Unlike other fad diets, it seems like intermittent fasting is here to stay. Researchers and health writers alike are regularly touting the benefits of intermittent fasting. Those benefits include: reduced diabetes risk, reduced risk of heart disease, weight loss, less fatigue, better brain health, and much more. At its core, intermittent fasting is fairly simple to understand, even if you’re not a dietician.
Here’s the way it works: a person regulates their eating schedule to include regular periods of fasting, or no calorie consumption, each day. That’s it! Easier said than done, but by fasting, you allow your body to use energy from fat deposits rather than energy from a food’s calories. Research has found that those who intermittently fast tend to shed more weight and keep it off. This is when intermittent fasting is compared to traditional calorie cutting diets.
To get a little bit more scientific, when a person eats, their insulin level naturally rises, which is good because that helps process and store energy. Since calories are just a measurement of energy, this is exactly what the body is supposed to do. Depending on the food consumed, sugars can get linked into chains call glycogen, which are then moved into and stored in the liver. This is also good and the issue only arises when the liver reaches its capacity and begins to turn extra glucose into fat for later use. For many of us, this accumulated energy does not fully get used and this is how fat amasses and we gain weight.
Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, allows your body to use this stored fat since there are no new calories coming in for extended periods of time, allowing you to essentially “eat” yourself for energy. Since we evolved without eating three meals a day, fat storage was vital to our early ancestors’ survival, but today, the amount of fat many of us have can cause an array of health issues.
There are many different fasting schedules you can go by if you are interested in trying this diet out. The most common intermittent fasting schedule is sixteen hours of fasting with an eight-hour window for eating. With this schedule, a person consumes all of their daily calories within an eight-hour window and then abstains from consuming anything other than coffee, tea, or water for the remaining sixteen hours. For most people, this means skipping breakfast and starting the eight-hour window around 11am-12pm.
Although it seems obvious, I have to mention that in order for intermittent fasting to work, you have to consume only healthy, nutrient-dense foods within the calorie consumption window. This means a lot of vegetables, whole foods, protein, and only a moderate amount of carbohydrates. While there are many benefits to intermittent fasting, there are still many facets being discovered daily. If you’re interested it’s worth doing more research to see if it could fit your lifestyle. You should not try intermittent fasting if you suffer from any chronic medical conditions, are pregnant or breastfeeding, underweight, under eighteen, or are battling any autoimmune disorders.
Find more information on intermittent fasting in our comprehensive post Periodic Fasting, Lose Weight, Grow Healthy!.