Intermittent fasting: Is there any health benefit to the latest diet plan?

Intermittent fasting, although the name sounds all rough and tough, is simply a pattern of eating. It is not a diet where you try to control what you eat but instead you control when you eat. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. It is one of the easiest strategies to lose bad weight and keep a good weight. It is really popular because it falls under the category of hygiene that’s really easy but very effective. Intermittent fasting only requires a little behaviour change and it is a great way to get lean without going on an absolutely difficult diet or cutting down your calories to nothing. It is also an ideal way to keep muscle mass on in the process of getting lean. With all that said, the main reason people try intermittent fasting is to lose fat.

It is a general assumption that not eating meals at regular intervals can be unhealthy to the human body in the long term. But that’s not true. The human body is biologically evolved to be able to function without food for an extended period of time. It has been a practice to skip meals and fast throughout human evolution. Hunters and gatherers back in their time did not have supermarkets or refrigerators. They didn’t find food all-year around and sometimes couldn’t find anything to eat. In fact, fasting from time to time is more natural than having 3 meals every day. This is the gist behind intermittent fasting and why it is benefitting to health.

There are several different methods of doing intermittent fasting. Here are the common ones,

  • The 16/8 method (Leangains protocol)   Skipping breakfast and restricting the daily eating period to 8 hours, ideally 1 pm – 9 pm. And fast for 16 hours in-between thorough the night and morning. This is the most popular and common method practiced.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat  This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
  • The 5:2  Eating normally five days of the week and restricting calories on the other two days.

All of these methods cause weight-loss as long as you don’t spoil yourself completely by eating more during the non-fasting periods.

Intermittent fasting can be beneficial to your health and body, both in the long and short term. Here are a few benefits you might want to know if you are planning to get started with intermittent fasting.

It affects your cells and hormones

Several things happen in your body when you don’t eat for a while. Your body starts important cellular repair activities and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Insulin blood levels in blood drop significantly and this facilitates fat burning. The blood levels of growth hormone may increase. This helps in muscle gain and has other benefits as well. During fasting, the body also induces repair processes such as removing waste from cellular materials. There are also beneficial changes in several genes related to longevity and protection against diseases. Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting are related to hormones, gene expression and function of cells.

It’s an effective weight-loss tool

This is one of the major reasons why people try out intermittent fasting. By making you eat fewer meals, it automatically leads to reduced calorie intake. It also changes hormone levels to facilitate weight-loss. By helping you eat less and burn more, intermittent fasting changes both sides of the calorie equation and results in effective weight loss. However, it succeeds only because of reduced calorie intake. So if you binge on massive amounts of food during your non-fasting periods, it may not provide the result you are looking for.

Makes healthy-life simpler

Eating healthy can be simple but might be difficult t maintain for prolonged periods. This is the reason why people quit diets. One of the main hurdles is all the work needed to plan and cook a healthy meal three times a day. On the other hand, intermittent fasting can make your life simpler and provide you with more effective weight-loss results. You don’t have to plan, cook or clean up after as many meals as before. It simplifies life and improves health at the same time.

It’s more natural

Although frowned upon by many, skipping meals every now and then is the most natural way of eating. Our body is designed to handle this more than it’s designed to handle four processed junk food meals in a day. It simplifies the processes our body takes up and also detoxifies the body. The energy that is used up for digesting heavy food is now used for keeping us fresh and active throughout the day.

What to be cautious about?

Intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if you’re healthy and well-nourished overall. Even though it is nowhere close to being harmful to your health, there are certain safety elements you should look out for before you start.

The initial phase might be hard as your body is used to a certain amount of food and energy and now you are giving it less. But you will grow into your plans as long as you eat regularly on your non-fasting periods.

Please consult a doctor before intermittent fasting if you have the following conditions,

  • Problems with blood sugar regulations
  • Diabetes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Underweight or obesity
  • History of eating disorders
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

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