Intermittent fasting is a term that you’ve probably heard a lot lately. It’s a blanket term to describe a cycle of fasting followed by eating. Recently, intermittent fasting has received more attention and is used as a method of weight loss, improving metabolism, protecting against disease, and improving longevity. Rather than restricting what you eat, intermittent fasting promises better health by restricting when you eat and how much you eat.
Intermittent fasting gets complicated since several different methods call for eating at different times. Although some methods restrict how many calories you consume, intermittent fasting is more about when you eat than how or what you eat. This type of fasting is usually thought of as a way to lose weight, but some people actually use the eating technique as a way to gain weight while losing fat.
For most of us, we naturally fast whenever we sleep. So, for an eight-hour period, you are fasting. While you are awake, you are eating. Intermittent fasting restricts the waking time frame in which you eat. This differs from the common diet advice of eating breakfast shortly after you wake up. If you rise at 6 a.m., then most diet plans will have you eat within an hour of waking. If you practice intermittent fasting, then you probably won’t need to eat until 10 a.m. or even later.
At the end of the day, you also restrict your eating so that you don’t eat past 6 p.m. This restriction reverses the common time frame for eating; you are now eating during an eight-hour period and fasting for 16. You don’t eat food during the 16-hour period of fasting, but you can still enjoy calorie-free beverages such as water, tea, and coffee. This is the most common way to practice intermittent fasting and is often referred to as the 16/8 method.
Eat Stop Eat & 5:2 Diet
Some more restrictive methods of fasting require skipping eating for entire days. Time is built into a block of a week and you don’t eat for two days of the week. This method is referred as Eat Stop Eat. Another method is called the 5:2 Diet in which you eat only 500-600 calories for two days of the week.
For most people, one of the benefits of intermittent fasting is that they don’t feel hungry when fasting. It works well for people who aren’t hungry when they wake up in the morning and is thought to have many benefits for overall health beyond weight-loss.
With intermittent fasting on a 16/8 schedule, you can still exercise and not much changes about your daily eating schedule. By contrast, not eating for two days of the week or restricting your calorie intake so severely can result in feeling tired and sluggish as your energy levels plummet while you get used to the new eating schedule. When intermittent fasting or practicing any diet, it is always important not to push yourself too far. You might also want to consult a healthcare professional before you begin this type of diet.