What Is Intermittent Fasting? Intermittent Fasting Schedule, Benefits & Weight Loss

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

Intermittent fasting is one of the most prominent health and fitness trends in the world right now. People are using it to slim down, improve their overall health, and organize their life.

It has been shown in numerous studies to have profound benefits on the body and brain, and may even help you live longer

As a result, you could go through this piece as an introduction to intermittent fasting for those who are new to the practice. At the same time, I have tried to include the answer to some of the most important questions regarding the same.

You could learn everything about it, hence, you might not want to waste any time and continue reading!

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating, not a diet. It’s a style of meal consumption that ensures you get the maximum money’s worth. Intermittent fasting does not alter your eating habits; rather, it alters when you eat.

Here is a write-up from Harvard.

Intermittent Fasting: Perks Of Changing Your Eating Patterns?

Most importantly, it’s a wonderful technique to get lean without going on a fad diet or severely restricting your calorie intake. When you first start intermittent fasting, you’ll want to maintain your calorie intake constant. Intermittent fasting is a method of eating that involves alternating periods of fasting and feeding.

It doesn’t tell you which meals to eat, but rather when you should eat them.  In this way, it’s more correctly described as an eating habit than a diet in the traditional sense. Daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours twice a week are two common intermittent fasting regimens.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

Some people use intermittent fasting to shed pounds, whereas others adopt it to cure chronic ailments like irritable bowel syndrome, high blood cholesterol, and arthritis. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, isn’t for everyone.

Before attempting intermittent fasting, always consult with your primary care physician. Some people should indeed avoid intermittent fasting:

  • Minors are teens and young adults under the age of eighteen.
  • If you want to practice intermittent fasting while pregnant, then you should definitely check with your doctor.
  • Those who have diabetes or any other blood sugar problems.
  • Those who have had an eating disorder in the past.

Remember that depending on the user, intermittent fasting can have various effects. If you have unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea, or other symptoms after beginning intermittent fasting, consult your doctor.

Some of the aspects are discussed here.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

To comprehend how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss, we must first comprehend the distinction between the fed and fasted states.

When your body digests and absorbs food, it is in a nourished condition. The fed state usually begins when you start eating and lasts three to five hours while your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. Because your insulin levels are high when you’re in the fed state, it’s difficult for your body to burn fat.

After that period, your body enters a state known as the post-absorptive state, which is simply a fancy way of expressing that it isn’t processing a meal.

The post-absorptive state lasts until you enter the fasted state, which is 8 to 12 hours after your last meal. Because your insulin levels are low, it is much easier for your body to burn fat when you fast.

Fasting allows your body to burn fat that was previously unavailable during the fed state. Our bodies are rarely in this fat-burning condition since we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours following our previous meal.

This is one of the causes that many individuals starting intermittent fasting shed pounds without altering their diet, food intake, or activity routine. Fasting induces a fat-burning condition in your body that you rarely achieve on a regular eating plan.

Details are discussed here as well.

Why To Choose Intermittent Fasting?

Humans have observed fasting for thousands of ages. When there was just no food available, it was sometimes done out of necessity. It was also done for religious reasons in other cases. Fasting is required by several religions, including Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism.

When humans and other animals are sick, they generally react quickly. Fasting is not “unnatural,” and our bodies are perfectly capable of going without food for long periods.

When we don’t eat for a while, our bodies go through a variety of changes to allow us to survive during a famine. Hormones, genes, and critical cellular repair processes are all involved.

When we are in the fasting phase, our blood sugar and insulin levels might drop significantly, while our levels of human growth hormone skyrocket.

Many people use intermittent fasting to lose weight since it is a quick and easy technique to cut calories and burn fat. Others might use it so that it could improve their metabolic health, which can improve a variety of risk factors and health markers.

Intermittent fasting has also been shown to help people live longer. It can lengthen longevity as effectively as calorie restriction in animals, according to studies.

It may also help protect against diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and others, according to some research. Others choose intermittent fasting because it is more convenient.

It’s a useful “life hack” that helps you simplify your life while also enhancing your health. Your life will be easier if you only have to arrange a few meals. It also saves time not having to eat 3-4 times per day (with all the preparation and cleaning that entails). There was a lot of it.

Intermittent Fasting Schedule

Intermittent fasting could be accomplished in several ways, including splitting the week into feeding and fasting periods.

Alternate day fasting, restricted daytime fasting, monk fasting and periodic fasting are also some of the methods of intermittent fasting.

Having said that, the following are the most widely used methods:

  1. 16/8 Method

    The Lean gains method, commonly referred to as the 16/8 method, comprises skipping breakfast and restricting daily meals to eight hours, like 1–9 p.m. Following that, you must fast for about 16 hours.

  2. Eat-Stop-Eat

    This requires going without food for 24 hours once or a couple of times a week, whilst not eating from bedtime to supper.

  3. 5:2 Diet

    The 5:2 diet consists of consuming 500–600 calories on two non – consecutive days each week and consuming regularly on the other five.

All of these approaches should help you lose weight by lowering your calorie intake, as long as you don’t compensate by eating a lot more during the eating intervals. Many individuals find the 16/8 technique to be the most straightforward, long-term, and simple to follow. It’s also the most widely used.

Intermittent Fasting: Effects

During fast, numerous things occur in your body at the molecular and cellular levels. Your body changes levels of hormones, for instance, to keep accumulated body fat extra approachable. Your cells also begin critical repair processes and alterations in gene expression. The mentioned changes take place in your body when you fast:

  1. HGH (Human Growth Hormone): Growth hormone values increase by up to fivefold. This provides several advantages, including fat loss and muscle building.
  2. Insulin: Insulin sensitivity enhances, and insulin values decrease significantly. Insulin levels that are decreased make it much easier to reach accumulated fats.
  3. Cellular repair: Your cells start to rebuild themselves while you starve. Autophagy is a biological mechanism that consumes and eliminates aged and faulty proteins which have amassed within them.
  4. Gene expression: There are changes in gene function that are linked to longevity and disease resistance.

Intermittent fasting’s medical benefits are due to changes in hormone levels, cell function, and gene expression.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Animals and humans were both extensively researched when it comes to intermittent fasting. These studies have demonstrated that it can help with weight loss as well as overall body and brain wellness. It might even help you live a healthier life.

The key health benefits of intermittent fasting are as follows:

  1. Weight Loss: Intermittent fasting, as stated earlier, can help you reduce weight and stomach fat without having to limit calories actively.
  2. Insulin Resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce the risk of diabetes by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, reducing insulin resistance and potentially protecting against type 2 diabetes.
  3. Inflammation: Some studies demonstrate a decrease in inflammation markers, which are a critical driver of many chronic diseases.
  4. Take Care Of Your Heart: Intermittent fasting may improve heart health by lowering poor LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, and insulin resistance, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
  5. Reduce The Risk Of Cancer: Intermittent fasting has been shown in animal experiments to reduce the risk of cancer.

What All You Can Eat During Intermittent Fasting?

During times when you’re not feeding, you can drink water or zero-calorie drinks such as dark coffee or tea. And eating normally during your periods does not imply going insane.

If you fill your meals with high-calorie junk food, super-sized fried foods, and desserts, you’re not going to lose weight or get healthier. Intermittent fasting allows you to eat — and enjoy — a wide variety of foods.

At the same time, men could eat fertility-boosting foods as well. The same goes for fertility-boosting foods for females.

Also, there are a number of brain-booster foods that could also be consumed during this period.

Final Words On Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a weight-loss strategy that some people find effective. On the other hand, most people use some of the best fat loss pills as well.

Having said that, before deciding which way do you want to bend yourself to, you should definitely consider talking to a weight management professional.

This is because not everything suits everyone. It is not advised for persons who have or are at risk of developing an eating disorder. 

It could also be a problem for people who have underlying health problems. If you decide to try intermittent fasting, remember that the quality of your food is important.

It’s impossible to expect to lose weight and improve your health by bingeing on ultra-processed foods during mealtimes. Additionally, you should seek medical advice before going on an intermittent fast. 

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