Intermittent fasting (IF) is the newest of-the-moment health trend you’ll see wellness experts and fitness gurus alike buzzing about. Although it’s a controversial health trend, intermittent fasting is an ancient technique, practiced for thousands of years for religious, cultural, and health purposes.
So what exactly is intermittent fasting? The phenomenon basically involves alternating periods of fasting and eating. It’s different than any other diet or eating plan you’ve tried before, because it doesn’t tell you what to eat, it tells you when to eat. If you’re anything like me, the word “fast” is enough to make you stop reading altogether, but intermittent fasting might be easier than you think.
Why do intermittent fasting?
People who swear by the technique say it has helped them lose weight, gain muscle, and improve their overall health. But beyond just weight loss, there are many other possible health benefits. It can also starts an increase in the human growth hormone, which promotes cellular repair. This is good for everything from brain health to anti-aging benefits of the skin.
So how do you fast (safely)?
Putting it simply, you cannot eat anything during the fasting cycle. You can drink water, tea, and coffee as long as they’re all non-caloric (which means skip the cream and sugar). In determining when to fast and when to eat, there are a variety of methods:
The 16/8 Method
This method is typically the most common. You only eat for an 8 hour period each day, and fast for 16. This might sound extreme, but it’s not actually as hard as it seems. This could mean eating breakfast at 10 and finishing dinner before 6. If you’re someone who chooses to skip breakfast, you might even be doing this without thinking about it — eating lunch at noon and finishing dinner before 8pm.
For one or two days a week, you don’t eat between dinner one night until dinner the next night (so you’re completing a 24-hour fast). The perk about this plan is that it doesn’t have to effect your day-to-day life too much. You’re merely just scheduling a day or two each week that are easier for you not to eat during the day (i.e. a weekend that you’re planning on sleep in and watching Neflix all day), for the same benefits.
The 5:2 Method
This method is similar to the Eat-Stop-Eat, in that you eat five days a week normally, but then for two days a week, you only eat about 500-600 calories. It’s important to choose your calories wisely. Fill up your caloric limit with fruits and veggies that are easy for your system to digest, in two meals of 250-300 calories each, rather than two oreos or a Lean Cuisine Mac n’ Cheese (as tempting as that might be).
Is intermittent fasting right for you?
IF is not for everyone, nor is it something you have to do in order to be healthy. It is simply a tool that many health experts (for thousands of years) have in their toolbox, that has promising benefits, and if it fits into your lifestyle and you know you can still get all the proper nutrients for your body, it might be worth trying.
Would you try intermittent fasting? What are your thoughts on the popular new health method?