Your Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Even though fasting has only recently become popular over the last decade, in reality, it is not a new concept.
We’ve been fasting since the dawn of time from an evolutionary standpoint.
Intermittent fasting is currently one of the most popular fitness trends on the planet.
People follow intermittent fasting for a whole host of different reasons.
To begin with, intermittent fasting, or IF as it is known, has been found to provide a viable and sustainable way for people to lose weight.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that IF can also improve your health and well-being and improve your athletic performance too.
But what precisely is intermittent fasting, and why is it proving to be so extremely popular in the health and fitness community nowadays?
To answer these questions and more, here is your ultimate guide to intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
As we mentioned earlier, intermittent fasting is not just some newly created fitness fad designed to help people sell specialist diet plans.
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that has been around since the dawn of man.
Put very simply, intermittent fasting is a way of eating which requires individuals to alternate between periods of fasting and feasting.
As opposed to focusing on which foods to eat and which to avoid, intermittent fasting instead focuses on when you should eat them.
Therefore, IF is not a typical conventional diet because, for all intents and purposes, when you are permitted to eat during your ‘eating windows’ you can potentially eat whatever you like, albeit in moderation.
Isn’t fasting just a fancy term for ‘starvation’?
No. Fasting and starving are two entirely different and completely separate concepts.
Everybody fasts every single day, or should we say every single night.
From the moment you eat your last meal before going to bed to the moment you wake up and eat your breakfast, you are in fact fasting.
Heck, the clue is in the name ‘break-fast’, because you are literally breaking your fast by eating.
Starvation is the unintentional absence of food or sustenance for a prolonged period of time.
This can result in all manner of health risks and ailments. If not addressed, starvation can eventually result in death.
Fasting, however, is something we’ve been doing since the dawn of man.
When cavemen roamed the earth, they had no guarantee of food.
The food they consumed had to be found, foraged, or killed.
When food was available, it was quickly consumed in large quantities because our ancestors had no idea where the next meal was coming from.
When food wasn’t available, they would fast, albeit unintentionally, until they were able to find or kill something to eat.
These days food is readily available for the vast majority of us, yet if we choose to fast, we can reap the rewards.
Different types of intermittent fasting
What is interesting about IF, is the fact that there are several different types which you can follow. A few key examples of IF include:
5:2 – The 5:2 diet is perhaps the most popular form of intermittent fasting.
With this approach to eating, you will consume relatively normal meals and portions for 5 days out of the week.
You, therefore, don’t worry too much about calorie counting, or portion control.
For two non-consecutive days of the week, however, you will consume just 500 – 600 calories per day.
These are your fasting days. Providing you eat normally and try to be relatively healthy for the other 5 days, you should find yourself losing a decent amount of weight if you follow the 5:2 diet properly.
Eat-fast-eat – The eat-fast-eat approach to intermittent fasting is also very popular, especially amongst people looking to lose weight.
Eat-fast-eat requires people to basically fast for 24 hours per day, once, maybe even twice per week, on non-consecutive days.
It is, however, very important to ensure that they drink plenty of water.
16:8 – Finally we have the 16:8 version of IF. 16:8 is a great way for people to transition into intermittent fasting, without shocking their systems too much with extremely low calories.
With 16:8, you fast for 16 hours and you are permitted to eat for 8 hours.
Again, you can eat what you like, within reason, as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to binge eat and eat thousands upon thousands of calories just for the sake of it.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Some of the key benefits of IF include:
Weight loss – Most people following an IF diet protocol do so as a way of losing weight.
IF helps to create a sustainable caloric deficit, whilst also reducing insulin levels in the body and regulating blood glucose levels.
Insulin is a hormone which also functions as a fat-storing hormone, so the less we secrete the less fat we store.
Regulates blood sugar levels – As mentioned, IF helps to reduce the amount of insulin we produce, whilst also increasing insulin sensitivity.
This means that we produce less insulin and the body responds better to lower amounts of insulin.
Insulin is used to shuttle sugar from the bloodstream and into our cells for energy. The quicker the sugar leaves our blood and enters our cells, the lower our blood sugar levels become.
Improves general health – There is strong evidence to suggest that IF improves cellular health and function.
This, in turn, means that all aspects of our health improve from our brains to our immune systems.
Put simply, intermittent fasting makes us healthier and could help us to live longer.