Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. Research shows that intermittent fasting is a way to manage your weight and prevent — or even reverse — some forms of disease. But how do you do it? And is it safe?
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Most diets give you a laundry list of what to eat, or more importantly what not to eat. Intermittent fasting on the the other hand is focused on “when you eat”.
With intermittent fasting, you only eat during a specific timeframe. Followed by fasting for a certain number of hours each day, this can help your body burn fat, improve digesting and so much more. And scientific evidence points to other health benefits, as well.
According to Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Mark Mattson, Ph.D., who has studied intermittent fasting for over 25 years — “our bodies have evolved to be able to go without food for many hours, or even several days or longer. In prehistoric times, before humans learned to farm, they were hunters and gatherers who evolved to survive — and thrive — for long periods without eating. They had to: It took a lot of time and energy to hunt game and gather nuts and berries.”
Even 50 years ago, it was easier to maintain a healthy weight. Johns Hopkins dietitian Christie Williams, M.S., R.D.N., explains: “There were no computers, and TV shows turned off at 11 p.m.; people stopped eating because they went to bed. Portions were much smaller. More people worked and played outside and, in general, got more exercise.”
Fast forward to today, media and entertainment is on 24/7. We were up for longer hours, we’re stationary and snacking all day — and night!
HOW DOES INTERMITTENT FASTING WORK?
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing consistent time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week.
Basically, when you fast for the 16 hour window, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat. It’s termed as “metabolic switching”.
Think of it this way, if you’re is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and not exercising, then every time you eat, you’re running on those calories and not burning the fat stores.”
Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat. People with digestion issues find that this method greatly improves their bowel movement when combined with drinking ample water.
INTERMITTENT FASTING PLANS
It’s important to check with your doctor before starting intermittent fasting. If you want to explore what intermittent fasting can do for your health, reach out to our expert team at Syncremedies by booking your appointment today.
You can pick a daily approach, which restricts daily eating to one six- to eight-hour period each day. For instance, you may choose to try 16/8 fasting: eating for eight hours and fasting for 16.
Another approach is known as the 5:2 approach, it involves eating regularly five days a week. For the other two days, you limit yourself to one 500–600 calorie meal. An example would be if you chose to eat normally every day of the week except Mondays and Thursdays, those would be your one-meal days.
Longer periods without food, such as 24, 36, 48 and 72-hour fasting periods, are not necessarily better for you and may be dangerous. Going too long without eating might actually encourage your body to start storing more fat in response to starvation.
Research shows that it can take two to four weeks before the body becomes accustomed to the eating and fasting windows. You might feel hungry or cranky while you’re getting used to the new routine. But, research shows that people who make it through the initial adjustment period tend to stick with the plan, because they notice they feel better.
INTERMITTENT FASTING BENEFITS
- Thinking and memory. Studies show that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.
- Heart health. Intermittent fasting improved blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other parameters related to a healthy heart.
- Physical performance. Data shows that young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.
- Diabetes and obesity. Studies show that obese adults lost weight through intermittent fasting.
- Tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting has showed reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.
We advice that before you try intermittent fasting (or any diet), you should check in with your doctor first. If you fall under the below categories you should steer clear of intermittent fasting:
- Children and teens under age 18.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with diabetes or blood sugar issues.
- Those with a history of eating disorders.
Talk to your doctor if you start experiencing unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea or other symptoms after you start intermittent fasting.