A Basic Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is the term used when a pattern evolves between fasting and eating periods. Because of this the main focus of the protocols is not what you eat but when you eat, which is why many would not use the term ‘diet’ when describing it. It is, as stated above, an eating pattern which evolves during a period of time.
Fasting is a practice carried out by different faiths such as Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Sometimes it has been practiced due to the unavailability of food, which means that people have had to learn to manage their food intake and evolve a pattern in order for sustenance to be enough.
Healthy eating is quite simple, but sticking to it is quite hard. You can also be calculating how many Calories should I eat to Lose Weight but with Intermittent Fasting it goes easier and faster, like back in the old days. In modern times the amount of work that one must put into cooking healthy food is far too elevated, which means that most prefer to eat fast and unhealthy. Intermittent fasting is easier and a perfect fit for modern times because there is no need to plan or cook meals in advance as it happens with a diet, this means that one can improve his health without sacrificing too much time, it makes life easier! People may confuse fasting with starvation but there are several important differences. Starvation is involuntary while fasting is a voluntary practice, this means that if done correctly it is not necessarily hazardous to your health.
HOW TO CARRY OUT INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent fasting is quite popular and not at all new, it has been done for many years and many methods of intermittent fasting exist; however, it all boils down to the basic practice of not eating or consuming a small amount during certain periods called ‘fasting periods’.
The following are the most popular methods:
1. Leangains Protocol
This is method is also called the 16/8 protocol as it involves fasting for 16 hours and having a period of 8 hours to eat. This method recommended by Leagings is easy to follow and is the most popular of this list. During fasting you can take black coffee, diet soda, sugar free gums or sweeteners which are calorie free.
2. The “Eat-stop-eat” method
This intermittent fasting method involves fasting for 24 hours. It is recommended that it is carried out maximum twice a week and minimum once a week. The most popular way of doing this is by fasting from dinner time on day one, to dinner time the next day. During fasting you can take calorie-free beverage. When the fast is over, act like you never fasted so as to observe the diet to avoid overeating and going over the recommended caloric intake. One disadvantage of this method is that people have reported side-effects such as headache and fatigue, though these symptoms have been known to disappear after a while.
3. The 5:2 protocol.
This involves eating 500-600 calories on two different days of the week and eating normally for the remaining five days. The low-caloric intake days must not be one after another, it is recommended to space out these days. These method helps in losing weight since you are effectively reducing the number of calories you consume per week; however, this method will become ineffective if overeating occurs in the normal days.
4. The wrestler diet
Wrestler in training can fast for as many as 20 hours every day. Then they consume one large meal at night. As it is their only meal of the day, what they eat during that period is what matters. The 20 hours are not composed of complete fasting, one may eat raw fruit and vegetables as well as servings of protein and fresh juice, this maximizes the operation of the sympathetic nervous system which boosts energy and stimulates fat-burning. The eating period at night stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps in recuperation and allows the body to use the nutrients ingested for growth and repair. Night-time eating helps the production of certain hormones that help burn fat during the day.
The main advantage of this method is that during fasting times you are allowed to eat a few snacks (just don’t overdo it) which means that the process is easier on the body.
5. UpDayDownDay also known as Alternate Day fasting
This method is appropriate for dieters with a specific goal weight. This method involves eating very little one day then eating normally the following day. On the low-calorie day means eating one fifth of your normal calorie intake. This method helps the faster lose weight as caloric intake decreases by 20 to 35%, this can allow you to lose as many as 2.5 pounds per week.
Looking for more choices on healthy diets then don’t miss out our Vegan Diet tips.
TIPS TO HELP YOU START YOUR FIRST INTERMITTENT FASTING
- Drink plenty of water.
Water makes you stay hydrated all the time and this makes fasting easier to get through
- Overnight fasting.
The best time to fast is at night this is because you will be asleep for more hours (at least 8 hours).
- Keep busy.
The fasting session should start when you are busy. Not when you are idle relaxing on couch wanting a snack.
- Hit the gym.
Activities such as full body training can play big part in the process of losing weight. This can be two or three times per week. Thus, you should combine intermittent fasting with to obtain the best results possible.
- Rewire your thought process.
Keep in mind that fasting is taking a break from eating. This helps in breaking up the monotony of what to eat and when next to eat. This mindset really helps in the long term fasting process.
- Others include;never tell unsupportive person that you are fasting to avoid discouragements, do not binge after fasting, and follow a Low-Carb-High-Fat diet in between fasting times.
HOW INTERMITTENT FASTING CAN AFFECT THE CELLS AND HORMONES
While fasting, several things happen to the body at a cellular level and even so far as the molecular level. The hormone levels in the body changes, which makes the fat naturally stored by the body far more accessible for use in burning calories.This also means that the gene expression of the body is changed and several paramount processes of repair are triggered.
Several things happen when fasting, these are some effects of the activity on your body.
- Cellular repair
The cellular repair process is initiated when you fast. The most important process is autophagy which is when the cell naturally removes dysfunctional elements that may build up. This process has been linked to a decreased cancer risk
Insulin sensitivity decreases as the insulin level in the blood drops. Keeping insulin levels stable is important to maintain an appropriate amount of glucose in the blood. Lowering insulin levels makes the body access stored body fat too keep your levels stable.
- Hormonal levels(HGH)
There is a significant increase in the levels of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) produced by the body. While fasting, the levels can be multiplied by five, which aids in the production of muscle and helps in the loss of fat.
- Gene expression
Certain genes and their functioning are altered while fasting. The genes affected impact both longevity and protection against certain diseases. This happens because fasting changes the functioning of certain cells by changing the genes that are expressed.
- Advantages of Intermittent Fasting in the weight-loss process
Intermittent fasting involves eating fewer meals that leads to reduced caloric intake, which is the most recommended way to lose weight; however this is not the only way in which intermittent fasting helps. Changes in hormonal levels aid weight loss, for example: norepinephrine (also known as noradrenaline) is produced in larger amounts thanks to the lower levels of insulin and increased growth hormone levels. Fasting for shorter periods may change the metabolic rate of your body, increasing it by 3.6% and even as much as 14% due to these changes in hormonal levels. A study carried out in 2014 showed that intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss of ranging from 3to 8% in a period of 3 to 24 weeks which is a significant change. Also, people lost 4 to 7% of their total waistline which means losing the belly fat that can endanger vital organs when it builds up around them.
Intermittent fasting works because you consume less calories; however, overeating when it 8is time to eat will not help you to achieve the results you want.
INTERMITTENT FASTING: BENEFITS
Intermittent fasting can bring about great benefits in losing weight, your body feels healthier and you become more lucid as it also helps with neural processes. As stated above, intermittent fasting also has positive effects on longevity and cell regeneration.
- Brain health:
Production of BDNF is increased during fasting. This hormone helps in the growth and regeneration of nerve cells and could protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
There have been a few studies that link intermittent fasting and cancer prevention as well as decreased risk in cardiovascular disease. A study recently showed that a cancer patient’s side effects of chemotherapy can be diminished by fasting before treatment. It has also been linked to lower death-rates and improved health.
- Intermittent fasting is far better than dieting:
One of the reasons why diets fail is that many people drop out of them halfway through. Intermittent fasting is easier because it does not prohibit certain foods, it is simply an extended break between meals which is easier to stick with.
- Heart health:
Intermittent fasting brings about certain benefits for heart health as LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels are reduced. It also reduces the number of inflammatory markers and insulin resistance, which aids in maintaining an appropriate level of glucose in the blood.
Markers of inflammation can be reduced by intermittent fasting which can help prevent certain chronic diseases.
- Insulin resistance
Intermittent fasting can help in reducing insulin resistance thus lowers blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin by 20-31%. This helps in protecting against type 2 diabetes.
A study done to rats showed that intermittent fasting increases lifespan. Fasted rats lived 36-83% longer.
SOME SIDE EFFECTS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
Some people may experience:
- Constipation:This is normal since you eat less then you excrete less. Standard laxatives have been reported to aid in managing this discomfort.
- Headaches: To mitigate headache you may have a small amount of extra salt with your food and remember to keep hydrated. Headaches have been known to disappear over time.
- Other effects may include heartburn, muscle crumps and dizziness.
In conclusion,intermittent fasting is works but it is not for everybody. If you have any of the following problems or conditions, then it is advisable to talk to a doctor or nutritionist before practicing intermittent fasting.
You must talk to a professional if any of the following apply to you:
- Suffer from diabetes.
- Are taking medication.
- Have low blood sugar.
- If you are underweight (BMI should be over 18.5)
- Have suffered from an eating disorder.
- If you are a woman trying to conceive.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding your child might require extra nutrients.
- If you have had amenorrhea.
- If you are under 18 years of age.