There has been a lot of talk about intermittent fasting eating plans over recent years, but are they a good idea? Intermittent fasting involves switching between eating and fasting on a schedule. There is research that has revealed intermittent fasting to be an effective way of managing weight and preventing some diseases, but is it actually safe, and how can this be achieved?
Intermittent Fasting – An Overview
A lot of diets focus solely on what you eat however intermittent fasting focuses on when to eat. The principle of this type of eating plan is that you eat only during specific times. If you fast for a set amount of hours every day or eat a single meal on two days per week, your body can burn more fat.
Intermittent fasting can be done in several ways, but all have their basis on selecting regular periods for eating and fasting. As an example, you may only eat during an 8-hour window every day, fasting for the rest of the time.
Alternatively, you may opt to only eat a single meal a day on two days per week. After several hours with no food, your body depletes its stores of sugar, starting to burn fat instead. That can lead to effective weight loss.
It’s important to note, though, that if you go for a long period with no food, for example a 24 hour, 36 hour, 48 hour, or 72 hour fasting period, that may not be good for you. In fact, it could actually be dangerous, encouraging the body to begin to store more fat as a starvation response.
Your body takes some time to become accustomed to an intermittent fasting eating regime. However, after around 2 – 4 weeks it should have adapted fully. While becoming used to your new routine you may feel cranky and hungry, but once you’ve got through the period of adjustment, you’ll feel better and find that it’s easier to adhere to the plan in the long term.
What Should I Eat When I’m Intermittent Fasting?
If you’re during a fasting period you should avoid eating any food at all. You should also avoid all beverages except zero-calorie drinks like tea, black coffee and water.
When you’re in an eating period, you should eat normally. But it’s important to be aware that you shouldn’t go crazy! You won’t improve your health or lose weight if you spend your whole eating time wolfing down junk food, treats, and fatty items.
Nevertheless, you can eat a variety of foods when intermittent fasting, and that’s something that makes this eating regime more palatable to many people than other diets that restrict the types of food you can consume.
A good way to eat, especially when trying out intermittent fasting, is to adopt a Mediterranean diet, with plenty of unrefined, complex carbohydrates, leafy greens, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains.
What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?
Periods of intermittent fasting don’t just burn fat, they also have a positive impact on the brain and body overall. Some of the benefits associated with intermittent fasting include better cognitive function, a slimmer, leaner physique, and a longer lifespan. Many things take place when you’re intermittent fasting to protect your organs from chronic diseases such as heart disease, type II diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative age-related disorders.
The advantages of this type of eating plan include:
- Better cognitive function with improved memory and thinking patterns.
- Improved heart health with lower blood pressure and a lower resting heart rate.
- Higher physical performance with fat loss paired with maintained muscle mass.
- Prevention of obesity and type II diabetes. Many people who do intermittent fasting lose weight and lower their fasting glucose, leptin, and insulin levels while reducing their insulin resistance, increasing adiponectin levels and decreasing leptin levels. Some people who suffer from type II diabetes found that they no longer needed insulin therapy after adopting an intermittent fasting eating regime.
- Improved tissue health.
Is It Safe To Do Intermittent Fasting?
There are several reasons why people choose to try out intermittent fasting. While some want to do it to better manage their weight, others want to control their chronic health conditions like arthritis, high cholesterol, or IBS.
While intermittent fasting can prove to be extremely effective for many people, it isn’t the right choice for everybody. Before trying out intermittent fasting, you should always consult with your doctor. There are some people who shouldn’t do intermittent fasting including:
- People under the age of 18
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Anyone suffering from Type I diabetes and taking insulin.
- Anyone who has ever suffered from an eating disorder
For people who don’t fall into the above categories, it’s possible to intermittently fast safely indefinitely, turning it into a complete lifestyle change that offers a host of excellent benefits. You should bear in mind, though, that an intermittent fasting diet may have an effect on your well-being.
Some people who adopt this lifestyle start to experience symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and anxiety. Therefore, if you start to experience anything untoward after adopting this type of eating plan you should consult with your doctor.
Should I Give Intermittent Fasting A Try?
If you’re keen to improve your overall health, reduce your body weight, or generally try to become healthier, you may want to give intermittent fasting a try as long as you don’t fall into one of the above categories who should avoid this type of eating plan. It can be an excellent way to boost your well-being.
If you want to attempt intermittent fasting, though, you’ll need to be prepared to stick with it for around a month to see the benefits. It can take as long as four weeks to settle into this way of eating and for your body to adapt to its new lifestyle, so make sure that you’re ready to commit yourself for some time to determine whether or not this way of eating is right for you.