Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends.
People are using it to reduce, improve their health and simplify their lifestyles.
Many studies show that it can have powerful effects on your body and brain and should even assist you to live longer
This is the ultimate beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent fasting (IF)?
It doesn’t specify which foods you would like to eat but rather once you need to eat them.
In this respect, it’s not a diet within the normal sense but more accurately described as an eating pattern.
Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for twenty-four hours, twice per week.
Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution. Ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators, or food available year-round. Sometimes they couldn’t find anything to eat.
As a result, humans evolved to be ready to function without food for extended periods of a while.
In fact, fasting from time to time is more natural than always eating 3–4 (or more) meals per day.
Fasting is additionally often finished religious or spiritual reasons, including in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It’s currently very popular in the health and fitness community.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are several alternative ways of doing intermittent fasting — all of which involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods.
During the fasting periods, you eat either little or no or nothing in the least.
These are the most popular methods:
- The 16/8 method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two nonconsecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
By reducing your calorie intake, all of these methods should cause weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the eating periods.
Many people find the 16/8 method to be the sole, most sustainable, and easiest to remain to. It’s also the foremost popular.
There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting. All of them split the day or week into eating and fasting periods.
For example, your body adjusts hormone levels to form stored body fat more accessible.
Your cells also initiate important repair processes and alter the expression of genes.
Here are some changes that occur in your body once you fast:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
- Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible (8Trusted Source).
- Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source)
- Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
These changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
When you fast, human somatotropin levels go up and insulin levels go down. Your body’s cells also change the expression of genes and initiate important cellular repair processes.
A Very Powerful Weight Loss Tool
Weight loss is that the foremost typical reason for people to undertake intermittent fasting.(13)
By making you eat fewer meals, intermittent fasting can cause an automatic reduction in calorie intake.
Additionally, intermittent fasting changes hormone levels to facilitate weight loss.
In addition to lowering insulin and increasing somatotropin levels, it increases the discharge of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline).
By helping you eat less and burn more calories, intermittent fasting causes weight loss by changing all sides of the calorie equation.
Studies show that intermittent fasting are often a very powerful weight-loss tool.
A 2014 review study found that this eating pattern can cause 3–8% weight loss over 3–24 weeks, which can be a huge amount, compared to most weight loss studies.
According to the same study, people also lost 4–7% of their waist circumference, indicating an enormous loss of harmful belly fat that builds up around their organs and causes disease.
Another study showed that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than the more standard method of continuous calorie restriction(16Trusted Source).
However, confine mind that the foremost reason for its success is that intermittent fasting helps you eat fewer calories overall.
If you binge and eat massive amounts during your eating periods, you’ll not lose any weight within the littlest amount.
Intermittent fasting may slightly boost metabolism while helping you eat fewer calories. It’s a very effective way to lose weight and belly fat.
Many studies are done on intermittent fasting, in both animals and humans.
These studies have shown that it can have powerful benefits for weight control and thus the health of your body and brain. it’s getting to even assist you to measure length.
Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Weight loss: As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories (1, 13Trusted Source).
- Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes (1).
- Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
- Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease (1, 20Trusted Source, 21).
- Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
- Brain health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).
- Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats lived 36–83% longer (30, 31).
Keep in mind that research is still in its early stages. Many of the studies were small, short-term or conducted in animals. Many questions have yet to be answered in higher quality human studies (32Trusted Source).
Intermittent fasting can have many benefits for your body and brain.
It can cause weight loss and may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It may also help you live longer.
Makes Your Healthy Lifestyle Simpler
Eating healthy is straightforward , but it are often incredibly hard to take care of.
One of the most obstacles is all the work required to plan for and cook healthy meals.
Intermittent fasting can make things easier, as you don’t got to plan, cook or pack up after as many meals as before.
For this reason, intermittent fasting is extremely popular among the life-hacking crowd, because it improves your health while simplifying your life at an equivalent time.
One of the major benefits of intermittent fasting is that it makes healthy eating simpler.
There are fewer meals you need to prepare, cook and clean up after.
If you’re underweight or have a history of eating disorders, you ought to not fast without consulting with a health care provider first.
In these cases, it are often downright harmful.
Should Women Fast?
There is some evidence that intermittent fasting might not be as beneficial for ladies because it is for men.
For example, one study showed that it improved insulin sensitivity in men, but worsened blood glucose control in women (33Trusted Source).
Though human studies on this subject are unavailable, studies in rats have found that intermittent fasting can make female rats emaciated, masculinized, infertile and cause them to miss cycles. (34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source).
There are variety of anecdotal reports of girls whose menstrual period stopped once they started doing IF and went back to normal once they resumed their previous eating pattern.
For these reasons, women should take care with intermittent fasting.
They should follow separate guidelines, like easing into the practice and stopping immediately if they need any problems like amenorrhea (absence of menstruation).
If you’ve got issues with fertility and/or try to conceive, consider holding off on intermittent fasting for now.
This eating pattern is probably going also a nasty idea if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
People who are underweight or have a history of eating disorders should not fast. There is also some evidence that intermittent fasting may be harmful to some women.
Safety and Side Effects
Hunger is that the main side effect of intermittent fasting.
You may also feel weak and your brain might not perform also as you’re want to.
This may only be temporary because it can take a while for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.
If you’ve got a medical condition, you ought to consult your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
This is particularly important if you:
- Have diabetes.
- Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
- Have low blood pressure.
- Take medications.
- Are underweight.
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
All that being said, 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.
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor first.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to the most common questions about intermittent fasting.
1. Can I Drink Liquids During the Fast?
Yes. Water, coffee, tea, and other non-caloric beverages are fine. don’t add sugar to your coffee. Small amounts of milk or cream could also be okay.
Coffee can be particularly beneficial during a quick because it can blunt hunger.
2. Isn’t It Unhealthy to Skip Breakfast?
No. the matter is that the majority of stereotypical breakfast skippers have unhealthy lifestyles.
If you create bound to eat healthy food for the remainder of the day then the practice is perfectly healthy.
3. Can I Take Supplements While Fasting?
Yes. However, keep in mind that some supplements like fat-soluble vitamins may work better when taken with meals.
4. Can I Work out While Fasted?
Yes, fasted workouts are fine. Some people recommend taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) before a fasted workout.
You can find many BCAA products on Amazon.
5. Will Fasting Cause Muscle Loss?
All weight loss methods can cause muscle loss, which is why it’s important to lift weights and keep your protein intake high.
One study showed that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than regular calorie restriction. (16Trusted Source)
7. Should Kids Fast?
Allowing your child to fast is probably a bad idea.
Chances are that you’ve already done many intermittent fasts in your life.
If you’ve ever eaten dinner, then slept late, and not eaten until lunch the subsequent day, then you’ve probably already fasted for 16+ hours.
Some people instinctively eat this way. They simply don’t feel hungry within the morning.
Many people consider the 16/8 method the sole and most sustainable way of intermittent fasting — you’d possibly want to undertake this practice first.
If you discover it easy and feel good during the fast, then maybe try moving on to more advanced fasts like 24-hour fasts 1–2 times per week (Eat-Stop-Eat) or only eating 500–600 calories 1–2 days per week (5:2 diet).
Another approach is to simply fast whenever it’s convenient — simply skip meals from time to time when you’re not hungry or don’t have time to cook.
There is no need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to derive a minimum of kind of benefits.
Experiment with the various approaches and find something that you simply simply simply simply enjoy and fits your schedule.