Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most popular health and fitness trends in the world right now. It is being used by people to lose weight, enhance their health, and improve their lifestyles.
What is intermittent fasting (IF)?
It is a diet regimen that cycles between brief periods of fasting, with either no food or significant calorie reduction and periods of unrestricted eating. It is promoted to change body composition through loss of fat mass and weight and to improve markers of health that are associated with diseases such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Fasting has been practiced by humans from the beginning of time. Supermarkets, refrigerators, and year-round food were not accessible to ancient hunter-gatherers. They had trouble finding food at times.
As a result, humans have developed to be able to operate for long periods without eating.
Fasting is more natural than eating 3–4 (or more) meals each day regularly.
Fasting is also practiced in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism for religious or spiritual reasons.
What Are the Different Types of Intermittent Fasting?â€¯
Fasting on alternate days, for whole days with a certain frequency each week, or for a specific time frame are the most popular techniques.
- Whole-day fasting—1-2 days per week of complete fasting or up to 25% of daily calorie needs, with no food restriction on the other days. Example: 5:2 Fasting: A very low number of calories (around 400 to 500) is allowed on the two nonconsecutive “fasting” days of the week.
- Alternate-day fasting—Alternating between days of no food restriction with days that consist of one meal that provides about 25% of daily calorie needs.
- Time-restricted feeding— Time-restricted eating is sticking to a daily meal schedule and fasting for a certain amount of time. Example: Meals are served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the rest of the day spent fasting.
Tips for maintaining intermittent fasting
Maintaining an intermittent fasting regimen might be difficult.
The following tips may help people keep on track and get the most out of intermittent fasting:
- Keep yourself hydrated. Throughout the day, drink plenty of water and calorie-free beverages like herbal teas.
- Increasing flavor without adding calories. Garlic, herbs, spices, or vinegar can be used liberally to season foods. These meals are incredibly low in calories yet high in flavor, which may help relieve hunger.
- Avoiding obsessing over food. Plan plenty of distractions on fasting days to avoid thinking about food, such as catching up on paperwork or going to see a movie.
- Resting and relaxing on fasting days, avoid intensive exercise, while mild exercise such as yoga may be good.
- After the fasting period, choose nutrient-dense meals.
- Consuming meals abundant in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and avoid nutrient shortages. A well-balanced diet can also help with weight loss and general health.
Who Shouldn’t Try Intermittent Fasting, Because of Safety Concerns?
Intermittent fasting is traditionally considered to be safe. However, it is essential to use precautions when starting or continuing an eating regimen.
Calorie restriction over an extended period may be dangerous for:
- children and adolescents
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Diabetic patients
- Individuals taking certain drugs
- Individuals with a history of eating problems
Intermittent fasting is a weight loss strategy that works for some but not all people. It is not recommended for anyone who has had or is presently suffering from an eating disorder. Before starting an intermittent fast, talk to a certified healthcare expert to be sure it's safe for you.
(Disclaimer: The content on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other health professionals for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.)