What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an increasingly popular weight loss strategy bearing promising results. It involves introducing a variety of eating patterns such as alternating periods of fasting, temporarily abstinence from food, and then eating again. Unlike all other methods of weight loss, intermittent fasting focuses on ‘ when to eat ‘ rather than ‘ what to eat. Typically a fast cycle on intermittent fasting (IF) can last from somewhere between 12 hours a day to several consecutive days with a recurring pattern for a week.
Hence during a period of intermittent fasting for weight loss, one is expected to fast for a specified period. During the fasting period, low-calorie drinks like water are allowed but you are restricted from consuming any solid food. On the contrary, in the specified non-fasting phase you can take your normal meal as long as you avoid unhealthy or junk foods.
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Different methods of intermittent fasting:
1. Eat -stop- Eat:
People following the “Eat-Stop-Eat” method of intermittent fasting are restricted from eating anything for a complete 24-hour cycle. While following this method, many people prefer to fast from breakfast to breakfast whereas others may opt for lunch-to-lunch plans. Irrespective of whatever schedule you choose to follow, it is strongly advised not to follow the “Eat – Stop – Eat” method more than twice a week.
By following a 24-hour fast one ends up consuming fewer calories thus ultimately leading to weight loss. Moreover doing so can also lead to a shift in your metabolism hence causing your body to use fat as an energy source instead of glucose
2. The 16/8 method:
The 16/8 method of intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most popular styles of intermittent fasting for weight loss. It allows you to eat during an 8-hour window and fast for the remaining 16 hours. While other diets are based on following a set of strict rules and regulations, the 16/8 method focuses on a time-restricted feeding (TRF) model thus making it readily acceptable by many.
Following this method, you can also set your non-fasting period according to your comfort. For instance, eating between 12 pm to 8 pm and then practicing abstinence from food for the remaining 16 hours or even eating between 10 am to 6 pm and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. Apart from aiding in weight loss, this method is also known to help in improving one’s blood sugar levels as well as increase longevity.
3. The 5:2 diet:
Ideal for those starting out, the 5:2 method of intermittent fasting for weight loss is probably the easiest and simplest means of fasting. It involves consuming regular meals for five days a week without any calorie restrictions and then reducing your calorie intake to almost a quarter of your daily needs for the remaining two days.
In this method, you are allowed to take your standard meals 5 days of the week and fast on the other two days. Moreover, these two days don’t necessarily have to be on consecutive days just as long as you consume between 500 to 600 calories a day.
4. Alternate day fasting:
Alternate-day fasting includes completely avoiding solid meals on your fasting day and eating normal meals on the next day. However, during this 24 hours window where you practice abstinence from food, you are allowed to consume only low-calorie drinks or limited portions of raw fruits and vegetables.
This is an extreme method of intermittent fasting and should be done for only a limited period. Moreover, it should be avoided by those having any sort of preexisting medical condition or health issues
5. The warrior diet:
As the name suggests, the Warrior diet intermittent fasting method is an extremely strict version of intermittent fasting. Those opting for it can only eat during a 4-hour window and the fasting for the rest of the day.
Moreover, The Warrior diet allows eating low-calorie foods in limited portions during the 20 hours of fasting. Some of the recommended food choices that can be consumed during the fasting phase include raw fruits and vegetables followed by a complete meal at night ( or after 20 hours)
What can I eat during intermittent fasting?
An intermittent diet plan can be divided into two portions.
- low-calorie drinks like water, chia seed water
- green tea, or black coffee
- Healthy diet drinks.
- Limited quantities of raw fruits and vegetables can also be taken if you are following a long fasting window
Non- Fasting window:
On the contrary, during the non-fasting window dieters are allowed to eat their standard meals However since you are practicing intermittent fasting for weight loss thus it is recommended to avoid junk, unhealthy or fried foods or drinks with excessive sugar content.
Benefits of intermittent fasting:
While many of us follow intermittent fasting to lose weight but did you know that intermittent fasting has several other benefits as well? Some of the other powerful health benefits of intermittent fasting for our body include:
- Aiding in reducing insulin resistance thus lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Intermittent fasting has the power to reduce oxidative damage which can prevent aging.
- Intermittent fasting lowers the risk of heart-related disease by controlling blood sugar levels.
- Intermittent fasting helps to battle cancer
At the end of the day, intermittent fasting for weight loss can serve as an important tool in getting rid of that pesky unwanted fat. It may be helpful for you to set up a rewards and punishment system for yourself, as sort of a checks and balances scheme to keep you on track. Don’t forget that weight loss through IF is supposed to be a fun and gratifying process; so don’t be too hard on yourself when you backslide a little. Do your homework on different methods of intermittent fasting for losing weight so that you can find one that truly works for your specific personal needs.
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