Fatigue & Low Energy
Some people experience fatigue after fasting due to low blood sugar levels in their body. Fasting also raises cortisol levels, the stress hormone which may contribute to feeling fatigued after a period without food, when there are still plenty of calories available later on if needed but. Those who are extremely active during their daily routine should be aware that prolonged fasting could impair performance levels by disrupting normal circadian rhythms.
Intermittent fasting is a popular weight-loss method, but new research suggests that it also has other health benefits. You can use this type of diet to lose weight and improve your overall health. It may even help you live longer, the bottom line is: Intermittent fasting can be effective if done correctly and in conjunction with an appropriate exercise routine.