The term “intermittent fasting” has become increasingly popular over the last few years. There are many studies that have found that intermittent fasting can have positive effects on your body and mind and may help with many health problems.
It is not a diet in the traditional sense as it does not dictate what foods you can or cannot eat. Instead, it is a cyclical eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating.
Science Behind Intermittent Fasting
Historically, fasting has been a common pattern of eating. Ancient civilizations that relied on hunting and gathering their food often went hungry. This means that humans have evolved to be able to exist without consuming food for long periods of time. It could be said that it is perfectly natural for humans to fast rather than eat 3-4 meals a day every day. Many religions include fasting as part of their religious or spiritual beliefs such as Islam, Judaism and Buddhism.
All the different methods of intermittent fasting have the same principle: creating a calorie deficit allows your body to use its stored fat and lose weight. Compared to other methods of calorie counting, intermittent fasting seems to be easier for many people because they have less time to eat. This means it is easier to reduce your daily calorie intake.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting reduces blood sugar levels and insulin levels which means that it may be a good method of preventing the onset of diabetes. Other studies have shown benefits for the brain as nerve cells are protected. Scientists have also found that eating during daylight hours is good for our body’s digestive system and helps our metabolism.
3 Types of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is a pattern of eating that describes cycles of fasting and eating. The focus is not on the food that you consume but on WHEN you should eat that food. This pattern of eating has been found to have both weight loss and health benefits.
There are different types of patterns that can be used in intermittent fasting cycles. Here are 3 of the most popular intermittent fasting patterns:
This involves fasting daily for between 14-16 hours. Your window for eating is restricted to between 8-10 hours a day.
You are permitted to eat 2,3 or more meals in your eating window. You can achieve this by skipping breakfast and not eating anything after dinner. For example, you could finish your dinner at 8 pm and then eat lunch the following day at noon. This would mean you have fasted for 16 hours. This can be a hard pattern to follow if you get hungry in the morning but will suit those who often skip breakfast.
You are allowed to drink water, coffee and teas (no milk, no calories) during the fasting period. Although you can choose your food, you are encouraged to make healthy choices and not consume excessive calories.
This is where you eat normally for 5 days a week but restrict your calories to between 500-600 for the other 2 days. It is also known as the Fast Diet and was made popular by health journalist Michael Mosley. You can choose the days that you fast and it is recommended that you eat 2 meals of just 250 calories each. You get low-calorie meal ideas by selected a healthy meal plan listed on our site.
Fans of the diet have found that they cope easily with 2 days of hunger as they know it is only for a short time. Over time dieters also have found that their demand for food on their non-fasting days also decreases and therefore their overall calorie intake reduces.
Eat Stop Eat
This method is based on fasting for 24 hours, twice a week. Some food must be consumed every day. This means that on a fasting period you would not eat between 8 am Monday and 8 am Tuesday. However, you would need to eat breakfast before 8 am on Monday and straight after 8 am on Tuesday. You can eat normally on the non-fasting days but Brad Pilon, who created the diet, suggests that you should eat responsibly without actually “dieting”.
The 24 hour fasting period can help your body to go into ketosis where your body burns fat instead of carbs. Your stomach will also shrink on fasting days allowing you to feel fuller on the other days and naturally reduce the number of calories you consume. It can be easier to follow intermittent fasting if you follow a healthy meal plan as you will have your meals prepped for you.