Intermittent fasting is an interesting diet topic that has swarmed the weight loss and fitness world for some time. This lifestyle trend has quickly become one of the most widely researched diets around and it has been touted as being healthy and one of the most efficient for weight loss. The information ahead details everything you need to know to get started on a plan, what fasting is, how it can help your health, and some common methods of fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
There are many versions of intermittent fasting that you can choose from, and more will be on this ahead, but the true definition of intermittent fasting is simple; it involves long periods without eating and a small window for which to eat. It seems odd to skip out on food throughout the day because isn’t it common knowledge that we eat three meals a day and spread out to similar times each day? This is where the biggest debate of intermittent fasting comes into play; it has grown in popularity in the U.S. as a way to cut back on the regular calories we eat from the usual schedules that we have become accustomed to. Through the day, our minds have become trained to eat at certain times of the day, even though the body may not be hungry. For this, overeating could occur, which could lead to obesity, type II diabetes, and all kinds of other health issues.
Now that definition of intermittent fasting is the condensed, fast version. Many cultures and religions actually perform intermittent fasting as a particular belief. Yes, they fast as a way train the body and the mind to withhold from temptations. However, many other countries and religions do not see as much obesity, disease, and poor health. With all this in mind, intermittent fasting quickly grew in popularity in the U.S., which also led to variations of the technique. Let’s take a closer look at some of the methods that people use when on an intermittent fasting lifestyle.
What are the Most Common Methods of Fasting?
The differing variations of intermittent fasting all have certain benefits to them. Generally speaking, adults flock to a particular fasting method based on how it works with a daily schedule, as some methods it may interfere with work. Consider the methods below for your new dieting plan.
Intermittent Fasting Diet 16/8 Method
The first method listed here is one of the simplest and most common methods for fasting. It goes by the name “Lean Gains” protocol, but the 16/8 method involves 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of eating. These are windows for which you should eat, so eight hours of eating is not continuous eating. This particular fasting method works well with typical adults because the eating window is spread out quite a bit. When you think of a standard dieting pattern, you wake up in the morning, let’s say you eat at 7 am, and your final meal is let’s say 7 pm. This is a 12 hour window that you eat throughout the day. Many people on the 16/8 pattern will skip on breakfast, eat sensibly for lunch starting at 11 or 12, and the dinner window will be around 7 or 8 at night. It is very easy to adjust to this pattern and it is a great way to get started on a fasting lifestyle.
Intermittent Fasting Diet 5:2 Method
This fasting method, which is also called the Fast Diet, is a bit more challenging than the previous. It involves five days of the week in which you eat your standard diet, but two of the days you have restrictions on your caloric intake. These restrictions take your daily consumption to about 500 calories each day, which is essentially fasting. The key to this method is to not over indulge on the other five days of the week to compensate for the fasting days; rather, it is intended to help reduce the number of calories you eat and to help boost your health.
Intermittent Fasting Diet Eat-Stop-Eat Method
This next intermittent fasting protocol involves eating your standard diet, and fasting for a full 24 hours This method would follow as such: you eat normally for a full day and let’s say your final meal was at lunch around 12 noon. You would then fast for a full 24 hours and start eating again at 12 noon the next day. The good thing is you can pick how you fast for 24 hours and most people find it easiest to fast following dinner time (since most of this time involves sleeping and work). Consider this method as a good way to shred calories and to prevent overeating later in the day.
Intermittent Fasting Diet Alternating Fasting Day
This is one of the easiest to follow of all the methods listed here; it involves fasting every other day. There is no choice on how you want to fast, meaning you can’t select fasting after your lunch or dinner. Once you go on this method, you eat usually for one day and fast on the next. This is one of the more challenging protocols for this reason, but it also has great rewards when you are successful at doing it. Consider this method once you have established any of the other techniques, since this method is more on the challenging of fasting methods.
Intermittent Fasting Diet 20/4 Method
This fasting method, which is widely known as the Warrior Diet, consists of fasting during the day and eating a large feast at night (which is within a four hour window). The caveat to this is you can have small bites of fruits and vegetables as a way to give the body something, but the point is to primarily fast. At night, you are allowed to have a full feast, but generally the feast should be considered Paleo. If you are into fitness and your goal is to shred fat from your body then this may be for you, but it will take some dedication to master. Lastly, even though the final meal at night is a large feast, you should still try your best to eat within your limits and try not to push it.
Intermittent Fasting Diet Spontaneous Fasting
This is one of the easiest ways to add fasting to your lifestyle, but it also is one that people cannot follow for long. The idea of the spontaneous fast is that you select a meal or two to skip when you are not that hungry and eat when you are. The reason this does not have the best results is that many adults tend to give it a good effort for a few days, only to forget to fast on one day, eat poorly on another, fast after that meal, etc. The harsh part of this intermittent fasting plan is that there is no intermittent aspect to it; there is no scheduled fasting and it mainly leaves a great deal of vagueness to the dieter. This should be a last-resort fasting plan or perhaps one you jump on when on vacation.
How to Fast
Now that you have the methods for intermittent fasting, you will need to put the pieces together. If you are new to this lifestyle then you should start slow and progress to the more challenging fasting methods. The health benefits grow with the difficulty that each plan has so keep that in mind, but overall, you need to establish that you can perform basic fasting before doing the more challenging ones. Consider starting with the 16/8 method as a way to ease your body into the fasting lifestyle. Once you have established regularity with this method, consider any of the more difficult fasting techniques. The choice is yours on how to fast, but the rewards will appear the more regular you are with them.
Why Should you Perform Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle that can really help to improve certain elements in your daily life. For starters, it can help you to lean out, boost your energy levels, and it can significantly cut down on your caloric intake. Some people do it for weight loss, religious beliefs, and even as a way to regulate body weight. Listed ahead are some of the biggest health benefits of intermittent fasting and generally speaking, the health benefits are usually why people flock to this kind of lifestyle.
Intermittent Fasting Results on Health
Better Insulin Response and Control
One of the most common benefits of an intermittent fasting lifestyle is the insulin control that comes with it. Your body secretes the hormone insulin as a way to regulate your body’s sugar in the blood. This happens anytime something is consumed and it varies based off how little or how much you eat at each meal. Many adults tend to have insulin issues as they age and with poor diet and exercise habits, which can lead to insulin resistance, and to type II diabetes. Studies have shown fasting insulin in the body to be reduced by more than 50 percent among participants, which means the body uses less insulin when in fasting conditions, which means potentially better insulin response following a meal.
Better Growth Hormone Response
Your body is a continual hormonal system that serves your health. When you go to sleep at night, your body secretes a hormone called growth hormone as a way to promote repair of your damaged muscles, cells, and tissue. This hormone is secreted during your deepest sleep patterns so the more deep sleep you get the better. Studies have shown that fasting can play a role in growth hormone concentrations in the body, which can help to boost muscle growth, repair, and an overall change in energy levels. While more research is needed on the type of fasting method for a growth hormone response, it is important to know that fasting can induce these changes.
The body’s metabolism slowly declines throughout life and generally it is highest in young adulthood. This is another reason why adults go on an intermittent fasting diet; boosting metabolism can help to maintain body weight. Studies have shown the effects of an intermittent fasting on overall fat burning. Fat burning, or the rate at which you burn energy throughout the day when not exercising, is considered to be your metabolism, which can significantly help to control your body weight. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting methods can help to increase the body’s overall fat burning process, thus making it more efficient. This benefit can help to prevent obesity and it can even help to boost your weight loss program as well.
One of the most commonly measured health metrics in healthcare is your blood pressure. Any time you step near a medical facility, your blood pressure is measured. The reason that blood pressure is measured with such high frequency is because hypertension is a major problem among adults in the U.S. Fortunately, there are some lifestyle things that can help to regulate your heart’s pressure and intermittent fasting can play a major role in this. Recent studies have shown that intermittent fasting can lead to significant decreases in blood pressure readings, which is important for your overall heart health. If your blood pressure is high, consider discussing intermittent fasting with your doctor to see if it is right for you.
Obesity is another growing concern for adults and children in the U.S. With diets that encourage high calories, increased sugars and fats, and with reduced physical activity, obesity is something that many adults are at risk for. With that said, intermittent fasting may have an important role in reducing obesity and for preventing it from affecting you. A recent meta-analysis on intermittent fasting in the setting of obesity demonstrated that it is effective for the treatment of individuals who are overweight or obese. Consider any of the listed fasting methods as a way to cut back on some of those unwanted pounds.
There is currently no known cure for cancer, but there is some hope in the prevention of certain cancers. Some studies have shown that tumor growth is suppressed when on an intermittent fasting protocol, which may have some doing with blood glucose levels as well as better insulin control. While more research is needed on the topic of fasting and cancer prevention, it seems that it can help to stop the growth or spread of certain cancers in lab mice.
Is Intermittent Fasting Right for you?
Intermittent fasting is a growing health trend among adults in the U.S. and generally, people flock to this lifestyle as a way to reduce body weight, fat, and to feel better. The standard eating habits in the U.S. involve eating three meals a day, all of which are timed to coincide with breaks at work, arriving home from work, among other things. This diet pattern has not been the best on health and the growing trends of obesity and overweight adults in the country can attest to this.
Given the high amounts of obesity and overweight adults in the U.S., it is no surprise that lifestyle changes have shifted towards making diets more effective. Intermittent fasting has shown to be effective in the reduction of body fat by increasing metabolism, which may be sufficient to prevent and treat obesity. In light of recent research, adults have been switching to a fasting lifestyle to cut pounds throughout the week.
If you decide that an intermittent fasting lifestyle is for you, consider the many fasting methods listed and described above. It is always best to ease into a fasting diet if you have never given it a try and for this, consider the 18/6 method to be your starting fasting method of choice. After establishing regularity with the protocol, consider progressing through your intermittent fasting schedule to the more challenging methods, which can help to induce some of the best health benefits around. Sticking to an intermittent fasting schedule can help you to reach your goals and to keep you healthy. Consider giving all of the methods a try above, especially if you are looking to lose weight and keep it off.