Intermittent Fasting: Fad Diet or Healthy Practice?
Intermittent fasting, or IF, is growing in popularity among bloggers, fitness gurus and YouTubers - primarily for weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is turning some commonly-held ideas about weight loss on their heads, especially about the importance of breakfast.
Because of this, as with all new approaches to weight loss, it has been gaining steam in mainstream health and wellness. Before you decide intermittent fasting is for you, take a little time to learn more about it.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not another fad diet; it is a pattern of eating. Many cultures around the world practice intermittent fasting for religious reasons or to mark special occasions. Only recently has it become popular in Western culture.
In intermittent fasting, you are given an “eating window” during which you are allowed to eat; you fast during all other times outside of that window.
How can you practice intermittent fasting?
There are essentially three ways to follow this eating pattern.
The 16/8 method
This method is also known as a “lean gains” method. In this method, you are given an eight-hour window to eat; then, for the next 16 hours, you do not eat anything, except for natural juices or water.
You can easily set your timings according to your routine. For example, you would start eating at noon. and then stop at 8:00 p.m., fasting until the next day at noon.
This is the most common method because it fits in easily with most people’s current routines and produces results quickly.
The eat-stop-eat method is one of the most difficult. It most closely resembles a weekly body cleanse or detox as opposed to an eating pattern.
In this method, you fast for 24 consecutive hours once or twice a week. You are allowed water or natural juices to help you get through your day.
Individuals may opt for this method if their routine or strenuous work hours do not allow them to skip breakfast. They may intermittently fast on the weekends or on a day off throughout the week.
The 5:2 Method
In the 5:2 method (a.k.a. The Fast Diet), you consume only 500 to 600 calories for two consecutive days.
You can eat your 600 calories in one meal and be done for the day, or you can eat more low-calorie foods in 2 or 3 meals; how you stay within your 600-calorie limit is up to you.
Why Intermittent Fasting?
People commit to intermittent fasting because it is easy to adopt and relatively convenient. Most people see rapid, visible results and report a host of other health benefits, such as:
Quicker, easier, and more convenient weight loss.
Reduced risk of illnesses and diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, stress and inflammation in the body.
Better brain support.
Improved body health similar to results from a cleanse or detox.
As with any change to diet or eating habits, start slowly and build up from there. Always listen to your body.
Make sure you consult a physician or nutritionist before embarking on intermittent fasting.