Intermittent fasting (IF) is a way of eating meals that promotes weight loss and has proven to have many other health benefits. It can help you to lose weight without starving yourself and at the same time reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. (IF) also improves sleep and increases energy levels. The most common fasting period is from 14 to 18 hours.
Fasting will transform your body from burning carbs into burning fat. You start out by gradually eating on a six- to eight-hour time frame, then as you get used to it eventually fasting as much as 18- 24 hours while still feeling satiated. Your sugar cravings will slowly decrease and managing your weight will be easier. When your body isn’t digesting food, it has more time to tend to cellular functions, including removal of waste and toxins from the body.
Intermittent Fasting has been shown to help with Metabolic Syndrome (obesity, diabetes, etc.) and increase insulin sensitivity to reduce blood pressure and inflammation. It also helps with neurological issues and improve mental clarity and memory.
Here are the most common methods of intermittent fasting:
- The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day. This method involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours and restricting your food intake to 8-10 hours.
- The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 2 days per week. You eat normally 5 days of the week and restrict calories to 500-600 on two days of the week.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week. This is a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.
- Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast every other day.
- The Warrior Diet: This involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.
- Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip meals when convenient.
When fasting, it’s critical to avoid refined carbohydrates like sugar and grains and replace them with vegetable carbohydrates, healthy protein, and healthy fats such as butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, and raw nuts. As a bonus, intermittent fasting has also been found to lower bad cholesterol levels. During fasting, water and unsweetened coffee and tea are acceptable at any time.
If you’re ready to try intermittent fasting, here are a few ways to make it a success:
- Try adding it to your routine just once or twice a week at first and on non-consecutive days. Slowly get out of the habit of constantly eating.
- After you’ve gotten used to fasting, schedule your fasting time for any 12 to 16-hour block during the day. It’s easiest to start two to three hours before bed, and then extend it for two to three hours after you wake up each morning.
- When eating, stick to lean meats, organic dairy, quality carbs and fruits and veggies. You need to provide your body with the proper fuel it needs to function.
- Add an exercise program that best accommodates your fasting schedule. Interval training with short bursts of activity works best.
Women with hormonal imbalances can benefit from a modified or “crescendo” intermittent fasting. Crescendo fasting only requires you to fast a few days a week instead of every day. It’s a gentler approach that helps the body more easily adapt to fasting.
Individuals who are hypoglycemic, diabetic, or pregnant (and/or breastfeeding) should avoid any type of calorie restriction until your blood sugar or insulin levels are regulated.
Work with your doctor to find the best plan for your needs.