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What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a popular eating schedule that rotates between periods of eating and fasting. Read below for more information on this way of eating to learn more.

It seems like every day there’s a new diet being touted as a miracle cure to help you lose weight. Low carb, high fat, no sugar – it’s hard to know what will work, what’s a fad, and what may be right for you.

But, there is increasing evidence that when you eat may be as important as what you eat.  Not so much a diet, intermittent fasting is more of an eating pattern, as it doesn’t dictate what foods you should eat (though we would recommend sticking to healthy choices), rather when you eat them. Intermittent fasting has been around for centuries, and many religions still practice fasting.

Read below for answers to some popular questions about intermittent fasting.

What is intermittent fasting and how does it work?

Intermittent fasting is simply the rotation of periods between eating and fasting throughout the day.

The times for fasting can vary. For instance, a common pattern may be to fast for 16 hours a day every day (like eating your last meal of the day before 7, with your next meal occurring around lunchtime the following day), or even fasting for a full 24 hours 1-2 times per week.

Can I drink liquids during intermittent fasting?

Non-caloric beverages are allowed during intermittent fasting. Water, coffee, and tea are all good options – especially coffee as it may help any hunger pangs subside temporarily.

Is intermittent fasting good for you?

Fasting for any period of time allows your cells to initiate cellular repair. Your insulin levels also take a dip, and the human growth hormone levels increase.  Among other benefits, intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss since you’re eating fewer meals (and taking in less calories), and the changes to your hormones may help you increase your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories. This makes intermittent a good an effective strategy for weight loss.

Some other potential benefits of intermittent fasting are:

  • Weight loss

  • Increases fat burning

  • Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels, which may protect against type 2 diabetes

  • Reduce inflammation in the body

  • Heart health

  • Cellular Repair

  • Protection against Alzheimer’s disease

  • Anti-aging effects

  • Cancer prevention

Is there a specific schedule I should follow?

The most popular schedule is to restrict eating to 8 hours per day and to fast for 16 hours per day. This typically means stopping eating after around 7:00 at night, then skipping breakfast the next morning and waiting to have your next meal at around lunchtime. This method is often the easiest to implement as it only involves skipping one meal, and doesn’t involve counting calories.

Other common schedules are fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week, or the 5:2 method, which involves eating only 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week (but eating regularly on the remaining 5 days.)

It is worth noting that if you binge eat during your eating periods, you’ll likely not see any weight-loss results with any method. So keep your portions in check during your eating times and opt for healthy options as much as possible.

Who should try intermittent fasting?

Always check with your doctor before trying a new eating pattern or diet.

 Short-term fasting is generally considered safe as long as you don’t have other pre-existing conditions or health problems.  And, if you’re looking for a way to shed some weight, it may be a good option for you.

Many people find intermittent fasting to be easier than diet plans since you don’t need to plan or prepare special meals, track foods, or do any extra work or thinking that is typically involved with tracking specific diets.

Who should avoid intermittent fasting?

If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, you should talk with your doctor to see if it’s safe for you, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition, such as a history of eating disorders, problems with blood sugar, low blood pressure, diabetes, or if you take other medications. Avoid intermittent fasting if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Have you tried intermittent fasting? Share your experience with us in the comments below!

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