Nowadays, weight has become a major issue for an individual. Due to increased levels of stress, sitting jobs, no exercise, lack of sleep, irregular eating patterns, consumption of unhealthy food, etc., are the factors for increased weight.
Overweight or obesity is not only related to weight, it leads to various health conditions, like, high blood sugar levels or diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and many more, all these are due to the poor lifestyle of an individual.
In earlier days, people followed a good lifestyle, that is why they were healthy and were not affected by weight issues, and also the health conditions caused by increased weight.
We all know that for everything there is a fixed time like your height stops increasing at a certain age because your body has some set alarms.
Same way, for our daily routine like bathing, eating, working, etc., nature has set fixed timings, if we follow these fixed timings, we can definitely lead a healthy life without diseases or weight issues.
But unfortunately, due to our work or our current lifestyle, we don’t follow this body clock, which finally leads to an unhealthy body.
Wondering! How can we achieve a healthy body and a good lifestyle? Here is the answer, it is very simple to get a healthy body, just improve your lifestyle and eating pattern.
Now, the question is how to improve lifestyle and eating patterns? Simply just eat your meals on time, have healthy food, have proper sleep, also give some rest to your body from eating, etc.
Everyone knows that having healthy food, eating meals on time and proper sleep definitely helps to maintain a healthy body and a healthy weight.
But do you know, it is also important to give rest to our body from eating, as it helps to remove toxins from the body which can cause various health conditions.
Intermittent fasting is one such type of diet that helps to fulfill the motive of removing toxins from the body in a healthy way.
This diet helps in keeping the body healthy, free from diseases, and controlling weight also. Various studies had shown that intermittent fasting can help in the reversal of many lifestyle diseases. Let’s understand the concept, benefits, and types of intermittent fasting in detail.
What is Intermittent Fasting & How does it Work?
Fasting is not a new trend. For ages, fasting is practiced in many religions. The reason behind fasting is to give rest to the body from eating so that, all the toxins from the body can be flushed out.
But slowly this fasting practice has been reduced which led to increment in various health conditions like elevated cholesterol levels, high blood sugar levels, etc. Nowadays, people are getting aware of the importance of fasting, and following this practice.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where one cycles between periods of eating and fasting. Many diets focus on what to eat, but intermittent fasting diets focus on when to eat.
In intermittent fasting, an individual has to eat for a specific time during the day rather than eat for the whole day.
In intermittent fasting, one has to eat in the given window and fast for the rest of the remaining hours in a day. Of course, it is important to have healthy food in the given window.
If an individual is following an intermittent fasting diet but has unhealthy food, it reduces the chances of improved health conditions and reduction in weight. As the motive of this diet is to remove toxins and extra fat from the body.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can be followed in various ways, but all the methods depend on the timetable consisting of eating and fasting.
Depending on the need of your body and health condition, one can follow any of the given types. But it is very important to follow this diet under expert guidance.
Following are the types of intermittent fasting:
1. Monthly Fasting: In this fasting is required for only 1 day in a month. Fasting should be for 24 hours. For the remaining days of the month, one can have a normal diet.
2. Weekly Fasting: In this one can have a normal diet for a week. Just one day or two days of fasting for a full day in a week is required.
3. Alternate-day Fasting: As the name suggests, one has to do fasting on alternate days. One can have a proper meal for 1 day, then on the next day only 1 meal is allowed or 24 hours of fasting is required.
4. Daily Fasting: This type of fasting is done on daily basis. In this one can take a meal for certain hours which means feasting for some specific hours and fasting for the remaining hours is required. Daily fasting also has variations. Variations are the number of hours for fasting and feasting.
Below are the variations of daily fasting:
a) 16/8: This is the most common pattern of intermittent fasting. The majority of people follow this pattern. In this one has to feast for 8 hours, which means the eating window is for 8 hours. One has to complete or eat full-day meals in the given 8 hours of timing. For the rest 16 hours, one has to fast.
b) 18/6: In this feasting is of 6 hours and fasting is of 18 hours in a day. This eating window is small. So, one has to adjust the meals for the whole day in just 6 hours. And for the remaining 18 hours, fasting is required.
c) 14/10: In this fasting is for 14 hours and feasting hours is 10. The eating window is more in this pattern as compared to other patterns. One can consume the required number of calories for a day in 10 hours time period.
Fasting starts after the last meal of the day and remains till the first meal of the next day. One can choose the timings of the fasting diet accordingly. But it is always good to have a last meal or dinner as early as possible.
During the fasting hours, only water and no-calorie beverages are allowed. Also, it is important to have healthy food during the feasting hours.
So that one can achieve the desired weight and also can improve other health conditions. Early dinner or finishing the last meal early in addition to healthy food choices in this diet is really helpful for achieving one’s goal.
10 Incredible Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
1. Helps in losing weight:
The food consumed by us is broken down by enzymes into small molecules in our gut. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, which our body uses for energy, if this energy is not used by the body, it will deposit as fat in our cells.
If we fast, our body will use this stored energy for work. Thus, it helps in reducing weight. An intermittent fasting diet helps in weight loss because calorie intake is reduced due to a reduction in feasting hours.
2. Reduction in visceral fat
Visceral fat is the fat deposited in the abdominal cavity that can lead to harmful diseases. Some study shows that the intermittent fasting diet helps the participants in losing 4-7% of their waist circumference over 6-24 weeks, which indicates that they lost lots of visceral fat. As fasting helps in removing toxins from the body visceral fat is also reduced.
3. May help in reducing insulin resistance
It is not proven yet that an intermittent fasting diet will help to control high blood sugars or diabetes, but there are some studies that state that it helps in reducing insulin resistance.
When muscles, fat, and liver does not respond well to insulin and also can’t use glucose from the blood for energy, to make up for it, the pancreas makes more insulin.
Thus, over a period of time, it can cause blood sugar levels to go up. Between meals, if one doesn’t snack, insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. Thus, it helps in the reduction of insulin resistance.
There are also studies that state that with the help of an intermittent fasting diet, a reduction of weight can be seen which reduces the risk of diabetes and its complications.
4. May help in improving Heart Health
Though it is not proven yet, Some studies show that intermittent fasting helps in reducing risk factors that can lead to heart diseases including blood sugar levels, blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, etc.
5. Induces various cellular repair processes
During fasting the cells in our body initiate cellular waste removal, this process is called autophagy. This process involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken down and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time.
Fasting triggers the process of autophagy and may provide protection against several diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s (a neurogenerative disease).
6. May help cancer prevention
In animal studies fasting diet may help in preventing cancer. Research in humans has led to similar findings, but more studies are needed. Some human researches show that fasting reduces the side effects of chemotherapy.
7. Helps in improving immunity
Fasting helps to trigger the regeneration of cells. By regeneration of old cells, they become stronger and have a better ability to fight against diseases. Thus, intermittent fasting helps in improving immunity.
8. Helps in controlling Blood Pressure
Healthy blood pressure levels are important, unhealthy blood pressure levels can affect the heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. Intermittent fasting may help lower high blood pressure in short term.
One study found that a 16/8 hours pattern of fasting significantly decreased systolic blood pressure. But the research shows that these controlled blood pressure levels last only when someone is doing intermittent fasting.
Researchers found that when people return to their normal eating their blood pressure returned to its initial levels.
9. Lower cholesterol
Elevated levels of LDL increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. Few researchers state that intermittent fasting may help in reducing LDL (bad cholesterol). Thus, it also helps lower the risk of heart disease.
10. Boosted Brain function
Some research on animals states that intermittent fasting may improve mental acuity and concentration. Though it is not proven to be helpful for humans, it may guard against the development of a neurological disorder in humans.
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Though the Intermittent fasting diet has lots of benefits, there are also limitations to it: it may cause eating disorders in an individual, may cause a reduction in physical activities due to less calorie intake, and one can become tired and moody.
Also, for some people, there is a restriction to following this diet like children under the age of 18 years, pregnant women, lactating mothers, and people with a history of eating disorders.
Also, the intermittent fasting diet has less research on its benefits on humans. More studies or research are required to claim certain benefits.
But this diet is beneficial for weight loss and also reduces the risk of certain health conditions caused by being overweight and poor lifestyle.
As everyone can not follow this diet because there is a restrictions for some people and also it is best if one follows it under expert supervision to avoid any medical issues.